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I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A Norwich Shawl in Pinks and Browns

Here is an antique shawl in muted pinks and browns with a pink fringe. It is the same as one illustrated in the book Norwich Shawls, so we can safely say that it is a Norwich shawl by Clabburn.

Item 56 on page 93: Jacquard Zebra Shawl 1860s by Clabburn Sons & Crisp. "The horizontal stripe unit in this shawl is 14cm and is made up of two patterns. They include circles and serpentine motifs with almost indistinguishable tiny pines scattered through. The shawl is very faded giving an attractive pink/brown effect." 

These shawls were known as zebra shawls and were produced about 1860-1870, at the end of the shawls' popularity. Perhaps this is why these are found in better condition, they were discarded and not worn when fashions changed almost overnight.

These shawls were woven on looms and were an expensive purchase. They were made from silk or silk and wool mixtures, so were worn for special occasions - not everyday...

I love the muted colors and the intricate designs...

In comparison to quilts, there are only a few books about antique shawls - here we see that catalogue for the exhibition of Norwich shawls held at Norwich cathedral held last year, and also a book put out by Norwich Museum would be nice to know more....and perhaps I should book a visit to Norwich to meet the shawl/textile experts there....

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Very Worn Sanderson Star in Yellow and White

As I am very interested in the Sanderson Star pattern, I did buy this has seen better days though! The quilt has been cut down at some point and a binding applied. These quilts usually have three dark borders, and not a light outer border, so I suspect that a very worn portion of the quilt has been cut off. The edges of these quilts do receive the most wear, so not surprising. The quilt has been reduced in size to 70 x 60 inches.

Here is the central Sanderson Star. This pattern was very popular and the quilts were made in some numbers. Here we have one in yellow and white.

The quilt is very well used and although the cotton sateen has survived amazingly well, if you hold the quilt up to the light you can see that the wadding is lumpy and has diminished and shifted through hard wear. There is not much of it left!

The quilting patterns have become simplified from the earlier Sanderson Star patterns. You have a simple twist, and a much simplified Gardiner feather border - it really is just large swirls here.

In the central star, the usual rose with fern has also become much simplified.

The single binding is modern and stitiched to the back and hand sewn to the front - the reverse to what I would do....
Still, a striking pattern even if faded and well used, as here....

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Pink and Green Durham with Star Motif

Here is a Durham quilt in green and pink sateen. The quilt was sold by a charity shop in Leeds and measures 227 x 190 cm or 89 x 75 inches.

Judging by the pink thread that was used for the quilting, this whole cloth side was meant to be the "best" side.

You can see the large motifs used - fans, large roses and feather swags.

The reverse has a pink frame with a green centre. There is a large central applique star and the corners have a similar quarter star.

Although the pink side is meant to be the "best" side, by looking at the quilting stitches, it is obvious that the quilting has been done from this side. It is easy to see why - the quilting motifs are arranged around the stars and it would have been very difficult to do this if quilting from the plain side.

You can see by examining the quilting stitches that the quilting was done from this side. Also, that the applique was done by machine and none too carefully!

It just shows that these quilts were turned out fairly quickly and that the overall appearance was more important than intricate workmanship...

The edges reveal that the outer edge of the border has the selvedge of the material....again another time saver...

This star may be a later, simplified version of the more complex Sanderson Star.

The central star has a rose motif, and is surrounded by feather swags. The quilt is generally in good condition, however that dark spot seems oily? ...and the quilt may have to be washed!!

Monday, 29 January 2018

Horrockses- Clothing and Cotton Manufacturers, Preston

When I was at the BQSG seminar in Preston in October, I was very interested to hear about the Preston firm of Horrockses. Although Horrockses was a household name in Britain, not having grown up in the UK, this was new to me.

The Horrockses firm was founded in 1791 by John Horrocks and became well known for cotton goods and clothes such as pyjamas and shirts. The factory was a very large one, and was considered to be the largest factory in Europe in its time. Fabric were woven at the mills, and then made up into garments. Later, its woven goods were involved in the war effort.

