The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Country Medallions

I love many different types of quilts but am especially fond of Medallions or Frame quilts, with a special weakness for the unsophisticated ones which can look a bit unplanned.  I categorise them as Country Medallions and would like to share a few with you.

This is the one that started me thinking -

It's a fragment that was sold on USA eBay.  Not sure where it's from but I was inspired by it.  I am working on samples of Broderie Perse at the moment and this came up on my Google search.  I love the lovely faded look of the squares and if I didn't have so many projects on the go I would love to make up something similar and extend it.

Here are some more of my favourites -

This one I discovered recently, it's from Weardale in Yorkshire and it has a lovely folk art look -

The one below I particularly like but I don't know whether it is old or new.  It was a pattern from Patchwork at Stonleigh called the Cotswold quilt.  I don't know if it was based on an original old quilt or anything about its history.  If anyone knows, I would be grateful for any information.

Lastly here is one on a bed -

This is a bedroom in the country home in the Cotswolds of Stanley Falconer, who was a senior designer at Colfax and Fowler.  I found pictures of it in an American magazine and thought it was a dream house - I loved every room in that house!  Now when I look at it I am not so enamoured, my taste must have changed and I now find this bedroom a bit too fussy! The quilt probably wouldn't have been made for such a sophisticated room, it is Colfax and Fowler introducing a little bit of dressing down country charm into their rather expensive decoration - something of trademark of theirs! 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Domestic Life in Needlework

Though I adore 18th century British quilts I am not so keen on our 18th century embroidery.  It's a bit fussy and flowery for me and hasn't the charming naivety of 17th century embroidery. However, the two pictures below are an exception.  They are believed to tell a  story of a family and were worked by a lady in the family.

The first one is dated 1738 and the second 1746 - so what happened in that eight years?  Well they may have moved house, as the first house is rather grand with a formal garden at the side and a park with deer and  peacocks.  There are nine figures, all engaged in interesting activities and one empty cradle indicating the death of a child.

The second picture has less content but tells a different tale.  The houses are less grand, the three ladies are still engaged in same same pursuits as before, but now there are three empty cradles, one indicating the death of twins.  All rather sad, but very typical of family life in the 18th century.

Both needleworks were auctioned in Sotheby's New York this week, both had a high estimated value, the first 60 to 80 thousand dollars and the second a bit cheaper 50 to 70 thousand.  Only the first one sold, for $53,000,  the second was withdrawn as it obviously did not reach it's reserve. Such a shame if they are go to different collectors, but maybe a deal was done after the auction?

Though I love these wonderful embroideries I really prefer woolwork 19th century pieces, something like this one -

It is so bright and jolly I would smile every time I looked at it!  Not sure which side of the pond it hails from and I suspect it is in a different price bracket from the previous pictures.  I love it though!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Staying at Sissinghurt!

I spent a few days last week staying with two friends in the Priest's House over looking the White Garden at Sissinghurst!  This is one of the most magical and famous gardens in the world and we had a wonderful few days with the most perfect autumn weather, warm, sunny and golden!

Sissinghurst is a garden that looks good whenever you visit because it is the National Trust's jewel and has 8 permanent gardeners, which is the highest number apparently.  These are supported by a band of dedicated volunteers as well as trainees and contractors, so it is kept in wonderful order.  I have visited it many times and there is always something to inspire, it never disappoints.

We arrived after dark, but in the morning just before breakfast, we opened the kitchen door and walked into the White Garden - in our night attire!  The place was deserted, just the birds and a little tabby cat darting about the borders!  We strolled the lawns from one garden to another, gazed at the tower - there were sounds of hoovering echoing down the stairs - just a touch of reality!  Then back to our house for breakfast with the door open to the garden!  Absolutely magical!

We had three days there, but was it all wonderful, sadly it was not!

The Priest's House where Harold and Vita once lived in now a National Trust Holiday Cottage and is fully booked all through the season.  We were lucky to get a slot and it was expensive because it is such a unique house in an incomparable setting.  However, though the setting was magical the interior the cottage was mundane.  I have stayed in NT cottages before and have not been impressed with their decor, despite this I was hopeful that in this stellar property all the stops might have been pulled up.  They were not!  It was gloomy, unimaginatively decorated is the kindest thing I can say.  I won't bore you with a list, but suffice to say that we have one and will be sending it to the National Trust!

Surprisingly, when we read the Visitors' Book everyone had penned fulsome praise.  There wasn't one negative comment!  Surely we weren't the only ones to find it wanting?  Are people so bowled over by the setting that they overlook the discrepancies within the house?  Well we three weren't, we were annoyed that this wonderful place wasn't achieving its full potential, it just needed a good designer and a modest budget to make it live up to its surroundings!

