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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.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Llanelli Pink and Gold Quilt

Here is a Welsh quilt which has a jaunty feel to it - and it is one of my particular favourites because of its lively air. Originally sold at an auction house at Four Hands, Llanelli, it is local to that area. The dealer had seen other, similar quilts, in a similar colour combination, in that area.

The quilt measures 66 x 74 inches and has been well used, but is still in good condition. One side is a mid gold colour cotton sateen, the other a rich pink colour. The quilting thread is gold. The quilt edge is neatly hand sewn.

The quilting designs are very pleasing on this quilt. There is a central medallion of beech leaves, surrounded by circles and spirals; there are fans and large daisies and a lively four lobed flower design. Multiple outlines add energy to the whole. The wadding is carded lambswool and the stitching assured. This quilt was undoubtedly made by a local quilter using designs traditional to that area.

A limited number of templates have been used to great effect, with outlining adding a great amount of energy. The quilt is in very vivid colours (the photos here look a bit subdued compared to the actual quilt). It just proves that in quilting, simple designs are often the most effective, especially if arranged skillfully and, in the Welsh tradition, outlined for additional emphasis. Welsh quilting at its best.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Bellringing Weekend - July

Its that time of year that there is a lot of bellringing for weddings - yesterday we rang at Hollesley Church - one of my favourites as it is near the coast and has a rather windswept air about it, lovely on a summer's evening. We rang the bells before the wedding, then rang a quarter of Grandsire Triples after the wedding. Alan McBurnie was the conductor. The bells go even better than they did, as the tower has been strengthened and the bells all have new gudgeons. Some of the bells have new headstocks. An expensive business, maintaining bells.

The wedding had some good musicians - a string quartet, three professional singers...and the flowers were very beautiful. The bellringers usually get paid, in this case we each got the princely sum of £10 each.

Today, I spent the samesaid £10, as a donation at the annual fundraising BBQ held by Brian and Peta Whiting at their farmhouse in Moats Tye, hear Stowmarket (you know,..Delia Smith lives just around the corner...) All profits to the Guild bell restoration fund.

Here's a photo of Brian at his work, cooking the meat and veggie food.

And here's a photo of George Pipe, Maggie Ross and Philip Gorrod ringing handbells.

And here's a photo of the Guild mini ring - not much like actual church bells, but easy enough for the children to have a "go" and portable enough to take to fetes, fairs and other events as PR. Bellringing seems to be a dying art with fewer and fewer youngsters taking up the art.

Finally, here is a photo of my new business cards, complete with quilt photos on the reverse! I am rather pleased with them.....tomorrow - posting quilt to FOQ...

Friday 23 July 2010

Art Nouveau Quilt with Scalloped Edge

Here is a quilt from the Cardigan area. It dates from about 1880 and measures 74 x 84 inches. It was originally bought from Jen Jones many years ago - I bought it from a woman who was selling off some of her collection.

One side is a nice art nouveau print, while the reverse is a clear yellow cotton. The quilt is in good condition and is little used, with only slight fading. The scalloped edge is an "extra" for a special quilt. The edge is finished off with two lines of machine stitching.

The filling is a carded wool, the quilting thread is yellow to match the plain side.

The quilting designs are hard to see on the print side but come into their own on the plain yellow side. These designs include a central design of four lined petals, church windows with chevron and spiral infill, diamond crosshatching, an orangepeel border and large spirals on the scallops. The stitching is expertly done, although a bit quirky, especially the diamonds! Probably made by an experienced quilter, this was a special and "best" quilt.

This is one of the fourteen quilts that toured with Grosvenor Exhibitions last year - when I went to Chilford to pick them up, this one wasn't there - no panic, it had been left behind at the office and was soon posted back to me.

Monday 19 July 2010

Poakalani - Hawaiian Patterns

Just to let people know that Cissy has put the store back up on the Poakalani website - have a look at the large quilt patterns at

Fantastic patterns!!

Ps - Cissy says that she will be adding another 30 vintage patterns on Friday, so you might want to hold off ordering until then....

Sunday 18 July 2010

Welsh Wedding Quilt - 1953 Brechfa

This quilt was made by a Miss Jones of Ty Mawr, Brecfa, for Mrs Margaret Davies of Horeb for her wedding in 1953, and has been stored ever since. It still has the original name tag from Miss Jones. The quilt has been exhibited in Brecfa, where it received much local attention. Miss Jones was renowned for her quilting skills in the area and her work much sought after. I bought the quilt from Jane Beck in Tregaron.

I think a bit of research could provide a complete name for Miss Jones as well as more information. I contacted another dealer who lives in Brechfa, Geoffrey, and he wrote -" Hi Pippa. Ty Mawr is now a small hotel. It was an apartment for old ladies before. I have asked a couple of people but as yet no name for her. The ones that may have known have recently passed away. "

The quilt is made of royal blue cotton sateen with traditional Carmarthenshire patterns. The reverse is a pretty floral design with a white ground, blue flowers and a dark trellis. The stitching is with cream thread. The designs are geometric designs around a central motif, spirals with quartered diamonds.

