The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Welsh Quilt that got away!

A few years ago when Clare and I were working on MAKING WELSH QUILTS I spotted a picture of an old Welsh quilt in Pepper Cory's book MASTERING QUILT MARKING (Hi Pepper - I love this book!) and I thought it would make a good project for our book (we did ask Ardis and Robert James for permission to do this).

I quickly drafted it on my favourite squared paper and Clare made it with pieces from her stash.  She then quilted it beautifully using many of the patterns on the original.  We called it Pennsylvania Echo, because it seemed like a good idea at the time and it is in the book if you want to make one.

  This is the link to the original quilt -

It is much larger than our little quilt and of course the fabrics are very different. It couldn't be in a better place to be appreciated and cherished, but I do feel that it is a shame that it has left Wales.

I believe that it it is an important quilt for a few reasons. Firstly it is very early for this style of quilt and secondly it is actually dated 1818, which is rare.  It is made of a mixture of wool and silk and when I drew it to the attention of Dorothy Osler, she and Debbie Harries did extensive research on the fabrics and produced a research paper for Quilt Studies (published by the British Quilt Study Group).

So it is a very special quilt and in a perfect world it should be here in a Welsh museum.  But hey ho, we have so much heritage that we don't value it as much as we should.  It is safe where it is in the USA and after all it really is their heritage too!

The above link to the old quilt doesn't seem to be working consistently, if you see the wrong quilt (and it's obvious) copy and paste the web address into your browser.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Inspired by Welsh Blankets

Welsh blankets are now widely collected,  I don't own any and am reluctant to start because I have so much other stuff.  However, their colour and design content does inspire me and it all began with this simple quilt owned by Ron Simpson made with pieces of blanket -

I love its subtle colours and as I don't usually work with this colour palette, it was a challenge and I had to dig deep in my stash to find suitable fabric and use what I had creatively.  This is the result -

I used my then limited collection of shirtings and added a few fabrics that a Japanese friend had left me before returning home.  I enjoyed working with these shades so much I began to collect Japanese woven fabrics and I have used them in quite a few quilts since.  This is a better picture of the quilting -

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Jugs, Mugs and Rugs

If quilts weren't my main preoccupation the title of this blog could well be the title to this post.

I have always loved jugs and have bought them for many years, yet I never consider myself a collector.  That to me means dedication of purpose - searching for them. I don't do this - I acquire them when and where I see them and I have acquired a goodly number both old and new. They are grouped around my house and I haven't counted them and I won't.  When I go on  holiday they are my chosen souvenir together with their rhyming companions, mugs and rugs - well it's a harmless enough obsession?

My mother and I have bought quite a few rugs on day trips.  On one occasion in Oxford, seeing one in the window of a shop as the bus entered the bus park and buying it as soon as we alighted!  I blame it on inheritance, my Great Grandmother's influence, but that is a story for a future post!

This is my introductory jug - you will probably be seeing more - a 19th Century Staffordshire Blue and White filled with single Lace Cap Hydrangea head.  Naturally jugs are my favoured flower containers!

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Prince of Wales, Garden Director?

This is the second post about HRH and you may be forgiven for thinking that I am a fan. This certainly hasn't always been the case but I have mellowed recently.  Maybe the fact that he likes and collects Welsh Quilts has something to do with it?   It is simply that yesterday evening there was a magical programme on BBC television.  This is a rare enough occurrence which must be celebrated, especially as one of my great interests is visiting gardens and a visit to Highgrove with the Prince and Alan Titchmarsh is too good to miss.  Like HRH, who has 12 gardeners working there, I am also a garden director because I have to keep my hands in good shape for my real work - no engrained hands for fine quilting!

What a garden Highgrove is - I had the good fortune to visit it with a group of sampler lovers a few years ago and we were bowled over by it.  My favourite garden in all the world is Sissinghurst in Kent, but Highgrove is almost its equal.

This programme can only be seen on BBC iplayer for a short while and I urge all you garden lovers out there who didn't see it to tune in.   It is available for the next 6 days - here is the link - 

The only omission was a glimpe of the Prince's Islamic Garden, based on one of his rugs, which was entered in the Chelsea Flower Show in 2001 and afterwards recreated at Highgrove.  On television then I thought that it looked rather garish,  but it is sensational - we all loved it!  It came at the end of tour and because it was enclosed within walls there was an element of surprise, it was like opening a door and walking to into a large and wondrous jewel box!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cow Craft!

As you might guess from the previous post, I love folk art quilts and one of the best is a wonderful Welsh cow quilt in Ron Simpson's collection.  It has been featured in many books - QUILTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES by JANET RAE being one (this can be found on Amazon and lots of other websites, the quilt is on page 117).  The quilt was made around 1900 and its main feature is its central needlepoint panel of cow which is surrounded by wool pieces outlined in what looks like herringbone stitch. The name May Bowen is embroidered on the central panel, presumably the maker?  She has quilted it in a rather strange diamond infill pattern which I haven't seen before.

A few of us had talked about doing our own version, but where to start?  What inspired me was finding the Laura Ashley tomato red trellis fabric on eBay which is close to the colour of the original.  I charted my own cow, which I based on a Staffordshire Cow Creamer, as I think this was the probable source of the pattern. To achieve the size I wanted,  I worked it on Aida with Appleton's Crewel wool as then it can be washed..

