All posts by Helen Barnes

Patchwork and Applique

Alongside wholecloths, quilters used scarps for patchwork and applied designs in applique. Floral dress prints, spots and chintz were popular and a whole sample book of different colourways of the same pattern would be found in a quilt (often quilted by a dressmaker or one of their relations).
Mosaic patchwork was used to create a repeated pattern often with a hexagon or a diamond shape. These would have been English paper pieced. Squares and rectangles may have been sewn together with a sewing machine.

Mosaic quilt Reeth Museum, Swaledale

Medallion quilts were a little more complex, starting in the centre perhaps with a printed panel, frames of different patchwork patterns would be built up, sometimes over years and generations.


My own English paper pieced medallion quilt

Appliqued quilts often featured flowers, leaves, hearts and later flower baskets. A geometric red and white quilt with a stunning design from Rash Grange Farm, Muker in Swaledale.

 

This quilt was on display at the ‘Dales Countryside Museum’ at Hawes, Swaledale in an exhibition ‘Colour and Comfort’ (2019).
There was a lovely display of Northern Dale quilts and what was nice was the range of qualities from a machine pieced everyday quilt to a beautiful hexagon mosaic quilt which must have taken hours and hours.

This quilt was on loan from The Quilters Guild Museum Collection, for the exhibition
I liked the bold design and colours used in this one, and it has different colourways from a sample book.

http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/heritage/swaledale-farm-quilt.html

Some of the applique designs came from America where motifs were exchanged with other European emigrants. Emigrants from the Dales returned from America bringing with them a wealth of new designs or sent them back to relatives in correspondence.

What astounds me is the quilting detail and design on some of these quilts, when today we would see it as unnecessary because of the busyness of the patterned fabrics and applique designs. This is the central panel of a quilt which is appliqued with the tree of life.

http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/heritage/durham-frame-quilt.html

 

When I examined the back of the quilt it revealed a rich quilting pattern you would not see on the front.

The diversity and richness of the patchwork and applique quilts is well worth more investigation, from those created for everyday use to the professionally made intricate quilts.

Next week I will look at how to start a small project of your own.

 

Rural Industries Bureau Scheme

Although we now refer to North Country Quilts, during the 1930’s it was
called ‘Durham quilting’ when it was promoted through England and
abroad.

The Rural Industries Bureau raised the profile of quilting and gave it
a new lease of life in County Durham and South Wales (which also has
a great quilting tradition). The Rural Industries Bureau wanted to
revive various crafts in ‘distressed areas’ including quilting. During 1929
a record was started of quilters who wanted orders for work.
Wholecloth Quilts were made to a very high quality and sold in London.
This cot quilt was made to sell at Little Gallery, London (1930-1939). It is
cream on one side and fawn on the other with bellows and flower motif in
the centre, and a border of roses within circles.


.http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/muriel-rose-gallery-wholecloth-cot-quilt.html

My sketches on a visit to  ‘The Quilters Guild Museum Collection’ in York

In 1932 the V & A Museum commissioned a wholecloth quilt. It was
made by Mrs Nina Pirt, a coal miner’s wife who lived in Spennymoor. This link takes you straight to the photo and description.

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O164918/bed-cover/

Dressing gowns, tea cosies, cushions and soft toys were also made for
sale.

Durham quilting was also promoted by Miss Armes who encouraged the
craft in the Women’s Institute and entries in the agriculture shows
were fierce.

To encourage the quality of the Durham Quilting Lady Headlam set up
the Northern Industries Workrooms in 1933. Work was in demand and it
was sold at Liberty’s, to Claridge’s Hotel for bed coverlets and commissioned by
private customers.

The Quilters Guild Museum Collection has a lovely green and red example of a wholecloth quilt made at Barnard Castle Workshop (1930-1940)
http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/northern-industries-workroom-quilt.html

http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/northern-industries-workroom-quilt.html

As with the quilt clubs the market collapsed in 1939 due to the Second World
War.

Next week we will look at patchwork and applique in the Northern Dales , the various patterns and colour combinations used.

Quilt Clubs Week 7/10

Before talking about the Quilting clubs I think it is important to know a little bit about the area in which they came about.


A photo of Weardale today, once an industrial Lead mining area.

The Northern Pennine region including Allendale, Weardale and Teesdale had rich deposits of Lead. The Lead mining was at its height during the 1700’s &1800’s when thousands of workers mined the area, many setting up homes there. Some of the quilting clubs started at this time to bring in extra money into the home, particularly for those who had been widowed.