After WWII, the problem was, how to stimulate demand for its cotton goods? Ready to wear dresses had become increasingly popular over time, and the question was, how to make cotton dressses, formerly considered rather pedestrian, into something more exclusive and glamorous.

A model in the Harris Museum showing how very large the mills once were - I went bellringing on Sunday morning at Preston Minster, and when I asked a local ringer about the factory, saw that this area immediately behond the Minster has now been completly redeveloped......

The answer was to hire the best designers, and to produce a variety of garments for the mass market, from simple shirt waiters in a variety of coloured prints to glamorous evening dresses. Each style would be made in a variety of prints and colourways. In each town, only a few selected shops could stock the dresses. And, Horrockses was careful to ensure that each shop in a town had different stock from the others in that town.....the dresses sold for the then not inconsiderable price of £4 to £7. Clever advertising re-inforced the exclusivity message.

Of course, the main purpose was, to use the cotton fabrics produced at the Horrockses Mills in a proftable manner. The brand was at its height from 1946 to 1964. Unfortunately, the 70's and 80's were not kind to the company as fashions moved on, and the company went under.

Recently, the brand name has been bought and the archives used as a basis to produce housewares and bed linens in retro prints.

Having looked on Ebay, I find that the iconic 50's dresses sell for high prices! I am not sure whether these are for collectors, or for wear.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Progress report - January 2018

I was able to achieve quite a lot over the holiday period in December ( my firm takes a long break over Christmas). One task was to baste my red and white Sanderson Star, ready for hand quilting. I  had used a feint mechanical pencil to mark in the light areas and a water erasable blue marker for the red areas.

Just to check that the blue will actually come out! It does....
I have traced the quilting designs from an antique "stamped" quilt top, so the markings are as close to the original as I could get...

I have bought two oak thread holders from Ebay - and these not only look good, but save a lot of time. It is easy to snip off new lengths of thread when I need them.

And the progress on the Sanderson Star is good - the centre and the first border complete. The stamper did not mark the twist completely - I will have to decide whether to go for one central line (as suggested in one or two of them) or go for three strands (ie two extra lines of quilting). I will look at other examples to see what was standard for this design and then do the same. I don't have to decide right away.
I also wanted to set up two more Hawaiian applique quilts. Cutting and then unfolding and basting the applique is always a difficult job. But, I had bought suitable extra wide fabric at the FOQ for the applique fabric and backing. This design is dark blue on a mid blue background fabric. There will be some reverse applique to do, but I will mark that in later, using the original pattern.

And here is a green print batik on a natural back ground, I do hope that the batik behaves itself!! This pattern is called Kiku Nut. Both of the patterns seen here are from the traditonal range at Poakalani in Hawaii.

This should keep me busy for a while...

Monday, 15 January 2018

Kit Rose Quilt - American

This quilt was bought inexpensively online. I am not usually interested in American quilts, but this one caught my eye...

It is a kit quilt, but completed in an expert way and nicely quilted.
There are also some embroidered details, such as the leaf veins...

There is an American site concerning kit quilts, but there is, rightly, a joining fee. I could not afford this just to research one quilt......but it would be interesting to know which company produced this quilt pattern and what it is called....does anyone know?

The quilt is a cheerful one...

.....and involved a lot of work for the maker - it was obviously a treasured quilt. As with so many of my quilts, it would be lovely to magicly know the story behind this one.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Purple and White Durham Quilt

Here is a nicely quilted whole cloth, in white and purple cotton sateen.

There is a large circular "coin", which resembles the Weardale quilts.

Many of the other motifs are border or strip quilt designs - running feather ......the outer border is of running feather with daisies.

There are large feathers and daisies to be seen, too. These patterns were popular because they were showy but did not involve much close quilting - they covered the fabric well.

The reverse is a white cotton sateen - the edge is hand sewn, which is slightly unusual for Durham quilts - more often they are machine sewn.

As you can see, the patterns are all hand drawn and not very exact. I rather like the wonkiness.....

This is the "bellows" pattern.

All in all, a nice quilt, very colourful and well worked. Unfortunately, no further information about this quilt, which is probably from the 1930's.