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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.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

BQSG Seminar Papers 2014

This years papers were especially interesting...but I always find them an interesting and varied selection....

The first presentation was by Sara Impey, a look back at 30 years of Quilt Art (a group here in the UK) as well as the development of her own quilts. From those first Secret Garden quilts, lettering has become an important theme in Saras quilts. The early aspirations and hopes were contrasted with susequent achievements.

Dorothy Osler then gave a paper on the two diaries of Muriel Rose, which she studied as part of the V & A exhibition research. These were two small notebooks giving details of visits to quilters in Wales and Co. Durham. The first visit was factfinding for the Rural Industries Bureau and dates from the mid 1930's. The second was a trip with Mrs FitzRandolph in April 1954, when the latter was writing her Traditional Quilting book for Batsford. The diaries, although field notes and made for different purposes, are valuable as they give names and locations of various quilters, made during brief visits to each. Sketches of quilting designs are made and assessments of the quilter's neediness and ability are made. In each visit, a dozen Welsh quilters were recorded, as well as about 35 north country quilters. Bearing in mind that the sample is an extremely small one , Osler was able to extract some simple percentages from the data. These figures do show that the average age of quilters had increased by the second visit, also that  the transfer of skills had become formalised post war. The location of quilters in both areas showed a strong correlation with mining. Most interesting to Liz and I was the discovery that the Page Bank pattern mentioned as very common by FitzRandolph, is a paired feather pattern also known as festoon feathers.

Dr Archer and Mr Jeffrys then gave a very moving paper on Women's Embroideries of Internment Camps 1941-1945. Six embroideries were shown....5 from Singapore and one from Hong Kong. Very moving.

The final paper on Saturday was one given by Alison Carter on a mosaic patchwork with the words PEACE GIVE GOD THE PRAISE BLUCHER, dating to 1814. Some really fascinating research here! Looking forward to rereading the paper in Quilt Studies!

On Sunday, Janet O'Dell gave an excellent paper on the Braddlyll quilt, a silk hexagon quilt made by three unmarried sisters who lived in Cumbria and Hampton Court. A high status quilt, with lots of detailed history of the family.

After coffee, Margaret Nichol introduced Beamish's two newest acquisitions....two further wedding dresses quilted by Amy Emms. Very exciting! Margaret Bauldrey told of progress with the Talking Quilts  project, and Amanda Davidge showed a quilt she used with dementia patients to spark memories and conversations.

We all look forward to seeing these in print in Quilt Studies. We also look forward to next years seminar in Manchester! Thanks to all involved in the organisation of this weekend.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

BQSG Seminar in Worthing 2014

This year's BQSG seminar was held at the Chatsworth Hotel in Worthing. This is on the south coast, not far from Brighton. I was lucky this year, as I was able to get a lift with Hilary, who also lives in Suffolk. What a treat....not having to battle with the M25 or Dartford Crossing! Although I must say, no heavy traffic this year.

Everyone stayed at the same venue this year...the food was excellent and we had a nice room for our seminar. The young staff seemed very attentive. My only complaint was that the room was very warm -you could practically grow bananas - but otherwise, very pleasant.

The group discussed the seminar format, and we all agreed that staying at one location, with evenings free for discussion, seemed the most agreeable recipe. Many thanks to Susan who has very successfully organised the last four years seminars. Next year's seminar will be held on October 16 -18 2015 in Manchester, at the Martin Luther King Centre. More details in the next issue of Culcita, or the BQSG website.

It was interesting to see the Pier, so close to the hotel. It is very sedate compared to our more raffish Felixstowe here in Suffolk! Worthing has many elegant buildings from the 1930's.

On Friday, two groups were able to view quilts in the Worthing Museum. Textiles and costume have always  formed a major part of the Worthing Museums collection, and we were able to look at the museum display cases of costumes and textiles. Some other textiles items were also set out in the workroom for us to look at. There were gloves, shoes, pockets and other embroidered items....

Many commented that hexagons seemed the order of the weekend, both at the museum, and in the papers presented. From my notes, I think this is an quilt made by Anne Silk, finished in 1852. The fabrics are nicely arranged, with repeats of the striped fabrics.

Close up of the above quilt....

This is a table cover, judging from the braid around the edges....the centre dates from 1820-1850. The outer borders and braid are younger, 1870-1880. The blue fabric in the outermost border has bled...the fabrics contain some linen. Cotton thread came into use in the 1820s-1830's...linen thread is seen here?

Another photo of our group and the curator, seen at right with the gloves. What a stack of quilts! More on the seminar talks in the next post.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Bowes Museum Exhibition Catalog, 1963

 Here is a small catalog that I bought recently. It dates from 1963 and relates to an exhibition of quilts held at the Bowes Museum, and sponsored by Durham County Council. The Womens Institute also seems to have had a major involvement in this exhibition, if the credits are anything to go by!

There were 40 quilts shown....each is described and the owner or maker is given. Most were loaned by private individuals, although some of these quilts have now made their way into museum collections.

Only a few illustrations of quilts, but each quilt is given a short description...the quilts are grouped as follows: Northumberland quilts, Durham quilts, Cumberland quilts, Westmoreland quilts and Yorkshire quilts (the last three, rather small groups!) Templates and quilting frames were also on display.

