The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year to one and all

May I wish all who read this all the very best for 2011.  Most of all I wish you a healthy year because everything else is secondary.

This Christmastide has had its ups and downs but I keep reminding myself that they are not "real trouble" just annoyances that can be overcome no matter how frustrating.  Mind you I have to keep repeating this mantra because annoyances have been plenty! 

I love red houses and to set a festive scene here is a picture of one -

it's Kennixton Farmhouse at St. Fagans: National History Museum (printed with their kind permission), here in a light covering of snow.  May we have no more than a sprinkling like this for a very long time!

Happy New Year and thank you for reading my blog.

Monday, 27 December 2010

The first favourite

At this time of year it seems to be the thing to look back at what happened during the year.  I'm not much for that because I am more interested in what's going to happen next, but this year has been such a landmark one because of the long awaited quilt exhibition at the V&A.  Oh how I looked forward to that because at last I would see it - the Sundial Coverlet, something I had read so much about and I had long wanted to see.

It was not a disappointment. I visited the exhibition four times and there was always a cluster of people around it, marvelling at the intricacy of the piecing and speculating about the time it must have taken.  I just loved it and vowed that as soon as I had a window of opportunity I would make something based on those blocks.  I have started and it is the most fun but the most difficult thing I have done in the whole of my quilting life.

If you want to have a closer look click on this link to a blog by Janet Bottomley who was invited to the press preview and allowed to take photos

Dated 1797, this coverlet must surely be one of the first sampler quilts?  Of course we know very little of how the world of patchwork worked then.  Did "MCB" draft these patterns herself?  She may have done?   I have found them so difficult to do and I have so many more aids to help me, but as her needlework skills are far superior to mine, so too may have been her skill at pattern drafting?

If not, was it possible that they were published patterns, perhaps in "The Lady's Magazine" which first appeared in 1770 and included all manner of things, fiction, fashion, crafts, so perhaps patchwork?  This surely must be a fruitful area of research for someone, not me though, because drafting the patterns and piecing the blocks will keep me occupied for quite a while yet.

It doesn't end there, because in July I visited Helbeck Hall in Cumbria where Rosemary Blackett-Ord was exhibiting her collection of quilts and early patchwork.  It was quite wonderful, in a way even better than the V&A exhibition, as it was held in her Regency Gothick manor house perched high on the Cumbrian fells.

The collection was personal and very varied and Mrs. Blackett-Ord was on hand to tell you all she knew about each item.  However on an upstairs landing there was one patchwork coverlet that stopped me in my tracks.  It was dated 1799 and was so similar in form and substance to the Sundial that it surely must have come from the same source.  It wasn't as meticulously worked and not all of the most intricate blocks seen on the Sundial were included, but it was so similar one had to believe that it had come from the same stable.  Sadly I can't show you a picture because taking photos was not allowed.  However, I was not the only one to recognise the similarity, as my friend Lorie, who went on a different day, noted it too.

Does this mean that there were a number of coverlets of this type made and that these block patterns were generally available to avid 18th century patchworkers, just as we today buy sampler pattern books like "Dear Jane"?  It is all very intriguing especially as there may be other similar quilts out there waiting to be discovered!
I wish!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

Well here we are at last, it's been a long time coming and this year it has been especially difficult to get to our Christmas destinations.  Some of us haven't managed it and are having to change our plans, me included.  But wherever you are reading this and I am constantly amazed where you are reading this, I wish you all the Christmas you were hoping for.

Here is another picture of my Welsh Teddy, Chuck, who was featured in an early post which has since disappeared, one of the mysteries of "Blogger".  I bought him from Jen Jones and he is made of old Welsh Blanket fabric.

Looking at this picture you will get a good look at the soles of his feet which, if I had thought about, I could have decorated!  Never mind, he joins me in wishing you all a Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Red and White Quilt Exhibit in New York

It's happened so quickly that I'm feeling breathless - I am off to New York on 23rd March to see a quilt exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum!  I am so excited!

We are having a rotten time here in the UK.  We are in chaos because of snow, the roads are hazardous to negotiate, the airports are working with difficulty - Heathrow particularly and all our Christmas arrangements are in jeopardy.  So we do need cheering up and what better way to do it than plan a quilt visit?

It all started when I saw this picture on the Minick and Simpson blog -

telling of a free exhibition of 650 (yes it's not a mistake) red and white quilts from a private collection!

Well it's a picture that is difficult to resist and I immediately sent it to a few friends, one of them an absolute whirlwind when it comes event organising and planning holidays.  So yesterday (I was going to leave it until after Christmas to think about making arrangements) four of us were booked on a Virgin Atlantic package to New York to coincide with the exhibition. I have never been to New York so it will be a big adventure and I have dollars left over from my last visit across the pond.

For friends reading this and who maybe are wondering why I hadn't mentioned it, honestly it has happened so quickly I haven't had a chance to tell you!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Keep calm and don't panic

This year I am in a sort of pre Christmas panic which has mainly been caused by a really scary weather forecast and trouble with my heating boiler.

For the last few days Christmas preparations and meetings with friends have been postponed or sandwiched between visits by the heating engineer, so decorating the house for Christmas has had a low priority.

This is my living room mantel with my mocha ware jugs and mugs and just a few silver and red baubles together with some holly from my neighbour's tree.  I was quite pleased with this rather simple solution until I viewed this photograph, now I think it looks a bit sparse. Isn't it strange that pictures do this?  This makes me think that photos of rooms in magazines must be crammed with stuff to get the right effect? 

Well today the snow came and more is promised for tomorrow, so as is usual when snow hits the UK, life is put on hold and we are told to stay indoors. At first it's quite enjoyable and today we have been phoning and emailing each other but I know that soon boredom will set in and we will all start fretting about how it is going to affect our Christmas.

