Monday, 5 October 2015

I found a treasure! Victorian Crazy Quilt.

I found a real treasure while stewarding on Open Doors weekend at Kings Weston two weeks ago. A wonderful Victorian crazy quilt, which was languishing in a dark passageway. It had been mounted in a frame at some time. I squeaked a lot, then rushed off to make sure Norman the owner wasn't going to throw it out! It turns out to have been given to him by a local couple who I'm now trying to contact.

The quilt  is beautifully stitched and has lots of  wonderful stitched clues to its origin. Here it is, with Adrian,  the caretaker, very kindly giving some scale!

 Further investigation revealed clues to its origin. Luckily, I had no problem dating it!

There is some damage, as it's obviously not been stored well,  but the stitching is wonderful.

 The colours are still quite vibrant in places.

 Alongside all the flowers, birds and insects, there are more wonderful images.

A clue! This is the coat of arms of Kendal, in Cumbria 

There are several naval emblems, and anchors, and this seems to be a  British naval Petty Officer's insignia.

 Plus there are  these school emblems,

and  household objects like this kettle.

So I have a date, a place, and some information about the family of the creator of this quilt!

I hope to find out where the local people got it from, and I'm going to contact the Quilters Guild, the American Museum and possibly the V&A  to find out how it might be assessed. I also wondered about contacting quilting groups in Keswick , just in case? 

If anyone's got ideas or experience in  historic textiles, or knows someone who has, I'd be so grateful to hear from you.

This was such a thrilling find, and a great piece of social history. x


sharonb said...

This is an amazing quilt and what I find interesting about it is that the person who stitched it did not contain the motifs in each individual patch - she went over the seams with her motifs and it adds a another layer to the complexity which I love- a Real visual treat. Thanks for sharing

Sandi Mannen said...

Beautiful quilt! Thanks for posting!

Tammie Lee said...

wow, you are a great researcher! How fun and fabulous. So many gorgeous details! I think you are the perfect owner/caretaker for it. Your appreciation shines through!

Louisa Ellingham said...

Stunning! A few years back, I bought an old quilt on eBay. Done in sombre tones, it is not in the best shape (like this one is) but the quilters have sewn their names onto the patches they worked. I feel it is precious because it came from another era, one when quilts were necessary. Not sure what I will do with it, but feel that it should be preserved!

Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

What an amazing and beautiful find Jules, I hope that you will be able to find out more of it's story and who made it, you are quite the sleuth! Deb xo

margaret said...

this is certainly a great find, is it now yours? I do hope you can trace the maker and reunite them

Anonymous said...

That's fabulous! You have a real detective story ahead of you and I'm sure it'll be fascinating. Do you have access to the back? There might be some more clues inside.

Rachel said...

There's a good museum in Carlisle that might be able to help, as well.
It certainly looks as though someone enjoyed her stitching...!

crazyQstitcher said...

What a fabulous discovery. I hope you can track it back to the original maker.
I found it inspiring for the method of embroidering over areas not usually worked on. The crane (?) in particular.
The paisleys with lovely designs inside have inspired me already, to use my old doodle pieces and begin a SWIP quilt.

Thanks for sharing.

Rengin Yazitas said...

That is really fabulous, last week I in the Cumbria region, I wish I could make something... As other gal said so, there is a museum in Carlisle, that may help. Thanks so much for sharing all those details.

Shashi Nayagam said...

Wow what a find it is beautiful.

Andy Lloyd Williams said...

Jules, this quilt is so exciting: what an exciting challenge to find out more about it. If you come to the American Museum do let me know; it is only one and a half miles from us.
The embroidery is very interesting.

Gina Shillitani said...

What an incredible find!!! The motifs, the skill, attention to detail, unconventional (for the time) placement of motifs... such a treasure. I hope it can be preserved for many people to look at and enjoy :)

Tilly Rose said...

How adorable! A wonderful pieces of social history captured in thread...
Good luck with the search for more information
Tilly x