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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 28 February 2011

Green and Peach Brocade Welsh Quilt

Here is a Welsh quilt with some slightly unusual quilting designs; I begin to think that almost every Welsh quilter had her own designs, because there seems to be a much greater variety of quilting motifs in the Welsh quilts than in the North Country quilts.

One side of the quilt is an attractive peach brocade, which was popular for decorating at that period...the other side is a plain green sateen cotton. From the cotton thread used and the stitching, we can see that the peach is the top side.

This quilt is smaller than some of the others at 67 inches square. It came from a dealer- Geoff from Brechfa, who enjoys going to country auctions and sometimes buys quilts. ( I have another red and white strippy that was bought by Geoff - the day was so bitterly cold that he bought the quilt for £5 to wrap around himself and keep warm - then later sold the quilt to me - a dual duty quilt...) This quilt is probably from Cardiganshire.

You can see that there are no fields or divisions marked out with straight lines of stitching here, although there is a general central area and a border area. You can see that the central area is framed by the oblong shapes, then there are two lines of circular motifs as borders. The quilting motifs include an oval motif with infill, spirals and a circle with spiral infill (looking vaguely like a tennis ball or a yin yan sign?) Still very Welsh but more individualistic to the quilter. No date, but probably later at 1920-1930.

I found this split in the fabric at one corner, you can see that the filling is carded wool, and not a blanket as is often the case. The photo also shows the brocade with the "primroses".

Not an expensive quilt, but one with a certain charm to it - I like the peach coloured fabric and the quirky designs. Certainly not RIB!!

Friday 25 February 2011

Nature Print/Earth FlowerWelsh Quilt

This is very much a typical bed quilt - made in the Rhondda vallies about 1910-1930. The Art Deco fabric is known variously as Earth Flower, Mushroom Flower and Nature Print, it shows a stylised bunch of flowers and came in a variety of colour ways. One side is grey with pinks and browns - the reverse has cream with blues, browns and greens. The size is 80 x 80 inches. Condition is very good with little wear and no fading.

It was hard to capture the quilting, it is somewhat coarse but effective - it consists of simple twists, crosshatching and a central spiral or circular motif. The wadding is carded wool.

A closeup of the two fabrics - rather cheerful, I think.

The corner of the quilt, showing the hand sewn edge, which is typical of Welsh quilts. This quilt is a very heavy quilt, as it has a woollen blanket inside, and would have been a very warm quilt in use. I wonder why these quilts were never used - were they kept for "special" or were they just considered old fashioned?

Monday 21 February 2011

Progress with Sawtooth Diamond top

You may remember that I bought this antique marked top, and decided to recreate the quilt. Finally, the top is underway as I have located some suitable fabric. (Many thanks to Susan B who offered some from her stash!)

Here is the little sample piece that I made - I bought 1/2 metres before making a big spend on large amounts of fabric.

The fabric that I have finally chosen is from the French General range of Rouenneries - it is a bit darker than the original, but a good approximation, and is dress weight so it quilts nicely. It is a printed solid, not a woven plain, so I'll have to be a bit careful not to erase or scrape the colour off the surface...

Here is "Faded red" another fabric from the Rouenneries series - it was a better match in colour, but proved just too coarse as it is a linen/cotton mix. The other fabric will be easier to quilt.

Here is the centre of the top. I have made half square triangles to finish 2 7/8" because the maths indicated that -the originals did vary a lot! I started with 4" squares, cut these in half and sewed together - this made a larger unit which I could trim down exactly to 3 3/8". I find it easier and more precise to trim the units down, lining the bias square ruler on the centre seam. I bet the old timers didn't take this care! however, can't shake the way I work...lots more half square triangle units to make; the plain borders will be easy to run up I think. I am just wondering whether I should trace the designs directly from the top, or use the tracing which is only 1/4 of the whole - it may be possible to trace directly from the light sections but I don't think it will be possible to trace from the dark sections - I will have to experiment on the light table to find out.
The pink Kona cotton will make a nice backing, which will show off the quilting nicely.

Friday 18 February 2011

Welsh Green and Yellow Quilt - Unusual Patterns

Here is a Welsh quilt with rather atypical quilting designs. The size is 70 x 82 inches and the stitching is of very good quality. Unfortunately, I was promised some further information about the quilt, which never arrived - various excuses - I never knew what happened and finally had to give up on it. However, the designs are of interest; the colour combination is the ever popular green and gold.

The outer borders are unusual for a Welsh quilt - they include swags plus a double scale or clamshell pattern infill.

