Tuesday, 27 January 2009


This week, I am working from my parents' house in the Lake District.  It's lovely and quiet here and so cosy in my bed.  I thought I would write from my bed and tell you about the bedspread that I am not allowed to sleep under. It sits on a chair by the window while I am resting.
When my great aunt died, my mother was clearing out the back of a cupboard and found a patchwork bedspread. It was filthy and dusty with a few holes. She gave it a wash, patched the holes and I was delighted it ended up on my bed. It is a proper traditional piece.
Then mother was invited to a ladies lunch where they went to an exhibition about patchwork.  To her suprise she saw our new bedspread hanging in the show.  Here is the picture from the catalogue. 

The caption read, 
"A large chintz central panel of a palm tree with foliage and birds with stylised oriental leaves of 1815-1817 surrounded by a furnishing floral pattern dating from the early 1800's. This quilt is an excellent example of the original vegetable dyes. Particularly note the blue on yellow squares with green leaves. The selvedges indicate the narrow width of the material."
The curator said it was originally sold in kit form, so our bedspread would be slightly different, but it has the same panel with the birds and simular surrounding patches.

I am not allowed to sleep under the bedspread anymore, or drink tea any where near it, but it serves as a lovely welcome when I come home. 


Anonymous said...

Would you explain "kit form," please, or can you provide contact with the exhibit curator who used the phrase to describe the exhibited quilt? Was she suggesting that the chintz panel was provided, or that the entire was a package of cut pieces? That is a surprising description for a quilt of that age.

Anonymous said...

Ah thank you for your brilliant question! The exhibition my mother saw in 2002 was curated from a private collection at Helbeck Hall, in Cumbria. There is no evidence of an actual 'Kit', but the two patchworks are so similar, it is possible that the central 'oriental style' panel, was produced especially for the making of patchwork. The early chintz in the patchwork surround suggests that these pieces were made by ladies of fashion. The catalogue also suggests;
'In the late 18th c the French were producing sophisticated patterns at the Oberkampf factory at Jouy, where they were inspired by the orient and "copy as much as you dare' was a maxim. Bannister Hall Printworks near Preston produced over 3,600 patterns of furnishing chintz and dress fabrics between 1790 and 1840.'
With a huge range of copies, it is possible that this patchwork was a 're produced' design. I don't know if you can tell from my terrible pictures, but the patchworks also have similar quilting, in white stitches over the top of the tree.
Both quilts are small double bed size.
Do ask if you have any more questions because it is a very interesting piece, which we know little about and I have a contact for the lady who holds the collection, and has not seen my bedspread yet!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your further explanation. My feeling was that the curator referred to the image in the center of the quilt (the fabric was in yardage, but lent itself to cutting into "scenes"). Do you live in the same area as the curator? Might the 2 makers of the quilts have been associated, and might they both have been making quilts according to current standards of what was "the right way" to design and quilt?

Often the simplest beginnings lead to the most interesting questions, answers, and research! Thanks again!

Prick your finger said...

Well the plot thickens!
It turns out the patchwork in the exhibition was bought in an antiques shop in London. My bedspread was found in a cupboard at my great grandparent's house in Windermere, so there is no notable link. It is not my great grandmother's taste, so it could have belonged to my great great grandmother, in which case it would have come from Windermemre or Sheffield. My great grandparents on both sides, at that time were of considerable wealth, so it could have been bought, given or made for leisure. My mother thinks it is unlikely it was made by our family.
I shall continue investigations!

Anonymous said...

I will be travelling to the UK this coming March (2010)...any chance your family would be willing to let three serious students of UK quilts view some of the collection?

I couldn't find any other way to contact you, so I hope you get this post.


Penelope Tucker

Featheronawire Sally Bramald said...

Could you, would you post more photos of your quilt please? There has recently been a resurgence of interest in these lovely chintz prints. This might be in part due to the publication of these two books, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chintz-Indian-Textiles-Rosemary-Crill/dp/1851775323/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414693303&sr=1-1&keywords=chintz and http://www.quiltmania.com/product/L/FR/1529/chintz-quilts-from-the-poos-collection.html?type_produit=L&maglangue=GB You are very lucky.