Welsh wholecloth - Green and gold - Edith Jones - Victorian in age
Here is a beautiful whole cloth that shows the true skill of the Welsh quilter. It is one of my personal favourites. The colours are much nicer in reality than in the photos. - a fairly typical and popular avocado and rich gold combination, in cotton sateen with a thick welsh blanket as a wadding. Wales had a great number of woollen mills and a worn woollen blanket was a common filling for a quilt. The quilts are very heavy, very stiff and very warm!! And it has been said, tongue in cheek, that they acted as a natural birth control - as you couldn’t move very much once underneath.
This quilt was bought from a favourite dealer from Cardiff, and is the same dealer that sold me the Margaret Williams quilt. The size is a generous 74 x 86”. The lengths of cloth are sewn together by machine although the edges are neatly finished off by hand. This quilt, although a bit sun faded along fold lines (the dark fabrics seem prone to this) seems unused so must have been kept for best - or - considered old-fashioned and not used?
The quilting has been done in a stout green thread to match the top side (you can tell the top side as the quilt is flatter and the stitches more even than the reverse). This quilt was made by a professional quilter in a frame. I am told that due to the thickness, a thick thread like carpet thread was used, and also a stout darning needle, not a tiny quilting needle. I tried a sample of quilting with a blanket and I did not find it an easy task to sew although the effect was not bad.
The quilting patterns are nice and well set out. Evidently the fields were marked out with chalk as well as the larger motifs, and the rest was either marked with chalk or sewn freehand. The quilter was working swiftly so if she ran out of space ,she improvised. I have traced this quilt, and you can see this in the spirals around the central motif - in one place where there was no space left for a double spiral, the quilter has put in a single spiral. The style is called “Boxy Carmarthenshire” and there are many geometric patterns, including chevrons, double diamonds and triangles. There are many spirals and spiral rams horns. The centre is a large square of double diamonds made up to a circle by means of half moons, then surrounded by a band of spirals. Note how the corner motifs echo the central motif.
Also to be seen in one corner of the edge is a name tape “Edith Jones” - probably the quilter - but possibly - the owner of the quilt. I have a Durham whole cloth with a similar name tape so evidently they were not unusual. Amy Emms had similar tapes made up in the 1960’s, however it seems that she only used them for larger items. Some of my cottage quilts have embroidered initials, however, signing a quilt in any way seems the exception rather than the rule.
The quilting on this quilt illustrates the sculptural quality of the Welsh whole cloth quilts - I love it.