The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Friday, 26 August 2011

Designing a quilting plan and Mrs. Lace

First of all please forgive this really bad picture, it's actually a photo of a photocopy of a quilt found in an ancient out of print book by the Dryad Press.  It's the only record of a wonderful whole cloth quilt which we wanted to include it in MAKING WELSH QUILTS but couldn't track down.

The quilt was made by Mrs Lace of Aberdare, a famous quilter and teacher and is very typical of her work.  If you double click the picture and zoom in you will be able to see it more clearly.

I wanted to feature this design because I think it demonstrates how bold and dramatic good Welsh quilting can be.  It has a format that was used in so many Welsh quilts - a large central circle set in a rectangular field with a large enough border area to give scope for some dramatic quilting.  You won't go far wrong it you stick to it - a circle, set in a rectangle or square and then surrounded by a border, or more borders if you need a larger quilt, but don't make them all the same size, vary them. 

These three main areas would be marked first.  Then the primary motifs, hearts and flowers for the centre and the swirling Paisley pears and fans in the rectangular field would have been marked next.  Everything else - the infill patterning such as spirals, flowers and smaller leaves were marked last, if at all, as many quilters, like Mrs. Lace, were experienced enough to make them up as they stitched. 

A square field, with its equal proportions, is easier to mark out than a rectangle. In this design, Mrs. Lace has cleverly used the swirling Paisley pears to lead your eye around the rectangle. Had the field been square these Paisley pears would have linked up but not in a rectangle, so the side spaces were filled by a flower and leaves which works well.  Clever Mrs. Lace!

The only part I am not so keen on is the border, I think I would have gone for some wonderfully curved leaves.  However by using this fan shape formed by lines, Mrs Lace has again given herself some scope to adjust the number of lines to fill the required area - again a clever way of coping with the dimensions of a rectangle.

Mrs Lane kept a notebook when she began to make quilts during a long coal strike in 1907, to help feed her three small children. She was paid five shillings for the first quilt and from five to twelve shillings for others, according to pattern; during the year she earned ten guineas by making twenty-six quilts an average of about eight shillings.

I hail you Mrs.Lace, you are not forgotten! 


Liz said...

Hello Mary, Thanks for this extremely interesting piece, no wonder you would have liked to include this quilt in your book - it is so stunning, Mrs Lace certainly had a good eye for patterns and it's lovely knowing how much she was paid for making her quilts. Do you know what was the Dryad book was called? I loved reading this entry, thank you. Best wishes, Liz

Lynn S said...

I Mary! I am so enjoying your e-book! I agree, I would have picked a different border too--but the rest of the quilt is exquisite. Do you know the approx size of the quilt?

Vivienne at Vivebooks said...

Yippee, Little Welsh Quilts is 'Book of the Month' in the Sewing Directory newsletter.

Anonymous said...

Lovely quilt, and thank you for explaining more about how wholecloth quilts are designed. I still haven't started designing my wholecloth baby quilt, I got over-enthusiastic when quilting the previous quilt and now have RSI so need to rest my hands, but it's going to be a rectangle, probably 37" x 52". The swirling paisley pears are a great way of working with the area around the circle inside the rectangle, I'd already spotted that as a tricky area. I particularly like that part as it's a lovely variety of motifs rather than just a diamond grid infill, which I see on a lot of quilts. Any more tips for handling designing a rectangular wholecloth? I'm also trying to work out how many borders I should put in a quilt of that size. Scale is tricky when most of the Welsh quilts I've seen online are much larger but don't have their measurements listed, and the ones in your book are much smaller in the interests of being finishable before Doomsday! And do you know the size of this beautiful quilt?

Little Welsh Quilts and other traditions said...

In answer to some of your questions - I don't know the size of the quilt. Apparently Mrs. Lace could make this design in any size ordered. Clare, my co-author on MWQ has tracked down a copy of this quilt (made by Bella Lace herself) and is hoping to borrow it so we may be able to show you a picture eventually.

Regarding your query Lobster Designs, don't over complicate, keep it simple and bold as the size you are going to make is not large and you don't need lots of borders. You won't go far wrong if you follow the formula of this quilt but make it your own with choice of motifs.

Anonymous said...

Now that I've started sketching, I see what you mean. I'm getting the detail in, but only because both the borders and the centre medallion are fairly simple in terms of overall shape, and I'm using simpler versions of some motifs. You can see what I've drawn so far at I'm not keen on those borders for this, I'll need to keep looking and playing for that 6" border in particular, and the inner border may not work in the end either, but the centre is coming along nicely. I'm copying Mrs Lace's idea of the eight paisleys, changing the flowers and leaves somewhat. Going back to the borders, I'm not mad on her outer border either, it's a bit too simple and those great big curves distract from the detail in the middle. My current ones, on the other hand, may be a bit too geometric, and the zigzag one doesn't work well on the shorter side as it ends up pointing up at one corner and down at the other. Any thoughts?

Little Welsh Quilts and other traditions said...

I can't access your progress Lobster designs. Could you send me something that I can copy and paste?

Anonymous said...

How odd, when I copied and pasted that link it worked fine for me. Here it is on another image hosting service: . I've changed the borders again since then, and I'm also working on a totally different version by now which is interesting but probably too complicated for a quilt of this size. Thank you for looking!

Anonymous said...

OK, next version with new borders being tried.

You can't see the other paisleys very clearly as they're only faintly roughed in, but they should be just about visible if you squint. I think I prefer the right hand side border to the bottom one, and I still haven't found a border corner that I like. I'm also not sure about the tulips in the partial border, since one of them falls right below the long-stemmed tulip in the centre panel. The spirals in the centre medallion may be for the chop as well, but I'll probably get a better feel for that once I've drawn out the full version.

I keep dithering over where I should use double outlining for motifs. I know the bigger quilts tend to double outline everything, but there isn't nearly as much space here, and I know you didn't outline as much as is usual in the small quilts in your book. How did you decide which shapes should have a single outline and which a double one?

Anonymous said...

By the way, I keep trying to comment on your latest post and getting the following error. I've tried on both Firefox and Internet Explorer.

We are sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
The following errors were found:
Input error: Cookie value is null for FormRestoration

Andrea said...

Mary, I hope you don't mind when I answer Liz' question in the first post...
I found the picture of this wonderful quilt in Beatrice Scott's book "The Craft of Quilting", first published in 1935. There is also a picture (with reference to B. Scott's book) in Elizabeth Hake's "English Quilting", published by Batsford Ltd.
And I agree with you, Mary, and all the others: I would have chosen different border patterns. Nevertheless this quilt is beautiful!

Liz said...

Thank you Andrea, Have now just found two copies of "The Craft of Quilting" on Amazon - one for £99! and the other as a pamphlet for £7.50. I'd seen the photo in "English Quilting" but with no history of maker etc. and I thought that the Dryad book may be one that I haven't yet got!
Thanks again for a very interesting post Mary.

Liz said...

Have just found that "Traditional Quilting, Its Story and Its Practice" by Mavis Fitzrandolph has a photo of Mrs Lace demonstrating and also has several snippets about her throughout the book.

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