The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Georgian Patchwork coverlet on ebay

Every post needs a picture, so to fill that need I will show you my 2011 year mug and say a premature goodbye to this year and be first to wish to you a Good New Year in 2012.

 However, the subject of this post is a quilt on eBay (click here for details) which a friend has just drawn to my attention. I would have liked to have included pictures instead of redirecting you but I can't seem to download eBay pictures successfully. 

I had to fan myself at the astonishing price.  The seller obviously thinks that they have something very special and I wish them well, but I can't really think that anyone would actually pay that price!  

As you know I am a terrific fan of Georgian patchwork and I am interested in seeing the format of these now rare quilts.  The fabrics too are interesting and worth studying but when I sent these details to Bridget Long (an expert on British quilts of this period) she was doubtful of the claimed date of 1810.  Though she was studying pictures and not the actual quilt, she thought that some of the fabrics were perhaps made later and as you know a quilt is dated by its youngest fabric!

Changing the subject, I am on the waiting list for Pinterest but as yet have not been invited to join.  Do any of you participate and would be kind enough to send me an invitation?

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!  

Thank you for reading my blog and I'm sorry about the glitch in proceedings.  Hopefully normal service will be soon?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Short and sweet and EB

I have been suffering from some sort of virus this last week and feeling very under the weather, not Christmassy at all.  I have been confined to the house, done no shopping, missed several pre Christmas celebrations and completely lost the will to sew or write.   So the only way to keep this this blog going is to feature some of my favourite EB images -

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A wonderful collection in Boston

Does the name Elizabeth Day McCormick mean anything to you?  Well perhaps if you are a fan of wonderful samplers it might well do, because the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston now holds her collection of over 4,000 textiles and what a collection it is!

At one time you could see the samplers on line but for some reason I can only find two now!  Here I go again moaning about museums giving textiles such a low priority, but they do infuriate me so. Why go to the bother of photographing and producing a catalogue, putting everything online for a short while and then drop it? Grrrr.  However, you can still buy the catalogue which will at least give you a taster click here for the link.

I save images as I trawl the net and then of course I have no idea where I found them - no matter, our luck is in because here is a close up of a section of my very favourite band sampler from this fabulous collection -

The colours in this image aren't quite right (for some reason what should be pale pink has come out turquoise) but oh isn't it wonderful? I only wish I had an image of the whole sampler to show you but this is the best band and the one I would love to be able to sew!

The sampler is English mid 1600's and made by Hannah Thornbush -  isn't that a lovely name?  It is approximately 33 inches long and 7 wide and worked in all the popular stitches found on these samplers - couching, cross, detached buttonhole, double running, eyelet, long armed cross, Montenegrin, running and satin.  It is so crunchy, I just love it!

I have been trying to find out about Elizabeth Day McCormick and if possible a picture, but again I can't find much but this -

Born into a wealthy Chicago family, Elizabeth Day McCormick (1873-1957) dedicated her life and considerable means to collecting textiles, focusing on European needlework, costumes, and costume accessories from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Between 1943 and 1953, she donated approximately 6,000 objects to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). Gertrude Townsend (1893-1979), the museum's first textiles curator, worked closely with McCormick to encourage her patronage, manage the donation, and research and interpret objects in the collection. McCormick and the MFA serve as a case study for exploring the relationship between collectors and museums, and what happens when a collection is transferred from private to public ownership and an individual's taste becomes institutional fact. The relationship of McCormick and Townsend also highlights how female networks of collectors, professionals, philanthropists, and enthusiasts influenced museum development, particularly in relation to textile and costume collections. Overall, the conviction that museums reflect intellectual and social priorities of their time drives this thesis, and this case study begins to dissect the institutional authority cultivated by museums.

Isn't it a shame that we can't see this collection online?   Writing to museums doesn't work, if you get a reply you are lucky and nothing much changes. You just have to hope that they get around to textiles eventually when they have spent money on all the other boring exhibits!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Baskets on quilts

Baskets have long been an ornamental element in decoration particularly in the 18th century, being found on carvings, embroideries, china etc., eventually finding their way on to quilts both in applique form, then as a quilting pattern and eventually as pieced patterns.

I am working on a basket design at the moment, which I found on an English quilt dated 1799, a time when basket decoration was at it's height.  Then of course there is this quilt, which was all over the Internet a while back -

It is now known as the "English Basket Quilt" and I think it is fairly early - around 1800 maybe?  If anyone has more dating information on it I would be very pleased to know?