A few photos are given, but the quilt photography "was of a very difficult nature". Do you recognise any of these?

Two more embroidered quilt and one made by Elizabeth Sanderson....

And a detail of the quilted lid of a yew wood box, made near Ullswater.

This catalog deserves further perusal, to see if there are any clues to be gleaned....

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Charity Shop Find

I went into Woodbridge the other day to bank a my surprise, the local Oxfam bookstore had a display of quilting books in the window. I was able to buy a hardback copy of the older edition of Quilts and Coverlets by Rosemary Allen of Beamish Museum. I only have the softback version so was happy to find this, especially as the price was only £4. There is an address label for a lady who lives/lived? a short distance from my house...did not recognise the name however, so do not know if she was actually a quilter. I also found a little book on the Arts and Crafts movement.

Here is the softcover version, which was already in my collection, together with the later edition, which is much expanded....probably my favourite book on Durham quilts...excellent illustrations!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Embroideress Magazine - Quilting and Smocking

I bought this needlework magazine earlier in the was not cheap! Although undated, the subscription form seems to imply a date of about 1936. This copy was sold in the shop "Qualityart" , a needlework store at 13 Princes Walk, Halifax. The cost then was 1/3 or about 8 pence, and you could subscribe for four issues for the cost of 4s 8d...28 pence. Correspondance courses in embroidery could also be taken, at a cost of 7/6 for each. There were five to choose from, no 1 for beginners, up to no 5 for More Advanced.

This issue is mainly about quilting and smocking....quilting including British quilting, American quilting and Italian quilting. Patterns could be bought. Childrens smocks were covered, as well as an article on using English smocks as a source of designs.

Traditional Quilting in England and Wales is the main article, and serves to publicise the Rural 
Industries Bureau, which provided the illustrations. General descriptions and instructions are given, as well as the address of Country Industries and the Little Shop in Sloane Street. Readers are told not to copy the RIB designs, "as they were shared on the understanding that they should not be copied, as they were created by quilters who depend on this work for their livelihood".

The RIB scheme, started in 1928,  ceased to exist in 1939, when war work and a shortage of fabric made the scheme unworkable.

One of the illustrations shown for a commercial pattern  is for a small nightdress case in a Welsh be very finely worked in backstitch. I enlarged the design and then quilted this small cot quilt in polished cotton. The centre coin has a design of leaves, possibly horse chestnut leaves. This was a fun project to do, and gave me a chance to try out the small traditional frame that I had bought at a BQSG meeting several years before.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Vintage Tea Cosies; Corded Pillow

Like many, I enjoy collecting smaller items as well as the bigger quilts. I imagine that scraps of fabric were made into useful items for the house, and as gifts to others. Or, as items to sell at bazaars and for the RIB. People are more likely to consider buying a small, less expensive item than a more major purchase. However, the fact that these items were intended for use does mean that many have not survived. One wonders why some items have survived virtually unused...were they unwanted gifts, "too old fashioned" or perhaps too special to use except for guests!

Here is a small tea cosy with an interesting fish pattern. It is machine quilted, but does not look factory made.

The reverse is a more abstract pattern, almost like naughts and crosses! No provenance for this item, which came from a seller in Blackpool.

Here is another quilted tea red velvet....the quilting is hard to see on the outside....

..but much more apparent inside....very much a welsh patterned tea cosy...

Generally in good condition, except for some wear on the edge.

Here is an image from the V & A collection, of a Welsh tea cosy purchased at Muriel Rose's Little Gallery on Sloan Street in London,and made by the RIB quilters in the 1930's. I have looked in my copy of RIB catalog, but cannot see any illustrations of tea cosies, nor are these items included in the price list.

This seller also provided a corded cushion....most that I have seem to be in a brown colour (must have been the fashionable colour!) but this one is in a blue fabric....rather creased ,but looking abstract pattern...

Here, on the reverse, you can see the stitching for the channels, and the yarn of different colours that has been inserted in the channels.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Vintage Quilt Top - Lone Star

bought this vintage quilt top is from a house clearance in London and has no provenance, but has a look of the 40s or 50s to it...also looks like treadle sewing...nicely pieced although the colours are a bit loud! There are both plains and prints here...

I like lone stars...we don't have many family quilts, but there is a lone star in 30s pastels, made from factory offcuts. The fabric was given to a neighbor, who pieced two quilt tops...she kept one and gave one back to Mothers family in Oklahoma.

I am not sure how to quilt this idea was to use "big stitch" quilting....also known as utility quilting. At the Festival of Quilts, I bought a selection of perle cotton, plus some suitable needles. I think that this would take a fair bit of practice to get it looking right!

So instead, I am practicing my machine quilting...feathers....they are getting better....using rayon threads......I think that I will have to practice with light coloured fabric to see which colours of thread would look attractive on the quilt I'll first "nail it down" by stitching along the seam lines with invisible thread...then do FMQ where possible.

One discovery...spray basting doesn't work very well for me.....although I was very careful, the fabric has rucked up and puckered along the feather spine......not nice.....back to the old fashioned safety pins and the living room floor for me...