This quilt is made with lovely stitching by a very experienced quilter using traditional patterns. My feeling is that the state of quilting was perhaps a bit healthier in Wales than Durham after the war, with good quilts being made in the customary way as special occasion gifts. I guess that by 1953, fabrics were available again. However the quilt was never used and perhaps the era of the quilt as an everyday bedcover had passed - it was a special gift that was to be cherished and admired but not used.

Thursday 15 July 2010

WI Quilt - Sunderland

Here is a quilt that I bought recently. An elderly lady had brought in four quilts, that she and her WI (Womens Institute) group had made in the late 30's and early 40's, to sell through an auction point. This is one of them. All four sold quickly as they had been very much undervalued. Many members of the public and so-called antiques experts have no real appreciation of the value of textiles. This seems especially the case inthe areas where quilts were made and quilts are regarded as commonplace.

The quilt is 85 x 94 inches. It was sold as a "summer quilt" ie a light weight one with thinner cotton wadding. The colour is salmon on both sides. It looks unused, although there are some faded areas.

The auctionpoint was in Sunderland and although the sellers name was not released, the auctioneer hazarded a guess that the WI group might have been in the Sunderland or Washington area.

There is a wide outer margin with two lines of machine stitching. The quilting is fine, at 12 - 14 stitches, but not very even and is rather erratic in places. This might be expected in a group quilt with several people working together. The design is large but striking, with curved feathers and diamond infill (variable). There is some clamshell infill, and a square centre with more curved feathers, daiseys and some spiral infill. Although unused, there is no pencil marking evident.

The Womens Institute did much to keep quilting alive during and after the war. Post war, it held classes and exhibitions. It also published a booklet - Quilting, by Kay, Marchbank and Showler. My copy dates from 1979. It shows only two methods of finishing a quilt - a piped edge and a hand sewn edge. Machine stitched edges were supposedly frowned upon, thus I was a bit amused to find this WI quilt with machine finished edges. The habit of machining the edges must have been a longstanding one in the northeast.

In the book , there is much practical advice about marking and designing a quilt - and mentions effective design, the scale of infill in relation to motifs, and the effective marking of feathers. This quilt shows that the WI did achieve an improvement of design over that practiced by the other surviving groups. However, in reality, the designs are similar to the club quilts in that the motifs are usually a few larger and striking templates that cover the cloth with an economy of sewing.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Hawaiian Quilt - Very Nearly Finished

Here is my Hawaiian Quilt - I am sewing on the binding and then will put on the sleeve and a label. I am using a double binding cut on the straight grain, I find this the most satisfactory treatment. I had a bit of a panic, I wasn't sure that there was enough fabric left to make a double binding. It is nearly impossible to match plain coloured fabrics, especially as the cloth is a brand which is not available in this country, having been bought on one of my trips to Florida. I was considering the alternatives - but luckily, after careful measuring I calculated that there was enough fabric to make 4" strips - a bit narrower than my usual 4 1/2" strips but near enough! This will result in a 3/4" finished binding.
The quilt has to be posted off to the Festival of Quilts soon (to arrive by the 30th July), so I am glad to be making good progress on it. The most difficult process is to defur the quilt - I have to do this with sticky tape and it is a very long process.

The two Allendale quilts do not have to be posted - they will be taken up to Birmingham on the 18th and hung on the Wednesday afternoon, but I still have to make and sew the sleeves for the two quilts. They have also been given the defurring treatment - cat hair gets everywhere...

Sunday 11 July 2010

Wedding Quilts - Early 1940's South Shields, Co Durham

This quilt was the seller's mum's wedding quilt. Mother was called Jennie Bertram, and she married Harold Wilson (no, not the). She lived at South Crofton Street, South Sheilds, and married in the early 1940's. Jennie worked as a wages clerk for the bus company. The whole family were staunch Methodists and regular chapel goers, so her mother commissioned the ladies of the Harton Road Chapel quilting group to make this quilt. Rationing was in force - she wasn't sure what effect this had on the quilt - but did know that gran asked for it to be "double quilted" - made of double thickness wadding - to make it extra warm.

Cotton sateen was last made in 1936 - it was very labour intensive to make - so this fabric must have been pre-war stock. Cotton sateen really is sturdy, and it becomes very soft after reapeated washing.

This quilt was used constantly - it went with the family to Hucknell in the Midlands, to Ashington and finally Newbiggin in Northumberland. The seller, Jen Preston, remembers it from when she was little - stroking it and tracing the patterns with her finger. Her Mum used it until the 1990's, until Geoffrey died, when it was given to Jen.

The quilt is very heavy and thick. It measures 72 x 72 inches and is dusty pink on one side and old gold on the other. No blue pencil markings survive due to washing and use. Stitches are large due to the heavy wadding, about 6 - 8 stitches per inch. The quilting thread is gold, to match the front of the quilt.

