Thursday, 3 May 2012
Noughts and Crosses
I met Jen Jones in South Wales and was amazed to see how beautiful the work and designs of the 19C. quilts were and started to look for them myself. I was told by the local farm people that there was no-one left making them but most could remember their families using them before cheap blankets and eiderdowns took their place. Here are two very different examples - One showing needlework on top of some beautiful fine quilting, with amusing cartoons of birds, children and flowers, dated 1901 and the other, 1875 or so, quite rustic and roughly pieced tailors' samples, enlivened with red stitching which lifts it to quite a contemporary level, in my eyes. In the days when some of the children left school in their early teens, I always thought it remarkable they had such a sure touch with their patterns, hand work and colour mixing.
No doubt they learned from the older women in the family and there was probably quite a difference between the roughly cobbled family covers, stuffed with old woollens and patches, and those destined for the dowries and best rooms of the better-off farmhouses. There were, of course, skilled quilters who travelled from one farm to another making several during a stay at the house, their names are known and their work is distinctive and recognisable. Occasionally they have dates and names sewn on them which makes them even more collectable. They are quite expensive but they are a good investment for handing down the family to be enjoyed and used.