The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Greetings

I have been a very dilatory blogger this past year so one of my resolutions will be to do better in the coming year!  However, you can only write when the spirit moves and I'm afraid that it hasn't lately!

I have just taken this  shot of my mantel.  It's of my Christmas Toby jug filled with rather dried out berries from the garden, but I am hanging on to them because I love the colour!  The robins I bought on Etsy and they are gorgeous.  Definite heirlooms and will come out every Christmas.

May all your Christmases be merry and bright but forget the white stuff! 

From a delightfully sunny Wales

Merry Christmas to you All

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thanksgiving Greetings

I usually try and find a beautiful American quilt to greet you on this day!  However, because I'm under the influence of my visit to Stoke on Trent, which I have yet to tell you about, I am sending you instead, a Turkey platter made in that city!

This beauty was made by Spode who manufactured in it's vast factory in Stoke from 1774 to 2008, when it finally closed.  The brand was subsequently purchased by Portmeirion, who continue to make Spode branded wares at their own factory in Stoke.

A sad and familiar tale, but at least the name continues albeit in a somewhat diminished form!


Greetings from Wales to all 

Across the Pond on this 

Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Big Day for EB!

I am still preparing the next Stoke on Trent post, but in the meantime I have to share with you these pictures of Emma with the Duchess!  Better publicity you could not buy?

No prizes for guessing what the Duchess is asking in the last picture?

It's all in aid of charity of course!  Here is the link to the story if you would like to follow it?

Of course the EB potty people are very eager to get their hands on some of these, but they won't be out until next March. With Christmas coming, followed by the special sale runs, the factory will be working at full capacity now.  So everyone will have to be patient, but it really is the thrill of the chase.  Once they have them it won't be long before they will be selling them on eBay - I have seen it all before.

I love this pattern -

I would choose a six pint jug!  However, I am pretty sure that this won't be going into general production - the big teapots are probably either gifts or raffle prizes?  Indeed, the Duchess might be taking one home with her?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A little break!

I have been doing a bit of gadding about!  Sharon and I have been staying in a Facebook friend's little house in Derbyshire for a few days!

It was quite delightful and a lovely base for visiting some favourite places.

On the way we visited the Bicester shopping outlet and did some Christmas shopping and this was the hall on our arrival!

It got much fuller than this -  this was the rear view of the cab on the way home!

Well where to start?  We packed so much into those few days!  Of course as both of us are potaholics we made two visits to Stoke on Trent, but on the middle day we visited Chatsworth to take in a bit of culture!

This is the view of the Painted Hall where the staff were beginning to put up the Christmas decorations!  They were full of apologies for the disruption but it was interesting to see the process in a stately home.  We weren't that impressed with the decorations which we thought were more suitable for a department store and didn't think that they did justice to their sumptuous surroundings!

Chatsworth is a stunning house and we had a beautiful day to see it all -

The above picture is a view of the golden windows, not yellow paint but real gold leaf!  When I visited a few years ago the whole house was shrouded in plastic as it was being renewed.

Next time I will tell you all about our visit to Stoke on Trent and the pots we bought and saw!

Till then, here is a taster -

Thank you Sharon for taking the pictures!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Lucious stitching!

Sometimes you see something that is so wonderful that you simply have to share!

This is a detail of a portrait of Catherine Carey, Countess of Nottingham, who was a very close friend and confidant of Elizabeth I.

The detail in this portrait by Robert Peake is wonderful and you can click this link and zoom in to examine it more thoroughly.

Because the dress was so spectacular, it was thought for a while, that it was a portrait of Elizabeth herself, but apparently it isn't!  They were such good friends that Elizabeth lent her the dress for the portrait!  However, there is some doubt about Catherine's parentage.  Here is what Wikipedia says -

Catherine Carey was born in about 1524, the daughter of Sir William Carey of Aldenham in Hertfordshire, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and his wife Mary Boleyn, who had once been a mistress of the king. Catherine was Elizabeth I's first cousin. Some contemporaries also asserted that Catherine was an illegitimate child of Henry VIII which would make her Elizabeth's half sister. Although this was never acknowledged by the King, Catherine was given deference by the Court as she aged and came to resemble Henry.

No wonder Elizabeth lent her dresses?

Monday, 13 October 2014

New Project

Sorry about the teaser the other week!  It is so easy to press a wrong button on Blogger and I didn't realise I had until I got comments!