By the late 1880’s the price of lead was so low, the big mining companies withdrew and unemployment was writhe. Some of the  workers will have  moved into the coal mining areas further to the east of the country, around Durham, Northumberland and Newcastle. Here quilters clubs were set up by miners wife’s who had been widowed or their husbands disabled. The quilt clubs came into their own during the strikes and depressions of the 1920’s and 1930’s and provided a much needed income.

The women in the mining areas would have been engaged in making quilts on large wooden frames in the farmhouses and cottages and would have fitted the quilting around household and farm chores. Three generations, grandma, mother and daughter might work at the frame.
If a quilt club was set up just one person would have worked on the quilt for longer hours each day, making a quilt in 1 or 2 weeks. The patterns would have been easier and quicker to complete and the running stitches not so small. They would have generally marked out the quilts and could be wholecloth or strippy quilts.

This quilt is from the Beamish collection and is peach/pink sateen with a cream sateen reverse. Quilted with a central rose and a rose in each corner with 12 concentric circles equally spaced around the quilt. It has a diamond infill finished off with a feather border. –circa 1920.

From the quilt I worked out some of the patterns used, the central rose design, the goosewing and concentric circles.

This is a simplified example of how the quilt club could work, which was like a higher purchase system.
The quilt club would have 25 members, each person contributed 1 shilling per week for 25weeks (the quilt costing 25 shillings) Names would be drawn out of a bag to determine the order customers would get a quilt. So once a week one person would receive a quilt and by the end of 25 weeks all 25 members would have a quilt.
After materials, wadding and thread for a quilt the Quilter was left with a small profit to live on.
The quilt clubs gave a continuation of the craft through the beginning of the 20 century and played an important role in providing a means of survival for women in hard times.
If you would like to read more M. Fitzrandolph in her book “Traditional Quilting” (1954) has interviews and stories about the quilt clubs which makes very interesting reading .


The quilt clubs by 1939 declined dramatically. due to textile rationing during the war years. 

Next week we will look at a beautiful cot quilt made through the Rural Industries Bureau to be sold in London.

The Sanderson Star Week 6/10

Elizabeth Sanderson (1861-1933) from Allenheads in the Northern Dales was an apprentice to George Gardiner. She ‘stamped’-marked out quilts with blue pencil markings throughout the area so successfully that she employed apprentices of her own. They marked out mainly wholecloth quilts but also did individual commissions. The quilt tops were taken by the packman to remote areas of the Northern Pennines and were sold at the local co-op.

Elizabeth became well known for the Sanderson Star which she designed.

 

The quilt consisted of a framed pointed star surrounded by alternating coloured borders. I like the boldness and contrast of the design which is often Turkey red and white so this is a little more unusual being gold and white. It still has the blue markings on so has not been washed. I do not know the history of the quilt but I imagine whoever quilted this loved her craft and took enormous pride in her work. The accuracy of the piecing and the close stitches shows a high level of skill. All Elizabeth Sanderson’s pupils had to make a Sanderson Star quilt to finish their apprenticeship.

The centre of a Turkey Red Star from Beamish
http://www.beamish.org.uk/
The patterns used in the Sanderson Star were distinctive. A central star consisted of  a rose or star design with the radiating kite shapes filled with a flower, feather and tendril design. A diamond infill surrounds  the star. The borders were cables, trails, and running feathers, the corners of the borders would have rose designs or diamonds.

Central star has a rose motif in the centre with a flower and feather infill in the radiating kite shapes.

Rose and diamond corner motifs

Cable pattern

Running feather

This is my embroidered detail of  a star showing the typical flower and feather infill and a more unusual tulip design found in a Sanderson Star quilt from ‘The Quilters Guild Museum Collection.

http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/pink-and-white-sanderson-star-quilt.html

The marked ‘quilt tops’ created distinctive North Country designs and helped keep alive the craft of hand quilting in the mining areas of the Northern Pennine Dales and Northumbria.

Next week we will look at how the North Country quilts helped bring in a much needed income to mining families. 

Making Templates and ‘Stamped Tops’

Making Templates

Patterns and motifs were created using everyday objects and card shapes which were inspired from nature.
Folded paper
A great way to make a central design, rose or star is to fold a circle of paper from its centre point and then cut the outer section to create a flower or star shape. Then the quilting lines can be drawn in to create the effect desired.

Card templates
Stylized shell and flower motifs can be drawn on card and used on repeat designs throughout the quilt. I use a compass and ruler to start the shape off but I think the quilters in the Dales would have developed the skill to draw freehand.

Everyday objects
This design is called ‘flat iron’, an iron would have been drawn round, giving an outside shape to fill with feather and flower motifs.

