The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Friday, 29 July 2011

LITTLE WELSH QUILTS - almost there!

I am so excited, my ebook is in production and will be ready for the Festival of Quilts on the 11 - 14th August.  As I write this, review copies are being send out to all the magazines.

Ebook is not a misprint, because it is not printed but on a disk.  This includes demonstration videos showing some of my ways of working - for example, my organic method of marking. You can also zoom in closely to study how I place my quilting patterns - rather scary for an author as warts and all are shown by the zoom!

I know some of you prefer printed books, but this is a way of bringing to the quilting world (and other worlds) subjects that large commercial publishers would not commission.  They consider Welsh quilting a niche market and though we managed to get MAKING WELSH QUILTS published, they wouldn't be interested in another and frankly, I wouldn't want the experience of doing it their way again!

Fortunately Vivienne Wells, my friend and editor of my previous books, set up Rainbow Disks and I along with many well known textile authors she discovered, now work with her.  We prefer it, we know and trust her and she treats us with respect.  We actually have a great say it all matters of production and a fair return for our work, which believe me, is not the case with a large publisher! 

Please will you help to spread the word?  A small company does not have the publicity resources of a large publisher, so if you know of any Groups, Guilds and Quilt Shops, anywhere in the world, who would stock copies, please let Vivienne know on her website (link below).  You can order your copy there too -
Order at Rainbow Disks -

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My third favourite from the V&A Collection

I love 17th century British embroidery and for my third  favourite object from the V& A collection I am choosing a band sampler.  No it is nothing to do with music (one of my former embroidery students asked this), but one of our early forms of sampler making.

In my opinion it was a time when embroidery here was at its best, before sampler making had turned into sewing pretty pictures with a limited number of stitches.  The young girls who sewed band samplers then used very complicated stitches indeed, many of which are rarely, if ever, used today.

This is one made by Elizabeth Short dated 1661 -

I first discovered it hanging in the corridor by the Textile Study Room (it has been moved since) and was charmed by it.  It certainly isn't the most elaborate band sampler or by any means the longest, in fact it is quite short in comparison to some.  Perhaps that is why it appealed to me, it made it seem less intimidating, somehow more do-able?

A shortened version of it has been charted for reproduction by The Scarlett Letter,  but I haven't worked it and probably never will, because though I used to teach the subject, these days I am content just to admire band samplers.

The picture I have used above is the best one I can find.  Even though the V&A photographed it for their book on samplers they haven't yet made a better image generally available.  However, one facinating fact came to light when it was taken out of its frame to photograph for the book!  This type of sampler should be as good on the back as on the front, as the stitches used were originally for decorating reversible objects, such as cuffs, collars etc.  This makes them extremely challenging for us to do today as we are considerably less experienced at such work.  Most of us don't bother, for instance, we do back stitch instead of Holbein stitch which looks fine on the front of the work but is not the same on the back. This is not so with Elizabeth Short, this is the back of her work -

After working the two delightful figures, she decided to "clothe" them with detached buttonhole stitch which because it is a detatched stitch, only appears on one side of the work.  I think I like the back best?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A Welsh House Quilting Sampler.

After going through a fallow time,  ideas are beginning to stir in my brain.  Sometimes a quilt in a magazine or catalogue acts as a trigger.  The idea may have been lying dormant in my mind and suddenly I have a "ker-ching" moment and rush to my drawing pad.

I have EQ and Quilt Pro but I prefer to work an idea out on squared paper.  Everything is then in proportion and it can be scaled  to any size either in inches or centimeters, so it is a flexible way to capture the first idea. I then draft my templates referring to this pattern.  Of course when the fabric comes into play the fun starts, as from then on it leads the design.

The latest is this little quilt with a little Welsh cottage at its centre. The idea is to surround the house block with much larger pieces on which I will quilt different Welsh quilting motifs, so it will be a sampler of traditional patterns.

I have added a few more fabrics to the mix which I may or may not use -

The pattern for the cottage is based on one on a group of Brecon samplers sewn around 1840.  I chose red fabric for the cottage because not only is it a good colour for a centre, but painting farmhouses and cottages in a mixture of lime and oxblood was traditional in Wales in past centuries, so it lends authenticity to the design. This was done because, not only was cheap and easily available, but it was thought that red would ward off evil spirits!

This is a picture of Kennixton Farmhouse at St. Fagans: National History Museum and as you can see its roofing is thatch but very often when buildings like this deteriorated the thatch was replaced with corrugated iron.  This links to my choice a striped fabric for the roof of my cottage as I felt a more graphic fabric would be best.

We are now getting there but still have a another round to go  -   I will report back on it's progress!  However,  I am still trying to finish quilting my Royal Wedding Quilt - it seems never ending but when you do get an idea you have to go for it or it may disappear!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Collecting EB

As you know I am a china buff and am particularly fond of spongeware and love EB - that's Emma Bridgewater to those of you unaware of my addiction!   Well last week was a big three days at the factory in Stoke on Trent as the annual Collectors' Open Days took place.

Fans from all over the country (and some from abroad) descended on Stoke, where very special one-off pieces created by the sponge decorators were for sale and lots of factory activities with food and music thrown in - there was even quilt making! The pictures above show the plan of events, drawn by Matthew Rice and everyone enjoying their lunch last Thursday - look at all that EB Polka Dot!

Sadly I haven't managed to get to one of these days yet but follow all the excitement on Facebook, a great way to feel involved but not spend any money!

