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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, 10 February 2016

Fabric of India - V & A

Before Christmas, I was able to spend two hours at this exhibition at the V & A Museum in London. The V & A has a huge collection of Indian textiles, which had never had an exhibition solely dedicated to them before. I had not realised that there used to be a Museum of India in London.....upon closure, many of its items came to the V& A. The museum also possesses many items from the Great Exhibition held at Crystal Palace in 1851. A type of trade fair, all parts of the Empire sent in items of trade and technology. Many of the Indian exhibits related to textiles and fabric and still contain details of their supplier and manufacture.

Here is the catalogue for the exhibition - a sizeable book which is lavishly illustrated, nicely written by Rosemary Crill.
The contents are: Introduction, Materials and Making, Patronage and Use, and Textiles in the Modern World.

The chintzes that we are familiar with were relegated to a small display towards the end of the exhibition  - a testimony to the great importance and marketing of these textiles, of which Europe was only one part.

Many of the exhibits were stunning wall hangings or floor coverings. The designs were adapted to the customer's or regional tastes. This is part of a hanging, possibly a floor covering.

One of the most fascinating displays was the set of hangings now kept at Powis Castle - the Tent of Tipu Sultan of Mysore, Mughal India, c 1725-1750. Cotton, block printed, mordant dyed and resist dyed. The tent was part of Tipu relics removed by the British in 1799 and then taken by Lord Clive. Powis Castle is now owned by the National Trust.

I also enjoyed a tent with applique arranged in a smaller side room. Apparently it had been found abandoned on  a New York sidewalk!

There was much to look at, and I'm sure that I could have spent much more than two hours - if I had the time or the stamina!

Monday, 4 January 2016

What I did over the holidays...

I'm still I value my holidays, as I am able to make progress on some of my projects.
I most enjoy hand appliqué and hand quilting, so my projects usually reflect this...

I have been slowly working away at the appliqué of my Silversword Hawaiian quilt top, for a short time most evenings.  I'm about one half the way through the border, but of course there is the very large centre to complete as well. Not so easy to grapple with as the outer borders!

For this top, I am outlining with a white Sewline pencil, and needle turning to this line. I am using Aurifil 50 in a dark green, which is proving very nice to use.

Part of the border...I redrafted it so that there was more reverse appliqué.... that the design looked more like this illustration. The pattern is from the 1980's, and the illustration is pretty poor....not much like the actual pattern in the arched leaves...makes me realise how far computer generated images have come along.....

You might be able to see more of the pattern and the centre, here....

I was also able to start quilting my previous Hawaiian top, Lei Momi or Lei of Pearls. Red and white is a favourite colourway for me, so cheerful.

It was quite a job to baste it....I had to wash and piece the backing, iron the top and then pin baste the whole. Of course, although "quicker" to do it this way, rather than thread basting, I have to be more careful when putting it into the frame, not to pull any if the safety pins. I often have to remove some pins so that the caps do not pull them. I am using wool wadding, which is a standard now unless I am making a utility quilt.

I also spent two days machine piecing this Sanderson Star....shown above, not pressed yet. It would have been easier in some respects to hand piece, but as the stamped top was machine pieced, I felt that I had to follow this example. I did not follow a commercial or published pattern, but traced each star piece from the quilt top onto freezer paper and used these as individual patterns. Even so, I may have to tweek some of the setting pieces. It certainly is not a simple pattern, it has 15 inset corners....and very odd shaped setting pieces. For example, the corners are not squares, they are rhombuses.....It certainly gives me a lot of respect for those old time Allendale quilters and their abilities!

I'll have to add the red and white borders, something I HOPE will be easier than piecing the centre, and then transfer my tracings of the stamped quilting designs to the top. The quilt is about 90" square. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Irish Strippy quilts

I have four quilts that are Irish - three are shown here. I have previously shown another Irish quilt which was made of shirting materials.

This quilt is a lavender and white strippy - it is made of offcuts of fabric, probably linen, and is unlined.
It measures 70 x 80 inches.

The quilting is a simple grid done on the machine.

Two other quilts are similar. The green and white quilt is 80 inches square, while the yellow and white quilt measures 60 x 72 ". Again, I think these two quilts are made of linen offcuts, or a mixture of linen and cotton fabrics.

All three quilts came from the same seller in Suffolk. His mother in law had lived in Ireland and had a stunning collection of quilts . These quilts were bought from a well known dealer (  but he could not remember the name).

The folowing information on Irish quilts  comes from Rosalind Shaw:

Traditionally, Irish quilts consist of two layers - the top and the backing stitched together. They could not afford to line the quilts with wool, which would have been needed for other purposes.

Some linen merchants had a day in the week when they sold pieces of linen to their workers, for the purpose of making patchwork quilts. These linen pieces were often made into frame quilts that were very fashionable in Northern Ireland.

Belfast and Londonderry had many shirt making factories; many shirt scraps were available. The workers made the patchworks in their spare time and sold them.

The quilts were referred to as Derry quilts, Shirt quilts, and  Belfast patchwork. Quilts seem to have been labelled according to their source and materials, rather than the patterns.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Festoon Feathers/ Page Bank pattern?

I had long been a bit puzzled by one description in Mavis FitzRandolph's book Traditional Quilting - her mention of a North Country quilting pattern that was apparently a common one. It was so prevalent amongst the quilters of one  particular Durham village that it became known to the RIB staff as the"Page Bank" pattern. The only problem was, that this pattern did not seem to be illustrated in her book!

