Laura Ashley was born in Merthyr Tydfil here in Wales but though she moved away for a few years she returned with her husband and children to set up a small fabric printing business in Mid Wales.
It became phenomenally successful with shops and factories across the world, but with their main factory and headquarters in Carno, in Mid Wales. So from 1961 until 1998, when the family sold the majority of its shares, it was a Welsh company with its production base in the heart of Wales.
I have always used Laura Ashley fabric because when I began making patchwork in the late 70s, it was the fabric that was popular and available at the time. Now I use it because I have amassed a large collection over the years and feel that it gives my quilts a Welsh dimension. Of course this fabric is now classed as vintage, but I'm happy with that and I am still able to buy it on eBay.
When I first heard the expression "sampler quilt" I thought it had to be a quilt that looked like a sampler, not a collection of blocks. The penny eventually dropped but then I thought why not follow that first idea - so I made a few. The three here are made almost exclusively in LA fabric, the one below as an advertisement for the class I was teaching a very long time ago. The house is an interpretation of the house I was living in at the time -
Laura Ashley fabric was and still is very suitable for patchwork because Laura collected old quilts, many of them Welsh and it is said that they inspired her fabric designs. This quilt collection was obviously a valued asset because when the Ashley family sold the company the quilt collection was part of the deal.
Now that the company is no longer Welsh I worry that this part of our textile history is not yet being recognised for what it was. Eventually I sure it will be, but then many of the quilts made with the fabric will be long gone. Or if there is an archive and I am not sure if there is, it will be lost to us. I worry, but I don't know what to do about it except keep adding to my stash and telling people about it as I am doing now!