This is a picture of the corner of my living room with some of my collection, together with my beautiful new vase, not EB but a birthday present bought at at the craft gallery at the Brewery Arts Centre in the centre of Cirencester.  I used to visit it regurlarly at one time but many years have passed and things have changed there, but for the better as it has been enlarged.  There are some lovely things to buy and it is is a great place for meeting friends and snacking in their cafe.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Tea in the garden on a little Welsh quilt

This week has been very hectic as we have been filming video demonstrations for my ebook which is to be launched at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham next month.

I have developed my own way of working based on how I believe 19th century Welsh quilters worked   We don't really know how they did things because almost nothing has been recorded, so there is a great deal of guess work involved. I like to think that I quilt in an ''organic" way (new word for quilting), in that I mark my quilting patterns as I go along and use very simple tools to form my motifs as the old quilters did and I will be demonstrating this in the videos.

We had great fun styling the shots and this is a picture of one of the projects together with one of my little tea sets.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Portrait of a Stuart Lady c .1611

I love portraits and if I was as wealthy as Andrew Lloyd Webber, I wouldn't bother with the Pre Ralphalites,  I would be collecting pictures like this one, which has just sold at Christies for £1,721,250.

It is a full-length portrait of Frances Howard, Countess of Hertford, later Duchess of Lennox and Richmond, in a masquerade dress with a wreath of pansies in her hair which was painted by Macus Gheeraerts II in 1611.

For an textile person who particularly loves 17th century embroidery, this picture is full of goodies.  Just look at the wonderful dress with a bodice richly embroidered with roses and pansies in the typical style of time, together with that intricate lace around quite a daring neckline and then the cuffs!  Just imagine the work that went into each piece. Then there is the velvet and brocade 'thingy' (non-technical term) draped over one shoulder and the skirt intricately embroidered with spangles which would have shimmered in the candle light as she moved.

Portraits like this one were all about showing the wealth and status of the sitter and every item included is full of significance. Oh I would love to talk it through with someone who understood - maybe Philip Mould of Antiques Road Show fame, but maybe he's bought it, it's very much his thing?

Well who was she?  She was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, married at thirteen and considered one of the beauties of the Stuart court and painted by other artists including Van Dyck in 1633.  She married three times but didn't seem to have produced any living children but did accumulate great wealth.


A much more sombre outfit in this portrait, obviously now in widow's weeds.  She died in 1639 and was buried in Westminister Abbey next to her third husband.  As there were no children, the title of Duke of Lennox was passed to a younger brother and the Richmond part became extinct, but Frances was still known as the Duchess of Richmond.

Now you on the other side of the pond will probably know about this, apparently she was a patron of Captain John Smith of the Virginia Colony and gave him financial support.  Is Richmond, Virginia named after her or her husband?  If so, maybe some rich Virginian might have been interested in buying the portrait?  However there would be problems as an export license would be difficult to obtain.  I would love to know what will happen to it!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The orginal Daylesford

When browsing blogs,  I sometimes get confused with place names as so many are taken from towns and villages here in the UK.  For example just before I went on holiday, I saw a post entitled "Return to Daylesford" and immediately clicked on it.  It wasn't "my" Daylesford but one in Australia - very confusing!  However it gave me the idea to share with you one of the places I enjoy visiting.

My Daylesford is a most fabulous organic farm shop in the Cotswolds.  It is very expensive, as all the great and the good with weekend homes in that up-market area of the North Cotswolds, shop there. I'm talking about Kate Moss, Hugh Grant, Liz Hurley etc.  I go just to have a cup of coffee and look!

It is the brain child of Lady Bamford whose husband's company is JCB.  Apparently she was inspired by the Duchess of Devonshire's farm shop at Chatsworth and decided to open one herself.  However, when I visited her inspiration last week I thought it very different.  It is a much more practical and work-a-day set up and I could actually imagine myself using is regularly if I lived near, Daylesford is a much more decorative establishment -

This is the original - Daylesford House, where Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford now live.

It was a medieval manor house but was remodelled in 1788 for Warren Hastings, who had been the Governor General of India.  It has had other well known and wealthy owners since. Viscount Rothermere, the newspaper magnate, restored the house with the help of the interior decorator John Fowler, and Baron Heinrich Thyssen also lived there for many years. 

I would love to have a peep inside but it's not open to the public, so have to content myself with visiting the Farm shop, which is uber stylish!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

After a holiday - hard at work!

I have returned from my lovely holiday in the Peak District and have lots to tell.  The cottage we stayed in was as delightful as it's picture.  A true Georgian one, built in 1806 and beautifully restored, surrounded by wonderful countryside. A perfect place for active walkers but a bit wasted on us rather more sedate house and garden ramblers.

It had a rather scary Aga type cooker which we found really frightening and by the end of our week ended up eating a cold collation bought at the wonderful Chatsworth Farm Shop - even in deepest Derbyshire I can track down good ready made meals!  No doubt we would have got the hang of it eventually but it was quite an experience!

After the Lord Mayor's Show etc., now I have to get down to work and finish all the odds and ends for the BOOK which is being launched at the Festival of Quilts in August.  We still have to do some video inserts so I have to do some preparation for that.

The above picture is from the book - the easiest project - just to get started on the Welsh way of quilting.  Do you like my Welsh teddy which I bought at Jen's?  He's called Chuck - I don't know why, it just seemed appropriate at the time!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

In my absence

This blog is beginning to read like a guide book of places in the UK, but summer is my time for travelling about and I can't resist sharing some of my visits with you.

As you read this I will be in Derbyshire staying in a delightful cottage - at least I hope it will be delightful, I will report back!

I can't wait to see some of the places on our itinerary, places I have longed to see, such as Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, not to mention more lovely gardens.

Will write soon!