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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 27 August 2013

Quilt Museum at Lampeter

I won't be able to go to this year's exhibition, it's just too far from Suffolk - a pity, as the exhibition looks great! This years show is Kaffe Fasset's quilts mixed with quilts from Jen's superb collection of Welsh quilts.
Kaffe's quilts have been hung from the ceiling - spectacular, while Welsh wholecloths line the walls....

You can see photos at Sue's blog "I Sew Quilts" link below:

and there is a short clip of the exhibition on You Tube here:

I was very interested to see that Jen has a Margaret Williams quilt on display - I did not know that she had one! Hers also has a date.....1913....the centre is similar to the one on my quilt, and one can identify other templates from her quilts shown in Quilt Treasures and Making Welsh Quilts.

Jen's Margaret Williams quilt....

and mine, in  a pale apple Margaret's style, but as she also taught quilting, it might be sewn by one of her students....

Saturday 24 August 2013

Trip to Beamish - Quilt Research

I drove up to Beamish Museum to measure the Sanderson Star quilts in their collection. I drove up on Thursday - a long drive at six hours - and stayed at a place that I have stayed before, Bushblades Farm. Here is a view from the farm across to Stanley, a former mining town. On my last vist, the farmer's wife was ill in bed with flu and the farmer and his son had to look after me. I didn't remind them that the heating had also broken down that time!! Unfortunately, the farmer and his wife are selling up to move down South to be nearer their three children, so this could be my last stay there. The farmer's grandmother was a quilter although there aren't any quilts remaining in the family now.

Another view across the can see that it is partially country and partly built up former mining towns. Of course when the mines were operating, the scene would not have been as green....the large building is a centre for bowls which is very popular in this area...

I pulled off the main road to take this photo, showing the typical mining cottages found all over the North of England.

When I arrived at BEamish the next norning, the quilts were all rolled up, and waiting in the study room. This is the first quilt that I looked at, it is circa 1890 and is probably marked by Elizabeth Sanderson. Donated by Mrs. Allinson. The fabrics are a white cotton twill and a blue cotton chambray (where the threads are two different colours, blue and white).The quilt is 90" square and has the typical quilting pattens - Weardale Chain, twist and Gardiner running feather.

Traces of blue pencil remain. This quilt had just come out of the freezer - it has previously been on display in the houses, but is now kept in store. This quilt is going to the Tate Modern next year. The freezing process is part of a program to treat all quilts for environmental pests, not only moths but all insects, fungi, mildew and mould, etc. The entire Beamish collection is now designated, but the banners and the quilt collection were the first items to be designated. The Beamish quilts have all been donated; generally, Beamish does not buy quilts.

I did not take a photo of the second quilt!But there is a photo of this quilt in Quilts and Coverlets on page 54. It was the mauve and white star quilt made by Mary Fairless in 1929 when she was 21 and an apprentice to Mrs. Peart. The material was a chambray called Zephyr, bought at the local Co-Op. Some blue pencil markings arebstill showing. It is rectangular at 90 x 92 inches.

The third quilt was a red and white quilt made by Margaret Earsdon for her wedding (1915-1920) in Shankhouse, Northumberland. It is made of white cotton and turkey red cloth. Like the quilt at the Quilt Museum, this quilt has a square at the corner, so the star pattern is "modified". The centre star is s bit bigger than in the original pattern (not as deeply divided due to angles being blunter at top of rays).This quilt is very worn and has a different array of quilting patterns. The outer border has a very bold flower or tulip pattern.

At the Festival of Quilts, Pauline Adams was telling me of a theory, now not able to be either proved or disproved, that to save time and to be economical of cloth, that two contrasting yard pieces of fabric could be laid out and all pieces for the centre block cut out at once. Afterwards, the pieces could be swapped - two star blocks would be made, one light on dark and the other dark on light. Certainly, one does see quilts where the colours are reversed, as here. An interesting idea...

The next quilt is the one that is almost certainly marked by Elizabeth Sanderson herself. It has a lovely Weardale chain in the outer border.

Blue pencil is still visible on this quilt, which is dated 1890 and is from Allenheads. the quilting pattens will be used as a baseline for my study into the star quilts and especially into the quilting patterns used.
This quilt measures 89 x 91 inches. The border strips are very variable - on the outer border, the finished strips measure 7", 7 1/2 (2) and 7 1/4. Again, Pauline suggested that the strips were not precisely measured and cut as today, but just torn, this might account for the variation seen.

I had requested two other star quilts, but these proved to be a wholecloth with a "star" centre, and a very worn basket quilt with appliqued stars. A further Sanderson Star quilt was still in the freezer.

A view of the resource centre at Beamish.

General view of Beamish and the mining village area.....

The weather was good and the museum was busy, with many queuing for the bus services and also the circular tram.

I was interested to hear that Beamish is in the process of applying for a large Lottery Fund grant - if successful, two new themed areas will be built - one 1950's and one 1980's....the 1950's area to be built first. So two eras that I remember well are now ancient history for today's youngsters....time marches on.....time to start collecting those 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's quilts now, perhaps...

Finishing early, I set off southwards for my hotel in Birmingham for the Festival of Quilts - a longer drive than I had expected at four hours....thank goodness for the sat nav, as it really is "spaghetti junction" around Birmingham.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

York - Blossoming of Patchwork

After  measuring the quilts at the Quilt Museum, York, I was able to view the current exhibition, The Blossoming of Patchwork. This runs through the 31st of August and has been curated by Bridget Long (who of course belongs to BQSG). There were some stunning quilts to see, all from the period 1780 to 1820. At this time, fabrics were expensive, so these quilts  are the work of the leisured gentry and upper middle class.