I got bored trying to finish things and decided that as I enjoyed working the Cottage Orné quilt so much, I would do another in the same vein.  I think this one will work out a bit smaller, only about 40 blocks and I am using a stronger colour palette.

All the blocks are taken from Georgian quilts.  Many are the same as in the Cottage Orné, which was based on the Sundial Coverlet, but there are different ones too, some I have come across since and wanted to try out!

I am using mostly Liberty Lawn fabrics because some of the pieces are so small that the fabric has to be quite thin but strong and these fabrics are certainly that.  I never ceased to be amazed at the sheer variety of patterns produced by Liberty.  You only have to look on eBay to get a inkling but the range is even bigger than appears there.  I have been collecting them for decades, so quite a lot of what I am using is vintage, but I am still buying bits on line.  I like to find the quirky stuff, because it can be cut into and makes interesting effects within a block.

Apart from the house at the centre, all the blocks measure 12 centimetres, because Georgian patchwork blocks  were small and this seems a good compromise size.   It is also easily divided by two, three and four which helps when drafting the patterns.

I am using my usual method of selection, getting a wide collection of fabrics together that seem to mix well.  Then I don't have to worry too much when choosing for individual blocks as I know that they will blend together whatever I choose!

I have done 20 blocks so far, so quite a way to go!


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Eye on Elegance Exhibition, DAR Museum, Washington DC

Sorry about the last post, I was going to share a new project with you and accidentally pressed the "publish" button!  It certainly brought in more comments than I usually get, so maybe I should try a teaser more often?

I will return to it soon, but first of all I wanted to tell you about a new exhibition which is now open in Washington DC.  For those of us who can't get to see it there is an online exhibit and an excellent video - here is the link

I am particularly interested in early American quilts because they have such a strong link to British quilts.  Many have the same format as our frame quilts and use blocks found on our Georgian quilts.  This quilt being a prime example -

It has such a strong and simple form and I can see it made up in various ways.  It could be in plain vibrant colours and be Amish?  Or made in dark Welsh wool and be Welsh?   However, here it is in beautiful chintz, very carefully chosen and probably very expensive? The quilting on it is absolutely breathtaking, do look at the video on piecing which shows it in detail.  Of course if it was Welsh it would have different quilting, equally sumptuous but quite distinctive, full of spirals, fans and other wonderful Welsh patterning! Sorry couldn't resist getting that in!

This really is what the exhibition to about, it is demonstrating to us with wonderful examples, the trouble and expense women went to in the 18th and early 19th century, to make masterpiece quilts using high quality fabrics.  This is  something dear to my heart, collecting really good fabrics and using them imaginatively!
I do wish I could visit and drool over these wonderful quilts!
Go if you possibly can!

Here I must give this museum full credit for catering for those of us you can't visit in person.  Not often I praise a museum on this page!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Liberty/Persephone Pomegranate Pots

My favourite store Liberty of London has again teamed up with my favourite pottery person, Emma Bridgewater and yesterday launched a new range of pots which will be on sale for six months.   EB does commissioned ranges for other retailers and of course they are eagerly bought up by us potty people!

It is a version of the one they did for Persephone Books a few years ago which is a proven favourite -

here's my two precious jugs -

There has been rumours that this pattern was going to be produced in more shapes and we have been teased by seeing pieces being used in EB advertising displays -

and in this picture of Emma with a cup, which I particularly lust after -

Well it doesn't look as if it is going to happen and thinking about it, it isn't the way EB operates.  They always keep the copyright of a pattern but rarely reproduce it exactly, especially if it is commissioned.  We collectors have also come to the conclusion that they like to tease us and of course we fall for it every time!  We are hooked and they know it!

So there was great excitement yesterday for those of us who had ordered online, because of course most of us weren't able to get up to London for the launch!  We shared our experiences on Facebook - yes I know, we are all completely potty!

Mine arrived yesterday morning!  Well actually the cake plate isn't mine, I ordered it for my friend whose internet connection was down!  I just bought the teapot!

It was so sunny when I took this picture, but isn't it weirdly wonderful? 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Not English?

I recently found this quilt online in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  I am delighted to say that I have actually visited this splendid museum which has an outstanding collection of textiles, sadly not on show, but at least they do have some of them on line.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I am very often irritated by museums, but occasionally something good does surface and we must savour the moment!

Since I pinned it on my Pinterest Board it seems to be regularly re-pinned so I know that it must appeal to lots of you out there.

