Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Old quilt

On Saturday, when I went to Rocheberie Quilters in Rugby, the speaker was Barbara Chainey. I knew of her excellent work but had never heard her speak. We had a real treat. Not only was her work very inspiring, but she was amusing and very down to earth, and an excellent speaker. However, the best part of the day for me was when she took a little time to look at the old quilt we have.

Striaghtaway she said it was beyond repair. She looked at the fabrics and said that there were at least two which were woodblock prints, and one was a known pillar print. It's the glazed chintz with the shield and chain fence background on in the picture. She thought that was about 1830. There was another floral chintz which was from the same era.

There were also patches of purple fabric, which became very fashionable when William Perkin invented analine mauve dye in 1856. (This was first used for silks, but influenced cotton fabric production where the colour was much duller, as here). The red fabric with the seaweed pattern is in fact a double pink.

Barbara thought some of the fabrics had been dyed using a manganese solution, which had rotted the fabric, and caused so much of the damage.
Barbara also confirmed what we had thought, that the quilt had been remodelled, probably in the 1940s or 1950s, just before it was sold. The multicoloured patches are mid-twentieth century fabric which has been appliqued on top of the patches. Maybe it was to repair or strengthen it or maybe to brighten it up.
It's obvious how out of keeping these patches are. Barbara also said that the backing and quilting had certainly been done at the same time. The backing is a furnishing fabric and the quilting is 'in the ditch', a fashion never seen on old quilts. The inner is domette, which is a lightweight lining fabric used in curtain making.

The egde is finished in a very unusual way. The edge of the quilt top has been folded over to a depth of about an inch (losing all the points on the front!), and then the backing has been slipstitched on (with green thread - another 20th century giveaway!) about a quarter of an inch below the fold. An old British quilt would have been finished with a knife edge.

All in all, the quilt is still a puzzle. It seems that the top is mid/late Victorian (it's only as old as its youngest fabric) which was originally either a top or a coverlet. Someone decided to remodel it in the 1950s, appliqued some patches on top, layered it with domette and furnishing fabric, quilted it in the ditch and sold it.
Thanks to Barbara for this information, but I'm still looking for more!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Busy, busy

This last week life has been very hectic - in a good way. On Wednesday it was Piecemakers' Christmas meeting, where I demonstrated an easy advent calendar; Thursday was work and belly dancing. On Friday I took my Mum, as part of her 80th birthday present, to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate and on Saturday I went to Rocheberie Schoolhouse Quilters in Rugby. Lots of fun, but no sewing.

My friend Chris, who went with me to the NEC back in August, had sent for some fabric from America, and while browsing the stock, had slipped in an extra half yard as a present specially for me.

She knows that I love novelty fabrics, but the clincher was the liberal use of lime green!

This is her and me out shopping together. (I'm the one with the lime green top and big feet, and she's the one with brown curls and trendy ear rings. We're both well endowed in the carrier bag department!) Don't know what I'll use it for yet, but it'll be something very special.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Old and new

I have still been fiddling about with bits and bobs, and have nothing finished to show for all the mess in my sewing room. I've started making the medallion quilt for the lady who gave me the old quilt and am using the old quilt for inspiration. Looking at it in the photo, I think it needs a bit more of the rust colours of the medallion. I'm doing another row of pinwheels, so can easily mix rust in with them.
Incidentally, is there anyone out there who knows anything about old quilts? The old quilt in question was bought in London 50 years ago, and nothing more is known about it. The maker was obviously very thrifty, as she has used some selvedges in the piecing. Here are two of them.

This one has a kind of crown and squiggles motif, which may have a V (for Queen Victoria?) in the middle and then the word LINEN and some numbers underneath. (The fabric doesn't seem to be linen to me.)
This one has large numbers on it, and on the back of the fabric is some writing, which isn't very clear. My friend Jane lent me a lovely book, called 'Ontario's Heritage Quilts' by Marilyn I. Walker where there is a coverlet which has the same two manufacturer's marks on it: a crown with 'British Manufact...' underneath, and then another piece with big numbers. In the book, this coverlet is dated 1827, so I'm wondering if the fabrics in the old quilt are of a similar age! Does anyone know anything about selevdge markings? Please let me know.

