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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.

Friday 6 January 2012

Three Cushions - Amy Emms??

I have three cushions that are supposedly made by Amy Emms. I bought all of them from Owena, who lives in Newton Aycliffe and knew Amy herself. Owena and her husband had a shop 20 years ago, and Amy would come in for a cup of tea and a natter. She would not disclose the name of the family which sold these items but assured me that they were a well known family from the Teesdale area of Durham. There were quilts and eiderdowns also made by Amy for sale but I could only afford these cushions.

At a certain date (1980's?) Amy had labels made up - these cushions have no such labels - but of course earlier items will have no labels.

Of course Amy's daughter Olive quilted also, and there is a possibility that these might be Olive's.

Here is one cushion cover. It is in cream satin and shows a lovers knot with feathers. The quilting is fine and neatly done.

The reverse of this cushion has a central diamond, all filled with crosshatching. The cushion has a piped edge with a placket to the opening. There are three buttons - one of which is missing on this cushion - all are neatly thread covered using a button hole stitch. The style fits in with Amy's working methods of finishing cushions as set out in her book. The other two cushions are made up similarly. This cushion has been used but is in good condition.

This is another of the cushions. It is quilted with four large feather motifs. There is a band of 1" surrounding the cushion. There was a matching cushion (which I did not buy) which had a feather wreath. Lilian Hedley says this one is, in her opinion, most in Amy's style.

Again, the quilting is very neatly done.

The back has a basket weave pattern.

The third cushion is grey satin and has a feather wreath.

The back has a basket weave pattern.

A close up of the neat quilting.

There are other cushions to compare these with - all the items that Amy had in her house are shown in the Amy Emms book(1990). There are also two of Amy's cushions shown in Diana Lodge's Book Quilting (1995). These cushions are similar to the feather wreath cushion above, however, the crosshatching is larger. I also noticed recently that Jenny Barlow's new DVD shows two round "box" cushions - however these were more recently made and have labels!

One final wrinkle is that, as Lilian has told me, Amy often shared her quilting with others - her daughter Olive and her son knew how to quilt and , indeed, finished off her last quilt together when Amy was very ill. Lilian herself did a lot of Amy's quilting, as Amy preferred to talk rather than quilt as she got older.

The jury is out on this one! I would like to believe that these are Amy's work but have no direct proof that they are...however, they are in her style, and if not by Amy, may be by one of her students or family members.


  1. It's always wonderful to see such beautiful and skilled hand work - and I must confess I often miss it when I visit an exhibition or quilt show.
    Thank you for sharing, Pippa!

  2. Hi Pippa, I'm ashamed to say it's a while since I visited your blog but am catching up...great to see these cushions, my Mother has cushions definately quilted by Amy Emms, I will try to get photos sometime on my next to do more catch up....

    Best wishes
    Kay in Scotland