Antique Quilts, Christopher Wilson-Tate, English quilts, Feedsacks, hand quilting, Strippy Quilts, The Donnellys
Not in her wildest dreams, would the maker of this quilt have imagined that her quilt would turn up for sale at an antique market in rural Victoria in 2015. When I saw the quilt for sale on a vendor’s display, I knew immediately it was an old English Strippy quilt. The seller confirmed she had purchased the quilt from an Englishwoman living in Australia. The seller had owned the quilt for some years and had enjoyed using it on her bed.
On studying this quilt, I could see that it’s maker had joined fabrics together to achieve the length required and in one instance has used a different print to do so. This may indicate that the maker was utilising fabrics already available to her.
The quilt is constructed of eleven – 8 inch wide strips. There are five different fabrics used in this charming and humble quilt. The quilt is quilted in an all over zig zag design. I suspect it was quilted from the back as the stitches are very even on the back when compared to the front.
I contacted Christopher Wilson-Tate, the owner of Antique Textiles Company, UK who is an expert on English quilts. On seeing photos of my quilt Christopher identified the quilt as a typical North Country Stripe from Cumbria/Lake District. The simple wave quilting is typical of this area. Christopher thinks the quilt was made about 1870 or possibly earlier. Thank you Christopher for your knowledge and expertise.
The quilt measures 84 inches by 85 inches and there is some wear on the vertical edges. A couple of little patches stitched onto the quilt only adds to it’s charm.
With clever joining of her fabrics and an orderly placement of contrasting colours this frugal quilt maker was able to celebrate her thrift and personality in a quilt that has had an interesting journey beyond its humble beginnings.
Travelling in time and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to arrive in Tennessee USA we have another Strippy Quilt that demonstrates frugality and verve. This quilt was purchased by the Donnelly’s (quilt collectors) in 1997 at the Donnelly House, Mountain City, Tennessee. It measures 86 inches by 87 inches.
The assorted blocks that make up this quilt consist of stars, nine patch and album. The quilt maker was not constrained by size, fabrics or colours. Many of the blocks have small strips added to make them fit.
The blocks date from circa 1880 through to 1930. The fabrics consist of shirtings, dress fabrics and feed sacks. The strippy lay-out was achieved by joining the blocks with a hand dyed blue/grey fabric (probably faded over time) and then set into the strippy lay out with the pretty pink solid fabric.
The backing is the same dyed blue/grey fabric which appears to be plain feed sacks as a feint print of lettering and a feed sack symbol is visible.
Eileen Donnelly named this quilt ‘She did the best she could with what she had’, which I think is a perfect name and what I now call the quilt as well. I think this quilt maker stitched a life time of quilting into a quilt that is a testimony to a frugal and creative quilt maker.
I would like to share this lovely print of a Plain Needlewoman working on a hexagon quilt.
Thank you for visiting, yours in quilting, Janette – The Plain Needlewoman