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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.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hmong Carrying Strap

When I was first quilting, I went with a group of friends to Siripan Kidd's house in Colchester for a day workshop. Siripan sold beautiful Thai silk, and this piece that I made shows some of her techniques - hand drafted patterns, put together with hand piecing. You can see that some of the silk is "shot silk" and another of her techniques was to place the grain of the shot silk in varying directions so that the colour changed. You can see this clearly in the border and also some of the leaves.

Detail - the small quilt was hand quilted in a random pattern. That was fun to do. Siripan and her husband now live in Thailand and until recently, arranged textile themed holidays for quilters.

Recently, I was having a rummage amongst my stored patterns and found these small items. They were purchased many years ago from Siripan.

These are small sections of antique Hmong embroidery. I believe that they are parts of a "carrying strap". In any case, they are functional pieces which have been well used.

The stitching is very fine and it is interesting to see the reverse. The bobbin case has been placed to show the scale.

The second section - here with colourful bands.

The labels show that I bought them for £4.oo each. The stitching is much finer on these older pieces than the more modern made for tourist pieces.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Roker - Single Durham Quilt

Here is a nicely quilted single quilt. I bought it as it had good provenance - this is always very important to me! I like to connect a piece of work with the maker. In this case, the quilter was Mary Jane Wilson who lived in Roker where she ran a boarding house. Roker is near to Sunderland - the mouth of the River Wear is nearby, as is the North Sea. I bought the quilt from her great granddaughter, Sandra Davies from Devon. Apparently Mary Jane was a keen quilter and always had something on the go. The family had several pieces of quilting by Mary Jane.

The quilt is single size and measures 82 by 42 inches. It is cream on one side and a pale pink on the other. Single quilts are more difficult to design, as there is not as much space as on a double quilt. Here is the foot end of the quilt - you can see a nice feather border and a central medallion.
The central medallion,which has a central rose surrounded by feathers and concentric circles. There is also neat crosshatching.

At the head of the bed is this large daisy motif - the border is also missing in this area(see lower edge in this photo).

The reason that I think it is the head of the bed , apart from the different design here, is the fact that this is the only side of the quilt where the edge is intact. The other sides are "unfinished" - but I think the other three sides were originally finished with a frill,which having got very tatty, has been cut off. The head of the quilt of course would not have had a frill.

The wadding is a thin cotton. From the raw edges, one can see that the pink has faded and was a darker pink when new.

Here you can see the two colours and the raw edge, I have not touched this and will leave it unfinished.

The border is well drawn - I wonder if it could be matched up with any RIB published pattern the pattern looks very "perfect". The quilt is made of an artificial fibre. It has a small burn where the fabric has melted - a natural fibre would have created a dry ash.

This quilt was sold to me as being over 100 years old (ie pre 1907). Due to the artificial fibre of the fabric, I do not think it is that old. But it is a nice example of quilting, neatly done and well designed.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Red and White Durham Quilt - Crawcrook, Durham

Here is a red and white basket quilt from Crawcrook, Co. Durham.This former mining village is now a part of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

This quilt must be the largest in my collection - it is 92 x 98 inches. It was too wide to photograph the whole of it in my lounge - you can see that I had to fold it on the RHS! There are 36 basket blocks - all surrounded by a zigzag border in red.

The border is pieced by hand. In fact, there is no machine stitching to be seen in this quilt. Perhaps the family did not have a sewing machine? Even the backing is hand seamed.

In the following photo, you can see that the basket handles are sewn on with a running stitch, not the usual whip stitch.

As the quilt was difficult to photograph in the lounge, I put the quilt on a double bed - you can see that the quilt almost touches the floor on both sides of the bed. The baskets are oriented in such a way that half face one side of the bed while the rest point in the opposite direction.

The quilt is entirely hand pieced. The fabrics are a turkey red twill and white fabrics, some of which are twill and some of which are a plain weave.

Quilting patterns are simple but varied - a flower or tulip-

Another flower - a braid is also seen -

One thing that was apparent when I put the quilt on the bed was that the four corners of the quilt stuck out-

--which may explain why the corners have all received a lot of wear. The rest of the quilt is in pretty good condition.

The quilt was made by Mary Maud Gardiner (the seller's great grandmother) helped by her mother. Maud lived in the small pit village of Crawcrook, where she lived all her life until her death in 1990 at the age of 97! Her husband Jack was a coal miner until his untimely death at the age of 40. Maud brought up her three sons on her own after her husband's death - Arthur, Joe and Robert. The quilt then went to the seller's grandfather (Robert) - she remembers her grandparents keeping it in their spare room mostly, only using it if it got really cold. It has been well looked after over the years.

If Mary Maud was born in 1893 then the quilt possibly dates from about 1910 - 1915. It is very difficult to date quilts made from plain fabrics and the turkey red fabrics were popular and manufactured over a long period.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Pettistree - 25th Anniversary of the Rehanging of the Bells

Pettistree is a small village with a beautiful mediaeval country church - yesterday we had a special celebration during Evensong to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rehanging of the bells. The bells had been unringable for many years and had only briefly been rung for VE Day.