I came across it by typing "English patchwork" into the museum's online search box.  This quilt was the only result with the following information - 

Patchwork quilt in four-patch combinations and variable star motifs of English printed cottons. Polychrome pattern on predominantly brown grounds. Backing of printed cotton with design of oak leaves and roses arranged in vertical stripes in shades of brown, red, black, white and blue. Embroidered on back in white thread "Nancy Richardson. Age 68. 1857" and "John Richardson."


"Nancy Richardson. Age 68. 1857." and "John Richardson" embroidered on back


Given to the Samson family of the North Shore, Massachussetts; to Dr. Herbert Harris; gift to MFA


Well it might have English fabrics but I don't think that it was made in England?   Even though the predominant star pattern is to be found in so many early British quilts it wasn't used in quite the same way.

I was recently reading a research paper written by a member of the British Quilt Study Group which explored the link between UK patchwork and the block patterns that developed in North America and it is fairly obvious that there is a very strong possibility that UK patterns were the forerunners of the American block.   Of course this star pattern is seen in so many other  guises, tiled floors being the most obvious?   It is regularly seen at the centre of Welsh quilts as well as some of our English 18th century coverlets, so it's been around a long time!  It really is an international pattern and no one country can claim it.  In this quilt I think it is used in a very American way.  I'm not sure of why I think this and would be interested in what you think?

It is true that early American quilts are very often similar in style to British quilts, in fact some may have crossed the Atlantic with their owners.  It's actually amazing how many objects have and still do cross the ocean, some several times.  Maybe someone brought English fabrics with them when they sailed to the New World, though it's far more likely that they were imported when trade bans existed!  Politics get into everything!  I prefer the first option because I like to think that someone carried their precious fabrics with them as they embarked on their journey to a new life!

Wouldn't it be nice to know? 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Edwardian Houses

I'm sorry to have been away so long!  I haven't been feeling like blogging and have been considering having a Facebook page instead!  Several friends have asked me why I haven't been writing here and there's no easy answer except that I couldn't think of anything to write about!  A writers block maybe?

I am having roof work done on this house which is quite unsettling, especially while typing this there is lots of banging going on just over my head!  A prior owner of this house, which is now 107 years old, had replaced the original slates with tiles and I have been having it re-slated in affordable stages.  We are on the last lap and I must say I am really pleased with the look and as slates are far lighter than tiles they are so much  kinder to the roof timbers of this old house.

Though I live in Wales and we are famous for our production of slate, I had to be content with Canadian slate because there is such a shortage of Welsh at the moment.  The resurgence of building after the economic downturn is being blamed and we had to wait in the slate queue quite a while!  It's absolute madness to think that I couldn't support my home country's slate industry but actually there is very little difference.  They look and cost the same as the Welsh, so it's our secret!  Annoying though, but thank you Canada for producing such good stuff!

When we first moved to this Edwardian house, I worked this sampler to celebrate it's 100th Birthday and I cheated a bit and gave it a slate roof because I always hoped that one day it would have one!  Now it has, so at least one dream has come true and it looks more like it's needlework depiction.  Sadly, Frank, my dear black cat, is no longer trotting up the path to the front door but is buried in the garden.  He is not forgotten even though I now have Bella and Wilfred!  

Since my marriage, I have only lived in two houses and both have been Edwardian, so I have become very fond of houses of that era.  I read somewhere that it was the high spot of building standards in the UK and I can quite believe it.  It was just before World War 1 and that was such a life changing four years for this country, things have never been the same since in so many ways! 

Edwardian houses were build to last and had high quality material, sadly though they are beginning to show their age and need a great deal of maintenance.  The good thing is that young people greatly appreciate them and I am surrounded by younger neighbours who have moved in and are busy restoring all the original features that were ripped out in the 60s and 70s.  Though everyone I know, who loves houses, seem to long for a Georgian house, Edwardian ones are perhaps more attainable and better build?

I have recently begun a board on Pinterest so if you would like to see and learn more, here is the link

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A temporary blip?

So sorry I have been absent for a few weeks.  I haven't been feeling at all creative, though I am trying to finish a few projects!

I think that's the trouble frankly.  The excitement for me is when I am designing, planning and sorting through fabrics.  At the moment I'm feel guilty about all the unfinished things that are piling up and every time a spark of an idea comes to me I feel I must stifle it. I know that if someone was telling me this about themselves I would tell them not to be so silly.  I would say that unfinished projects are not a sin and in the event of them not being finished by you, someone else may finish them for you!  However, I'm not in the mood for taking this on board and am feeling rather down!

