All posts by Helen Barnes

Samples all labelled ready for the Quilters Guild

I cannot believe were the last month went.

I have met a lot of lovely ladies around the UK doing zoom talks and workshops to embroidery and quilters groups. Thank you all for you kindness and asking me along to your meetings. 

I have also tutored my first real class at Dutton’s for Buttons in York. The class was based around canvas work and looked at the Arts and Crafts movement. We also discussed Louisa Pesel , an amazing lady who I will talk about in a blog all of her own . You may have heard of her as she designed and organised the kneelers and cushions in Winchester Cathedral in the 1930’s and was a central character in T. Chevaliers book ‘A single Thread’ . 

In-between  I have been labelling up the quilted samplers from the North Country strippy quilts. I have put them into sets which can be added to in the future. Next month should see my textile hanging finished, I am at present doing the butt edge and getting it ready to hang up.

Three types of bellow designs

Continuous designs including plait, wave, cable and trail

Diamond framework designs

Running feathers

Infill designs

Repeated motifs

Loop and circle frameworks

and finally two of my favourite continuous designs the Weardale chain and the Allendale feather.

Making patterns

Over the last month I have been working on my Textiles hanging , using chainstitch and embroidery stitches along side quilting the patterns I studied on the strippy quilts. I have also added sequins, buttons and beads to add detail and focus. I enjoy the variety of techniques and spending time working out the exact colour and thickness of thread I want to use to create the right balance in the composition, although it has led to some unpicking when I’m not quite sure. Next month it should be ready for hanging and display which will be a great accomplishment.

Where to start?

My aim for the Amy Emm’s Bursary was to gain knowledge of the linear designs of the strppy quilts made in Northern England. By studying these quilts and doing extensive reading I have definitely extended my knowledge, although with this knowledge comes more questions !

I have created a collection of samples to be shared with the Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection. (which is recorded in previous blogs ) The curator Heather Audin has just posted an article about the work.

I am very grateful to her support and can’t wait to be able to go to the museum again to study the quilts, photographs are of an excellent quality nowadays but it is not the same as the real thing .

Now to the next part of my project , to create a contemporary wall hanging using these designs. Where to start ? 

I wanted to use strips of  patchwork as my base fabric, I had in mind a pretty colour scheme of pinks with greens, reds and yellows as the pink and white strippy is popular in the North of England. I also wanted a rose theme, as I have seen rose printed fabric and quilted rose flowers used on the quilts.

Starting stitching is like starting a new sketch book, daunting. I decided to draw a strippy design with a single chain I had been sketching, but spent a while getting round to it!

  The single chain is yet to be stitched, I am not sure on the colour to make it stand out but not dominate . 

Meanwhile I am planning the other designs

As you can see I work with a background then build up the quilting and embellishment as I would do when I am  painting . 

I am still recording and researching strippy quilts so if you have any to share I would love to see them.



Pretty quilt

This pretty quilt from Liz Nally has 9 strips ,plain white cotton sateen alternating with a faded pink floral fabric.

It has cable strips, a worm with a single chain running through it with square diamonds, a double lined cable and interestingly a half fan which is quite large . It is 14″ wide, has 20 petals and is repeated 6 times along the length of the quilt.


I chose this motif to do as a sample and enjoyed stitching this pretty design .

Mauve and White Strippy

This mauve and white strippy is an unusual colour combination and the first I have seen in this colour way. I really like it and love that the lady wanted something a little different .The designs are well quilted and drawn out thoughtfully.

There are the popular North Country Quilting designs of running feather, plait and cables. The more original design is a repeated loop enclosing a leaf with square diamonds on the outer edges .

This is my sample, a design I will use in my own work.

I wonder where she got the idea from , a magazine, an architectural detail, a piece of fabric or braid  or just created it out of her imagination. It would make a lovely border design on a skirt. Quilted petticoats were popular in the 1800s and we have had such a cold spell in Yorkshire I am thinking of making one !


I found this delightful shell pattern on a strippy quilt in the book by R. Allen ‘Quilts and Coverlets’.

Shells have been drawn and sewn on quilts though out the north, this one which could be described as a fan as well, is in a diamond block shape with parallel lines to one side and square diamonds on the other.

The following shell embroidered motifs are also seen on quilts and make an attractive addition today on home furnishings for the bathroom.


They could be added to a small project quilted or embroidered.


The rose design is repeated over and over again in North Country Quilts and is an attractive motif used on any design. The templates can easily be  made by folding paper and cutting out an ice cream shape .The rose can be 8 petals or 16. Sometimes on quilts they have been drawn on freehand and in these instances you can get a different number of petals.

The design can have straight petals or curved ones and can have various circular centres .

This rose has concentric circles in the middle and surrounding it. The rose has 16 curved petals.

On the strippy quilt I was studying from the Beamish collection this motif is repeated  to create a linear design.

Another favourite !

33 strippy quilt


This pretty quilt has 33 strips!, but has the traditional 11 quilting designs as seen from the back. Each design is over three strips as seen in this square cable .The design is really hard to see on the front but is clearer on the back. I like this idea of a surprise on the back. I have come across it on other quilts were the patchwork conceals beautiful quilting patterns.



When studying the designs on this quilt I worked out they had all been constructed with three templates an oval plate, a 45% triangle and a diamond .

This diamond template was used to create the square cable.

The design below is made with the triangle and oval plate. I have drawn it freehand then drawn it out on squared paper to use for my quilted sample

These designs are quite unusual in being  geometric and very accurately drawn out, I wonder if someone in the family was a draughtsman. 

My set of samples 


The pretty fabric is a simple printed rose motif.

I am having difficulty dating this quilt any help with the dating of the fabric  would be much appreciated.

I have really enjoyed studying this quilt and again I have to thank Kate Smith for her generosity in trusting it in to my care.

Club Quilt

This bright bold colourful quilt is thought to be a club quilt, the motifs are quite large and spaced out and the stitching is not quite so tight as others of the same period. It is still beautiful work and it was nice to feel a connection to someone who for whatever reason needed to earn a living from quilting for herself or family. Ladies often took to quilting after their husband had been injured or had died in a mining incident.

The  motifs include a 12 petaled rose , a feather wreath,  geometric square diamonds and a combination of a diamond structure with lines and squares in .

The fabric has a lovely sateen sheen to it and all the stitching is of the same white cotton. The flowered fabric looks like it could have been a curtain fabric, but I need to investigate the dating of fabrics and styles available and learn more about this area of quilts to be able to say for certain. 

I enjoyed studying this quilt , thanks to Kate Smith who learnt it to me.

The next quilt I am looking at  is completely different , which is one of the things I love about strippy quilts, they are so creative and original.