With the help of local people and the Suffolk Guild of Bellringers, the money was raised in 1986 and the bells were rehung by Taylor's of Loughborough. A new band of learners was taught in the months before the work was completed - so the bells were rung by the local (and inexperienced) band at the rededication of the bells. Not many of the original band remain (only Chris and Mary) but the band has flourished and is one of the most successful in the area. Bellringing is finding it difficult to recruit new ringers and Pettistree is just the same, but for the moment, our band is doing well.

During the church service - taken by Bishop Clive - the new peal board was blessed. This shows three special peals rung over the years, where three new methods were rung and named. They are: Pettistree Delight Minor, Pettistree Bob Minor and Peter's Tree Surprise Minor.

A quarter peal of Pettistree Bob was rung prior to the service and there was also open ringing. Next week another peal will be rung, to include the three "Pettistree" methods, as well as the newly named Wickham Market Surprise and Schurr Surprise methods (Susan Schurr was a ringer who was very much loved and who passed away during the year).

In the newly refurbished church room, the ringers had prepared a "ringers' tea" with sandwiches, quiche, cakes and much other food. Of course, although over 50 people attended the reception, there was far too much food and much was taken away to be eaten later.

Mike Whitby has been the ringing master for the 25 years and it is largely due to him that the band is such an active one. A presentation was made at which he was presented with a tankard and a framed drawing of the church.

This is my 200th post and I thank everyone for their kind comments - I always enjoy these so do keep them coming. I taught Applique with Embellishments at Quilters Haven on Saturday. We played with Intense pencils and fabric paint - ruched fabric strips and made ribbon petals - did things with freezer paper - it was very enjoyable.

I also talked to Karin Hellaby briefly before the class - I think that I have arranged an informal quilt study day to be held at Quilters Haven on a Sunday - will let you know the date when I have confirmed it - I also arranged to exhibit some of my Durham quilts over the spring half term at Q H - again will let you know the dates. Several years ago now, I showed some Welsh quilts at QH - now I reckon it is the the Durham quilts' turn.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Annie Penrith - 1939 - Chester-le-Street Durham

Here is a quilt that I bought recently (an early Xmas present). It has a label which states that it was made by Annie Penrith of Chester-le-Street for Mrs Whaley of Lanchester in 1939, and that the quilt cost £10.

The size of the quilt is 78 x 92 inches. The right side is of sage green taffeta and the reverse is a lime green cotton sateen. Taffeta is a smooth, crisp plain woven fabric that is made from silk or synthetic fibres. It has a nice shine which is why it was used for quilting.

The design is neatly drawn and the quilting is good.

The front of the quilt in the sage green taffeta. This is a stamped quilt although there are no markings to be seen. There is a large central rose, surrounded by large scrolls and leaves. Crosshatching separates the border of hammocks.

Central area with the four large scrolls.

There is a corner area of scrolls and leaves that is nicely arranged. The edge is neatly handsewn.

The lime green cotton sateen reverse. You can see that this side has some sun fading along the folds but the quilt appears unused.

Central area of the reverse.

Here are the labels - a paper one which states the size and "Green Taffeta" and a hand written one (in Pigma pen, so recent?) with the quilter's and owner's names.

Lilian Hedley wrote - I haven't heard of her, £10 was a lot for a quilt at that time and I do query that amount. A number of years ago I discovered that a lady who had given a quilt to Beamish was still alive ( see page 101 of Quits and Coverlets) .....she told me both herself and her sister were engaged to be married but the war broke out and the men were called up, they decided to bring the weddings forward and asked Mary Potts if she would make a quilt for each of them. They cost 3 guineas (£3.3s) and she paid a shilling a week until paid for. She went to the Co-op to pick the fabric, but I have no idea if it was "all in" or the fabric separate, it didn't occur to me to ask. Even if the fabric was separate, it wouldn't come to £10, that was a fortune then."

And later Lilian also wrote - "By the way, I have an old newspaper piece about Florence Fletcher around 1960 who quoted quilts as being made for about £20, the wages in 1960 were vastly different from 1939, I still cannot get my head around that £10 quilt."

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Red Quilt Update

Update on the red Durham quilt that I showed in a recent post. I had an email from Lilian Hedley, who wrote "I love the red quilt. It is very much a stamped quilt but not in the normal style. Lots of stampers' templates used and beautifully drawn with a very practiced hand. It reminds me very much of one at Beamish. Quilts and Coverlets page 101 has a lot of the same templates and I am convinced it was not drawn by the quilter in Chester-le-Street unless she lived in the Allan or Weardale valley before she married. The more I look at it, the more I see how very similar they are. Lilian."

Here is a photo of that quilt shown on page 101 of Quilts and Coverlets - it would be better if you got out your own copy to look at! It is very similar in the borders and feathers, although the centre is very different. Quilted by Mary Potts of Chester-le-Street in 1939.

