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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.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Muriel Rose - A Modern Crafts Legacy

When I was last in York in October, I had a browse in the Quilters Guild Library. One item that I discovered was a small booklet about Muriel Rose. I thought that it would be an easy matter to find a copy of this booklet - but found, on ringing the Crafts Study Centre, that all stocks had been sold and that it was now out of print.

So I was very pleased to find that this collection of essays is available on-line at:

Muriel Rose was director of The Little Gallery, where she selected what she considered the best of contemporary craft for sale. The Little Gallery "made an active and forceful contribution to the way that craft work was distributed and debated in the modern world".

The Little Gallery was at 5 Ellis Street, off Sloane Street in London. It opened in 1928 and closed in 1939.
We quilters know her best for her work with Mavis FitzRandolph to commission high quality quilts in Durham and Wales, via the Rural Industries Board, which were then sold in London.

I found this a very interesting collection to read, and will be keeping a copy for my research - maybe one day I will find an actual booklet...

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Small Red Welsh Quilt

Here is another Welsh quilt that I purchased last month. It is a small quilt, not even a single size. It looks as if it is a large crib quilt. The size is 39 x 51 inches or 99cm x 125cm.

The designs are simple, to fit into the smaller area. However, the quilting is of a good standard and the leaf patterns are very attractive. The double and triple lines really make the motifs stand out well.

You can see that there is a central motif of leaves - a cross hatched area and a border of leaves complete the design.

The backing is of a tan colour. The wadding seems to be lambs wool.

The edges are neatly finished off by hand. Some of the quilting lines have "popped" and are gone...but still in relatively good condition. This type of quilting does epitomize Welsh quilting for me...

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Egyptian Work - Two Panels

Here are two small panels of Egyptian tent work that I bought recently. Like many attending the Festival of Quilts, I was fascinated to see the tentmakers of Cairo at work and admired the larger textiles that they produced. These small items are likely to have been brought back as a small souvenir by a tourist to Egypt. The background is a heavy canvas. They are panels, and have not been made up into cushions. They are a bit faded, so perhaps they were simply displayed in a house....

Obvious Egyptian references here, with a mule driver and his animal, with two pyramids in the background. Some pencil marks are visible as a rough guide for the maker. The blue pack on the back of the mule has come unstitched.

The other block has an active scene of a chariot driver with his horse. The colours may be a bit faded with this panel....but very appealing colours......The backing fabric is coarse and the stitching professional, in that the stitching is not fine, but holds everything in place in an economical fashion.

I enjoy these panels, and they will go well with the South American molas that I already have....

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Quilted Welsh Bed Jacket

Having bought the 1930's North Country bed jacket from Jen Jones, I was surprised to see another listed by Louise Bell of Builth Wells in Wales.This item is of a similar age, but is constructed differently, with a thinner, silkier fabric and a different style of quilting. The colours are more gentle and there is a most attractive two tone ruffle on the neck.

You can see that the jacket is blue on the outside and has a pink lining. Its in good condition, but has been well used, with wear to be seen in one or two areas (but nothing too major).

The quilting is a straight grid, with some double lined roses and leaves on a vine down either side of the front.

The back is plainly quilted with a grid. The stitching is neatly done....

There is little wadding and the jacket is lightweight. The outer pieces have been sewn together on the machine, and then the inner seams slip stitched in place by hand. A bit different to the last bed jacket where the seams were hand sewn together through all layers and then the edges slip stitched piping to the edges, here...

Here, rather than a ribbon tie, the closure is a matching fabric loop and a pretty mother of pearl button. The edges are all neatly hand sewn in the Welsh fashion.

The neck ruffle is very feminine and would have taken some skill to achieve. This item has no provenance, but was bought in Carmarthen. Between and after the wars, many items were made to be used around the house, or to be given away as gifts. Large quilts were not often made although there were some quilting classes run by groups like the WI.

An interesting addition to the collection!

Thursday 21 November 2013

North Country Bed Jacket - RIB??

Here is a small item that I recently bought from Jen Jones - it is a bed jacket. Smaller items became popular between and after the two wars, and many ladies went to sewing classes where beautiful small items were made for use around the house.

This bed jacket was made by a sewer called A Woods who lived in Cumbria. Mrs Woods was a sewing teacher. This item dates from the Rural Industries Board era, although we don't know if Mrs Woods was involved in that. Jen will be keeping some other items that came with this item and other textiles -- pincushions and folders of teaching materials. The jacket is well made and features north country quilting designs with a tie closure.

