The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Monday, 18 July 2016

British Traditions

British traditions and what we stand for are very much in our minds here in the UK at the moment, so perhaps this is a good time to think aloud about the traditions of patchwork and quilting in this country?

I am a traditional quilter, though I don't belong to the official group within the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles, because when I saw a display of their work at the Festival of Quilts what struck me then was though it certainly was traditional, it was predominantly American block patchwork traditional and reproduction fabrics were used extensively! You may well think that there is nothing wrong with that, as most of us start making blocks, but I was looking for something that celebrated the traditions of patchwork of this country, not that of the USA, which I feel has quite enough coverage already!

Because of our history of trading with the Far East and then our industrialisation of fabric manufacturing, we were a great and original influence in the world of patchwork and quilting.  Our fabrics and traditions of working were carried to the New World and developed there, only to return here as an American invention.  American Block patterns are great, they are practical, they were developed for ease of working in difficult circumstances, they are addictive and they have names, which is a brilliant marketing device in itself!  However, block patterns were used in quilts and coverlets made in this country many decades before they appeared in America.  You have only to study the Sundial Coverlet in the collection of the V&A, dated 1797, to see this?

The above picture is of a section of the Sundial Coverlet and  below are some images I have saved for reference.  I apologise for their quality, but think that they are of interest and as inspiration for updating the tradition?  The first two are quilts held by the National Trust and the others are from the Internet.  All display interesting formats and old techniques!

We in Britain of course are surrounded by so much history that we take it for granted - that is a fact which we all know and tend to dismiss.  We used to be the centre of an empire and so have been exposed to influences from all over the world.  We have excellent higher education art and design courses which encourage students to seek new and different ways of doing things and draw inspiration from world wide sources?  Perhaps these are some of the reasons why we neglect our own traditions or consider them not exciting enough?

Then of course there is the problem with books!  Unless traditions are recorded and promoted they die and though we have a very active publishing industry, it is highly commercial and needs to appeal worldwide and in patchwork and quilting terms, that means North America!  Anything British is considered too niche, so authors are encouraged to embrace many different design sources to appeal to the widest market.  Publishers are not interested in promoting their own country's traditions, that isn't considered commercial and they are probably right - they do actually sell more by widening the net, so British traditions are practically ignored, or if some do creep in they tend to fairly simple because again, books tend to be aimed at beginners, because that's the largest market and is also the easiest to cater for!

Now through the Internet it is very easy to follow trends all over the world and I am greatly encouraged to see that other countries, Australia being a prime example, are leading the way in exploring our British traditions.  It is wonderful to see how they are using, for example, English paper piecing, something I really thought had died a death and wasn't mourned by me, and producing the most exciting work in fabrics and colours that would blow the mind of Averil Colby, on whose books they seem to draw much inspiration.
I just wish there was similar original work being carried out here?  Perhaps there is and I am missing it?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Mary Lloyd - the quilting

As promised in my last post, this one is going into a bit more detail re the quilting methods and motifs.  I am sorry it has taken so long and do hope you haven't forgotten this wonderful quilt.

The quilt is large and almost square, measuring 261 x 264 cms. and as the quilting echoes the patchwork in the middle of the quilt, we who studied it, think that it would have been quilted on the patchwork side rather than on the reverse.

I have manipulated the original website image at the expense of the colour, in an attempt to show the quilting pattern more clearly and have heightened the contrast in the images I took myself to show some of the detailed quilted motifs.

In the main decorative part of the quilt which contains the central panel, surrounded by the leaves, bows and cornered by the four corner baskets, a large double circle filled with spirals is the main feature.  Inside this circle are leaves and berries, with the appliqued leaves outlined quilted, as are the border of triangles surrounding the central medallion.

 This very typical curved leave is quilted over the centre medallion -

 These are the outline leaves and filling motifs surrounding the leaves -

There is quite an area of cross hatching which isn't always present on earlier Welsh quilts, however I am wary of saying this as we really haven't that many to study to be definitive.

