Monday 24 May 2010
A Plain Welsh Wool Quilt
Here is a quilt that is one of my "study items". OK,.... its an UGLY quilt but I still like it. This quilt only cost me £5 and the postage was more than the cost of the quilt at £8.50. I had always wondered what cloth it was made of, as it seemed very rough and heavy. So I was interested to see at the V & A quilt exhibition the blue and red striped Welsh quilt with central panel from Jen Jones as the fabric seemed the same as that in this quilt. The fabric is a coarse woven woolen cloth, bright orange on one side and a medium purple on the other. The purple side is very worn, the orange side in better shape - however, the orange side has proved difficult to photograph for some reason.
I looked at the fabric with my microscope (used long ago for counting fossil pollen grains) and saw that the fibres looked animal and not plant, there seemed to be scales which would indicate wool. The microscope is set up for transmitted light so not the best for this kind of work!(Try passing light through a heavy cloth...top lighting needed).
The quilt measures 72 x 82 inches and through the holes one can easily see a woolen blanket as a filling. In places the worn edges have been rebound with an artificial mustard or gold coloured knit fabric, complete with a seam - it looks as if it is a reused garment of some sort.
Stitching with a red thread is present although it is coarsely done, and some has pulled/fallen out and is now no longer present. However, the quilting does follow the Welsh wholecloth pattern in that there is a central motif and two borders. The pattern is really hard to discern but looks like a crosshatched infill on the edges with a central motif of a "propeller" i.e. four paisley or tear drop shapes. The stitching is crude but between the paisleys there seems to be a rough series of fan shapes, possibly a rough tulip shape.
This quilt must have been very warm as it has obviously been used a lot. The purple side must have been the upper side as it is worn whilst the orange side is in much better shape.
I bought the quilt from a dealer who lives in Llanddowror, Carmarthenshire; she bought it at a house sale along with other quilts and blankets.
It's all very well having beautiful wholecloths - but I think this is probably more similar to what could commonly have been found on a bed - a sturdy and warm quilt made of locally made woolen textiles.