I had been searching for a vintage Cathedral Window quilt for a very long time and I was surprised and delighted to have found this beautiful one on Ebay. I waited with much anticipation for the quilts arrival. On opening the box I could not believe how beautiful the quilt was. It appears to have never been washed or used.
The maker of this quilt was certainly a skilled needlewoman. The quilt is constructed of 323 full ‘windows’ and 72 ‘half windows’ which are stitched in a solid pink. These create a border around the outside edges.
The quilt contains a wonderful array of 1930s dressmaking fabrics and probably some feedsacks.
The Cathedral Window pattern is a difficult and time consuming design. The maker of this quilt also added some hand quilting during the construction method. This is not commonly found on Cathedral Window Quilts but it creates a lovely effect.
Unfortunately there was no provenance or information to be handed on with this quilt. However, it is in safe keeping and being admired for it’s amazing array of fabrics, the skillful stitching and the many hours spent in it’s making. It truly was a labour of love.
Thank you for your interest. Happy stitching, regards Janette – The Plain Needlewoman
I made this quilt in memory of my mother Marjory Myers (nee Wilson). My mother was known as Marjie by all who knew her. Her Grandchildren called her Nanna Marj and other young friends called her Auntie Marj. My Mum loved to go Op Shopping (as I do too). She found many treasures for her friends and family and loved to find a bargain. Both my Grandmothers were seamstresses, Mum and her sisters all sewed and a brother was a tailor. Most of my clothes were made by Mum, usually from remnants, sale pieces and sometimes re-made from other items of clothing.
I started sewing, knitting and embroidery at a very young age as we were encouraged to make use of any spare time. In the 1970s I started making quilts from dressmaking scraps and purchased cotton fabric if available. I continued to teach myself machine and hand piecing, and hand quilting. These were busy days as we were running a newsagents and raising three children. Being a newsagent meant I add access to the quiltmaking magazines coming in from America and I found these very inspiring and informative. Mum was interested to see what I was making and started keeping a look out for fabric at op shops. It was a lovely surprise when Mum would pop in with some old pieces she had found on her shopping expeditions.
When I saw this pattern in Quiltmaker Magazine January/February 2000 called Star Chain, I knew it would be the perfect pattern to make in memory of my Mum. I used many fabrics that Mum had found for me including the pink solids and lots of scraps. The quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted.
This is the third quilt in a series I have been working on for a number of years. I have made one for my mother-in-law, called Alice’s Tulips, one for my paternal grandmother, called English Ivy and have recently completed hand piecing a quilt in memory of my maternal grandmother called May’s Star. I wanted to honour these strong women who were all so influential and important to me. Happy Stitching and thank you.
There is no provenance on this crazy style patchwork coverlet, but it was found in Melbourne. The fabrics suggest it was made in the post war era, probably 1950s. This style of quilt making is documented in Margaret Rolfe’s books on the traditions and history of Australian quilt making.
The coverlet contains a time capsule of dressmaking and home furnishing fabrics from an era when most women stitched clothing for themselves and their families. The fabrics used include ginghams, barkcloth, stripes, checks, double knits, woven houndstooth and many bright floral and geometric designs. The border is a sunny yellow Cesarine. Cesarine was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s.
The maker of this quilt carefully turned under the raw edges of her patches and hand tacked narrow hems before overlapping the irregular pieces which she stitched directly onto the one piece of calico backing.
Working on such a large piece must have been difficult at times. The coverlet measures 170 cm x 202 cm
The seams are finished with featherstitching. The border was stitched by machine to the right side of the coverlet, neatly folded over and hand sewn to cover the raw edge at the back.
It is interesting to study the back of the coverlet which is as neat as the front.
The quilt appears to have never been used or washed.
I am very happy to have another wonderful example of an Australian quilt in my collection. It is much valued. I am glad this quilt maker saved her sewing scraps and made this quilt. It provides a great opportunity to study the fabrics and designs of this era. Happy stiching, Janette – The Plain Needlewoman
This coverlet from Clarence Valley, New South Wales may possibly have been made by the needlewoman who made the coverlet that I documented in the previous post. I purchased this from the same Ebay seller who had bought both of them. Unfortunately, no other information is known. But what we do know is that the coverlet was designed and stitched by an experienced seamstress who had a good array of fabric scraps available to her. Most likely the fabrics were saved from dressmaking.
The coverlet is double sided.
The coverlet measures 178 x 105 cms. The hexagons measure 7 cm through the centre and 4 cm on the outside edge. The fabrics used in the coverlet include cotton, silk, furnishing fabric, taffeta, sateen and figured satin. The cotton fabrics include many textured weaves and floral prints. One print in particular resembles a Liberty design. The background fabric used on the reverse side may be a wool/rayon mix. It is a heavier weight fabric with a sheen to it.