There are more typical fans with some nice echo quilting.

The centre is formed by smaller swags, with diamond infill.

In the corner , you can see a striking leaf or fleur de lys. The colours in this photo are more lifelike - a strong green and a strong gold. It also shows the fine stitching.

The reverse of the quilt, in green. The yellow thread shows through nicely on this side.

A bit of a puzzle, this quilt, I only wish that I had received the details that were promised to me.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Planning a Ringing Outing

Last spring, our "Ring and Walk" Pettistree outing between Fressingfield and Wingfield was a big success, so Mike and I are planning another for April. The formula is a bit demanding - there have to be two towers with bells - linked by a short but picturesque walk -suitable parking for the cars- with a pub at either end, one of which is suitable for lunch for 20 to 30 people.

On Saturday, we tried to walk from Yaxley to Eye. The footpath was overgrown and a bit of a scramble - worse, there was no pub in Eye! The Queens Head was closed for repairs.....and the bells at Eye seemed too heavy for our ringers.

On Sunday, our walk met with more success...

We started at Stoke Ash, a small village next to the Ipswich to Norwich Road (an old Roman Road). It seems that excavations in 2004 have shown that there was a Roman staging post here, and it was much larger then...there was a very pleasant 30 minute walk to...

Thornham church. The paths were broad and well maintained and passed some lovely old cottages.

This is the Waterhouses area, with its ford - imagine driving through this every morning on your way to work...

The ford was too deep for our boots, so to get over the footbridge we had to "run the gauntlet " past loud geese -

And there are two good pubs at either end, the White Horse and the popular Four Horseshoes at Thornham (above). The next stage will be to make the bookings - entry to the churches and arranging the food - if only we could order up the good weather.

This week, I have done something I thought I would never do again - some dressmaking. It brings back unpleasant memories of "home ec" at jr. high school...however, I have found it difficult to buy cotton trousers with nice fabric - so frustrating when there is great fabric in the quilt stores. So I bought this pattern - have modified it to match a favorite pair of trousers -I bought 2 metres of fabric from Quilters Haven - it is Habitat by Michele D'Amore - hope it turns out is does, I'll make some more - I want a pair of red paisley trousers...LOL..

Monday 14 February 2011

Cream and Gold Welsh Wholecloth

Here is a lovely wholecloth with bright gold on one side and a dark cream or beige on the other side. This quilt is 80 x 80 inches and was only the second welsh quilt that I bought. But it has the lovely welsh quilting designs that are so typcial.

This photo shows the colours a bit better, although the gold is actually a bit brighter than shown. The quilt is used but in good condition, the cotton sateen cloth is very soft and lovely with age. The filling is carded wool.

You can see the outer borders of leaves and spirals - with good, dense quilting.

The centre medallion is a bordered square surrounded by beech leaves.

I love these straight leaf motifs....No provenance on this one, it came from a dealer in Tiverton, Devon. No date, but probably about 1900 I would think. A lovely quilt, quiet colours but with lovely, dense quilting. I would be proud to make one like this!

Friday 11 February 2011

Pink Welsh Quilt with Frill

This is a wholecloth quilt in a light pink cotton sateen, with frills to all sides. The wadding is carded wool, and the stitching is good. The size is 78 x 82 inches.

The central coin is of four beech leaves, surrounded by twists and spirals. There is the crank design - four lobed motif - but also seen here is a motif of four hearts touching, to form a flower. Hearts on a Welsh quilt are commonly supposed to signify a wedding quilt, but actually, the heart is not an uncommon design in Welsh quilts.

On the outside border is a small spiral design. Again,one can see the four lobed design and the hearts design. The frill is 4 inches wide, of matching double fabric.

Unfortunately, the frill is worn in some places and looks quite tatty. Some would repair or replace - but I would rather keep it "as is".

Corner of the quilt, again showing the nice quilting. This would have been a very feminine quilt - what a pleasure to have, it was someone's favorite, I'm sure.

No provenance on this quilt - it came from a dealer in Swansea, who bought both from the public and at auctions.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Framed Quilt Poster and Samplers

Here is an old poster that I bought inexpensively on Ebay last year. It shows a photo of a Welsh woman in traditional garb, and advertises "The Great Welsh Patchwork Quilt Show" at the Orangery in Holland Park. Interesting that at that time, they had to state "patchwork quilt" not just "quilt"; I would think that today "quilt" would suffice.

I don't know whose exhibition it was - Ron Simpson's or Jen Jones' ? I assume that it was a show and sale of quilts. It has no year - just a date - November 5 - 15 and venue. Does anyone know the year? Did anyone go to this show?