‘Wineglass’ was a popular infill pattern and any circular glass could be used. Pennies were used to draw feather motifs. The penny gave the top curve of the feather, then the lines were drawn freehand keeping the curve flow to the centre line.

Border patterns
The Cables, Trails and Plaits look complicated but can be broken down into units using the iron shape. This motif is overlapped and repeated to make the skeleton outline to quilt.

‘Stamped Tops’ 1880’s onwards
One of the reasons the North Country quilts continued to be made in the Northern dales was the development of the stamped quilt top promoted particularly by George Gardiner. Around Allendale, the lead mining region, George Gardiner drew on fabric with blue chalk elaborate central floral designs of roses and feathers. The borders around the quilt were made up of motifs including hammocks and fleur de Lis with complex corners and an overall diamond infill… The ‘stamped’ quilt tops were sold around the countryside including Weardale and Northumberland and became very popular due to the ease of use.

This photo was taken at The Quilters Guild Museum Collection of a stamped top drawn out ready to quilt . http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/north-country-wholecloth-quilt-kit.html

Elizabeth Sanderson, apprentice to George Gardiner developed her own style and the distinctive ‘Sanderson Star’ is her lasting legacy. Next week I will go into more detail about the Sanderson Star and its design.

This is a wrap bag I made using some of the techniques mentioned in the blog.

As you can see it can be fun to make and use these designs to create something new. If you need any help or advice just contact me . 
I hope everyone is well and enjoying the time to do some creative activities.

 

 

 

Strippy Quilts. Week 4/10

The strippy quilt is probably my favourite. I like the linear patterns and striking contrast of colourful stripes plus the fact that the quilts were made for everyday use.

The bright colourful strips with white make an attractive useful bedspread and often are found in the homes of the coal miners cottages in Northern England. Most strippy quilts date from 1850 to 1930.

They were generally constructed with 7 to 9 strips of alternating colours 7-9” wide, pieced together by hand or more likely using a sewing machine which became available in the mid 1800’s.
The patterns could be drawn and quilted with the strippy cloth on the quilting frame, which did not take as much skill or planning as the wholecloth quilts and were faster to make.

I recently bought a pink and white strippy quilt with several lovely designs placed in a symmetrical order. It has a running feather design in the centre. These photos show the overall layout and some of the individual linear patterns used on strippy quilts

Layout of strippy quilt 

A running feather with leaves and swirls 
A running diamond with wave border
A large diamond with flowers and hearts 
A running feather with diamonds 

A trail 

The patterns usually ran down the entire length of the quilt and covered the width of each stripe.

On a visit to ‘The Bowes Museum’ I was honoured to see the recently acquired quilt from the Hannah Hauxwell estate (thought to have been made by her grandmother).

https://www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk/ 

The quilting patterns include cable twists, bellows with diamonds and waves, zigzags and trail.

The Quilters Guild Museum Collection also has a selection of strippy quilts including a striking green/fawn and pink one with lovely flowered backing. The back of the strippy quilts are usually plain, but can be floral or strippy on both sides.
 http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/pink-and-fawn-north-country-strippy-quilt.html

This yellow and white strippy is one I have made which includes the Weardale Chain.


An example of the Weardale Chain

Strippy quilts are varied in colour combinations and amazing patterns. I am already working on my next strippy quilt which includes some pieced squares and triangles set in strips inspired by a quilt from the Consett area of County Durham from the Beamish collection.

Next week I will show how some of the quilting motifs can be made using paper folding, card templates and pennies.

Beamish Museum and Joe the Quilter

I first saw a display of North Country (Durham) quilts at the Beamish Museum. It is a living museum in the North of England which gives a fascinating insight into our historical heritage.

http://www.beamish.org.uk/

One area of the museum has a 1900s’ town, pit village, colliery and cottages. In the pit cottages and Ravensworth Terrace you will find a variety of quilts on the beds. These displays together with a quilt exhibition gave me my first insight into the variety and quality of the North Country quilts.
Quilts and sketches from the Museum

Inside the cottages 

Beamish has a huge collection of quilts that have been donated over the years and Rosemary E. Allan has documented many of them in her excellent reference book ‘Quilts and Coverlets’, well worth a read.

Pages on Joe the Quilter in R. E. Allans’ book 

Returning last year we saw the recently added ‘Joe the Quilters Cottage’. Joseph Hedley (1745-1826) became a professional quilter and marked up the top of quilts for sale after working as a tailor. He was well known and created intricate designs including what is now called ‘Old Joes Chain’. Inside the cottage his quilting frame is set up with an example of his work.
He was murdered aged 76 and consequently a lot has been recorded about him, making him an obvious choice for the museum to showcase.