Quilting patterns seen are large pointed flowers, curved feathers and a true lovers knot plus diamond infill. The diamonds are very variable, and the feathers are very curious - very crudely drawn. There is no curving to the individual feathers and the total effect is that of a large worm or grub. There is a single line of stitching next to a very wide margin.

This quilt did have some limitations - it had to be made during rationing when fabric persumably was difficult to get - it had double wadding - yet it shows how the designs had become much simpler and altho pleasant in total effect lack the skill seen in other quilts.

Thursday 8 July 2010


Here is Monkey with his first mouse - after three years of indoor cat prey, flies and spiders - he was very proud. He did not identify it as food, however!

I would rather not have mice inside the house but once this baby field mouse found its way into my utility room, it was doomed.....Monkey is an Oriental, which means he is a solid colour Siamese. I grew up with Siamese cats and like them very much although they have changed a lot from the "old fashioned" ones I knew ...selective breeding in progress and Darwinism in action.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

1940's Quilts - Wilkinson Wedding Quilt 1946

I am interested in this period as it contrasts well with the inter war era, but is not too far distant, memories are good of this era. Quilting was in decline after the war - little fabric had been available during the war years and people were too busy doing other things - but there were a few quilters still around. My feeling is that quilts for everyday use had been replaced by storebought goods, and quilts now became a "special occasion" gift - often a wedding gift. I am going to present some quilts from this era - three wedding quilts and one made by the WI. It is supposed that quilting, especially quilt marking skills, declined and although the designs are pleasing, you will see that the motifs are enlarged, simplified and the arrangements lack the earlier grace and expertise of design.

Here is a wedding quilt. It was given to the seller's parents, Doris and Geoffrey Wilkinson when they married in June 1946. They lived on a farm called Shittlehopeside Farm in Weardale. The quilt was a wedding gift given by Geoffrey's mother,Isabella Craig, who lived at the adjoining farm, Jollybody Farm near Stanhope, in Weardale. She had lived all her life in the dale, and was a quilter. However, this quilt was made by her friend Mrs. Ninnums who later lived near Leadgate, Consett, where her husband was a policeman. Because Isabella did not go out of the Dale except to go shopping at Barnard Castle, it is supposed that Mrs. Ninnums had lived near Stanhope in earlier years.

This quilt has never been used, it was always kept wrapped in a white sheet which was changed regularly. It has never been washed and the gold side still has the quilters blue pencil markings. The quilt measures 92 x 97 inches and is a salmon colour on one side and gold on the other.

In this quilt, there is a large central medallion with straight and curved feathers.The motifs are striking but large and cover the cloth well.Two lines of swags are found around the edges, with diamond infill. Baskets filled with leaves or feathers are seen in the quilt corners. And notice the horseshoe near the corner motif - a good luck symbol. White thread is used, with quilting about 8 - 10 stitches per inch. The edges are bound with a single line of machine stitching. The wadding is of cotton.

Mrs Ninnums was obviously an experienced quilter. She produced a striking quilt with some effective use of templates. The designs cover the surface well and are large and bold but with little subtlety of the older quilts.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Red Paisley Welsh Quilt

The Welsh were fond of their paisley fabrics, especially in dark, rich colours. Red paisley was a particular favorite. Red was supposedly a warming colour, and it was a favoured colour for children. It was also thought to have healing properties, thus was often used to surround those ill in the sickroom. Remember those red underwear sets of red cotton flannel...?

This quilt is rectangular, 65 x 85 inches. It is a very heavy quilt as it has an old blanket as a filling. It is nicely quilted - but - the design is hard to see as the fabric is so lively. In fact, the design is the four lobed flower design, one I call "orange peel" - I wonder what their name for this pattern was? The panels are set together on the sewing machine and the edges neatly finished off by hand.

It is said by many that the love for paisley and other printed fabrics caused the demise of Welsh quilting as the elaborate stitching was not very apparent on patterned and lively fabrics. It is hard to know now if this was so.

This quilt has no provenance but was originally bought from a Decorative Arts Fair in Bristol many years ago and then sold to me by its owner in Wiltshire. It probably dates from the turn of the century.

Notice that the two sides are made of different paisley patterns - there seem to have been a great variety of these fabrics available and few seem exactly the same. Turkey Red, a process for dying cloth and fibres, was very popular as it was the first red to be fast, ie it did not fade like the earlier madder reds and also was a bright true red. You can find more about the turkey red process in the Quilt Study Journals - see Deryn O'Conner's article in Volume 1.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Engagement Congratulations

We often ring the bells for special occasions - this week we rang a quarter of spliced Surprise Minor - and the special event was the engagement of Richard Munnings and Ruth Eagle, who got engaged a week ago. Here's the photo taken last night after the quarter of spliced Rossendale, Stamford, Warkworth and Annable's London. Rather hot work this week! And, just as we were starting off, the treble bellrope (the one I was ringing) broke and it took about 20 minutes to go up into the bellchamber and fit a new rope. But the ringing was very good after that, if I do say so myself....

Congratulations Richy and Ruthie!! ( that's them in the front row, with me on the left) .The other ringers are Kate (Ruth's mum), Mike and Mary.