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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 31 May 2012

Quilts Looking Good....

I went to Quilters Haven today - the girls have done a great job of hanging the quilts. Many of these are very large quilts so several are displayed on tables.
I was busy pinning labels to the quilts - and writing a blog for the QH website.

 The teaching area at QH is fairly large - so it easily accommodated the quilts I had chosen. There are three Welsh quilts and fifteen North Country quilts - I think that this was about the right number.

 One of the Welsh quilts - the one with the zany centre by Annie Davies - will be going to Llanidloes soon, as will some of the others.

 The Gardiner basket quilt from Cawcrook looks nice hanging next to Annie Walton's wedding strippy (East Woodton, Northumberland).

The textures of these quilts is wonderful...

....and you can see why they were a favourite wedding present.

I also received a draft copy of my article on the Minerva exhibition for Popular Patchwork and am very pleased with the way it has turned out. It will be in the July issue, available at the end of June.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Exhibition of Welsh and Durham Quilts

Just to announce that a selection of my quilts will be on show in the teaching area at Quilters Haven, Wickham Market in Suffolk  for the following dates:

Thursday 31st May, Friday 1st June and Saturday 2nd June - then again on Wednesday 6th June and Thursday 7th June. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday due to Bank Holidays. Quilters Haven is open from 9 to 5 o'clock - call the shop on 01728 746275 to check, if you are coming any distance.

There will be a few Welsh quilts, but most will be Durham quilts......the quilts will be labelled.

Looking forward to seeing the quilts up, now that the sleeves have been sewn on!!

Sunday 27 May 2012

Pink and Gold Wholecloth with Star Centre

Here is another Durham quilt which I bought  recently. It is a stamped quilt, but has been cut down at some time - hence the low price. But, it has some nice quilting designs.

The central design is a striking star, with ferns and flat irons surrounding this. The stitching is nicely done. The right side is yellow and the reverse is pink - a popular combination.
The border on two sides is a flat iron with roses inside - I had not seen this pattern before.

Another look at the central star. In each star there is a rose and feather device- similar to the Sanderson Star pattern.
We can only guess at the corner pattern, as the quilt has been cut down to the extent that this is missing. There is part of a fern remaining.

The quilt does not seem worn, but the edges must have been tatty as these have been trimmed off and a bought bias tape sewn on. I have not traced these patterns but plan to do this as there is always a lot to discover when you look closely at the quilting designs.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Visit to the Foundling Museum.

On Sunday, it was once again off to the train station in Ipswich, this time to go to London and meet daughter Sophie and her partner Paul for lunch. We had a nice pub lunch (prices much higher in London than in Suffolk!)

After lunch, Sophie and I went to the Foundling Museum. The Foundling Hospital was founded in 1739 by Thomas Coram, who was shocked at the great number of abandoned ("exposed") babies he saw. Demand to take in infants was so great that a lottery system had to be instituted. The infants, if admitted (and many weren't) went to wet nurses, then when old enough, were returned to the hospital where they received food, training and medical care. Child mortality was high, but those that survived left to go into service or be apprenticed.

The interest today is that the hospital archives are extensive, as each infant was recorded in some detail. Often, an identifier (a token) was left with the infant in the hope that the infant might be reclaimed one day. These tokens were varied, but many are fabric items, which comprise the best collection of everyday fabrics extant.

 The hospital was associated with many famous patrons, including Handel.The current exhibition is about the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an early amusement park which featured promenades, dining (at inflated prices) and music - so not much change there, then.

 I also was able to buy two books - one on the tokens....

The other a catalogue of the Threads of Feeling Exhibition. This booklet shows many of the fabric tokens and is very interesting to read. The cover shows a red wool heart, a blue silk ribbon and a linen diaper cap, left with Foundling 10563 a girl admitted 22 November 1758.

Sadly, of the 18500  babies admitted to the hospital by 1800, only 152 were ever reclaimed by a parent.

 The present building dates from 1937 when the original building was demolished and the hospital moved to Berkhamstead. This ornate room was preserved and rebuilt. Sophie is examining a replica foundling uniform - there are many sets of dresses for the young visitors to try on.

 Tokens  left - coins or badges.

More tokens - these are larger ones in the form of necklaces and brooches.

A very interesting small museum with an excellent tea room, near to Russell Square. There was a concert going on with recorders, viola de gamba and harpsichord.

