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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.

Friday 30 April 2010

Quilting samples

I recently bought a sample of quilting. The seller was a woman from Bideford, Devon, who was selling off bits and pieces of her late mother’s estate. Her mother had been interested in sewing, and had been given some samples of quilting by a neighbour. I bid on the one that looked welsh - it was orange with beech leaves, and a neatly piped edge. There were no other bids so I got it at a very reasonable price. The other samples were quilted with more conventional north country motifs.

When the sample arrived in the post, it had a name and address attached to the reverse - a Mrs Harrhy of 23 Thornwood, Treharris, South Wales. The seller surmised that all the samples had been made by the same quilter -this may or may not be the case- anyhow I was kicking myself for not taking more notice of the other samples.

I later bought two more of the samples - no name attached - one of a welsh looking sample in pink with welsh looking pots of flowers neatly finished- and one a more usual grey pillow top of a feathered wreath (unfinished).

In the Autumn 2009 issue of Culcita, Clare Claridge describes a quilt at St Fagans, where nine quilting samples were joined together to make a quilt - quilt-as-you-go of the 1950’s? She surmised that the samples might have been apprentice samples or RIB samples. One of the motifs was recognised as being designed by Jessie Edwards - and the samples had been set together by Phylis Margaret Jeffries of Merthyr Tydful, one of Jessie’s students. A full copy of this article can be found on the BQSG website, under “articles“.

This posed the question, whether these samples found in Devon could be similar Rural Industries Bureau or quilting class samples? The connection is tenuous and there is no explanation as to how the samples from Wales (and elsewhere?) ended up in Devon. The only possible link was a local Chapel. Suffice it to say, Mrs Harrhy for some reason felt that it was important that her work be identified as hers, so it must have been either a contest or a working sample, or something that was to be returned to her. The postal address with street number is clearly a way to contact the quilter.

It would be interesting to know more about this quilter. I do not know much about genealogical research but at some point will be doing further research to see if anything can be found. Clare is doing research on other quilters of South Wales and I look forward to her findings.


  1. What lovely samples Pippa. I like the orange sample. I have seen several quilts recently where blocks of quilting have been joined together. I am thinking of doing this myself.

  2. Clare C wrote: Since the V&A meeting I have made several advances:

    from Muriel Rose Diary of trip to S. Wales with M. FitzRandolph 1934 - Abertridwr: 'trying baskets of flowers' - is there a C in a circle or diamond anywhere on the pink runner?
    lot of correspondence between MFR [RIB], M Rose [Little Gallery] and Mrs Elizabeth Hake [English Quilting, Batsford 1937] who lived in Yarcombe, Honiton, Devon - lot of WI activity in the area. Rachel N, lives in Exeter and is researching Hake - she would be worth contacting.