In the meantime I have started to quilt my Charles and Di Royal Wedding quilt and catching up with missed TV programmes.  I have masses of food, due to postponed gatherings though it is all richer fare than I'm used to.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Visiting Ledbury

Ledbury is a lovely market town just over the Welsh Border in Herefordshire and one of my  favourite places. It has the most perfect "local", "The Feathers" where I have spent many happy times and the shops there are varied and delightful.  So as we have been cooped up in our homes for two weeks because of warnings that it was too dangerous to venture far on our icy roads, we were ready for a bit of retail therapy in the shops of Ledbury.

It is wonderful to find a high street where you can buy all those things that are a chore to find elsewhere - for instance an ironmongers where you can buy fuses!  But for me the real star in the Ledbury firmament is Tinsmiths. Do go and have a browse - here is the link

Whenever I need upholstery fabric that is where I head, because the owner stocks an array of all the fabrics I like and she also has an occasional old quilt.  This time last year I bought a patchwork coverlet that obviously had never been used as some of its fabrics still have their glaze.  If  you click the picture and zoom in you experts out there will sure be able to date them and I would love to know what you think?

This visit was crucial because I'm looking for a fabric to re-cover a little Chesterfield which I have cherished for many years but since it was moved into the living room the cats have thoroughly trashed.  I love my cats dearly but what they have done is hard to forgive so finding something special to rehabilitate it, Tinsmith was the place to go.  I will tell you more again!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Slowly made quilts

Once upon a time I bought a rotary cutter.  I came across it the other day while looking for something else, it's unused and I put it away again!

Rotary cutters represent quick quilts to me and though I know that making things quickly is sometimes necessary  it's a wave that has swept over quilting world, well actually it is more of a tsunami!  How many books and magazine articles do you see exhorting you to make a quilt in this or that latest rapid technique?  Absolutely countless! Sadly there is no voice encouraging us to take our time and praising the therapeutic qualities of making things slowly.

Most of us probably have several projects on the go at any one time -  I know I do - so we can make quilts at all different speeds. All my quilts are slow quilts because I cut out with scissors (Yes remember them?) and piece by hand but some are even slower and are only worked on spasmodically when the mood takes me.

The one above has been put on the back burner because I can't decide whether to finish as it is, which would make it a manageable size for quilting or to add another border?  I have three others in a similar state of indecision and I don't know when, or if ever, they will be finished. (Looking at this picture here now I think it needs another border, but what type?)

I don't mind doing things slowly because I don't need quilts, I just love making them, they are my creative outlet and I am extremely lucky to be able to indulge myself and work at the speed that suits me.  Of course I do get frustrated because ideas flow and I know I am running out of time.

Just as a matter of interest,  I saw in the current Quilters Newsletter magazine that the quilt market is now worth $3.58 billion and I think that in just in America. I expect this figure would drop significantly if we all made quilts more slowly!  Maybe this is why we are not encouraged to take our time and make things by hand?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Chrismas Quilts

After being around the quilting world for so long, I don't make Christmas patchwork items for the home - I've been there done that and don't want to do it any more!  However, I do like the idea of a Christmas quilt but only tend to think about it just before the big event, usually when I see other peoples and then it is too late to do anything about it.  In January, I thankfully put all thoughts of Christmas out of my mind, so sadly I don't have a large red, white and green masterpiece to show you.

When I was working on "Making Welsh Quilts"  I made an alternative to the Paisley Star project quilt (see earlier post) in Christmas colours, but not using Christmas fabric which I don't like.  Only the patchwork top was featured in the book but afterwards I quilted it quite densely and I have braved my very wintry garden to photograph it -

I also tried to photograph the reverse with not a great deal of success - I had to twiddle with the editing buttons and it is a bit under/over exposed (whatever) but it was the only way to show the pattern, so please forgive?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Yes, this is a Welsh Quilt!

The popular perception of a Welsh Quilt is one that is graphic in style with simple shapes and usually made of plain or slightly patterned woollen fabrics - something like the quilts in the header of this blog.  However, this is only part of the story as many Welsh quilts were also made of fabrics generally available throughout 19th century Britain.  Something like this quilt which looks like a typical British medallion, not very well planned at that -

I first saw it in a display of British quilts at the Tokyo Dome a few years ago and as I don't do large quilts I was attracted to it because of its size, which is that of a large crib quilt.  The only reason I know it's Welsh is because it has a recorded provenance - it was made in Aberystwyth in the mid 19th century and belonged to a family who owned a draper's shop in the town. 

Here is another medallion made of printed fabric -

This picture has been taken from a book so it is not the best quality, but if you want to zoom and and see more detail try the V&A Search the Collections website -

This quilt was in this year's Quilt Exhibition when we had a chance to see it at last.  However, even without the meagre provenance it has, there would have been no doubt that it was a Welsh quilt because of the wonderful Welsh quilting patterns that sing out its nationality.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Gaudy Welsh - what is it?

 Well I've already declared my love of china especially mugs and jugs so when I saw Pippa' s post  about her Gaudy Welsh china I just couldn't resist showing off some of mine -

Though it was first made in Swansea here in Wales it was mostly manufactured in the numerous potteries of Staffordshire in England from 1820 to about 1860. It was relatively inexpensive and aimed at ordinary families. Its colors were based on Japanese Imari china and its decorations were mostly floral and it is said that there are more than 400 patterns though makers rarely marked them with names.

The style became hugely popular in America, especially Pennsylvania where is was enthusiastically collected and it is now more plentiful in the US that the UK.  I think the term "Gaudy Welsh" originated in the US because it seems to sum up the style which is more folk art than fine!  Of course this is why I like it!