There is one thing that says it all and I still can't get over it!  Usually when you arrive at a cottage there is a bunch of flowers somewhere and very often there are nicely arranged and come from the garden!  Well there was a bunch of flowers, but they were the type that are bought on a garage forecourt,  you know the sort, small white chrysanthemums, some dyed green!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Continued on two counts!

Well I feel really stupid!  Thanks to Chris and Mamifleur I find I am way behind the times, as the Elizabeth Jefferson quilt I talked about in my last post had been BOMed already! Here is the link.  My goodness you Australians must devour Averil Colby!

Here is a picture of the whole of the quilt in Averil's book -

In some ways I can understand why this coverlet has passed me by, it is just too fussy for my taste.  If I was making a pattern of it I would cut out some of the outer borders -

but even then I would be inclined to make the last one plain rather than pieced and just keep the four corner blocks? 

Of course this is because I am a Welsh quilter and here plain borders meant that we could go to town with some adventurous quilting!  However, this is an early English quilt and would have been made by someone of gentry status.  These ladies didn't quilt, they just made the patchwork, quilting was far too labour intensive and the coverlets were for decoration only, not for practical use, so there was no need for the tedious business of quilting!  If it was done at all it would have been done by someone of a lower order.

When this was chosen as a Block of the Month project, the designer only had the b/w picture to work from nevertheless I can understand why she chose it.  It has so much content that it would keep a class working on it for a long time!

I am going to contact the museum again and try and persuade them to take another picture of the coverlet as I for one would love to see the original colours. 

Just after writing this I thought I would try some basic research and Googled Elizabeth Jefferson. No record of the death of anyone with that name, so I was wrong there!   The only one to come up as being born in 1801 was in the 1841 Scottish Census and Electoral Roll - 

Elizabeth Jefferson Ages 40, 
Where born, Angus, Scotland.  
Household members Elizabeth Jefferson Aged 40  Jessie Forrest, Aged 15.  

I could have gone further on but that would mean either paying a fee or having a free trial.  I have been in this situation before with absolutely no success and spent ages going around in circles!  So is there anyone who is into genealogy and who has a subscription that would try and find out more?  It would be interesting to know wouldn't it?  She might be Scottish?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Museums again!

I have moaned about museums before on this blog, especially when it comes to information on quilts! This is the latest episode.

I saw this quilt on Pinterest, it may have been about for a while but I have only just picked it up!

It has the dramatic impact of a Pennsylvanian quilt but I immediately thought it was English, or at least from the UK!  I can't explain why, but I suppose it helps saturating your brain with quilt images!  

It isn't at all typical as it's very organised for a early 19th century UK patchwork.  Obviously it was planned, almost designed, which is unusual.  It also has a limited colour palette, which is more in common with American quilts, as here we tended to throw all our fabrics in!  The use of spotted fabric too is a bold choice and not often seen! It's annoying that we can't have an image of the whole quilt! Obviously there must be borders because you can see the edge of one at the top of the picture and according to the description below and the sizes given, it is rectangular. 

So I have been trying to find out more!  It is on the website of the Manchester Art Gallery but then there was absolutely no information that could find. I have lost track of how many messages I have sent both direct and through Facebook.  Then there were several phone calls to no avail as I was cut off twice while the operator tried to transfer me to another department grrrrr!

Well at last, about three weeks later, I suppose not too bad because I know museum staff are spread thinly in these straightened times, I have had a reply!  But why couldn't they have put this on the website in the first place! Apparently it has been now, so at least I have achieved something!

Here are the details -

Printed cotton patchwork.  
Highly complex geometric pattern with applied motifs in a range of curving motifs; centre square with inscription in blue cross stitch: "Elizabeth Jefferson, aged 10 years 1811".
The quilt is pieced but not quilted, entirely sewn by hand. The large central square edged in green pieces, measures 100 cm square with stylised hearts, petals and stars in blocks. The outer rectangles have flowers, leaves and square blocks in strips.
There is a frame edging, 8 cms in from the edges of the quilt comprising strips of zigzag pieces.
The backing is of cream cotton, edged with cream cotton binding.
The cottons all appear to be very early 19th century.
L: 275 cm
Width: 248 cm

So there you have it!  An absolutely stunning early quilt with the name, age and date of Elizabeth Jefferson.  I wonder if it was a memorial quilt as I can't imagine a 10 year old stitching this, even in the early 19th century?

The name Jefferson is one to conjure with also?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if it could be proved that she was one of THE Jefferson descendants!  After all Thomas Jefferson's family are supposed to have come from North Wales and that's not so very far away from Manchester!  

The museum curator doesn't hold out any hope of this because all the information they have is that it was a donation made in 1942 from someone who lived in Sale, which is a town in the Greater Manchester area.  This was at the height of the War, so maybe they feared for their and the patchwork's safety and wisely passed the responsibility on!