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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.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

North Country Cot Quilt with Page Bank Pattern

Here is a little North Country cot quilt, from the 1920's or 30's. It is very nicely quilted, and is of better quality than those usually seen.

The cot quilt is made of cotton sateen; the top is a green/blue and the reverse is white.

I traced the design onto polythene - twice - once for the publishers, but this was not returned to me - so I have traced it a second time. Fortunately, these small quilts do not take as long to trace as the larger quilts. This central design with paired feathers is the classic "Page Bank Feathers" - typical of the quilters in and around one small Durham mining village. The design is also known as "Festoon Feathers". You can see that there are two feathers with a distinct vein.

Also to be seen, a plant in a pot - very similar to a motif used in the commissioned RIB quilt made by Mrs Pirt and now in the V & A Museum.

This pattern is known as Sheaf of Corn.

Notice how the corner has been turned - with a separate rose motif. Also, how the twist has a diamond in its centre....

The original pattern does not divide nicely into four quarters, and the Thames and Hudson editors were presented with a problem, how to fit the quilt pattern onto a small page of a book. To present templates or, as some part of the design? This .pdf shows  how the designer modified the quilt pattern so that the quarters are all the same. You can see the central feathers, the central rose, the twists and the smaller motifs have been changed from the original designs so that there is four-fold symmetry.

However, this is what appeared in the book - not a complete pattern! the central paired feathers, especially, are not complete.

When I make the pattern, it will probably need to be one half the design.....and I hope that it fits onto one A3 photocopy page!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Turkey Red Wholecloth Quilt from Wales

Here is a Welsh wholecloth quilt in a Turkey red paisley fabric. This fabric was produced in the Vale of Leven, Scotland and is very colourful when unused and unfaded, as here.

There is some nice quilting here, but it is very difficult to see! The patterns are in the usual Welsh format...with a central coin of beech leaves and various borders.

You can probably see here that there is a four lobed design, nicely quilted.

There are also some chevron or wave patterns....

The whole quilt has a cheerful aspect and I do like these paisley quilts, which are getting much more difficult to find these days. Red was considered to be a warming, healthy colour.

A nice texture is created by the quilting stitches, even if the patterns are difficult to spot.

The hand sewn knife edge, traditional with Welsh quilts.

The fabrics are bright and unfaded, and the quilt seems never to have been used....with the Turkey red fabrics, the yellow, green and blue fade with use, so that eventually only the red and white remain in a well used quilt.

No information on this quilt....size is 190 x 194 mm or about 75 x 76 inches.

Sunday, 5 November 2017


Early in October, on the spur of the moment, I went to a workshop by Philippa Naylor, as there were some spare places remaining. The topic was trapunto and cording, with FMQ experience needed. I once had some dissolving thread - but could I find it - no - luckily Philippa had some for sale.

Philippa with one of her prize winning quilts. Her attention to detail is amazing, and I think not many would be able to put so much effort into their work. I was interested to see that all her seams are pressed open...

...And that she uses polyester thread exclusively. Coming from a background in design and clothing manufacture, she likes the fact that polyester thread is elastic and nestles into the fabric and wadding better than cotton. She feels that cotton is not as strong. Quite a breath of fresh air after those who would "pooh pooh" the use of polyester threads.

I also have acquired a Treen (wooden) thread holder. It is very useful for quilting thread. I have no idea of the age of this....but a nice item.

I was also interested to see this photo of an exhibition of Hawaiian quilts in Japan. If you look at the red and white quilt  on the right behind the  ladies, you can see that it is the pattern that I am currently working on!

I have completed the applique on the outer lei, and the two outer edges of the middle lei - I am now working the inner spaces there. So, getting along well. (I still have my monster green and white top to will be tricky to handle as it is so large.....)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Durham Cot quilt - 40s or 50s

Here is a little North Country cot quilt, probably from the 1940s or 50s. The top (green) is an artificial material, not too sure what it is exactly. The reverse is a pink cotton. The size is 28 x 38 inches - probably the width of the fabric dictated the size...

As is usual, the cot quilt has received some wear and is a bit misshapen due to washing.

The top has a hole or two where the fabric has worn. The quilting is good, and the quilter has filled the space well with the large feathers. I like the way in which she has filled the extra spaces with spirals and a trefoil design. As is usual in later quilts, the designs are larger and less intricate, but cover the area nicely.

Cat inspection....

I have traced the quilting design onto polythene, a first step in patterning the cot quilt.

Cot quilts were made in some numbers and were popular as a small gift. Not many survive, however.

Cot quilts present a problem in design, as the space is limited. Often, the design is a simple one with a small central motif, infill and an outer border. Here, the quilter has filled the space nicely with large motifs and no infill is needed, except for the spirals in the centre edge  and semicircles in the corners.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

V & A Book - Patchwork and Quilting - 3 projects

Last Autumn, I was approached by Thames and Hudson to submit three projects for this book, based around textile items in the V & A collection.

The cover of the book...

Interesting to see a part of my quilted cot quilt on the reverse of the cover...

I was asked to produce a quilted item project at very short notice, which was obviously not possible given the short timescale, but having just received a very nice little North Country cot quilt, I suggested that as an item to pattern and it was accepted. I traced the quilting onto polythene and this was the basis for the pattern, although it did have to be modified for one quarter to fit on one page.