This is an adapted pattern of it designed by Corliss Searcey at Threadbear Designs

which is being reproduced all over the world, though I suspect not many here in the UK.  We tend to be out of love with hexagons because they used to be considered the only form of patchwork here and many of us have awful unfinished projects tucked away in deep drawers!.

I like this adaptation very much indeed. It concentrates on the baskets and omits the mass of hexagons and stars which dominate the original.  There are so many of them that the border of baskets, which is easily the most attractive aspect of the quilt is almost overlooked. Corliss has put that right and the basket in now centre stage. 

However, if I was working this reproduction, I would be greatly tempted to have the corner Ohio/Variable Star blocks of the original.  They look so American don't they and slightly incongruous?  That is why I would include them, because though Corliss's choice of linked hearts is more in keeping and better design, the fact that these patterns were worked on a British quilt around 1800 means that we did them first - along with the Dutch of course!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Who do you think this is?

You are probably aware by now that I love portraits and if they have a mystery attached to them, all the better and if the BBC are doing a documentary exploring that mystery, that's my kind of programme!

Well who do you think this is -

I know that many of you reading this are fans so prepare to be amazed  - it is said to be a recently discovered portrait of Jane Austen?

On Monday it was all over the British media starting with the "Today" program on Radio 4 and picked up by the national newspapers who are of course sceptical and think that it maybe the owner has an ulterior motive.

For Dr Paula Byrne who owns it is a well known biographer and Austen scholar, who is presently writing a new biography of Jane to be published in 2013 on the 200th anniversary of "Pride and Prejudice"  She is convinced it is Jane and said that as soon as she saw it she recognised it as the real Jane as she had never really been convinced by the only other portrait done by Jane's sister Cassandra, after Jane's death.

The portrait drawing, in graphite on vellum, had been in a private collection for years, and was being auctioned as an "imaginary portrait" of Austen, with "Miss Jane Austin" written on the back.  Dr Byrne said  -

"When my husband bought it he thought it was a reasonable portrait of a nice lady writer, but I instantly had a visceral reaction to it. I thought it looks like her family. I recognised the Austen nose, to be honest, I thought it was so striking, so familiar. The idea that it was an imaginary portrait – that seemed to me to be a crazy theory. That genre doesn't exist, and this looks too specific, too like the rest of her family, to have been drawn from imagination."

If you would like to compare the likeness to the rest of her family do visit Austenonly which does a really wonderful job for all of us Jane Austen fans.

Well I for one am looking forward to the programme which is going out on 26th December, a little treat for Boxing Day!  Sorry to those of you not in the UK but if you are interested you could watch it on-line on the BBC website? 

Another piece of information re Jane is that Professor Amanda Vickery,  who did that wonderful series "At Home with the Georgians" has a programme coming out on 23rd December entitled "The Many Lovers of Jane Austen".  This is a deliberately provocative title, but then sexing up everything is what the media do now, they even try it on Jane Austen! 

It looks like being a Jane Austen Christmas - yippee!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

An early 19th century Cot Quilt

Again I am most grateful to the Needleprint blog which regularly features interesting textile items coming up for auction.  This quilt caught my eye -

According to the catalogue it's a George III Child's cot patchwork coverlet measuring 84 x 98 cms.  The  central hexagon is embroidered with "May thou be blessed sweetest babe 1808"   It has some staining but it's considered by the auction house to be in good condition for its age and is estimated at  £100-£150.

I love so many things about Georgian patchwork, the colours which are not so bright as Victorian, the interesting patterned fabrics and the traditional forms of stars, hexagons, etc. combined with applique.  I feel that it is truly British and I do wish that we did more of it here and weren't so taken up with blocks and quick techniques.  We have such a strong tradition to draw on but we seem obsessed with international trends and ignore our own.  I'm on my hobby horse again I know, but some ones got to say it!

This little quilt would be a perfect project for someone beginning patchwork and quilting and if I were still teaching I would re-design it slightly to make it a bit more interesting.  I think one of the borders could either have more stars and/or hexagons added or even be re-designed in another simple border pattern - I would consult Averil Colby for ideas. Then of course I would quilt it, as that would make it come alive!

A project like this one wouldn't be too intimidating for a beginner and would be a combination of hand piecing and some simple machining.  If I wasn't so bogged down with quilts that need finishing, I would be up and running!  Just think what a wonderful family heirloom it would make for a new baby?