The quilt maker had a flair for colour and design. The colours are very typical of mid 20th century styles and decorating colours. The golds, greens, yellows and browns are artistically used throughout to define the lay-out of the designs on both sides of the coverlet. Side one is pieced with hexagons stitched to form diamond and rosette shapes. The second side uses hexagons stitched to form a large rosette which is stitched to the centre of the brown stripe background fabric. Side one includes the use of brown toned prints to create a border and side 2 makes use of green and orange prints to create the border. The edges of the quilt are neatly whip stitched together to finish the coverlet. There is no batting. The coverlet appears to have never been washed or used.
Without further information I can only speculate about the maker of these two exquisite Australian coverlets. They are much treasured by me and I feel very lucky to have them in my collection. Australian quilts are rare and the two Clarence Valley Coverlets demonstrate fine needlework skills and a great flair for design and style. I wish there was more to tell you about the coverlets but sadly their story has been lost.
Thank you for stopping by, Janette, The Plain Needlewoman
Prior to the influence of the revival of quilting in the 1970s quilts would predominately have been made using dressmaking cottons and the scraps remaining from home sewing. The majority of these quilts would have been Hexagon quilts stitched over paper or simple shapes machined stitched together.
I attempted a hexagon quilt in 1973 having found a pattern in an English Womens’ Weekly magazine. I used scraps from dressmaking and fabric cut off from shortening hems of bought clothes. The Mini skirt being the fashion of the time. This piece remains unfinished but it is interesting for the fabrics it contains.
Hexagon Quilt Top
This hexagon quilt top contains myriad fabrics obviously saved from dressmaking. The fabrics were probably saved over a number of years. The maker fussy cut many of her fabrics to create a wonderful time capsule of the fabrics used by modern dressmakers.
The quilt was stitched over papers and the papers still remain on the outside edges. The papers have been cut from recycled paper. Wrappers from many household items can be seen such as loose tea wrappers, cigarette wrappers, labels from cans and letters and note paper.
This quilt was found in an op shop in country Victoria but unfortunately no other information is known. I am happy to leave this quilt unfinished as a document of the times.
This coverlet contains a great collection of dressmaking fabrics including some brushed interlock. The pieced section has been hand stitched to a new cotton sheet. Fortunately the maker left the label on the sheet which states Made in Australia. The maker positioned a row of hexagons to sit over the pillows when the coverlet is placed on a bed.
One Patch Coverlet
This patchwork coverlet is pieced of squares in two sizes. Small squares measuring 7 cm are centred between larger squares measuring 14 cm.
The fabrics are cottons in plains, florals and a good selection of seersuckers. The border is a buttery yellow cesarine and is applied to the front, folded to the back and top stitched through all layers. The corners are neatly mitred.
The quilt was made in country Queensland. It measures 87 cm by 160 cm and may have been made for a small single bed. There is no batting and the backing is an open weave cotton. Very neatly made and so pretty.
Little Cot Quilt
I purchased this cot quilt at an antique market and all the seller knew about it was that it came from Mildura, Victoria. It is a simple quilt made of randomly pieced squares stitched in rows of 6 by 6. Fabrics are typical of the 60s with plains, checks, florals and a juvenile print. The pieced binding serves as a narrow border on both sides of the quilt. The backing is a very nice floral that appears to be an older fabric.
The quilt is not quilted but does have an inner layer of an open weave cotton.
These pieces of patchwork are not remarkable in their execution, style or design but they are special because of the time and place of their making. They are very special to me and I admire the women who made them.
Thank you for visiting and Happy Quilting.
Patchwork Strippy Quilt
First on my New Year’s Resolution List for 2017 is to carry our repairs and restoration on quilts in my collection that need a little TLC. Armed with the excellent book ‘Quilt Restoration – A Practical guide’ by Camille Dalphond Cognac, I feel confident in tackling the intricate work needed to repair the quilts and to do so in such a way as to preserve their future.
Quilt Restoration – A Practical Guide by Camille Dalphond Cagnac
This beautiful English Patchwork Strippy Quilt is a stunning quilt displaying a great assortment of scraps tied together with a Turkey Red Twill. The red has held up well but some of the patterned fabrics have worn. Fortunately the white fabric is in excellent condition.
I purchased the quilt from the Antique Textile Company and Christopher Wilson-Tate provided me with information on the quilts provenance. The quilt is from a family in Alnwick, Northumberland, circa 1880’s and is a great example of North Country English Quilting.
Back of Quilt showing the cable quilting design.
To undertake the repair of the quilt I have cut squares of reproduction and vintage fabrics. Placing right sides of fabric to butter muslin, I stitch around the entire patch.
I make a small cut into the butter muslin, trim the seams and turn right sides out. I ease out the corners using a stiletto and press the patches. They are now ready to be carefully appliquéd onto the worn square.
Squares cut and ready to sew.
Pinned and ready to appliqué
Stitched in place.
The final step will be to replicate the quilting design over the patches.