Large feathers and also daisies are used on the back.

The quilting is good, but not outstanding - but Mrs Woods may not have been solely a quilter, she probably taught all manner of embroidery and knitting skills....

The edges are neatly finished with piping, and at the seams, the edges are bound before being sewn together.
A very interesting item, and a good addition to the quilts. As you know, I am very interested in the RIB period, and would love to have an  item that was definitely RIB! Quite by accident, I saw (and bought) another bed jacket from Wales of a similar date, which I'll show in another post - although made in Wales, the other bed jacket also has north country patterns, so perhaps there were commercial patterns available at this time.

Monday 18 November 2013

Its All in the Making Catalogue

While I was at the Quilt Museum, York, before the seminar started, I bought the catalogue of our BQSG-arranged exhibition, It's All in the Making. I was very impressed - it is attractive, well written and reflects the effort and time spent by our members.

Here's the cover - the price is £12.50 and it is available online from the Quilt Museum, 

The items in the exhibition are all nicely illustrated, with full information.

On display is the replica 1712 quilt. The original quilt is too fragile to display.

 There are also four interesting essays on the four strands of the exhibition - commemoration, sharing, utility and earning money. I am pleased to have been involved, even if only a small way.

Friday 15 November 2013

Pink and Tan North Country Strippy

Here is a quilt that I bought last month - it is a nicely made North Country Strippy. These were the "everyday" quilts - and many were made as "Club" quilts, where for a subscription of a shilling or two over twenty weeks, you had a quilt made for you by a local quilter. It was a good way to afford what was an expensive purchase, while supporting a local woman and her family. Many women had little to live on after mine accidents or other calamities.

This quilt is nicely stitched and is better made than many; many have sparse stitching, as the quilts had to be produced in little over a week. Strippy colours are often red and white or blue and white - this one is made with a pale pink and a tan or beige cloth. the colours in the last photograph are the most realistic.

A closer look at the quilting patterns, which follow the strips, as is usual. There is a running feather, a rose in a square, and a fancy twist pattern.

The edges are, of course, finished with a knife or butt edge. Many of you may remember "the edge" that Pauline Adams discovered where one edge is seamed together before the quilt is put in the frame. This treatment, though unrecorded in the literature, seems to have been surprisingly common. Both of my Hawick quilts have this treatment, as does this quilt. You might be able to see that the two edges look different in the photo. The lower one is where the edges have been seamed together. There is no need for a line of machine stitching, and the wadding does not really reach the edge. This method made it easier for the quilter, as  one edge was already complete and did not have to be finished off. It also was economical of cloth and made it easier to put the quilt in the frame.

A closer look at the quilting patterns. This quilt is fairly large at 78 x 95 inches. The reverse is a plain pink fabric. This quilt came from the seller's grandmother, but as Granny had been raised in Hertfordshire, is unlikely have been connected with her or her family. She did like to go to auctions and sales, and is likely to have picked up the quilt at one of these. All the seller knew was that the quilt had been in the family for a long time.

A nice Durham quilt for the collection - I took it to a pensioners' group in Felixstowe yesterday afternoon, where it and the other quilts were much admired. A few had memories of quilts, but most did not, as East Anglia has no tradition of quilts. Eiderdowns seem to have been the usual bed covering here.

An extra 15 or 20 people (non-members) had turned out, so quilts obviously touch a nerve at the moment, and are of interest. I was also closely questioned about my bookkeeping work by some parents whose daughter wants to change career!  I think many people worry about finding sufficient work at the moment.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Catalogue 2013 Jen Jones Quilt Museum

Although I was not able to get across to Wales this year to see the exhibit in person, I did buy the catalogue. As usual, it is nicely produced and presented. A bargain at £6.00 plus postage and
Available from the Jen Jones website: 

This year's exhibit was of Kaffe Fassett's quilts - and very colourful they were too. They were hung from the ceiling, while Welsh wholecloths lined the walls.

Many of Kaffe's quilts are designed with traditional quilts in mind, but with his bright and bold fabrics.

They are very colourful....I enjoyed looking through the catalogue.

At the back are some thumbnails of the traditional Welsh quilts - just a small portion of each. Wholecloths are notoriously difficult to photograph.

This year's exhibition is now closed, but the theme for next year has already been announced. It is "Early to Bed" featuring very early Welsh quilts, including two of Ron Simpsons quilts. Janet Bolton's quilts will also feature. 

Some of Jen's fantastic quilts...

 A medallion quilt...

Love the blue fabric in the border!! Hopefully I will get across next year.....its over six hours drive from here...

