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I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Welsh Pink and Paisley Strippy

Here is another Welsh strippy quilt. The cotton fabrics are a plain coral pink and an art nouveau print in green and pink. The overall size is 84 x 76 inches. The back is an olive green colour, which has faded in some areas.

The quilting is good with some nice patterns, you can see an outer border of chevrons. The other patterns mainly follow the strips and you can see pit wheels with outlining, and church windows.

The front and back of the quilt.

A detail of the paisley fabric used on the front of the quilt.

The edge of the quilt.

This quilt came from a farmhouse in the Creigau area, where it had been in one family for some time.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Welsh Pink and Cream Strippy

Here is a quilt that I consider one of my study pieces. It did not cost much, as the edges are very worn. Many people would trim off the edges and rebind, but I prefer to keep these quilts as I bought them. Bindings are not the norm on a Welsh quilt. This is a Welsh strippy - you can see that the strips are a bit wider than some of the north country quilts.

The colour is an attractive cream and dusky pink combination, in cotton sateen.

The quilting pattern is an overall wineglass pattern, with some spirals to fill in any odd corners. It just goes to show, simple patterns can be so effective, you don't have to be complicated all the time....the quilter was working quickly and was drawing the pattern outlines with chalk on the frame as she was quilting from one side to the other.

I do not have any information about this quilt, but it came from a dealer in Cardiff. The overall size is 78 x 72 inches. The wadding is wool fleece, not a blanket.

You can see that the quilting is an overall pattern, and, unlike most north country strippies, the patterns do not follow the strips but are quilted as a Welsh wholecloth quilt.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Yellow and Green Country Quilt

Here is what I would call a "country" quilt. It is a double bed size and a lovely faded yellow gold on one side and a bluey green on the reverse. It is a very heavy quilt and has a heavy blanket inside but has the wonderful patina of use, together with some fabulous stitching and textures (although the stitching is not fine).

Although the stitching is necessarily large, there are some good traditional patterns on this quilt. It is made of cotton sateen which has a lovely soft feeling to it. The size is double bed size.

The blue green side has some fades but is still a gorgeous colour (doesn't show very well in this photo). This is the reverse and due to the heavy nature of the wadding, the pattern does not show as clearly on this side - but still some great textures here.

The dealer Said in an email "I'm sorry I don't know its history, I've had it at least 11 years. Its the one I use on my daughter Siwans bed in the winter. She's 12 years now and when she came out of her cot went straight into an antique double bed. But this Xmas she had a computer and the only way I could get the desk in her room was to put in a single bed, so this quilt was too big. I did not want to store it away, I'm really trying to cut back on what I store. Half the attic's been converted into a room. Over the past year I have unpacked tons and tons of boxes I have stored over the past 20 years." Jane lives in Llanddowror and often bought quilts and blankets at local house sales.

This quilt is worn and not in the best condition but somehow it embodies what a Welsh quilt should be - weighty, colourful and with some great quilting patterns. A real character quilt.

A four lobed design - sometimes known as "crank".

This photo shows the colour a bit better...

Patterns seen - spirals, fans, geometric designs, leaves. It is quilted in the traditional format with central coin, and outside borders. A lovely quilt.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Welsh Orange and Green Quilt - very stained....

Here is a quilt which looks much better now than when I bought it!

It had been bought at an auction and was very grubby - as if it had been left in a shed or loft. Not only was it dirty but it had water stains too - there was a large "tide mark" at one end of the quilt. There were also fades where the quilt had been folded and left in the sunlight. It also looked as if it had been dragged along the floor as there was a lot of grime. But, it was nicely stitched and a good example of a better "country" quilt.

This quilt was bought at an auction in LLanwardra village hall; the sale was from three separate house clearances and was run by an estate agent. The dealer (Jane) had wanted a particular pink tapestry blanket but in order to get that blanket, had to buy the whole box of quilts and blankets, of which this was one.

A close up of the neat stitching, in effective chevrons which are often seen on Welsh quilts.

A simple fan is seen in the corners...the centre medallion is a rectangle with diamond infill, surrounded by a twist.

The size is 82 x 70 inches and this is what most people would have had on their beds....

The stitching is very nice considering that there is a blanket inside as wadding....

As the quilt had not cost me very much, I decided to have a go at cleaning it. Water does not suit many quilts, but I reckoned that this one was sturdy enough to subject it to washing - and, the dirt would have harmed the quilt over time if left alone.

First I tested it for colour fastness, then washed it in cool water in the bathtub. The first two tub fulls (where I used a bit of mild detergent, Synthrapol) came up very dark brown - I also used some home-made mild soap in some areas - then rinsed three times. I was getting tired of washing the quilt at this point - so although the water wasn't perfectly clear I took it down to the washing machine in a basket and spun it dry, first at low speed and then at higher speed. It was then put over a padded clothes horse in the spare room (oh, sorry, quilt storage area). It looked a lot cleaner and the worst of the tide mark had gone. A small area had opened up on one side - you could see that there was a woollen blanket inside.