This is the catalogue, it is available from the online shop at the Quilt Museum and costs £6.95.

I was very taken by the quilt on the left; not as finely made as some of the others, and also applique so not as exacting as patchwork...but very striking indeed.

The quilt on the left here is the Billings quilt, of which there have been a number of modern recreations; the original is very finely made and shows an excellent knowledge of drafting or geometry, as the piecing is very precise and with very small pieces.

I also bought the repro chintz quilt centre that has been reprinted by the Museum - it is taken from one of the quilts on display and shows a bird and nest. Of course I already have a "tree of life" centre from Holland and an oriental scene that I bought in the States at a quilt show...I wonder when and if I will be able to make a pieced quilt of this type - perhaps when I am more leisured??

I also bought a copy of Heather Auden's Shire Book on Quilt History. It's a nice little book and has some lovely illustrations, mostly from the Museum collection. The cost is £6.99. It is generally available and also from the Quilt Museum shop.

I also bought some postcards on the Amy Emms items held in the Museum collection. Apparently, the large quilt arrived from Amy to the Quilters Guild with the quilt tightly bound with string and wrapped in brown paper - the creases have never come out and show quite clearly in the postcard and when the quilt is displayed...

The train station at York....

Time to spare so I again went to the train museum where they were having a special display of A4 steam trains, including Mallard, Bittern, Dwight D Eisenhower and the Dominion of Canada.

I was also able to visit Holy Trinity Church in Goodram Street- this church has never been modernised and is lovely to see, with its box pews. The church also slopes downwards rather noticably....the churchyard was a nice place to sit and eat my lunch..... The next post will be about my trip to Beamish Museum in County Durham, to look at their Sanderson Star quilts.

Friday 16 August 2013

My Trip to York, Quilt Research

Well, it's taken me several days to recover from my expedition to the North and the Midlands! But I will be posting lots of photos from the Festival of Quilts over the weekend. This time, I wrote down which quilts I was photographing - from experience, it is hard to work out from the catalogue later, if you don't do that at the time.

But to preserve the timeline, I am going to fill you in to my two trips to quilt museums first, part of my research on the Sanderson Star quilts. At the end of July, I took the train up to York so that I could measure the three star quilts at the Quilt Museum there. Heather, the curator there, made sure that all three quilts were out of store and in place, so it didn't take too long.

The first quilt was a star top, which was marked by Elizabeth Sanderson's apprentice Mrs Heatherington, nee Allinson. The top was sewn together by Elizabeth Coultard nee Featherstone. The top was purchased by Shiela Betterton and is in excellent condition. It dates from 1911-1914. I am going to use it as my 1910 Benchmark quilt in my research....the markings are in the usual blue pencil. Interesting to note that the twists have the outlines marked in, but only the inner strands marked here and there.....

Here is the whole top, and you can see that it is in an attractive colourway. Size is 92.5 inches square.

Here is the second quilt, in a red and white colourway. It was purchased at an auction in Edinburgh and has no provenance....early 1900's....

The third quilt is in a pink and white colourway...this quilt is rectangular and a bit of a "bodge". This pattern was very complicated, and people made a stab at drafting it. In this case, the corner pieces were made square (they are usually a rhombus) so the angles of the star are not all the same. In addition, to make the quilt rectangular, the quilter has extended the pieces on two sides of the star (usually, there is a sashing border). The quilting patterns are not the standard ones, so perhaps a later version? No date given for this quilt. Bought from a shop, Hand in Hand, in Coldstream (Borders area). No other provenance.

After finishing the measuring, I had time to go upstairs and look at the quilts in the quilt museum - The Blossoming of Patchwork, Bridget Long arranged this one. I bought the catalogue...the best exhibition of quilts that I have seen in a long time - will try to share a few photos later. Just to say - I was really taken by these quilts, and the scholarly commentary which accompanied doesn't get much better.

Walking back to the train station, I must have been wearing the wrong shoes, as I pulled a tendon in one foot - it's taken me a while to recover from this! The train was delayed, we missed our connection at Peterboro, so had to travel via Cambridge and didn't arrive back in Ipswich until very late. Ipswich is a lively place on a Friday night......

More later on my trip to Beamish to measure the Sanderson Star quilts there and the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham....

Monday 5 August 2013

Busy Week - Pettistree, Beamish and NEC

It's been a busy time! On Sunday, we rang for Evensong at Pettistree, and in doing so rang the 800th quarter peal. Its an achievement, considering that each one lasts for about 45 minutes. You can see from the photo that it was a hot day, and not even Gill's fan seemed to help very much. I am getting ready to go to Beamish in County Durham later this week, to measure their Sanderson Star quilts. I am staying at Bushblades Farm, one of the older farms in the area. I stayed there several years ago when BQSG had their seminar at Beamish, and found it very pleasant. Last week, I went to the Quilt Museum in York to do some quilt measurements. I will try to post some photos. The current quilt exhibition is th best yet - lovely quilts. I am also off to the Festival of Quilts on Saturday and Sunday. My Hawaiian quilt was not finished in time to send it off, so will have to wait for next year.