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Welsh Quilt - RBI?

Here is a Welsh quilt which I bought recently. It came originally from an auction"of high quality textiles" in Essex, so has no provenance. The designs are very nicely drawn, and also are very "standard". It does make me wonder if this is a RIB (Rural Industries Bureau) quilt. During this period, quilting designs were standardised, some would say sanitised, and then sold to buyers in London at The Little Shop. I am going to try to see if I can find illustrations of RIB quilts, possibly through the sales catalogue that was published at that time. Seen in the middle of the quilt is a coin with beech leaves, which is absolutely standard...

A view of the whole quilt ...apologies for the photo, as you know, white and gray quilts photograph very poorly...

The border is a nicely drawn church window pattern. The edges are neatly hand sewn.

The quilt is in two shades, one white, one a gentle light pink. The colours may have been brighter when new. This quilt, whilst in good condition, has been well used. The overall size is 78 x 79 inches. I took the quilt to York, and could get no definite opinion. Dorothy Osler suggested that many of the RIB quilts were made of cotton poplin. To make the quilts attractive to urban buyer, higher quality fabrics were used. However, there is a Rural Industries quilt in the current Quilt Museum exhibition that is made of sateen; Jen Jones also has a RIB quilt on display which is  made of a shiny cloth (satin or rayon?)that is not poplin. So I don't think that identifier really works. I hope to find a copy of the RIB catalogue soon....I know that there is one in the Quillters Guild archive and hope to view that at some point. I did look in the library when I was  in York, but was looking in the wrong place...this catalogue  would not be kept on the library shelves, but with the RIB quilt that seems to be depicted therein.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Autumn 2013

Happy Halloween! It's not celebrated as much in the UK as it is in the USA, but there are still parties taking place, and a bit of "Trick or Treat" activity. Luckily, Mischief Night has not been transferred across....

A neighbor up the street had these for sale, grown in their garden. I think turbo pumpkin should read turban squash?? Anyhow, I saw various people carrying away pumkins that they had bought. And the pumpkins stayed out overnight without being damaged....unheard of where I grew up.

These gourds were being sold as alien eggs - there were smaller gourds for sale as dinosaur eggs.....
These Chillis looked good, priced at 5 for £1. I used two in Saturdays meal and they were very hot! I have vivid childhood memories of unwittingly biting in to one of our neighbors hot peppers and being in great distress.....

Monday 21 October 2013

Hawick Quilt #2

Here is a quilt that I recently bought from a dealer from Builth Wells in Wales - it is a Hawick quilt. The quilting patterns are a real clue here. There were many of these quilts made by church groups in Hawick in the 1920's, to bolster church funds.

A clear indicator are these wild-looking thistles. Hawick is located in the Scottish Borders and of course thistles are a Scottish emblem. The yin-yan design in the border is typcial too.

The other real tip off are these spikey hearts. This centre arrangement is typical of these quilts, too. The background filler is a "Scale" pattern.

The other side of this quilt is a very faded paisley cotton sateen. Most of these quilts were made either in white or in two contrasting coloured fabrics. This is the first time I have seen a print used in a Hawick quilt.

The other pattern which is typical of these quilts is a large "gowan" or daisey. It is typcial of what I would call club quilts - a large, showy pattern that wasn't too complicated, yet covered the fabric well. The stitching on this quilt is rather coarse - the stitches are large and again this is typical - the quilts were being made fairly quickly. Although the seller was from Wales, she had bought this quilt from a textile fair, and had bought it from a dealer from the other provenance, I'm afraid...

Wednesday 9 October 2013

1954 Wedding Quilt - Sunderland

Here is a nice wedding quilt - it was made, relatively late, in 1954. Quilting survived well in the Sunderland area, and the seller says that there were lots of quilters in the area at that time.....this quilt was made for Lillian Maguire's wedding, and her mother also had a quilt made for each of her three sisters. The fabric is a cotton sateen.

As you can see, the quilting patterns had become more simplified by this time; and the patterns are what I would describe as "club" patterns: simple, bold and large, covering the cloth well and not requiring a lot of close work. These quilts were well made but were turned out fairly quickly. Note the large bold feather pattern......

And the large twist, and "gowan" or daisy pattern....

Both sides of this quilt are the same, of a soft green colour. In good condition, but worn in places, with some snapped quilting lines where the stitching has disappeared. My friend Liz and I have several quilts from the Sunderland area; as well as having many quilters in this area, there also seem to have been many church and Women's Institute groups that made quilts.