The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Friday, 27 September 2013

My thoughts on BOMs

After saying that I didn't embrace the concept of BOMs wholeheartedly, I was invited to share my thoughts. First of all I chickened out because it put me on the spot! I don't want to offend anyone because I know that many of you get enormous pleasure in participating in them, so I have tried to analyse my thoughts.

It was probably just my prejudices showing because I can't image making one, mainly because someone else has done many of the most enjoyable bits, designing and working out the patterns.  Designing gives me the greatest buzz, it is the most exciting of all the processes. 

The quilts I make now may be inspired by quilts I admire but they aren't reproductions, as my design choices are based on the fabric I have. I always re-design ones based on old quilts and I always scale them down because I don't make large quilts.  I don't need large quilts and they are too unwieldy to deal with and take too long to quilt.

The quilt below, which I am at present quilting, is an example of how I work.  I had these off cuts of  light weight curtaining in my stash for many years waiting for their moment!

I had always admired the red house quilts in "Quilt Treasurers" as they were typically English and wanted to make one, but how to present the house?  Eventually the penny dropped that this fabric could be cut up  redistributed and applied using herringbone stitch (embroiderie perse) which was the traditional British way to applique at one time and so this design emerged.

I buy fabric whenever I see something that I like and which I feel I may use.  I never shop for fabric when I start a quilt as it is the fabric that I have that usually inspires the design.  If I have germ of an idea, as with the red house, I first choose a piece of red and then have a rummage in my stash until I have a selection from which to choose, which is when I discovered that the flowery fabric above fitted.  Of course this does mean a great deal of time and frustration is spent auditioning fabrics and it makes the house very untidy, but it often makes me take a risky rather than a safe choice because I don't have the safe choice there, so I have to find something else!

I love designing and drafting the patterns.  It is almost the best part, but not quite, choosing and handling the fabrics is still the best bit.  The cutting out and sewing is enjoyable but routine and not nearly as good as the initial buzz.

The quilting is challenging and can be quite scary which can turn into a slog but again I like to design it to be in tune with the piecing. I never use commercial patterns so every quilt I make is quilted differently.

Of course I realise that others don't feel as I do.  In many years of teaching I rarely had students who drew up their own patterns, they may have got their husband to do it but they didn't  do it themselves.  I was sad about this because I felt that most were capable of doing it but just wouldn't and it wasn't in my brief to force them to do it.

Of course if classes in Patchwork and Quilting were more structured, and I don't mean City and Guilds or degree type courses, drafting patterns and designing quilts would be part of the curriculum, but as the majority of teaching now seems to be in quilt shops, the commercial aspect is the elephant in the room.

Quilt shops have to sell pattern books and fabrics to survive and students use more of both if they are working in that environment. BOMs are part of this world which is straying far away from the "green" aspect of the craft, which is what first attracted me and still appeals to many beginners. This makes me uncomfortable, but that's the way it is, the world of quilting is highly commercial, there is no turning back the clock!

Those of you who are making Love Entwined, I take my hat off to you as it is a very complex. Esther has been very generous working for a long time on the design and publishing as a free download within a timescale.  I wish you all well and am really looking forward to seeing your wonderful quilts.  I do hope that the owner of the original coverlet will eventually agree to a picture of it being released.  Good luck to you all!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Marriage Quilt c. 1790 now known as Love Entwined!

I love quilt stories and when I heard this one I was intrigued.  It hasn't a happy ending yet but that may happen.  Here's a short version of the story so far!  Those of you who know about it, please bear with me?

A well known Australian quilt designer Ester Aliu fell in love with a black and white photograph of an English coverlet which appeared in Averil Colby's book "Patchwork".

She decided to make a pattern of it based on the very indistinct picture in the book and offer it as a free download on her Yahoo Block of the Month Group.  If you want to follow her progress here is the link to her blog giving all the details.  This is another interesting link giving design details and background information.

I must say, that BOM as it's known, is not a concept I embrace wholeheartedly for various reasons, but it is extremely popular nevertheless! A great many quilters all over the world are making a version of this coverlet. They will all be very different because it is a complete guess what the colours of the original are!  Personally I think this is a good thing because it forces everyone to be more creative in their choices?

I was quite unaware of all this until I had a message from Judi Mendlelssohn of Patchwork and Quilting Magazine asking me if I knew where this quilt was because it hasn't been seen or heard of since the book  was published in 1956.  She was interested in its whereabouts and knew her readers would be too!

A quest for a quilt always fires my imagination and I started on a hunt for it through my contacts and had an interesting day with, I thought, some success. Eventually, however, I found that that others had been there before me and were much more determined and motivated than me, because they were making their own version and wanted to see the original.

Well it looks as if the hunt has been successful!  The coverlet has been traced, but the owner is yet to be convinced to go public!  Read Esther's up-to-date blog asking for those interested to leave messages to persuade the owner to give the quilting world a glimpse of this historic quilt!

