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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.

Monday 27 September 2010

Fushia Welsh Quilt

Here is a recent purchase - a Welsh Quilt in a fushia or bright pink colour. The top is a shiny artificial satin fabric. It has a frill along two sides only, and is 82 x 86 inches. It is made in the traditional way, but has only a thin wadding. From the feel of it, the wadding is a thin woollen cloth. The backing is very unusual, a fabric with a honeycomb or waffle pattern. The stitching is neat with a dark pink thread. The quilt is in good condition apart from some fades along folds.

Here is a photo of the back, showing the honeycomb fabric.

The borders are neatly hand sewn with a running stitch, and the frills (along two sides only) are double sided and 6" wide.

Quilting patterns include spirals, four lobed designs and cross hatching. There is a central medallion which is a square subdivided into nine blocks, each of which has either a spiral design or a lobed design. The corner fans are rather odd heart outlines in a crosshatched area. So the quilting designs do follow the traditional patterns, but as so often happens with Welsh quilts, is rather individual, or autosyncratic, to the quilter. She was just quilting designs which were familiar and comfortable to her. Apart from the Rural Industries quilts, there were no standardised patterns for Welsh quilts, and they were much more individual and quirky.

Here is the quilt being checked out by Snowy, of course the cats do not have access to the quilt storage room and thus are always very interested in the quilts which come downstairs.

This quilt was undoubtedly a very elegant quilt in its day. The quilt was bought many years ago in a small antique shop in the Llandovery area.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Northumberland Stamped Quilt Top

Here is my most recent purchase - a marked quilt top from Northumberland. It looks fairly old and is a bit grubby but cannot be washed due to the quilt markings. It was sold as an unfinished project, but I won't quilt it, but just keep it as it is. It is a large top, 91 x 96 inches. It is interesting to see how it has been marked and also, how it has been constructed. The overall pattern is a toothed central diamond with borders,again sawtoothed.

The top is all machine pieced, and you can see that the sewing machine had tension problems in the bobbin! The fabrics are a natural white cotton twill and a pink fabric. You can see here that although the fabric reads as pink, it is actually woven white and red threads.

In places, the sewer did not unpick the poor tension but just oversewed the seam line. I wonder how sturdy this top would have been in use! So often, the patchwork on these quilts is very slapdash.....the tips are often cut off on the half triangles but still, the overall effect is good...
It doesn't come out very well in this photo, but if you look carefully you can see a woven plait carefully marked in blue pencil. This is from the border, there is a lot of cross hatching in various areas.

In the outer white border, a four petalled flower pattern has been marked.

And here, in the innerwhite border, a curlicue floral design has been marked. I dont have any details about provenance, apart from the fact that the seller was a Miss Baxter and the top came from Northumberland. A big project for a quilter - perhaps that was why it was never completed.

Sunday 12 September 2010

St Mary le Tower Ipswich Outing to Cambridgeshire

Yesterday was the annual ringing outing of the St Mary le Tower bellringers. The day was arranged by George Pipe, a well known ringer from Ipswich. We went to Cambridgeshire, a round trip of about 150 miles. Seven churches were visited, most with spires (unlike most Suffolk churches which have sturdy towers). Before lunch we went to Ely. The cathedral at Ely has no bells, so we rang at the parish church, St Marys. The black and white house is associated with Oliver Cromwell.

We also rang at Bluntisham. Some of you may be familiar with the books of Dorothy Sayers, who wrote The Nine Tailors and Gaudy Night among others. The bellringing in The Nine Tailors is at fictional churches in the Fens, but as her father was rector at this church, Bluntisham, she knew bellringing from her childhood days. There are eight bells here.

We had lunch at Stretham in the Red Lion. When we came out, my car had a very flat tyre, with a big nail to be seen sticking out of it! Luckily we were able to put on the spare (temporary) tyre and drive to the next tower. I will have the get the flat tyre repaired on Monday morning.

