Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Christmas present 1

Finding a suitable Christmas present is hard, and the best ones are ones where thought has been applied. This is why DD's present was one of my all-time best ones. She had arranged for me to have a private showing of some of the quilts in the collection of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester! She came along too, and we had coffee, tea and lunch in a noodle bar (delicious!) and lots of mother-daughter chat as well!

This is the Whitworth Art Gallery, in case you don't know it. It looks rather forbidding, but was very welcoming and pleasant inside. The lovely and knowledgeable textiles curator, Frances, was ready for us at 2 o'clock, and had spread out some quilts ready to get going.

This is the first one, a lovely hexagon coverlet with a mitred border on it. There was a plain calico backing on it, and no quilting. It dated from about 1850. As ever with old quilts, the range of fabrics was amazing! Lots of conversation prints, shirtings, upholstery designs and all kinds of fabrics which look as if they were designed yesterday!
I don't think this photo is too clear, but can you see that there are little fairytale houses on the brown and cream patch between the two green ones near the bottom? I could have spent a whole afternoon just looking at the different fabrics in this quilt!

The maker had solved the problems of the edges of the quilt by using some half rosettes, and just keeping with cream in some parts. It seems to work well.

Next was a strippy coverlet dated about 1790. The patterned fabric was very chintzy, and the strips were unusual in that the patterned ones were wider than the plain ones. They are usually all the same width. Unfortunately, the quilting was not terribly interesting, and seemed to be fairly random.

Next a small, heavy log cabin quilt. This was wadded and backed with a fabulous Turkey red fabric which dated it to the late 19th century. This seems to be a kind of 'strips masterclass'. The centre of the quilt is log cabin, made in wools and wool mixes, arranged in a light and dark arrangement, each corner has a courthouse steps block, and the border is a chevron! The thick fabrics must have made it very hard to work with.
Here is a better photo of the backing. As you can see, this quilt was bound, which is not typical for British quilts. It's not surprising to find lots of paper piecing in British museums, and there was a whole box of paper pieced patches of various sizes, shapes and stages of completion, along with some fabric scraps and some paper waiting to be cut up into shapes. These octogons date from early 19th century. I think this might have been abandoned when the maker realised she should have pieced the little joining squares as she went along, not leaving them to the end! You can see on the right hand side she's started to add the squares (also paper pieced) but not got very far!

There were loads more octogons ready to go (these too have some with squares) and you can see the papers clearly here, with a date of 1815! The papers were made from copybooks or various printed sources. Again, the fabrics were fabulous, with lots of the 'seaweed' fabrics typical of the early 19th century. Here are some teeny Lemoyne stars - how were these going to fit together, I wonder?

Maybe they fit with these?Frances was almost apologetic at having included this top, but then, she hadn't met me before! I absoltely love it! She said it was mid-19th century and was a veritable showcase of Machester cottons. There were so many different fabrics in it, we wondered if it was made from fabric samples. Only the very centre has anything more complicated thn a square or rectangle (and that's only a square within a square which is missing its points!) but the colours and the enrgy of the piece are fabulous! There is a kind of basic design, but the fabrics are so varied, it's hard to see!

Here you can see a bit of bodging (the triangle added in being the worst of it!)
and here, a bit of desperation piecing, where five pieces of fabric have been joined together to make one patch! And that was the last quilt. Although I would obviously have liked to see more quilts, I would like to thank Frances (and DD) for a wonderful show! But the afternoon wasn't over, and I have more photos to show another day!

11 comments:

Sew Create It - Jane said...

I can't wait to see you tonight and hear all about your trip...sounds like it was wonderful and incredibly inspiring!

Contented Caroline said...

Sounds like a great day out Lynda. Glad you enjoyed yourself the quilt look amazing - maybe someone will ponder over our quilts someday!

orchidlover said...

What a great day out.

Love and hugs Gina xxx

Joyce said...

What a treat! I went to the quilt museum in Lincoln Nebraska but certainly didn't get a private showing. The talent back then was amazing but I guess they weren't distracted by computers. Or phones. Or TV.

Amo said...

What a fantastic idea for a present! Looks like you had a ball too. Thanks for sharing.

Barb said...

Absolutely incredible quilts! Thank you so much for taking us on a tour of them. I love the backing on that one and the hexie of course!
Lucky you to see these treasures in person

Diana said...

Oh, what a treat! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

loulee said...

Wow, what a treat. :-)

DD said...

Treat for Mum? Treat for me, actually. It was a selfish pretence to get her up for the day and to have chats and food and fawn over quilts.

I am my mother's daughter, after all...

Tonya Ricucci said...

wow, your daughter is fab, what a wonderful present for the two of you to share. I LOVE that Manchester sample quilt too. wonderful!!!

Michelle said...

Wow -- that log cabin just takes my breath away.