It's not helped by warm weather!  I know we are all supposed to like hot, sunny weather, but I'm a true North European and I don't.  In fact my spirits tend to plummet when the temperature rises!

On a more cheerful note, I'm still deeply into EB and have had some lovely visits with EB friends and have acquired one or two new treasures!

Though I do buy new pieces from Stoke, I tend to buy older pieces on eBay.  The large cup and saucer on the right of the picture is a rare piece and was spotted on eBay by an eagle eyed friend, who bought it on my behalf. 

I visited with this same friend last week and here is her lovely lunch table filled with assorted EB - she apologises for the trailer in the picture but if we had cropped that we would have lost the beautiful view - she lives in the midst of wonderful Welsh countryside.

Sunny days are delightful on times and this was such a day!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Three little Welsh Quilts

I came across this photograph in my files, it must have been taken one September judging by the garden?  Not sure which year though?

These three little quilts had been on exhibition and I was giving them an airing before storing them away in the quilt cupboard.

The cow quilt is my version of a wonderful folk art one belonging to Ron Simpson which is presently forming the central part of the current exhibition at the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter.

and in the picture below, at the top, second from the left, is the original Ceredigion basket quilt which inspired my little basket quilt also on the line, together with a doll sized basket quilt from my book LITTLE WELSH QUILTS.  This  can be ordered from my publisher from the link at the side of this blog.  It can be downloaded in seconds from anywhere in the world and stored on your iPad or other tablet.  It's then just like a book, only a moving one as there are videos of me demonstrating my way of doing things, especially the way I mark out quilting patterns.

On the right hand side of the above picture is a Welsh wool version of Mariner's Compass blocks!  I have seen one of these before and have a picture somewhere, but can't find it at the moment.  However, if there are two surviving there must have been a few made?  Of course we use the name Mariner's Compass now, but this pattern is to be found in many early British quilts, so not new, just re-invented, given a name and marketed?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Pretty, flowery quilts!

The Chelsea Flower Show is upon us and as usual I'm in my annual gardening mood.  I'm not a proper gardener, but I love visiting gardens and am interested in garden design which links in well with designing quilts. So this time of the year I like working on something pretty and flowery and putting aside the richer, bolder colours of winter. 

Usually I have an ongoing project as most of my quilts take several summers to complete and I find inspiration from studying old English quilts.  I say English, they may actually have been made anywhere in the British Isles as the same fabrics were available to all, so let's say made in the English style?

I have been searching through my Pinterest boards to show you what inspires me.  The original source of many of the pictures are difficult to credit, but many were from auction catalogues and others from museums.

As you know, I enjoy doing Broderie Perse applique, though I do find it time consuming because I do it using herringbone stitch, one of the traditional ways of attaching the cut pieces.  Of course I could machine it, but I like the process of hand sewing and rarely use my sewing machine.

This week I have returned to a piece I started last year, which I showed you then.  It was to be a teaching aid for my class at the Welsh Quilt Centre, but sadly we had to cancel through lack of students, so obviously it isn't that inspiring as I thought!

In this last picture I am auditioning fabrics which may form the outer borders and corner pieces, but there will be quite a bit of applique on the striped inner border which I have yet to decide upon!

Ah well onwards and upwards!  It's certainly easier to do than working in the garden!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Keep Patching!

Have you heard of Boro?  I had vaguely and now there's been an exhibition at Somerset House in London all the great and the good will be now be fully aware of them?  It was also a selling exhibition with pieces starting at £5,000, so probably too late to start a little collection?

These are the pictures that first caught my eye and encouraged me to follow up the many links in search  of something new to me in textiles - maybe they will spark your interest too?

Boro can be translated into English as ‘rags’ and is the collective name for items, usually clothing and bed covers,  made by the poor, rural population of Japan who could not afford to buy new when need required and had to literally make ends meet by piecing and patching discarded cotton onto existing sets, forming something slightly different each time they did so.

If you are as interested in this as I have become, here are two really good videos that explain and show examples -

I would like to think that the trend for re-cyling fabric grows and becomes fashionable, because, apart from it's green credentials, it seems to draw people to the craft.  It's a very appealing concept, but newcomers then come up against the commercial might of the fabric, gadget and machine manufacturers and cannot always find their way to like minded folk.

I myself feel very out of step these days. I won't bore you again with my opinions, but it was inspiring to learn how old, distressed, but still beautiful things are so appreciated.  I only wish that our own Welsh quilts were so venerated and granted an exhibition at Somerset House!