I am adding these other images in the hope that those of you who study Welsh quilting will gain inspiration from them.  I apologise for the quality of some, but I think they might be useful as you are still able to study the motifs.

You will see how intensive the quilting is, but I think that at the beginning there was simple plan and once the main areas were defined those were then filled in and surrounded by subsidiary motifs.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Visting Mary Lloyd

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of examining this wonderful Welsh quilt which is in the collection of the Welsh National History Museum at St. Fagans near Cardiff.  It isn't on display so I viewed it in the storage area and here I must thank Elen Philips, the curator in charge of textiles there, for all her help and enthusiasm when we quilters get into the investigation groove.

I don't really know where to start as I took lots of pictures of this very large bed quilt, both of the top, which is a mixture of broderie perse applique and pieced patchwork and the reverse of the quilt which is very densely quilted with very typical Welsh patterning.  So I will divide this post into two parts and talk again about the quilting and hopefully some of the history once I have had a chance to study the pictures more carefully!

The quilt is in good condition, but is water stained in the central area which is a shame.  Otherwise the fabrics, which are mainly chintz are still vibrant, many still holding their glaze!  The broderie perse applique is very neat, but not invisible and turned under and not attached with herringbone stitch, which was the other way with this technique in the early part of the 19th century!

In this last picture the basket is a little out of focus but I have included it as you can see some of the wonderful Welsh patterning about which I will talk again.

I do hope that all you ladies who are working hard at the Rowdy Flat Library Quilt and Susan Smith its designer, who was inspired by our Welsh Mary Lloyd quilt to create it, will find these pictures interesting! 

Monday, 11 April 2016

What have I been doing?

It's been a long time and though I do drop in and look at blogs now and again, I seem to have no urge to write!  Blame it on Facebook and Instagram, as they seem to have completely taken over my online life.

As you all know, though patchwork and quilting will always be my first love, I have become rather obsessed with collecting Emma Bridgewater spongeware and belong to several groups on Facebook that discuss, swop and sell her products.  I also go on trips to the factory in Stoke, which remind me of the buzz I used to get going on quilting and embroidery trips, which now are very much a thing of the past for me! 

So what have I been doing?   Where to start?  Well I have joined Instagram and really love it.  I have always enjoyed taking the pictures for this blog but now I seem to be doing it all the time and getting much more immediate feedback?  One of the downsides of blogging is that you get so few comments and as we bloggers thrive on feedback after a while one gets the feeling that no one is listening.  I know this isn't the case and that many people have difficulty either expressing themselves or actually getting through the technical difficulties, but lack of comments is definitely a downer for me.  With FB and IG this is not a problem, there is plenty of inter action!

I have been working on some projects, mostly using Liberty fabric.  Liberty has always been a great favourite of mine and now through Instagram (IG) I have discovered that there are groups all over the world absolutely obsessed with it and also that it is manufactured in different colours for Japan and Australia!  I had no idea of this?  Many years ago I was going to do a quilting book with Liberty, but after working at it quite intensively, the publishers pulled out because they didn't think the fabric would be available worldwide.  How wrong they were?

I am in the middle of quite a few things! In fact I'm feeling rather frustrated because I have so many ideas but not enough time to actually sew them, especially as everything is being done by hand.  Many are using my current favourite technique of broiderie perse, but on a smaller scale!

Here I have been cutting out some of the flowers from Liberty Tana Lawn and putting them together to form a bouquet -

A couple of finished projects - these are two small quilts.

Here's the bouquet in the first picture set within a little quilt -

and another in progress -

Here is another cut out and ready to go -

Some little houses and gardens which will be made into a quilt -

As well as the above, I have been quilting my Cottage Orne quilt, so though not posting here, I am not rusting away!

Here is the link to my Instagram pictures as I can't seem to find an official link button for this blog!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Here I am again!