My Amish Centre Diamond wallhanging was accepted as another project - I have taught this for many years and it always "works" provided that you sew slightly oversize triangles onto the central square and then trim. The instructions in the book are limited in length and rather concise, so it was a slight struggle to get the really important steps included.

The Hawaiian quilt was the inspiration for this traditional applique block; again I have taught this for many years and it is achievable....

It is nice to see the book in print, in time for the holiday period - I have dealt with academic and magazine editors before, of course. But this was the first time that I have had patterns and instructions published - and I'll admit, I did find it stressful!

There will be a launch event at the Village Haberdashery in Hampstead, London on November 25 which I hope to attend. We have to speak for 5 to 10 minutes which of course will be no problem for an ex-lecturer!

Friday, 20 October 2017

Patchwork Cot Quilt from Cumbria

Here is a small patchwork cot quilt from Cumbria. It is not quilted, but contains some nice everyday fabrics. Many are repeated, so are probably recycled dresses and clothes fabrics.
The pattern is a simple one, with a centre of white cotton and turkey red squares. The turkey red fabric was more precious and colourful, and was therefor placed in the centre.

The other fabrics are repeated several times in varous places. The whole is hand sewn.

These fabrics probably date from 1875 to 1900, but it is always difficult to tell exactly. The purples were not available until 1860. Sometimes known as "half mourning" fabrics, these were also condsidered suitable for everyday house dresses and servants dresses.

Most of the fabrics are roller prints.

The reverse is a white plain weave cotton. this quilt came from an old trunk in a South Lakes attic, from the Miller  and Posnet families. The size is 25 x 33 inches.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Fabric storage pods

I recently made these fabric "pods", to a pattern from Beth Studley. They are supposed to have hanging loops, which I omitted.
The patterns consist of a round quilted body with darts, with an inserted round base. A binding around the top completes the pod. Extra fabric encloses the seams.

The larger pods were made with Alison Glass fabrics and a repro paisley.

The smaller pods were harder to make as there were many more, and smaller darts to sew. I had not made darts since my (unhappy) home economics lessons in middle school. But, these are colourful and cheerful - so I hope that they  prove useful. Already, my collection of safety pins has moved across to these.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Block Printed Wool Shawl

After visiting the shawl exhibition at Norwich Cathedral, I  became interested in shawls. However, I do not know as much as I would like to, as unlike quilts,  there are very few books on the subject. However, they are very pretty. Shawls largely went out of fashion in the 1870's, due to a change in fashion, when dresses with bustles made wearing shawls very difficult. Still, they were fashionable for over 100 years.

This is a block printed woollen shawl. It took great skill to block print the designs accurately. Each colour would have required a different block, and these had to be matched up accurately. However, these were much less expensive than the woven shawls, as 30 or 40 could be made in the time it took to weave one large shawl.

The woollen shawls were generally used as light summertime wraps, or for evening wear.

So colourful.....
 ...with a decorative fringe...

I am going to visit Norwich Museum totry to find out more. The important centres for shawl making were Norwich, Edinburgh and of course Paisley in Scotland.

Sometimes, it is possible to see the tiny resgistration dots which helped to align the different blocks of colour....

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Very Worn Sanderson Star Quilt - Berwick Upon Tweed

Here is a very worn quilt, I guess that this is one of my "study items". This pattern was a surprisingly difficult one to make, and many were bought, ready marked, from quilt designers. It was a very popular pattern and continued to be made for many years. Thus, the quilting designs do change over the years as fashions changed. This one seems to be one of the later ones, and has similarities with the one presented in Barbara Chainey's Project book.

Note that the colours are reversed - white star with a pink background. A fairly standard layout, however instead of an inner border around the star, the pieces are just lengthened at either end - to make it rectangular. The earlier quilts were square, later ones were rectangular to match the evolving trend in bed sizes.

You can see that the fern and rose design has been replaced with a more modern tulip design in the star rays...

The cotton sateen is very worn on the front of the quilt and it must have been well used....

An interesting quilting design of a crown, perhaps a nod to a royal event. This years exhibition at Jen Jones' Quilt Museum in Lampeter showcased a blue quilt with a similar design...

Here is the Welsh wholecloth in royal blue, seen at the Quilt Museum, Lampeter. This quilt design was featured in the Rural Industries catalogue, and could be ordered in different sizes, from cot quilt to full size by adding extra borders. The quilt features two crowns, possibly to commemorate the coronation of George VI in May 1937. Made by Magdalen Price of Cardiff Road, Aberaman, Aberdare.

The twist is simplified here, and simple roses with circles have appeared in the border...

The outermost border is a swag with a feather device and circles on stalks, also with a more modern feel.....

However, this border has the traditional swirl pattern, well marked or "stamped"...

The corners are turned with a rose - earlier quilts just had a block with cross hatching, the design was not turned....

Here is an attractive design, which I have not seen before....elegant but simple...

The back is in good condition, unlike the front, so must not have been exposed to wear..

This quilt came from an auction in Berwick Upon Tweed and came from one of the large houses there. Northumberland was noted for its expert quilters and also for its quilt designers, of which there were many in Allendale and Weardale. I will be measuring this quilt and adding these to my "Database" of information, I have a long term project to study these...