Monday, 26 January 2009

Welsh Quilts

I came across an article in a quilting mag a couple of weeks ago about Welsh quilts, and after reading it, I just had to treat myself to this book

I am ashamed to admit that I have never thought of quilts as being a particularly 'Welsh' thing! Perhaps this is another result of the great North-South divide ( anyone who is Welsh will know what I mean!!) and as a 'Northerner' my idea of typical bedcoverings are the lovely woollen blankets still being made in a few traditional mills in Wales! This theory is actually supported in the book as , with the exception of 1 quilt from Wrexham , every other one featured is from the South !

These are a few pages from the book, some are photos of the originals plus a few others showing a 'modern' reproduction.

Most of the original quilts date back to the mid 19th century and some of them can be seen at the Welsh Museum of Life at St Fagans whilst others are in private collections.

The claim that Welsh quilts may have been an influence on Amish quilts will always be debatable I expect, but it's a historical fact that large numbers of Welsh families emigrated to Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas, to work in the iron/steel/mining industries, so who knows !! Whatever the answer, in my opinion, the quilts featured in this book can stand on their own merits!!

About 2 years ago I was lucky enough to become the owner of a Welsh quilt, which my son bought for me off E-Bay at a pittance ! It's a wholecloth quilt with the most intricate hand quilting I have ever seen ! A little mis-shapen with some damage and a few small blemishes , but these only show that it has been loved and well used over the years !

What I think is meant to be the front (!) is covered in delicated rosebuds, not quite pink and not quite pale orange, but very pretty! The back of the quilt is plain pink , but just look what else is there...

It's impossible to get a good photo of it this time of year, and these certainly don't do justice to the amount of workmanship involved - and what a shame that the quilting can only been clearly seen on the 'back' of the quilt ! Well, I know which side I prefer, what about you!!

The centre layer of the quilt is a mystery, and I haven't been able to decide what it is! It might be a very thick wool which is now disintergrating , but I am not at all sure! It's extremely thick (how anyone managed to quilt it I can't imagine!) , heavy and very, very spongey !! Any ideas ?? It's also in need of a clean of some sort as it is rather grubby, but without knowing what I am dealing with, I think it is best left as it is for the moment!!

PS - Thanks to Gina for writing to tell me that the 'front' is officially the ' back' !!


Sew Create It - Jane said...

Great post! I borrowed that book from the library awhile back and it made me think of quilting and design in a whole new way.

Gina said...

Ann, you've got the quilt back to front. The plain side is the front and the pattern the reverse. All the quilts I've seen at St Fagans have the pattern fabric on the reverse. For wholecloths anyway.
I attended a lecture on Welsh quilts by Claire Claridge, who I know vaguely - we attended the same group at one point.
the middle of the quilt could be a big heavy wool blanket. they even used to use old quilts as the wadding.
Hope this helps

Love and hugs Gina xxx

Suzanne said...

What a wonderful quilt to have for your own. I love Amish husband's family lives not too far (in Ohio)from the Pennsylvania settlements. I did not know about the Welsh connection to the Amish...thanks for sharing!

Clare said...

I never knew that Welsh quilts were similar to Amish ones. Thanks for the post.

Elizabethd said...

What a beautiful quilt, doesnt it make you wonder where it originated, who made it....?

MargaretR said...

I've seen that book Ann and was tempted to buy it, but as you know I'm not a quilter. My GM did have a quilt on the bed which I can just about remember, but I know she didn't make it herself. These days I would have paid more attention to it probably.