The quilt now looks 100% better than when it arrived - I like the individuality of these quilts and only wish I knew more about it.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Welsh Green and Pink Quilt with Frill

Here is a pink and green Welsh quilt which is in good condition, apart from some fading to the green side. The size is 76 x 66 inches, not including the frill. The quilt was bought from a lady in Hertfordshire as a Durham quilt. It had been bought as such from a dealer at an antique fair. She did not know anything more about the quilt. When I told her that it was in fact a Welsh quilt she was cross - she knew that Welsh quilts generally fetch more than Durham quilts - simply because there are fewer about, as Wales had a much smaller population than the North Country.

The patterns are typically Welsh. (As always, click on the photo to get a close up view, the patterns will become clearer then). You can see that the central medallion is of four beech leaves with two scrolls around this. The filling stitch is a scale pattern. Also seen are bees wings? paisley pears? I'm not sure what to call these propellor shapes - but they are fun.

You can see that there is a nice contrast between the light and dark sides. The frill is of two fabrics so that it matches each side.

The pink is the "right " side and the green is the "wrong" side. How to tell? The thread is pink and on a wholecloth quilt the thread usually matches the top side. Also, the top stitches are more regular and the fabric smoother, whereas the underside stitching is slightly more irregular, stitches somewhat smaller and the quilting more sculptural or puffy - sometimes the quilting designs are not as clear on the underside.

There are attractive fans and also a border with spirals.

This quilt is nicely worked and has a good density of stitching. The wadding is of carded wool. Altogether a good, typical Welsh quilt.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Molas -Applique from the Kuna women, San Blas Islands, Panama

When I lived in New York City in the late 1970's (summer jobs near Wall Street) my sister Janine had some Molas nicely framed in her Washington Heights apartment- I always admired the way they looked. Over the years, I have made some Molas (not easy) and also bought a few as and when I saw them.

Here is a small "molita" - applique with embroidery, colourful and made for the tourist trade. Two hummingbirds with hibiscus flowers.

Here is a mola of two birds (ducks??) Above you can see the Panamanian Flag plus 3rd November - their Independence Day from Columbia. The outlining is reminiscent of Welsh quilts!! The applique is colourful...

Here are two (??) deer or antelope munching on a plant or flower..

Not sure what these two creatures are ...are they real or imaginary???
One animal attacking a bird?

Here is my favourite - pink with horses and fish - again I cannot decide whether they are horses or perhaps seahorses - but very vigorous and full of colour.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Pna Ndau - Hmong people

Here is an applique bed cover that I acquired recently - it is ENORMOUS - 102 x 111 inches. In red and navy polycotton, it has only a light muslin backing, and is not a "true" quilt. These textiles are made by the Hmong people, and this one has a label on the reverse -"Hand made by Niana Paola in Thailand". One or two triangles have come loose, as this cover has been used in the past...

Although made for the tourist trade, the applique is expertly done.

The stitching is not as close as some others I have seen, but the overall amount of work is astounding.

Here is an older applique panel I bought some years ago from Siripan Kidd. I believe this pattern is called "Elephants Foot". There is reverse applique and well as as triangles in standard applique. Very effective. I have a length of a carrier band but cannot find where I put it - that is even older, again bought from Siripan.

You can see that the stitching is much closer here than on the bedspread shown above.

And here is another photo showing the applique triangle and the reverse applique spiral. Very impressive - I've done enough applique to know how skilled this work is.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Maria's woven rugs

Maria, Ruth, Ernest and Lynn Fuller - my Grandmother, Mother, Uncle and Grandfather. I'm guessing that this photo was taken before 1929.

Here are two woven rugs that are special to me because they were made by my maternal grandmother, Maria Fuller (ne Dalke). After the 1929 stock market crash, the family had to move from Dearborn near Detroit back to the family farm at Enid, Oklahoma. Maria supported her family by raising chickens, canaries and fox terriers and also weaving rugs on a twelve heddle loom (I hope that is the correct term because I don't know very much about weaving on looms). And Grandad had to learn all about wheat farming!!

These rugs are very sturdy and, I think, were made from recycled fabric. The colour of the rugs was determined by the nature of the fabrics. The rugs I have seen have been mostly pink and green or brown and grey.

Here is another photo of the rugs and you can see that the colour is determined by the colour of the fabrics and to a lesser extent the colour of the warp strings. The warps are tied to make an attractive fringe. I drape these over the backs of chairs and like their rustic and practical nature. These two rugs probably date from after WWII when my parents had moved to Chicago and later Princeton. There were several dotted around the house and I must confess that I never took much notice of them, as children do.

