1930s quilts, Australian Quilts, Bush Quilts, Depression era, Fabric Study, Hard times, old quilts, quilt collections, Wagga Quilts, Waggas, Woollen
Wagga quilts are an Australian style of quilt born out of hard times and limited resources.
Originally waggas or bush quilts were a hessian sack or chaff bag filled with anything that would provide warmth. They may have been covered with an outer cotton fabric.
During the Depression Era waggas pieced from woollen tailor’s samples, remains of worn out clothing and dressmaking scraps emerged. The woollen fabrics provided much needed warmth during a period when houses were unheated. My mother recalled her mother making heavy, woollen quilts from tailor’s samples. These were used by her brothers who slept on the back verandah. They were a large family and very poor. I’m sure they appreciated their waggas.
I purchased my Wagga on eBay. It was found at a church sale in Charleston, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales. It is in very good condition. I think it may have been placed in a cupboard and forgotten until the church had a big clean up. It appears never to have been used.
The quilt is double sided and has an inner layer. It is very heavy. The quilt is in very good condition. There is some machine stitching used to hold the three layers together. There is no binding, indicating the quilt was layered wrong sides together, stitched and turned.
There is a great variety of woollen fabric scraps used in the quilt: including tweeds, suitings, khaki army uniform, herringbone, plaids, stripes and checks.
A few little moth holes, stitched down pockets and darning all add interest to this unique Wagga. It measures 165 cm x 150 cm.
I admire the makers flair and technique in putting together all these pieces.
Australian quilts are rare and wonderful and I love having this one in my collection.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Happy Stitching – The Plain Needlewoman Janette
Great fine! I like how it gives the feel of dappled sunlight through a heavy forest.
Thank you Deb, Well we do have lots of sunshine here as we have had a dry and hot summer. My garden is well planted with some big trees, so there is a lot of dappled shade which is much appreciated. Kind regards, Janette
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I love your quilt! My grandma made these type of quilts from old coats, work pants, jeans…any fabric she could get her hands on. As a “modern” quilter of today I often wonder what she’d think of my stash of expensive quilting fabrics and crazy assortment of tools and rulers. I feel closer to her when I use thrifted clothing to piece quilts and I am currently working on two memorial quilts from shirts that my brother-in-law wore. It evokes a different feeling as I think of him and his life when I figure out a way to use all of the disparate fabrics.
Thanks for sharing your find!
That is so true, and it was amazing they could create such wonderful quilts out of so little. Appreciate your interest.
Margaret Kilgour said:
Hi Janette, Love the old waggas, As kids we used to have one that had like a kapok type filling. chunky in spots, flat in others, used to fight over who would get to use it, had to take turns .. haha
I bought a machine quilted quilt today at a Salvos op shop in their fill a bag for $5 (the bag was $1.20 for their bag, so contents were $3.80) contents were king quilt cut into 3 pieces & 2 pillow cases and some polar fleece for another project….appears complete, already washed it (no stains on it) and on clothes line overnight. I think I will butt pieces together and maybe put a strip to cover like when you do a ‘quilt as you go’, on both sides, backing is the same fabric for all, have a similar fabric with small roses that I will tea dye.. won’t worry me that it will have a diff coloured strip on backing. Will check it when I bring it in, I can always make larger piece into a cot quilt and smaller piece into a bag and just bind quilt to finish it off. I only hope my quilts don’t end up at the salvos or an op shop. I have bought a few tops & quilts from op shops, never paid more that $10. good for charity quilts or quilts of valour, some better than ones I have made, (cheaper than buying the fabric and making them) some I have kept, depends on colours.. don’t need heavy quilts in Qld, son & grandson can only use so many in Melbourne….
I hope you and your family are keeping well, do you still go to E.Q.I? Margaret
Nice to hear from you. Glad you are still rummaging through Op Shops and saving some great pieces. It is amazing what you can find and now there is a big movement to Up-Cycle. You can check out the Up-Cycle Textile Group on FB for some wonderful examples. We are all good here and hope the same for you. I no longer belong to EQI. kind regards and Happy Stitching, Janette
Thank you for posting. I find this very interesting and I love AU.
Thank you Sherry
I looked up the meaning of wagga wagga today, it’s not a common expression in NZ. About 50 years ago my new husband and I went to relatives in a cold part of New Zealand. We were in a small very saggy bed with a wagga wagga. It was very heavy and I understood it had old socks as filling. If we had slept in a tidy conventional bed I would have missed this great experience and reminder of how make do and mend life was. Thanks for your blog.
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