Monday 24 May 2010
Welsh Quilt that went to Australia
And came back again! Here is a lovely quilt with very nice stitching. This quilt was made just outside Carmarthen in Wales. It was taken to Australia by a member of the family and was later bought by a dealer and brought back to Wales. I bought it when a woman was selling off some of her quilt collection.
One side of this quilt is white cotton sateen - presumably the "best" side as it shows up the quilting beautifully and is in good condition. The reverse is patchwork in shades of beige and cream. Today we find patchwork more interesting and assume that this was the best side. But patchwork in England and Wales had a connotation of poverty, of mend and make do, so this side was probably the everyday side. The fabrics here are a variety of cotton twills, plain weaves, and dimities. One or two of these fabrics were not as strong as the others and are very whiskered. Luckily this is not too apparent as the light fabrics and wool disguise this.
One thing to note about this quilt is that it is all handsewn - there is no machine stitching. The patchwork is all seamed by hand as is the edge and the quilting, of course. This and the elaborate quilting might indicate an earlier date of 1880-1890.
The quilting on this quilt is wonderful. The central motif is an eight petalled flower motif set in an octogon. There are surrounding leaf motifs, circles, fans and spirals. The border is church windows with a leaf motif.
The wadding is lambswool, and if you hold it up to the light you can see some tufts of darker wool amongst the lighter ones. The quilt measures 80 x 80".
I hope to discuss the difference between America and Britain in the cultural status of quilts in a later post. As an American, I was rather shocked to find that patchwork and quilting has a strong association with poverty in this country. One of my old university friends, a lively Welshwoman from the vallies,on hearing that I was interested in Welsh quilts, snorted and said why was I bothering with those old things?