I wrote back "I was amazed to see the quilt in the book - thanks for spotting it - the centre is different but the borders and especially the feathers look by the same hand. Yes, I can see that the marker and the quilter could well be different people - it could have been marked by someone else and then quilted by Mary Potts. "

Interesting to see the date - 1939-I knew that it felt later in date and that is interesting to know.

Here you can see the border which is the same as the Beamish quilt.

The feathers look the same, as well.

Lilian wrote back - "You have got an amazing bargain with the red quilt. I am going to the archives with my sister next week to check up on both the Chester-le-Street quilters, my sister teaches genealogy and will point me in the right directions, will let you know what I find out."

In my next post, I will show you another quilt (early xmas present to myself) made in 1939 by Annie Penrith of Chester-le-Street for Mrs Whaley of Lanchester. Lilian (who lives in Chester-le-Street)had not heard of this quilter.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Welsh Wool Patchwork Quilt

Here is the other quilt that was found in the loft in Llanelli. It is a Welsh patchwork quilt made of woollen offcuts. It is very heavy and was undoubtedly a very warm bedcover. It is a large quilt too, at 72 by 68 inches.

Various offcuts of wool including suitings have been hand stitched together to form a geometric pattern. The red square in the middle is cotton that has been pieced together by machine.

You can see that the white wool fabric was a coarse weave and has pulled loose at one side, revealing some black wool blanket underneath. Other areas of the quilt show white and grey blankets as wadding so the stuffing is a real mix.

The pieces are all roughly sewn by hand.

To the left, grey pieces of twill suiting, and to the right, tartan, I think this is used in the traditional Welsh costume as shirt material. It is a very cheerful fabric.

Some of the wools have slubs, either this is homespun, but more likely, a decorative effect.

The reverse of the quilt is two pieces of the same woollen fabric, one is 45 inches in width, the other 24. You can see the traditional central circle and spirals. The quilting was done from this side in the frame.

Much of the quilting is done in this chevron pattern.

A utility quilt, made of offcuts and hand quilted. Poverty meant that fabric was saved and laboriously hand quilted - labour was very cheap at the time and materials were few.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Turkey Red and White Quilt from Llanelli

Here is a red and white quilt from Llanelli, Wales. Apart from the hand quilting, it is entirely sewn by machine. Someone was either an expert seamstress, or very proud of their sewing machine!

The quilt measures 82 x 76 inches, and has various sized stars and blocks on the front.

The quilt is worn and was rather musty and grubby. It had been stored in a loft for many years. I did wash it but some stains and dirt remain. The edges are frayed in places.

The interesting thing to note is that the stars are machine applique, done by top stitching the shapes, layering one star atop another.

The edge is machine sewn. The hand quilting is just chevrons and could be from anywhere.

The back of the quilt is all machine pieced and is the typical Welsh pinwheel design surrounded with squares and rectangles.

Some of the fabric here was of a lesser quality and has worn through in places. Better fabric alongside has lasted well.

It is difficult to date this quilt - the plain fabrics could be from any date - but I rather think that it is older, about 1900. It has seen a great amount of use.

This quilt was found in a loft by the decorator when a house was being cleared prior to renovation. The house had been left to a relative who had no interest or knowledge of the items. Two quilts were found in a old blanket box amongst other old items. The family that once lived there had lived in Llanelli for the past 70 years, and before that, in rural Llanelli.

In the next post, I will show you a heavy wool quilt that was found with this one, made from locally-made woollen offcuts.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Red Durham Quilt

Here is a quilt that I bought recently. It is a well marked Durham quilt in a mid-red colour cotton sateen. It is a large quilt at 104 x 80 inches. It has only light wear, but there were a few stains and it was generally grubby, having been in store for a number of years. So I did the washing-in-the-bathtub-with-Synthrapol thing. It came out fresher - and although the stains had not disappeared, they were much smaller.

The centre of the quilt has cross hatching with swags forming a central area - this is surrounded by feathers, leaves and swirls. Can you see the rather semicircular feathers? You can just imagine someone drawing these in with chalk or blue pencil.

The border is an attractive scroll design . Double lines hold it apart from the rest of the quilting designs. You can see that the quilter has not tried to turn the corner! but has put a separate scroll motif in the corners.

The attractive border design. This quilt is obviously drawn out on the quilt - it is not a "stamped" quilt but has been marked out by an experienced quilter. Because of the plain fabric, it is hard to assign a date to the quilt. The seller thought 1880's but I don't think it is that old. Perhaps 1920's?

One of the odd things about this quilt is the fact that at each corner there is a tie sewn in place- not very long. Was it used as a mattress cover or on a settee? Or were the ties used to create a bundle of bedding that could be easily stored? suggestions welcomed!! The ties do not seem long enough to secure the quilt to a four poster bed...

This quilt was bought many years ago by the seller in Leominster, Worcestershire for £80. Of course this is another of my Ebay finds and needless to say, I did not pay anything like that amount. I am going to have a go at tracing the motifs on this quilt as they are really attractive.A very serviceable quilt with some nice quilting designs.