In 1990, The Quilters Guild of Britain launched the British Quilt Heritage Project. The aim of this project was to document the quilts made in Great Britain prior to 1960.
Through news items in local papers and networking through quilt shops and guilds word was passed around for families to search their attics or airing cupboards for old family quilts.
Mrs. Megan Lewis of Old Colwyn, North Wales saw mention of the “Call for Quilts” and took her Miner’s Quilts to be photographed for the local paper.
These quilts were handed down to Mrs. Lewis by two Great Aunts who lived in South Wales.
In a letter sent to me by Mrs. Lewis she states that she took the quilts to Chester for an exhibition.
‘They hadn’t seen this kind of quilting before: they were impressed’ wrote Mrs. Lewis. ‘The miners wives used to make these quilts, they’d probably met in each others homes. They used old worn blankets or in the Spring they’d comb the hedges for wool that the sheep had left.
They were a lighter quilt – they used to make templates of horse chestnut leaves, swirls, most intricate designs in small running stitches through three layers of material. Usually two layers of glazed cotton, and a layer of thin wool.
Gwynne’s (Mr. Lewis) mother who is 98 used to make them, but she said mine wore out. Bringing up a family four men. When the quilts began to wear, she put them under the mattress.’
I am presuming the exhibition Megan mentions was the Quilt Documentation Day held in Chester. The Quilt Documentation Project opened in Chester in 1990 where 173 quilts were documented. However, there is no known record of the documentation.
These beautiful Welsh Miner’s Quilts still reside in Colwyn Bay, North Wales with Megan’s daughter Rhiannon and will be passed on to her grand daughter Emma. The quilts represent a much valued link to their women ancestors and Welsh Heritage.
Hope you enjoy the quilts and their stories. Happy Stitching, Janette