On a different vein, have signed up for Tonya's Winter Class. it's not a class as such, more inspiration. She starts by asking you to think what Christmas means to you, and for me, I think it's getting together with family, friends, strangers who might be friends etc. and the feelings of togetherness and happiness that brings. So I have started a wall-hanging with all kinds of people gathering in houses. I'm going to leave the snow at the bottom blank so that all the people who visit us over the Christmas period can sign their names. I'm planning to add words to it - probably Goodwill to all Men, which seems to me as good a Christmas sentiment as you can get.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Greeting card quilt

I have just finished a greeting card quilt for a work colleague who is leaving to start a new job. He's a great admirer of my quilts, which I think comes from him being an all-round nice young man, and the fact that he's a craft person too (wood-working and DIY) so appreciates in some way the work which goes into creating something.

This isn't my original idea, but one by Eleanor Dugan which was featured in Quilter's Newsletter magazine in December 2001. The idea is that you make a list of everything you can think of about the person the quilt is for, such as jobs, hobbies, places they have been, favourite foods, star signs etc. then look through your stash for images. It's surprising what you have, and even the writing on selvedges can be useful. Cut the images with a half inch seam allownace and then start to arrange them in groups by size. Four small square ones can make a four-patch, several long ones can make a strip, etc. Try and make the shapes into a rectangle, ading plain or geometric fabrics to fill the gaps. Some shapes can be fused on, to break up the regularity. Border, layer, quilt and bind and then add embellishments, such as badges, buttons, charms.

This card has a picture of Stuart as a young man (in a nice hand knitted jumper!), his initials ST, writing because he's a teacher, tea and coffee motifs because he'll often make a cuppa for everyone, wood and stone fabrics and paintbrush for his DIY, the child on his shoulder because he's a dad, wine because ... well, you can guess that one, plaid because he wore a kilt to his wedding, horseshoes for good luck and the eyes (next to the teapot at the bottom) because he works with visually impaired children.

I had great fun making it, and I'm sure he'll like it too.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Only UFOs

I was reading an article in a magazine this morning, where the writer said, 'Yesterday, after I had washed the breakfast pots, I sat down at my machine for a day's sewing.' Suddenly, I realised why I seem have done lots of sewing, but have little to show for it. When I have put the breakfast pots in the dishwasher, I clean, go out and pay bills, garden, do my school work ... well, you get the picture. It's only after all the things I need to do are over, that I sit down at my machine for half an hour or so. I need to set aside specific time to quilt. So I've decided I will do just that, after I have wrapped DH's birthday present, written my niece's card, iced the cake for my parents' diamond wedding party tomorrow, prepared the veg for tea, collected DD's car from the garage - oh, well, perhaps another day I'll do it!

One thing I have been doing is preparing for the meeting of a small quilt group I belong to called The Flutterwheels. Half a dozen friends decided they would like to meet up to do projects which would extend their skills and challenge them. We meet just 6 times a year and all try out the same new block or technique, then when the blocks are completed, we raffle them off between ourselves, so everyone gets a chance to try something, but they're not stuck with odd blocks which just go into your UFO box. This year we have been looking at illusions. We have made Crazy Log Cabin Roses (a la Jan Mullen), Double Nine Patches, Fans, and this time's challenge is Kaleidoscope. We decided on Mediterranean colours and here are my blocks. If everyone makes four, that will make 24 altogether, which is either a lap quilt, or a good start for a bed quilt.

Our last illusion is Storm at Sea, which we have chosen to do in red, for a change. This block looks so complex, but it's actually very easy. It's just two squares within squares and then two diamonds in rectangles. The blocks are 12" finished so they should knit up big. You can already see the circles apearing, even though I've only done two blocks.

Aaprt from this, I've been quilting a Linus quilt, making more Chaos Crumb blocks for DD's sofa quilt (82 down, 18 to go) and making a greeting card quilt for a colleague who's retiring. I'll post a photo of that when it's done.

Something on my to-do list is to make a quilt to give to the lady who gave me the antique quilt in poor repair. I think it would be fair to replace old for new. My friend Sylvia has kindly given me this lovely medallion which will be perfect as a centre for the quilt. The colours and design are so old fashioned and ideal for framing in 19th century colours of browns, beiges, reds and blues. I think I'll get on with it as soon as I've washed the kitchen floor!