As I don't do large quilts, mine is much smaller than the original and I used a mixture of fabrics from my stash, vintage Laura Ashley, ticking, shirting (I buy men's shirts on sale and cut them up) some Oakshott plains and last but not least Japanese woven fabrics as these are made in all the sludgy and taupy colours seen in old Welsh quilts.  I did some Welsh quilting patterning all over it except for the cow panel which I outline quilted.  I embroidered my grandmother's name Mary Evans instead of the original.  This makes it more personal to me and it's not a replica but my take on an old quilt.  It was great fun to do and I used up lots of bits but not nearly enough!

If any of you would like to to try herringbone stitch, which I use a lot, I have put a link to a demo video.  It is so easy and quite quick to work once you get into the swing of it and here in GB it was a traditional way to applique, for example attaching embroidery slips and doing broiderie perse.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Can you see Corky?

This is for all you quilters out there and their cats and there are an awful lot of you?  Well can you see Corky?

This is another exhibit now showing at the Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre and I am grateful to my friend Sonia Fox for taking the photograph at the Opening.

We have had fun with this quilt because some of us can't see him!  It's not always that easy if one can't stand far enough back but here it's pretty obvious?  It's certainly a fun quilt, well fun with regard to the patchwork but when you click the picture and zoom in you will be able to see seriously wonderful quilting!

You find this in so many Welsh quilts, the quilting was more skillful than the patchwork and one might be tempted to think that it was the work of two different people. Now it is Folk Art and we love it, but I wonder whether it was so admired when it was made? Perhaps it wouldn't collect a rosette now?  I love quirkiness in a quilt - don't you think perfection can be a tad boring?

Monday, 20 September 2010

What block is this?

I've just been reading Barbara Brackman's blog in which she is talking about blocks without a name.  This brought to mind this Welsh quilt with a most complicated block.  Isn't it a stunner?

Sorry that the picture isn't better,  it was taken before I had a digital camera, but I think it gives you a flavour?  I wanted to include it in MAKING WELSH QUILTS but we couldn't track it down in time for the photo shoot. It was made in Mid Wales in the Llanidoes area and was shown at an Quilt Association Summer Exhibition a few years ago.  It has stayed in my mind and I am sure you can understand why?  But what a block and all made in Welsh wool!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Paisley patterned fabrics

I just love Paisley fabrics and use them a great deal in my quilts.  I am always on the look out and when I see something Paisley, be it a handkerchief, scarf, blouse or cushion, it is in serious danger of being cut up and put in a quilt! The quilts I make always hold memories for me and I usually remember where and when I bought the fabrics and very often how much I paid.  This quilt now reminds me of David Morgans, a local family owned department store, now sadly closed, where I used to buy so much on my twice weekly visits.


I am following tradition as Paisley was used extensively in 19th century Welsh quilts and old or damaged Paisley patterned shawls very often ended up in quilts.  The Paisley motif was also very popular as a quilting pattern and was so widely used it became know as the Welsh Pear.

At the moment there is a wonderful exhibition at the Jen Jones Welsh Quilt Centre featuring Turkey Red and Paisley quilts.  It is running until the end of the year and is well worth the journey to visit it  - here is a taster -

This is part of a quilt - go and see the whole thing - it has been likened to "swimming in a bowl of strawberries".

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Visit to HRH

This is the time of year for Open Doors days when the public have a chance to visit places that they would not normally be able to see.  It operates all over the UK and here in Wales I had a chance to visit the farmhouse complex that the Prince of Wales owns near Llandovery in Carmarthenshire.

 I had seen the press coverage and knew that the Prince had a collection of Welsh quilts and blankets and had also heard that he liked Welsh quilts very much and wanted more!


(Well who doesn't - he will have to get in the queue!)   So it was great anticipation that my friend, Pauline, and I drove there on what was one of the rainiest days we have had for a while.  The heavens opened as we arrived in Llandovery and then again as we arrived at the farmhouse.  It is extremely well hidden down one of the worst farm tracks I have ever driven.  It was so bad that I assumed that HRH always used the helicopter but apparently he rarely does, as he is conscious of his carbon footprint and also doesn't want to disturb the neighbours or alarm the wildlife. He usually drives himself apparently and comes there quite often because of its beauty and remoteness.

Well what was it like?  It was wonderful - a farmstead with thatched barns, a very pretty garden where the  farmyard would once have been, surrounded by three cottages, function suite and the private apartments - the farmhouse itself.  It was decorated and fitted out beautifully under the direction of Annabel Elliot, who is Camilla's sister.  She has done a wonderful job, it is both subtle and luxurious.  I would move in tomorrow if it weren't for that track!

If you would like to see more, it is a bit out of date because the garden has happened since, this is the link -

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

In the beginning -

This is my first post. It's has been a bit of a struggle setting up this blog despite all the help videos but I thought I would bite the bullet and start then learn as I go.

I am in the process of writing another book  which is to be called LITTLE WELSH QUILTS. All the quilts are made and now I am writing about them and giving hints on my fabric selection etc. It will show how to make little Welsh doll and crib quilts and though they are my own designs they are all made in the spirit of old Welsh quilts and quilted by hand in the traditional Welsh way.

This is a picture of a Welsh Teddy with his own little quilt which is being used in the pre-publication advertising -