Afterwards, Sophie wanted to buy an 80's dress for a hen party (what about my closet, you might ask??) Anyhow, we set off for Brick Lane which has a huge market and several retro clothes stores. We went into "Beyond" which was large and very crowded. The clothing looked as if it had been bulk bought from Thrift shops in the USA as almost all had American tags in them. Luckily Sophie found a beautiful "prom" dress that fit wonderfully - with 15 minutes to spare before closing time - the best news was that there was a 50% sale, so the dress did not cost £24 but only £12. Success!!

Monday 21 May 2012

BQSG Committee Meeting in York

On Friday, I went up to York to take part in the BQSG committee meeting. Our other two meetings are at FOQ and our autumn seminar.
I shall be going back to York next month for the Quilters Guild Treasurers Meeting.

First, the good news. The quilt museum has had a three year reprieve as the rent has been reduced by the owners, a buildings conservation trust. Perhaps some of the suggestions on making money made by members will be acted on. The signage certainly needs to be improved - some banners or bright flags? It is still hard to locate.

York has a new attraction, a wheel similar to the Eye in London.
York was very busy this visit, as it was race day at York race course. There were huge crowds of punters in the evening, the men in suits and macs, the women in tight dresses and 6" heels (how do they manage to walk in those?)All very merry as they had been drinking all day...

I stayed in the Abbeyfields Guest House which was very pleasant - I immediately changed my booking for next month's stay so that I could go back! The breakfast had to be seen to be believed, with home baked bread...

 Betty's tea rooms were doing a roaring business....its very spacious inside, so you don't have to queue for very long....

Of course the Minster still dominates the town.

We had a really good meeting and got a lot of work done. Afterwards, many of us shot off to the Quilt Museum; I had to buy a few items and look at the exhibits.....then off home on the evening train - two changes but home safely.
It felt good to get back to Ipswich and then Woodbridge.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Walk to Blaxhall

Last weekend we had a walk in the Suffolk countryside - from Blaxhall to Little Glemham and back. This church is Blaxhall church; it has a ring of six bells which is pretty typical for a smaller country church. The plant in the foreground is "Alexanders" or Smyrnium, an Umbellifer. It is a handsome plant, brought here by the Romans from the Mediterranean. At one time it was used as an herb or salad plant, as it is midway between celery and parsley.
Another view across the fields to Blaxhall Church.

The bluebells were just coming into flower and made a lovely carpet of blue.

And - a field with two donkeys....we are able to see all sorts of unusual livestock on our walks, and also some wildlife if we are lucky.

Monday 14 May 2012

Red Paisley Fabric

I recently bought a throw to use for its turkey red fabric. I had previously planned to use  the printed panels for a backing, but now I don't think that I can bear to use them! Too special! So I think that this fabric, which is in fairly good condition, will have to do instead.

 I know that it is possible to buy reproduction fabrics, but I haven't seen a good turkey red for sale when I have been looking for it. And, this is less expensive than the modern imitation.
I did have to do some unpicking, though!

 There are about eight yards of fabric, all in the same pattern. The fabric is only 36" wide, however.

 In the middle was a very worn blanket, very shredded.

I have also bought some vintage cotton wadding from Christine at the Linen Cupboard. It has a slight skin on one side, just as mentioned in the books.

Once I finish my Hawaiian quilt, I want to get started on another wholecloth  the pattern will be the tricky part - what to choose? I do have some ideas...

Friday 11 May 2012

Post WWII Quilting patterns

I have been buying these post war books of quilting patterns recently - there seem to be a whole series and I only have a few so far. Post war, the emphasis seemed to change away from making bed quilts to instead, making smaller beautiful items for the house decor. Pattern books and classes were the starting point.

I still have not found the book with the exact patterns seen in my corded cushions - but some of these are clearly very similar. especially the Penelope patterns.

These books presented attractive photos of the patterns and also gave exact instructions on how to make the item. The next step was to buy a transfer of the desired pattern, so that the markings could be ironed onto the cloth. This could be the right side of the fabric, for embroidery or quilting, or the reverse side, for corded quilting. Of course this sent me off to my corded cushions - success! There are the tell tale blue marks of a transfer having been used on the reverse side, a rather coarse white cotton - so I can definitely say that commercial patterns were used in their making.

I have nearly finished the quilting of my Piilani Hawaiian quilt - only the binding to do. But I have to leave that for the moment - my next project is to make 17 hanging sleeves for the Durham quilts and the remaining Welsh quilts. I am planning to make them in prepared for dyeing fabric and then dye them a matching colour with my Procion dyes - I thought that would be quicker than searching for a matching fabric. Of course a serious washing will be needed to remove all traces of dye!!

