Monday, 5 July 2010


To-day we have a guest blog story from my mother, patchwork detective, Diana Matthews JP.

"At the back of a long undisturbed cupboard in my late grandmother’s linen room emerged a tangled mess of patchwork bedspread. The cousin with whom I was sorting linen declared that the rubbish dump was the best place for it.

I decided otherwise and soon set about mending the bedspread however thought it was unwise to wash it. I have been told since that washing is not a good idea. The patchwork now resides on a bed of c.1650.

On visiting a large patchwork collection many years ago in north Cumbria, elements of mine looked similar to the owner’s. The main feature was the Indian tree of life motif in the centre. I thought that perhaps there was such a thing as a patchwork kit for bedspreads of 1815-25 as so many materials looked similar.

I had the opportunity over last weekend to visit this collection again and gained permission to take mine to show the owner and compare patchworks. She has two with the Indian tree of life motifs, of different sizes. The colours are much more vibrant and less faded then mine. These were perhaps the fashionable centre for patchworks and being printed were possibly an item to purchase from the haberdashers. Like her patchworks of the period, mine is also hand quilted and has a plain ‘white’ backing sheet.

We looked at the various materials which were used in mine and in hers of the same period and it appears that many are very similar. It was less of a patchwork kit scenario and more of the question as to what materials were in fashion 1815-1825. Many of the patches were brown or red with little off-white stylised roses. The browns were the materials which had decayed the quickest. The materials were all cottons rather than the more affluent silks from grand houses."

Thanks Mum. Here is the Tree of Life Patchwork on the cover of the catalogue for the Calbeck Collection. It is simular to our patchwork.