Finished strippy quilt (in traditional style )

Since finishing my 10 week blog on North Country quilts I have been working on my two hangings , one traditional and one contemporary, based on the North Country ( Durham ) quilts. 
This traditional one is pieced together using English paper piecing, then quilted with traditional strippy patterns using hand quilting thread. I wanted to make the back look as good as the front and used coloured quilting thread to show up the designs.


For the contemporary  quilt I am using a variety of appliqué and embroidery stitches. Again I am working the back to look as detailed as the front . 
This is a photo of work in progress. More photos to come as I progress with the work . 

North Country Quilting Online Course

I am running a 4 week online course to make up this North Country Quilt design which will include information on our quilting heritage and a look at my collection of quilts. I am working with Lorrayne at  ‘Oh Sew Sweet ‘a patchwork shop near Barnsley.. This design can then be made up into a cushion or mat which we will help you to create.

If you are interested please use this link 

https://mailchi.mp/7362edfde368/heritage-quilting-slow-stitch-a-long

I look forward to meeting you there.

In recent years

North Country quilting declined after the war years as an economic activity. It was carried forward by homemakers and enthusiasts. More women worked and people wanted new modern textiles that were factory made. However quilters such as Mary Lough, Florence Fletcher and Amy Emms all were teachers who excelled at the craft and taught classes. From these classes competitions were entered, the Women’s Institute continuing to promote the craft. Amy Emms was awarded an MBE for her ‘services to quilting’ and she created some beautiful pieces. The instructions in her book are very clear and well worth a look at. (Amy Emms’ Story of Durham Quilting’)
Women in the Dales did continue to quilt together to meet and chat, this was mainly at the village Church or Chapel.
I went on a course with Lilian Hedley to design a small wholecloth, which I enjoyed enormously. Since then I have explored the motifs and designs of the quilts and used them in my own work.
This design from a strippy quilt is one of my favourites and could be used as a border on any quilt.

If you would like the pattern please use the contact form and I will send it to you as a pdf.

To quilt a sampler you need 3 layers, plain cotton fabric (which has the design drawn on), the wadding and a backing fabric.

This  is then pinned and tacked together to ensure the layers stay together while you work on them.

Quilting can be done using running stitch with quilting thread for a traditional look or 3 strands of a stranded embroidery thread to create a more colourful design. You could use a quilting frame as would have been done in the cottages of the Northern Dales.

My finished quilted sample using coloured embroidery thread.

If you have any questions or would like to share quilts and information it would be lovely to hear from you . Use the contact form and I’ll get back to you. Thank you for reading my blog and hope you have been inspired by it.

Enjoy your quilting and making beautiful textiles, textiles that will be treasured and admired for years to come.

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.