To quote Camille Dalphond Cognac “Scrap quilts are a joy to restore because the fabrics are chosen to blend into the totality of as many as a hundred or more colours.” With many hours of joyous stitching ahead, I hope to complete this task so this beautiful quilt will be preserved for many years to come.
Hope your stitching brings you much Joy.
Seventy-Two Lost Ship Blocks are set diagonally with a red and black print to create this stunning quilt. The blocks are pieced using a different fabric design in each block. These fabrics are complimented with a lovely cream and brown design.
The quilt contains a block where the maker found herself short of one print and pieced a section of the ship with a different but similar colour.
The fabrics used consist of florals, plaids, geometric designs and a few very unusual patterns. The maker had a good supply of scraps as well as the red and cream. The quilt displays 75 print fabrics. The scrap pieces may well have been dressmaking fabrics but obviously the red and cream was purchased for quilt making.
The piecework and quilting is very well executed. I presume this quilt was made by a talented and experienced needlewoman. The quilt is finished with the quilt front neatly rolled over to the back to create the binding. It is stitched in place with tiny, neat stitches. The backing is a plain homespun. The quilt appears to have never been washed.
The quilt measures 66 inches by 84 inches and the block measures just under 5 inches.
In Ruth E. Finley’s book ‘Old Patchwork Quilts and The Women Who Made Them’ published in 1929, Finley refers to this pattern “A pattern that was popular below the Mason and Dixon Line was called Rocky Glen though in the fishing villages of the Seaboard, where it was frequently employed, it was known as The Lost Ship.” So this is the name I shall use for this wonderful quilt which I am very happy to have to add to my collection.
Thank you for visiting and best wishes for your quilting endeavours, very warmly, Janette
The Plain Needlewoman.
Curved piecing is considered more difficult to accomplish than geometric designs. But with so many beautiful patterns to choose from it is worth attempting to learn to sew curves. There are many fine quilting books available that provide step by step instructions for piecing the curve.
I have made a few curved pieced quilts including two Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilts, a Double Wedding Ring and a Mill Wheel quilt. I have recently hand pieced a quilt in memory of my mother which I have named “Marjie’s Star”. It is a six pointed star set with melon shaped pieces. It was a challenging design but enjoyable to hand piece.
Amongst my collection of old quilts, I have a Friendship Circle quilt.
This quilt is pieced from woollens, old suiting fabrics, velvets and silk. The block measures 17 inches. There are 16 full blocks and 4 half blocks to finish one side of the quilt. The seams are stitched with feather stitching and the quilt is tied. The backing is a paisley flannel.
Curved designs were popular during the 1930s and 1940s. These included the Double Wedding Ring, Drunkard’s Path, Fan and Dresden Plate quilts. Two unfinished projects that I have recently acquired both contain curves. The first project consists of 14 Dresden Fan blocks pieced and appliquéd onto a white background and set with hot pink. Also included with my purchase is extra hot pink fabric and the start of a scalloped border for the quilt. There is certainly enough to complete this 1930s beauty.
The Maker of the second project hadn’t progressed very far along with her piecing. There was a paper pattern with the partial blocks which I have identified as Mohawk Trail.
There are pieced blocks, partially pieced and many wedge sections cut.
I have re-drafted the pattern and will stitch a couple of blocks to see if it is going to work out. These sweet old pieces have sat undisturbed for many years and may have to wait sometime yet.
As this year is fast coming to an end, I will add these projects on my list of quilts to finish in 2017. Meanwhile I am busily hand quilting, and hope to finish a vintage Trip Around the World quilt before we bid farewell to 2016.
Happy Quilting, Janette – The Plain Needlewoman.
Two new additions to my postage stamp quilt collection arrived recently.
One piece is an incomplete Irish Chain quilt top. The maker had nearly completed the top when something caused her work to be discontinued. Fortunately all the pieces were kept together, including an incomplete row, many extra squares, the little cardboard template and a large piece of muslin.
I will complete the row, tidy up some of the piecing and appliqué work and finish the top.
I have enough of the plain fabric for the borders and possibly enough cut squares to add another narrow pieced border. The patterned fabrics include florals, plaids, stripes and novelty prints.
The maker of this assortment of tiny pieces hadn’t progressed beyond stitching some of her one inch squares into rows.
The bundles of pieced sections were rolled into sets and a number was written on the last square to record how many squares are in the row.
It appears the maker was planning a particular design but the pattern is not clear to me. The basic square can be arranged in many ways. This could be a simple grid of continuous squares or a more complicated pattern such as Steps to the Altar or Trip Around the World.
Two strips of cardboard were sent with the piecework and there is a name written on it, but unfortunately it is too faded to read.
The squares measure 1 inch finished size and were hand stitched by an experienced seamstress. The fabrics are dress weight cottons and include novelty prints, floral designs, checks, stripes and geometrics.
My two Postage Stamp projects demonstrate how the quilters of the Depression era were able to create beautiful quilts out of so little. It is my intention to complete the work they started – Piece by Piece.
Happy Quilting from Janette, The Plain Needlewoman