Well it's been quite a time since I last posted, so what have I been up to?  Not much sewing that's for sure!  I suppose I'm having a bit of a creative block?  It's never happened to me before and I am quite worried about it.  Being creative in one way or another has been a great comfort over the years and has sustained me through difficult times.  I have had short periods, usually after a bereavement, when my creative juices have been absent but they always come back, however, at the moment they are eluding me.

I am on Facebook regularly, but so many of you say that you don't do Facebook, that I switched my page from public to just for friends.  I have also just joined Instagram and find that good fun too and am enjoying taking pictures with my iPhone and posting them!  So I suppose I'm being a creative albeit in a different way?

Slowly, very slowly, I have been working on this little quilt which is using many of the patterns I drafted for my Cottage Orne quilt, which I am also struggling to quilt - it's not going well at all and I will post some pictures on its own blog as soon as I can.

I attached a much larger border because I couldn't make up my mind how wide it should be - it will be considerably narrower when finished.

If you follow my Cottage Orne Blog you will see that I have changed the centre of the design.  The house and border I made originally, just didn't look right, so I used this broderie perse panel instead.  Sometimes even the best laid plans simply don't work out and it was fortunate that I had this unfinished piece looking for a border?

I've named the quilt "Miss Austen's House",  as in my imagination it is just the sort of place in which Jane would have lived had she not died comparatively young?  For after the great success of her novels,  she would surely have had enough money to leave Chawton Cottage and build a house of her own surrounded by a lovely garden and of course she would have had cats?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A lovely day out!

Continuing my obsession with Emma Bridgewater, I had another lovely visit to the factory in Stoke on Trent last Wednesday.  It involved an early start - I was up at 5 am which isn't much fun at the time, but totally worth it!  This time is was for a Samples Sale.

Before a a new range goes into production many samples are made of the shapes being considered within that range.  The patterns are tested to see how long they take to decorate and how the pattern can actually be placed around the various pieces.  Sometimes it takes several attempts before a piece is fit for production and of course collectors love to have a chance of buying something different and very often unique.

At one time samples could be bought in the Seconds Shop at the factory, but as the interest is now so intense, EB has begun to arrange special days at the factory and Collectors have to apply for tickets which are then randomly chosen.  It's literally pot luck and there is great competition for these tickets.  I was very lucky indeed to be able to attend thanks to a good friend inviting me to be her plus one!

Well what did I come away with?  Just three items -

This Christmas plate, which I'm not too sure about, never went into production probably because it would have been far too time consuming to decorate?

This fluted bowl in the Bird and Berry pattern, which was recently chosen by Fortum and Mason as their 2014 Christmas pattern.  This one is stamped as a Sample, so just a trial piece!

and this 1.5 pint jug!  This size never went into production, but they must have thought to produce it in the personalised range at some point, so again this is a trial piece.

I can't seem to resist buying a jug wherever I go and this one has lettering, which is another weakness!

As a postscript to my last post!  Thank you for your comments.  I will continue with this blog but it may well be fairly spasmodic.

I'm sorry that many of you don't do Facebook!  I know many are wary of it because they hear dreadful stories about stalking and abuse and feel that their privacy will be invaded if they have anything to do with it.

I felt like this myself, then I realised that I didn't have to publish my page, but make up a basic one just to be able to access other pages. So this is what I did and joined lots of  groups and started a couple of specialist ones. Now I can talk to people everywhere, join in discussions on things that I'm interested in, follow lots of public pages, for example museums, newspapers and magazines.  In fact most breaking news comes to me through Facebook and more importantly I have made some very good friends!

So please don't rule it out and be put off it by a lot of scare stories.  These social networks are very useful and we can use them as we want.  We needn't flood them with our personal information but be discreet and use them to gather information and of course keep in touch with those we want to keep in touch with!

I'm going to end with another picture of my tree which I took yesterday!  It is now almost fully in blossom and I can gaze into it when I wake up!