Quilts and Covers - Women have long used their needlework skills to turn out warm and attractive bedcovers and quilts in a variety of traditional patterns that have passed from mother to daughter and have also crossed the Atlantic Ocean

 

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Chatelaine's Antiques and Appraisals MagazineCollectibles > Fashion > Feature: Quilts and Covers
 


Handmade or machine-made lace

The market for lace collecting

Getting started in lace Collecting

Care and storage of lace

Cleaning Linen

Handmade or machine-made lace

The market for lace collecting

Getting started in lace Collecting

Care and storage of lace

Cleaning Linen

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Quilts and Covers


QUILTS AND COVERS

 Women have long used their needlework skills to turn out warm and attractive bedcovers and quilts in a variety of traditional patterns that have passed from mother to daughter and have also crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

 Knights fighting in the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries wore quilted clothing beneath their armour, and quilted covers have appeared in the bedroom since at least the 16th century.

 The process was a simple one in which flock - poor-quality fleeced wool - was secured by stitching it between two layers of fabric. In time, the stitching became elaborate and decorative and the materials used on the top surface might be formed into dramatic patchwork patterns.

 Plain quilts, often in white or cream, had the most elaborate stitching. Different areas developed their own patterns of stitching. The main ones in Britain were associated with Wales, Northumberland and Durham. Quilts produced in Wales were stitched into hearts, pears and spirals.

 Northumberland quilts displayed distinctive roses, feathers, shells and cable twist, while Durham quilts often had straight columns of repeating patterns down the length of the quilt.

 Other stitching patterns formed wreaths, baskets of flowers or fruit, running designs of vines or twisting cables and even ornamental lettering.

 Sewing the three layers together with tens of thousands of tiny running stitches was a formidable task for a single person.

 American women organized quilting bees, where up to a dozen women would gather around the quilt stretched on a frame and, with much talk and laughter, would finish the stitching in a day.

INTRICATE PATCHWORK

 Patchwork quilts became popular in the 19th century and all classes of women made these up at home with great enthusiasm. They were made of scraps of material from old dresses and shirts and even from blankets, coats and curtains.

 Materials ranged from silks, satins and cottons to brocades, velvets and heavy tweeds. Printed cottons were most popular and colours became more vibrant in the 1850s and 1860s as a brighter range of chemical aniline dyes was introduced.

 The scraps of material were formed into a variety of geometrical shapes, including squares, triangles, diamonds and hexagons, and these, using perhaps contrasting light and dark materials, were sewn together to form overall bold geometric designs.

 As patterns were devised they were given names, particularly in the USA where they bore names such as 'Schoolhouse', Barn Raising', 'Arizona Cactus' and 'Lemoyne Star'.

 Certain communities devised their own patterns, like the Amish Mennonites who were known for their bold combinations of vivid colour in large patterns of squares and bars.

 Victorian and Edwardian ladies spent much of their time sewing and their labours have resulted in many spectacular coverlets and quilts, the quality of which is almost impossible to match today.

Guide to Lace and Linens
by Elizabeth Kurella

 

QUILT COLLECTOR'S NOTES

 The regular textile sales at auction houses invariably include a few patchwork quilts.  Look at the lots closely before bidding starts.

 A number of specialist shops in London and elsewhere deal solely in antique textiles; these are the dealers to contact if you are looking tor something in particular.

 Quilts turn up from time to time in general antiques and bric-a-brac shops but rarely surface at car boot sales. House clearance sales are another possible source of good bedcovers.

CARE AND CLEANING

 One of the best places to store a quilt is on the bed itself, providing it is not in bright sunlight. Alternatively, a quilt can be hung on a wall very effectively.

 If you need to store a quilt, keep it in a cupboard, folded or preferably rolled between layers of acid free tissue paper. Re-fold it every few months as otherwise it will deteriorate along the folds it left for long periods.

 Old textiles must be cleaned with care. Specialist dry cleaners are expensive if used regularly, and washing machines with modern powders are sometimes too brutal for delicate fabrics.

 Single-coloured quilts can be successfully washed by hand in the bath. Use a gentle soap powder and, if possible, a shower spray for rinsing.

 Let the quilt drain before hanging it out to dry - don't damage it by wringing it out.

Guide to Lace and Linens
by Elizabeth Kurella

 

 


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