This Christmas, I had the poster framed as a gift to myself - needless to say, it cost about four times as much to frame as it did to buy!

Running out of space in the living room - I used to do a lot of embroidery and cross stitch - I still take it on holiday. The sampler in the middle is one that was given to me as a kit for Christmas by mother one year when I was a teenager (I had already completed one; seems a rather ambitious gift these days).Carol was given one too - I think they were by Paragon or another large American company - bought at the needlework shop at Clayton's in Palmer Square, Princeton.

Another area in the front hall (just near the kitty litter boxes!) More family photos and samplers. The sampler on the left is Carol's Christmas sampler - when she died in 1989, I took the partly completed sampler home with me. With a young family, it was not finished and framed until 1998. I think that they are copies of American samplers.

The wall hanging is a silk scarf designed by local artist and businessman Stuart Morris several years ago when he was experimenting with silk printing (needless to say, it is all done in China now, where it is cheaper and there is more expertise). I quilted several different scarves for a trade fair. This was my favorite and I reappropriated it- it was quite freely hand quilted with no marking.

Also in the living room is this quilt - it is to a pattern, Heartz by Jan Mullen - Hazel Judge saw Jan's original quilt in the Quilters Haven window and liked it - I made her one and also made myself one. The salmon fabric is a dyeing mistake - I thought it would never be used - but it proved just the right colour for the two quilts. The quilts were machine quilted with a nice leaf and vine pattern around the border which was fun to do.

Monday 7 February 2011

Surprise Discovery

On Saturday, I was teaching Hand Quilting and Torn and Woven Quilts at Quilters Haven. I happened to spot this fabric....

It is "Faded Red" a Rouenerries fabric by Moda - it is a very near match to the fabric in the Northumberland stamped top - it is the right color and also has the red and white threads...

....You can see how close a match it is to the original, which I didn't think was possible! The only drawback is, it is a linen and cotton mix and is a heavier weight than the Kona cotton. I bought 1/2 metre - I will wash it (in case there is a dressing) and then make up a sample piece to see how it sews and quilts. If all goes well I will go back and buy more - the pink Kona cotton will be saved for another project (it would make a good quilt backing for a wholecloth).

...first signs of spring in the garden, some lavender crocuses...

I thought you might be amused to see this, it recently won a contest for Best Pub sign...the Vulcan Arms in Sizewell. Sizewell is a small fishing village that has a pub - and two nuclear power stations.We went for a walk there yesterday, along the beach to Minsmere and back. We got lost and ended up walking much further than intended...Vulcan of course is a Roman god, there is also a bomber of the same name ....and Mr. Spock.....very amusing to this girl of a certain age.

Thursday 3 February 2011

New Fabric for Northumberland Sawtooth Centre Diamond

You may remember that I bought this "stamped" top last year. Rather than quilt it, I thought that it would be fun to buy new fabric and make another top, then transfer the quilting designs from the old top. This week, my order from Simply Solids arrived.

As well as the fabric, I bought a Kona Cotton shade card - I thought it would be printed, but it has little squares of fabric stuck on, which is neat. I don't imagine that all these colours are available in the UK! And, I guess it is really for shop owners and wholesalers, as it talks about a minimum order of 2000 yards for custom colours...

Here is the fabric I ordered - Blush Pink and Bleached White. Although I did "reckon" the amount I would need, the half square triangles may need a bit more! I guess that I can always order a bit more if I need it....

You can see that the colour match is not bad, although "melon" is a slightly better match. Anyhow, I am not trying to make an exact reproduction - the actual fabrics are heavier weight - and I would have to add many decades of accumulated grime as well...

Recently while at a local quilt shop, I bought this stencil on the spur of the moment - thought that it might be suitable. It is the right size for the border - but it is not the same design. The original design had two strands woven under and over. So I'll use the original tracings...

Here is one part of the tracing - you can see the lovely freehand scroll work - the zigzag markings are the outline quilting in the half square triangles.

I'll start to sew the top soon - it should be fairly straightforward - except for those half square triangles - the originals are more rectangles - and the points are often lopped off - I'll have to do the best that I can....
Then it will be a simple matter of using my light table to trace the quilting designs off the tracings. I'll have to finish the Pilani quilt first, before I can start to quilt this top. At least my sewing machine's tension will be better than the original!
I am nearly at my 100 th post - which is surprising - however, I have decided that I will do something special for my one year anniversary - on April 8th.Watch this space....