I wonder what will happen next?

If you were lucky enough to own an important historic quilt, would you want to keep it low profile or would you be willing to share it with all the hoo ha that would follow?

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Land of Laura Ashley

Last week I travelled to Llanidloes to view the latest exhibition at the Quilt Association's gallery.  Whenever I travel to this little town, almost in the centre of Wales, I think of Laura Ashley and this year it is 60 years since it all began in that part of Wales.

I love this picture of Laura, she looks so calm and strong and I can't help but wonder how it would be now if she had not died in a tragic accident?

This Diamond Anniversary was celebrated with an exhibition of dresses in the Costume Museum in Bath - and it looked as if it was a lot of fun as everyone was encouraged to come along in their favourite LA dress!  Chance would be a fine thing if I could get into mine, but I still have two in my wardrobe!

This was how everyone wanted to look in the 70s -

The main factory was in Carno and the first shop in Wales was in Llanidloes. The picture below is the old station buildings in Carno which was the first factory, later a large modern one was built.

Sadly nothing much is left.  The house the Ashley's lived in has been sold, the family has dispersed and the company no longer belongs to them and there is no Laura Ashley shop in Llanidloes, it closed a few years ago.

Laura and Bernard are both buried in Carno.  Laura died in 1985 and had a quiet private burial, Bernard's in 2009 was a large and lavish funeral and really this reflects their personalities.  Laura being the quiet determined character and Bernard the flamboyant innovator!

Ten years ago on the 50th Anniversary, the Quilt Association celebrated the occasion with an exhibition devoted to quilts made with LA fabrics.  I would love to have seen something similar this year.  Indeed why not every 10 years as it was such a part of the quilting revival here in Wales as well as in the rest of the UK.

Though Laura died in 1985 her name lives on and we all have the fondest memories associated with her products.  We look back with nostalgia at the dresses and patchwork we wore and created then.  The dresses have been honoured this year, when are we going to celebrate the quilts we made and wouldn't this be wonderful if it was done in Wales?  Wherever it is, it is long overdue as many of us who made quilts in those days and still do and have the memories and can contribute, are dropping off the perch?

P.S.  When I was searching for images I came across a picture and a remark by the Laura Ashley archivist who said that the china doll the company produced looked a little like Laura!

and I must say I had thought the same. I have this doll in a similar coloured outfit which I treasure.  Better still, I also have the box!  She too has trouble with her hair just, I suspect, as Laura did!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Where is Bumble?

I promised my friend Jilly, so I am sending out a plea to all my Australian friends, can anyone tell me what has happened to Bumble?

Well who is he?  "Bumble at Home" was the name of one of our favourite blogs (it was on my blog list) which has now closed down.  I have worked out that the blog, which was written from the dog Bumble's point of view, was a device for selling the gorgeous house which he shared with his humans and fellow shihtzu?

The above pictures will give you a flavour of the delectable house and grounds, but it really doesn't do it justice.  It was the sort of place you would love being a guest in - the little house in the picture is the guest cottage not the main house - I don't seem to have a picture of that.  I believe it was in the Southern Highlands and the humans seemed to travel to Sydney quite frequently, visiting all kinds of interesting people.  They were also mega organised and had exemplary staff and connections.  It was truly a wonderful set up!

If anyone knows if it all ended happily, or anything at all about the outcome, please let me know! We are suffering Bumble deprivation over here!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Beautiful September

Aren't we having the most glorious weather?  Honestly,
as far as I am concerned it's perfect - about 24 degrees of golden sunshine with an occasional shower!  On the downside, the gardens are looking rather tattered and the slugs have been having a wonderful time chomping at my hostas!

It is so good I have been inspired to take some pictures of my latest EB pots in the garden and of course the cats had to get in the picture too!

Though I do buy new EB and the Autumn catalogue is just out to tempt me, I really do love the old patterns with their more subtler sponging!  The bowl below was bought on eBay for a very reasonable price and arrived yesterday.  The pattern is "Vegetable Border" and is early EB made around 1988.  I couldn't believe how big it was - it's enormous and I don't know where to put it at the moment!  However I do love these big pieces and couldn't resist trying a "Country Living" style shot and filling in with garden produce, courtesy of my neighbours and Sunflowers, courtesy of Tesco!

Here's another piece, taken indoor this time -

This pattern is called "Striped Tulip" and was made a year earlier in 1987.  The sponging is quite blotchy which collectors of old pieces like, but would be frowned upon today and probably would be sold as seconds!  This is a shallower bowl and much easier to display than the first!

Well as I said, there is no show without Punch and here they are getting in on the act -

You can see what I mean about the garden looking a bit tattered, my grass is looking particularly patchy, so maybe some grass seed as soon as it starts to rain?