And here is All Saints Church, St Ives. The town is attractively situated on the banks of the Great Ouse River. You may remember the nursery rhyme:

As I was going to St Ives I met a man with seven wives, Each wife had seven sacks, Each sack had seven cats, Each cat had seven kits, Kits, cats, sacks, wives, how many were going to St Ives?

There is more than one St Ives, the other is in Cornwall, but as the one in Cambridgeshire is an ancient market town, it has a good claim to be the one in the rhyme...

The church had an exhibit of church vestments; we concluded that the parish lunches were a good fund raising effort, as most of the vestments had been paid for by these.

Here we are ringing at St Ives - eight bells.

And here is Hemmingford Grey church - again on the banks of the Great Ouse. A sign in the churchyard says that it is prohibited to fish from the churchyard - the river runs along one side of the church...Lucy Boston's house is located nearby - it is supposed to be the oldest inhabited house in England, the Children of Green Knowe books were written here and Lucy also made a series of quilts which are featured in a book.

View from the church yard across the river at the end of the day. We went to the Axe and Compass pub before driving home to Suffolk.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Two Cot Quilts

Here are two cot quilts - one a Durham and one Welsh.

The Welsh cot quilt came from Cardigan in West Wales and measures 33 x 27". It dates from about 1900. It is entirely hand quilted and hand pieced. It is very worn, faded and somewhat stained (must have been used for many small babies!)One side is a pink cotton while the other side is patchwork in a simple frame pattern. This must have been very cheerful and colourful at one time, as it is made from flowered scraps of cotton sateen. These are rather small scraps - even the centre is two pieces set together. Fabrics include a pink paisley, a trellis pattern with purple roses, green and also brown paisleys, a pink lozenge pattern and the central fabric with large cabbage roses.

The quilt is simply quilted, with two central panels that are cross hatched, with borders of diamonds with a "union jack" pattern. In each corner is a little heart. The edges are neatly hand stitched. So although a cot quilt, the template is that of a full sized quilt.

The interesting thing to see is that the selvages show on either side of the pink cloth (see photo) - showing that it is made from one width of fabric. A common width of fabric at this time was 36" but in this case the measurement is 27" so, perhaps fabric that is 28" wide. We can see that this is clearly a cot quilt, not a fragment of a larger quilt.

This is a Victorian Durham quilt made to fit a baby's cot (I suppose the American term would be a crib quilt), It measures 36 by 30". If you look at the stitching and the frill, the ivory or white side is the top, while the reverse is a pink colour. The stitching is good throughout, with a midweight cotton wadding.

Quilting patterns seen are cross hatching with a central strip with a "worm" pattern. There is a frill or ruffle made from a single layer of cloth. It is joined to the top with two lines of machine stitching. Although not many survive, it was common to have small quilting frames to make these cot quilts and other small quilted items.

Monday 6 September 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Some photos to show you progress on the new applique top so far, plus others of the yellow top for comparison's sake. I'll let you decide which is the good, and which is the ugly...

Leaning towards starting again and replacing the applique fabric on the yellow top, not sure its worth continuing....and find a more interesting colour too......

Saturday 4 September 2010

New project - Pilani Hawaiian quilt

Pua Pake, or Chrysanthemum
Pilani, a village in Kaui, Hawaii (I think - will ask Cissy)

I have started a new Hawaiian quilt - Pilani from Poakalani. You may remember that I already had one that I was working on - Pua Pake, or Chysanthemum. But that applique was not nice to work on - the yellow fabric was not good quality,thus harder to work with, and there was not enough contrast between mid yellow applique and light background - I really need a darker fabric in gold or apricot I think. So I may start again later with a different coloured Kona cotton.

In the meantime, I bought some cream Kona cotton as a background, and used some extra wide purple Kona cotton that I had brought back from Florida. As the Poakalani patterns are traced onto rather flimsy newsprint, I usually iron the newsprint onto freezer paper to stiffen it up a bit before cutting the pattern out. In this case, you can see that there is a "negative" centre - ie, a hole. I knew that this would cause problems in placing the cut out pattern onto the background fabric - so I have left the centre uncut and intact for now. I will make some freezer paper templates and complete the centre applique with the "freezer paper on top" method when all the rest is finished.