Monday 7 May 2012

Welsh Music CDs

I often listen to music while I am hand quilting or sewing on my machine. I have a small collection of Welsh music which is very pleasant to listen to, even if I am not a Welsh speaker (I cannot understand the words - but no matter...)

Of course Wales is renowned for its choirs, musicians and singers; one of the best known is Bryn Terfel - an absolutely wonderful voice. One CD is a collection of Welsh songs...

...while another features a young Welsh tenor, Rhys Meirion.

Harp music is very Welsh too - I remember, during our ecology field work in the Elan Valley in 1980, Pat Wiltshire pulling over to a scenic lay by and putting on a tape of Welsh harp music...this CD is a pleasant collection.

Another CD is this one of Gwenan Gibbard, an Eisteddfod winner who plays the harp and sings as well. Again, no idea what the songs are about but very cheerful to listen to. I had this and the above CDs on a player at Quilters Haven for my first exhibition of Welsh Quilts several years ago and it provided a nice background for the quilts.

Another favourite is this CD of John Taverner's music....

And my absolute favourite, the German countertenor Andreas Scholl singing English folk songs. I would love to go to one of his concerts.

Friday 4 May 2012

Quilts sent off to various places....

It feels as if I have been supporting the Royal Mail single handedly recently! I even had to go down to the office supplies store in Ipswich to stock up on cardboard boxes....
First to be boxed up and sent off were the trophies from the Malvern quilt show. It was interesting to look at the past winners for the Hand Quilting award - and nice to know that both will be enjoyed by other quilters in the coming year.

I also sent off my New Northumberland Sawtooth Quilt to this year's Malvern show. Just hope the folds drop out of it - at least the cat hair is gone after last year's intensive "defurring" session. I love those cats but they certainly leave a lot of fur flying around...
 Then last week I had an emergency call from Ruth at the Loch Lomond Quilt Show in Dunbarton, Scotland- they needed more Turkey red quilts in a hurry. I was in a bit of a dilemma as at least three of my red quilts will be going off to Llanidloes soon. But I sent off this lovely Welsh red paisley quilt with orange peel quilting....
 and this Durham quilt made from preprinted panels.... worn but still striking...
and the zig zag strippy from Northumberland. This is an old quilt but has some fantastic quilting in wholecloth pattern with feathers and ferns.

Before we went away to Staffordshire I also submitted articles (with photos) to the major patchwork magazines to publicise the Minerva 12 summer exhibition at Llanidloes - haven't heard anything further about these but it will be interesting if they do appear.

Plans are afoot also to revamp the BQSG website - perhaps put it onto Wordpress to make it more user friendly - a "Quilt of the Month" and a Blog will hopefully draw more viewers to the site. It looks as if I will be charged with the blog; I will hopefully have some co bloggers on that. If not, I will have to put on my thinking cap, so as not to repeat myself. It seems to me that there are plenty of topics to investigate in the Quilt History vein..

I am also having an exhibition of antique quilts at Quilters Haven, in Wickham Market, Suffolk, the first week of June - there will be some Welsh quilts but I hope to showcase my Durham quilts this time. More details soon on the Quilters Haven website.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Jen Jones - Catalog and DVD

Recently, I sent off for Jen Jones' latest catalogue and also her new DVD which shows the three previous exhibitions.

Here is the DVD. There is a "walk around" with Jen and Gwenllian Ashley (the exhibition's designer) in which they discuss selected quilts. In addition, there are still photos of other quilts in each of the exhibitions. I enjoyed watching this DVD, the only thing that bothered me was the music; it is a modern song in an indie/folkie sort of vein and as there are no credits on the packaging I could not find out who the musician was. Liz N said that she turned the sound off when she was watching it!
Here is the newest catalogue for this year's exhibition - "A Quilted Bridge". It shows the great similarity between the Welsh quilts and the Amish quilts. There are lovely examples from Jen's collection, as well as Amish quilts on loan from the American Museum in Bath.

The format is the same one as before, with lovely illustrations, and at  a reasonable cost.
A Welsh quilt with lovely Welsh stitching from Jen's collection.

This exhibition is of course complimented by Dorothy Oslers' recent book publication, Amish Quilts and the Welsh Connection, which sets out clearly the results of Oslers' research on Welsh settlements in the USA.

To get your copy of the catalogue or DVD, copy, just email Jen at
Price of the catalogue is £5 plus P and P, the DVD £11.99 plus P and P.