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Part 14. Welsh Quilts

Part 14 - Welsh Quilts and Quilting

My first book in this review is Making Welsh Quilts by Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge. David and Charles have added the subtitle “The Textile Tradition that Inspired the Amish?” which soundsso very interesting. But anyone hoping for enlightenment will be disappointed; vague and unsubstantiated sentences with “experts believe” and “along with many other experts she has been struck” do not resemble serious scholarship or research. In fact, a cursory reader of this book might well miss any such references. The publishers have not done the authors any favours, this book can sell on its own merits; it is an exciting, well-produced book and fills a gap in the market.

Making Welsh Quilts begins with a brief Introduction, followed by a four-page overview of Wales and its Quilters. Twenty-four pages of Quilt Gallery illustrate and describe over twenty old quilts; chintz, cotton patchwork, wool, strippy plus red and white. The following eighty odd pages are devoted to Making Your Own Welsh Quilts. The authors regard their designs “in the spirit of old Welsh Quilts”; Clare works with plain colours, Mary enjoys mixing prints, especially vintage Laura Ashley fabrics and Liberty prints. The four page Choosing Fabric section shows some vintage fabrics and part of the charm of this attractively illustrated book is seeing many familiar fabrics from the 60s/70s. In this project section ten patchwork quilt patterns are given, all are for small quilts but the aim is to help gain an understanding of the correct proportions and formats of traditional Welsh quilts. Full sized templates and suitable layouts for the quilting designs are given A thirteen-page section on Welsh Quilting has an introduction then nine pages of illustrated patterns e.g. spirals, paisleys, borders and infills. One page on Basic Equipment andfour on Basic Techniques follow. The book ends with two pages covering Where to see Welsh Quilts, Bibliography, a whole page for Acknowledgements and a two-page Index.

Though Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge give plenty of quilting design details and plans, their book does not include a wholecloth quilt as such. So, I have included this self-published Welsh Quilting Pattern and Design Handbook by Marjorie Horton to redress the balance. Marjorie Horton is an American quiltmaker who specialises in teaching the design of Welsh wholecloth quilts. Her handbook was written to provide “a printed resource for her students”, the eighty black and white pages are spirally bound so the book lies flat. It is an extremely practical book, in essence a design-it-yourself set of lessons. There is some text: brief sections on How To Use This Handbook, Introduction, The Welsh Quilters and The Welsh Quilt Style. In these, Marjorie discusses choices and layouts, border and corner variations, combining patterns, contrast, density and scale, before exploring the three pattern groups: motifs, borders and fill patterns. The pages are well illustrated and there are helpful drafting details. Two pages cover How to Turn Your Design into a Quilt before the book ends with designs for five wholecloth quilts including three design layouts and two pages of sketches. The last page is a Bibliography. Despite the somewhat homeproduced look of this book, it contains a wealth of ideas and knowledge not found elsewhere and I do recommend it if you want to study Welsh quilt designs.

My third recommendation is not on the Welsh Quilt theme, it is Helen Bower’sTextiles At Temple Newsam”. This was in mind for a future review but as I have recently seen it remaindered in several shops, I should like to bring it to your attention now before it vanishes. Her book is the catalogue of the textile collection accumulated by Roger Warner and given by him to the Leeds museum, Temple Newsam House. It is not a quilt book but a sumptuous collection of decorative textiles. About one third of the collection are silks, both furnishing and dress, spanning the late sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries. There are also a lot of printed cottons, both dress and furnishing and a large selection of purely furnishing fabrics This may sound a dull list but the hundred full colour pages include a coverlet, a printed huswife, lovely pencilled cottons and beautiful silks. The fifteen pages of text consist of a Preface, a three-page Introduction, Notes on the Catalogue, a list of Unillustrated Textiles, a useful Glossary, Notes on Firms and Designers, Further Reading and a Concordance. Apart from these few pages of quality text, the remaining book consists of captioned colour photographs of the textiles, about six to a page. I thought it good value at fifteen pounds but now reduced to about a third, it is irresistible and should be snapped up; there should be something in it to appeal to anyone at all interested in textiles and old fabrics.

Availabillity

Making Welsh Quilts by Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge is published in 2005 by David and Charles, Devon (www.davidand charles.co.uk) It costs £17.99 for the hardback, ISBN number  0 7153 1908 6

The American edition is a paperback published by KP Books, Iola, WI 54990.

Welsh Quilting Pattern and Design Handbook by Marjorie Horton is self published and I cannot find an English supplier; I bought mine at a Quilt Show. However, it is available from America via websites and costs $24.95. (2021 update - try Jen Jones https://www.jen-jones.com/gifts-and-miscellaneous )

Textiles at Temple Newsam by Helen Bower is published by the Leeds Art Collections Fund for Leeds Museums and Galleries in 2000, ISBN 0 901981 66 4. It is available, full price from them at £14.99, their website is www.leeds.gov.uk/templenewsam/house/pub_tex.html. If you can’t find it in remaindered bookshops at about a third of that try the web, Postscript Books have it on their site at £5.99, www.psbooks.co.uk, its also on www.oxbowbooks.com but they want £7.99.

  Next issue I hope to be looking at some books on fabrics.

© Brigid J.Ockelton. 2005

PLEASE NOTE - An indication is given of the availability and market price of the book at the time of writing and may not reflect today's availability and price.