Maria was from Mennonite stock and we still have relatives in Oklahoma although they of course are not Mennonites any longer. The farm, which I visited as a child, was sold when my grandfather went into care many years ago. Maria was not a quilter but my mother can remember playing under a quilting frame at neighbors' houses.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Here are some carvings that I found around the doorway arch of a church in Norfolk ( I think it was the church at Barton Turf). The top one reminded me of the braids and twists we find on quilts - the bottom one just amused me. It also reminded me of the slate gravestones that we used to "rub" in some of the older graveyards in New Jersey, with the winged angel's heads and other interesting designs.

There is a lot of design and things of interest in these churches - some was swept away by the Puritans (and the Victorians) but much still survives if you look for it- especially in the country churches.

We have had snow here - before today I thought Suffolk had gotten off lightly but today we have had a good fall of snow and although the main roads are passable my car wouldnt start and our road is like a skating rink. So I did walk to one of my jobs but tomorrow if things don't improve I will try to take the bus or train. I really don't enjoy driving in snow and ice.

My Hawaiian quilt top is looking mostly complete (only the centre to do) so I am thinking of starting another applique quilt top and also marking out my Welsh quilt - I more or less know what I want to do now and just have the tedious business of making the pattern and marking it onto the fabric. Of course the actual Welsh quilts were marked in chalk as the quilt was in the frame, so this will not truly be tradtional. The older quilts have so much individuality and vitality - I think our quest for perfection has taken alot of this away and things are sometimes rather sterile these days. I'm guilty of this too - I did consider marking it the traditional way but if I am to enter it into a competition, I know that this wonkiness wouldn't pass muster....

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Welsh Gaudy

I have noticed that many of the quilting blogs feature collections of china or other pottery. I have only a small collection of Welsh Gaudy china. I don't know enough about this to collect - but I do like the bright colours and the fact that it is early enough to be hand painted and not mass made.

Welsh gaudy china is colourful and fun, and not as expensive as some other types of china. It was made at numerous potteries in Staffordshire, as well as Wales and the Newcastle area. It dates from 1820 to 1850 and each piece is therefore likely to be over 150 years old. Much was exported to America from Liverpool to Philadelphia, where it was especially popular with German settlers.

Welsh gaudy was inexpensive china for ordinary families - each piece would have originally cost a few pennies. Tea sets, bowls and jugs were the most common items. The colours are bright and lively, and based on Japanese porcelain.

What is certain is that these items were produced by "sweat" labour - often children as young as 8. Others items were produced by untrained outworkers - and all were paid by the number they could produce each day.

This probably accounts for the naive, often crude designs - and the variable nature of the painting. The designs are mostly floral in nature.

There are said to be over 300 patterns - but the potteries are mostly unnamed and the named patterns are later inventions of collectors.

I don't usually like china or glass but I do like these cups a lot! The colours and designs are wonderful.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Durham Quilt quilted in Wales

Here is a stamped "Durham" quilt that I believe to have been finished in Wales - there are a number of clues....the pattern is a handsome but simplified north country design. The size is 83 by 82 inches and the date is 1920 or 30's.

The centre of the quilt has flatirons, ferns and roses with diamond infill.

The corner treatment is a flower plus simple feather motifs.Elegant but all fairly large scale.

Here is a photo of the reverse - this old gold and pink was a popular combination (the so-called custard and rhubarb!) The reverse is a brocade type cloth and you can see that the stitches are rather coarse.

You can still see the blue pencil markings - the quilt has been used and washed but the markings must have been robust as there are still many traces of these markings.

This is a close up of the reverse, you can see that the design created by the threads carried over the surface is a thistle in this case - a handsome fabric.

The clues that this quilt was made in Wales from a north country top:

1) The quilt came from a seller in Llanelli - it belonged to the seller's aunt (Lillian) who lived there - the seller assumed that it was Welsh: it was probably bought very inexpensively at an auction or house clearance, which she liked to attend. The seller did not think Lillian had any connections with Durham or the north country area.

2) the wadding is a very thick blanket which is very likely a Welsh wool blanket - this accounts for the coarse stitching: the wadding is too thick to achieve finer stitches.

3) The edge treatment is typically Welsh and is neatly hand sewn.

Mavis Fitzrandolph in Traditional Quilting,states on page 43 of quilt stamper Mrs Peart of Allendale ...."in 1952 she was charging five shillings for marking a quilt top....and she had orders from many parts of England and even from parts of Wales... "
Although there is no direct proof of this, I believe that this is one of the later North country tops that was sent to Wales and was completed by a Welsh quilter, using techniques that were familiar to her, and which were different to those techniques that would have been used by quilters in other parts of the UK.