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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.

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.