North Country Quilts

North Country Quilts (Durham Quilts)-Introduction


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 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 from The Quilters Guild Museum collection

 Strippy quilt from Beamish Museum

 Wholecloth quilt from my collection

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)

My sketch of the central design from the framed wholecloth and my contemporary embroidered design.