Cutting out the pattern through eight layers of folded fabric is a lengthy process - thank goodness I have my Gingher scissors (still very sharp as they were carefully hidden away when the children were small).

I was also horrified to see that there was a faded patch in one area of the applique fabric when I came to use it - it looked as if the bolt corner had faded in the shop. Luckily, it was on one side of the cloth only and the right side was unaffected. And, in fact, much was cut away when I cut the pilani pattern out.

Placing and pinning the cut fabric onto the backround (using the placement creases) was more difficult this time and took quite a while. My two "helpers" thought that it was great fun. Monkey helpfully brought a large pheasant's feather to join in the fun, which had to be confiscated...finally it was finished.

What a difference using good fabric makes - the applique is much easier as the fabric "behaves" itself and turns under nicely. The whole effect is crisper and much nicer with smoother edges. I'll enjoy this more - later, I'll make a decision as to whether I continue with the yellow applique, or cut my losses and unpick and recover the nice background fabric, and use a darker and better fabric for the applique. I still have the Pua Pake pattern folded away...

I also bought some silk thread at FOQ - it is nice to use, but I think it is the thinness which is good - the thinner good quality cotton seems just as good to use - so not convinced about the extra expense of silk thread. Instinct tells me that cotton might be sturdier in the long term.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Quilts going to France

Here are the quilts that are going off to Jane Rollasons "Exhibition in the Heartland of the Vineyards"Charentes en Couleur - 18 - 19 September. Some of these quilts have been featured in previous posts, however, only three were with the Grosvenor Exhibitions Spring Quilt fairs.
Patchwork with Roses Quilt - 78 x 86 - not including the frill. Quilt owned by Catherine Philips who lived in Ammanford until her death in 1975 at 85 years of age. Quilt believed to have been made by Catherine’s mother. Exact age unsure. Sold to me by granddaughter Ann Fairburn, Ammanford. Back of quilt has fades and stains but front, which was presumably the "good" side,is generally in good condition. Quilting with spirals, flowers, leaves and more. Toured with Spring Quilt Fairs

1920’s Roses - 76 x 78. Originally from Carmarthen, it was owned by an elderly lady and stored for many years in a plastic bag on top of a wardrobe. Doesn’t seem to have been used at all, although there are some small brown marks in one area, not noticeable due to the lively fabric. Hand quilted with spiral patterns. Lovely floral fabric in two slightly different patterns. Toured with Grosvenor Quilt fairs.

Red Paisley Welsh Quilt - 774 x 84 inches - about 1900. A heavyweight quilt with wool wadding inside. Has a circular medallion in the middle. Heavy cotton fabric with two different patterns - the reverse has turkey red with diamond patterns and orchids! Red was a popular colour as it was considered to be warming - red was also considered to have healing properties, so was useful for children and the sick.

Pink/Floral Print Quilt - circa 1900. 80 x 82 inches. Handstitched with some fabulous patterns. Large circular medallion pattern in the centre with scrolls, leafs, chevrons, flowers in pots and more.Probably a wedding quilt, as there are heart motifs. The patterns surrounded by circles are unusual for a Welsh quilt. From South Wales. Carded wool as a filling.This toured with the Quilt Shows (Grosvenor).

Green and Pink Satin Quilt - circa 1900 - 84 x 86 inches -In pink and green with wool wadding inside - good stitching with a large central medallion, leaves, hearts, scrolls and other patterns.

Blue and Pink Strippy - end of 19th century - 72 x 68 inches. Welsh strippies have wide strips and the quilting patterns follow the traditional central medallion pattern, unlike north country strippies in which the quilting designs follow the strips. Here we see spirals, church windows and flowers. The wadding is carded wool. This quilt came from a farm owned by the Howell family , Brynteg, at Cynwyl Elfred in Carmarthenshire and was made by the sellers grandmother, who had considerable skill and may have been a seamstress.