The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Welsh quilting - it's certainly not boring!

The old Welsh quilts that I most admire are those made in the country areas of South Wales in the 19th century, usually in the counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceridigion (which used to be known then as Cardiganshire) and my home territory Pembrokeshire. The ones that survive were usually professionally quilted and have probably lasted because one normally tends to respect something one has paid good money for!

Professional quilters didn't hang about trying to decide what to mark, they didn't have the time, so they usually stuck to their favourite format and quilting motifs and probably didn't change the way they worked much.  Even so, no two quilts would have been the same because they only marked out the major areas of the pattern.  All the subsidiary patterning would have been made up as they worked.

When studying old quilts what has struck me most is that they were not in the least timid but were usually bold in their approach.  They made sweeping statments with their marking and didn't worry about getting everything even and exact.  They just went for it and that is what I most admire and try to emulate.

Why aim for perfect quilting?  We should try to do the best we can and not to be sloppy, but quilting is a creative process to be enjoyed.  It makes the patchwork come alive so it shouldn't be thought of as the long boring slog at the end of the exciting bit! 

Sadly, all this does take time and we live in a world of instant gratification, when doing something quickly and moving on is what everyone seems to want to do.  Books and magazines encourage this simply because they have to fill their pages with something, so a quick project is ideal.  However, when studying masterpiece quilts I can't think of one that has been done quickly? 

Now I can hear you say - I'm not interested in making a masterpiece, I just love making different things!  Well up to a point I agree with you, but I think everyone owes it to themselves and the craft to make at least one really good piece in their lifetime and this need not interfere with quick projects - they can be picked up and put down as time allows.


Maureen said...

Well said! I was just doing some hand quilting (the sun popped out long enough for me to do one baptist fan) and had a run that looked pretty crooked and uneven. Fortunately, it was on a print, but there was a time that I would have taken it out. Not now! Thanks! Oh, and yes I do have electricity - I just prefer natural light.

glamlawlib said...

Interesting, but don't forget some people who like patchwork and quilting also work full time. I do and I'm also studying two long term courses at the same time as working. Therefore, many of us don't always have the luxury of time, not because we want instant gratification, we just have to pay the mortgage. When I am made redundant or win the lottery or retire, then I will have the time to work on all the projects I long to stitch, sew and knit.

Radka said...

I fully agree with you, Mary. The pleasure is in the stitching, the pure enjoyment of it. Although I am not very patient stitcher and my attention span for one thing is very short and I like to move on to the next thing, I am getting better. I am trying to make myself slow down and get back to the basics and my interest it turning to quilting itself.
Still waiting for your book from Amazon:))

Andrea said...

Well said, Mary. I am very lucky quilter because I can spend most of my time in hand quilting. The time I need for finishing a quilt is not so important for me, I love the process of doing it - and I am very proud that I have the talent and the gift of keeping a wonderful craft alive.

Lynn S said...

I love your saying: Everyone owes it to themselves and the craft to make at least one really good piece in their lifetime." This is going on my workshop wall. I love handquilting and wholecloth quilts. I have one now that is the first one I designed. You stated the goal perfectly!

Sarah said...

I`ve always loved the bold flowing lines of the Welsh professional quilters. They didn`t worry about their lines being perfect or the number of stitches to the inch. You can`t afford to be picky if you are earning a living doing this. Their quilts are almost always very striking.
I try to remember this when I`m fussing over a wonky seam or an even wonkier line of quilting!
Looking forward to your new book!

the running chicken quilting said...

An interesting topic...I earn a living from quilting as I am a longarm quilter. I use my machine for both quick and more time consuming projects and I have recently upgraded to a computerised system which will enable me to stitch more 'quick' pieces as customer demand is high. However, my love is for custom work and I spend hours and hours on freehand work, using my machine to create lovely heirlooms for some customers....I often spend a lot longer on these quilts than the customer is prepared to pay because I am anxious to do the very best for each quilt. Inevitably, this is not good for business, but wonderful for the soul!! I wonder if the older Welsh ladies who hand quilted felt the same? Incidentally, just because I can quilt a little quicker with my machine doesn't mean it is any less of an art form than hand quilting...the same passion applies to both.