In the reconstruction of Joe the Quilters cottage ( sample quilted by Margaret and Aidan Nichol of Joes quilt ) 

A wholecloth which has survived has twists, cables and fan motifs (1820). This has been reproduced by Margaret and Aidan Nichol who I had the pleasure of meeting last year. They skilfully traced the design and beautifully quilted this antique quilt for the Museum.

Photo of article from the ‘ The Quilter ‘ no 157 -2018 

Beamish is well worth a visit for all the family with trams which take you around the Northern landscape and you can even buy a little fabric in the co-op ! 

Next week we will look at the striking strippy quilts and the repeat linear designs which make them unique. 

Wholecloth Quilts

A wholecloth quilt consists of one piece of fabric (often white) which is marked with a quilting design. It is then layered with wadding and a backing fabric that could be the same colour, be a floral print or coloured fabric.

Wholecloth Quilt from the Northern Dales -early 1900’s in the Allendale style.

The wadding was traditionally wool but later cotton or a blanket were also used. The quilting as well as holding the three layers together would create the decorative design, giving the three dimensional effect that gives the wholecloth quilt its character.

The quilting was carried out on a large frame which was mounted on a pulley system in the cottages and could be lowered down for the whole family to work on. Children would be threading the needles as their mother would quilt. Quilting was primarily done by women but there were men who excelled at the craft too.

The quilt would have a central design of maybe a flower (often a rose) from which a combination of feather, leaf, and flat iron (with feather and flower in fill) motifs would radiate.


The borders would combine patterns of cables, feathers, plaits, hammocks and one of my favourites, the Weardale Chain. The corners were highly decorated and sometimes included a fan motif.

These designs were brought together by using an infill pattern such as diamond or wineglass.

The wholecloth sometimes had a floral printed border which framed the beautiful stitch work.

Wholecloth quilts are very difficult to photo and if you would like to view some more examples have a look at  http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/

I went on an informative course with Lilian Hedley. This design I created has the central rose motif with radiating leaf designs, a feather border with rose motifs in the corners and a diamond infill pattern.

Next week we will visit Beamish Museum and learn about their quilt collection and Joe the quilter. 

North Country Quilts ( Durham Quilts )

Introduction to North Country Quilts 

My passion for North Country Quilts has grown over the years. As a teenager I admired my mum’s quilts but did not take a lot of interest in them! I was at the time fascinated by the bright colours and patterns of India and Peru. I still love the beautiful array of textiles found around the world but now I am immersing myself in researching my own northern heritage. I would like to pass on these patterns and quilting traditions to celebrate our past and inspire new designs for the future. I still have a lot to learn but over the next few weeks I would like to share a selection of what I have learnt so far.

North Country Quilts are known for the wholecloth, strippy and Sanderson Star quilts but also include patchwork and appliqued quilts.

Sanderson Star at The Quilter Guild Guild Museum Collection

Strippy Quilt from Beamish Museum


My mum’s whole cloth quilt 

Quilts were made from Medieval times, maybe even before but the distinctive wholecloth designs were quilted from the 1700’s onwards.

They were made mainly for warmth, special occasions, community fundraising, by ladies of leisure and later by miners wife’s to earn a livelihood during hard times.

During the 1800’s fabrics became cheaper and accessible to all social classes (you could even buy it from the Co-op!), and in the villages and towns quilts were made in the cottages throughout the region.

A selection of patterns in different combinations came to be used including twisted cables, plaits, crescents, feathers, flowers and shells. These motifs were bound together with a background pattern, commonly a diamond matrix. As with all creative endeavours individuals created a wide variety of original quilts which can be seen in homes and museums.

As I study these quilts I keep a sketch book which I use alongside photos to create modern contemporary pieces to celebrate our heritage.


Framed Wholecloth ( The Quilters Guild Museum Collection )

http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/wholecloth/framed-north-country-wholecloth.html

My sketch of the central design 

My embroidered design of the central area from the quilt 

Next week I will examine the wholecloth quilts, the patterns used and the composition of central designs and borders
Meanwhile check out the collection of quilts at “The Quilters Guild Museum Collection” using the link below

http://www.quiltmuseum.org.uk/collections/

 

Embroidery for my beautiful granddaughter

February and March seems to have gone so fast . I went to visit my son Sean and his new family, Valeria and baby daughter Camila. I took with me a piece of embroidery for Camila – her own Costa Rican Mandela . A mandala based on the ox cart wheels that are decorated in Costa Rica . 
The beautifully painted ox cart wheels . 

Camila’s embroidered mandala to enjoy as she grows up . 

Back home I am now working on my North Country ( Durham ) quilting – photos to follow . 
Stay safe and enjoy your embroidery and quilting .