All was revealed in Dorothy Osler's talk at the Worthing seminar in 2014, when the Page Bank pattern was illustrated. It is paired feathers, a pattern also known as Festoon Feathers, and illustrated as such in FitzRandolph's book. This pattern can also be seen on one of the Durham quilts illustrated in the RIB  catalogue of the 1930's.

This feather pattern is not only striking, but it covers the fabric well without being overly intricate.

So... I was pleased to find this quilt with paired feathers. The fabric is a satiny artificial silk material, in dull green to one side and pink to the other (creatively described as pistachio and raspberry by the dealer!)

The pink side must be the right side, as the quilting is done in pink thread.

Paired feathers....a striking a twist in the border.

Another photo of the green side..

..and the bright pink side.

The wadding is of mid weight. The size is 92" x 96". 
Stitching is good, but not great...but the quilting motifs still stand out well. This quilt came from an auction where the other textiles came from Cramlington.

It is interesting to compare the feather motifs on this quilt with those on my pink WI group quilt from the Sunderland/Washington area.

The quilt edge has a single line of machine stitching.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Stamped Sanderson Star Top

As you may know, I have a special interest in the north country quilt pattern known as the Sanderson Star. This pattern was an Allendale speciality, and was made famous by Elizabeth Sanderson. The top was available made up and already marked (stamped) be quilted at home or given to a local quilter to completed. According to FitzRandolph, it was especially popular with the star in dark colours. Red and white or blue and white were also popular colourways.

So I was very pleased to be able to buy this marked top! The blue pencil is a bit faded in places..and there are one or two faint water stains, but generally in good condition...the fabrics are a white cotton with a pink chambray, very similar to the marked sawtooth diamond top I already own...the outer border is an attractive scroll and swag border.

This quilt top was bought at an auction in Allendale some thirty years ago.

The plan trace the markings onto polythene...this has already been done, for the entire quilt. The quilt is roughly square at 98" a lot of work there. I have already purchased the fabric(red and white) and made templates by tracing the quilt pieces......I will make the replica quilt and transfer the markings onto the replica. I will not quilt the original, as I prefer to keep it as an artifact....this top has been expertly bodges like some of the quilts seen by me during my study....corners a rhombus not a square.....corners nicely set in by machine....and sturdy (unlike the other top where the tension was wrong and it looked rather poorly put together)!

The blue markings resemble the marked star top at the York Quilt Museum.....that top pieced by Mrs Coulthard and then marked by Mrs Hetherington of Wearhead, a pupil of Mrs Sanderson. It was traditional for a Sanderson Star quilt to be the final piece made during the apprenticeship of a quilter, so she would have been very familiar with this popular pattern.

This top is dated 1911-1914.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Platt Hall - BQSG seminar visit

Just across from our seminar venue, the Martin Luther Centre, was the Platt Gallery. This large house was in danger of being knocked down and redeveloped in the early 1900's; fortunately after a local protest it was bought by the local council. It now houses a collection of costume and there is a chronological display of clothing, starting with the present day. It was amusing to see the iconic items from the 90s, 80s, 70s and 60s.....

The front of Platt Hall...

Dresses and their undergarments....very important for achieving the right shape!

A mans doublet from 1625-35. The doublet or short jacket was worn with hose or breeches, with a sword belt and a linen shirt with collar or ruff. Made of natural linen embroidered with french knots and couched thread. The sleeves are slashed to show the shirt below.

Close up of the fine work of the doublet.

A lovely turkey red dress, sorry about the reflection off the glass case!

Clear signage accompanied the displays.

Another dress made using roller printed cottons.

I was interested to read that most clothes were recycled in some way, either resewn, refashioned or cut down for children's clothes. Some was passed on to servants and there was a large market for old clothes. Eventually, the fabric was made into paper. So ordinary clothes do not survive, only "special occasion clothes" are dresses, court clothes etc....apparently men's trousers were easily recycled and thus very few examples have survived.

I was pleased to find this book...based around the Platt collection, it is a revision of an earlier book  by Tozer and Levitt. Very readable, good illustrations, and with a British, not American slant. And, only £14.99! A great find. Good as an academic reference.....

Monday, 19 October 2015

BQSG Seminar at Manchester

This year's BQSG seminar was held at the Martin Luther Conference Centre at Brighton Grove, Manchester.....a long drive for me at 5 1/2 hours! Needless to say, this photo of the courtyard was not taken by me, the weather was overcast and the trees were not blooming!

The first evening, most stayed in for a meal at the conference centre, whilst a few went to a nearby vegetarian restaurant. As far as I know, no trips to the nearby "Curry Mile".

Then on Friday, we went to the nearby Whitworth Art Gallery for a study session with Francis Pritchard, curator of textiles. Such was the demand that we were divided into three groups. Manchester was a textile centre and the collection here is superb. A small selection was brought out for us to see.

The building has just had a £15 million pound extension....beautiful, and narrowly missed winning the top prize as best new building of the year in the RIBA contest.

The Cafe in the Trees...excellent selection of food, luckily our group was able to have a light lunch here before our 12.00 study session and also before a lengthy queue formed at the cafe....

Frances had brought out a selection of interesting items...

Corded items...

Closeup of a Persian mans corded cap...full snap below...

I was especially interested in this cot Welsh cover from the 1950's in white cotton poplin. There is a new study centre and new storage areas in the new extension. A lovely visit. I am always pleased to visit towns and collections that I would otherwise not have seen.