Monday, 11 April 2011

An unexpected treasure

Last week my Mum reached one of those birthday's with a 0 at the end. Well done Mum xx
To celebrate the occasion, M&D gathered together family and friends and we all went to the rather grand Chateau Impney near Droitwich for a calvery sunday lunch - large portions+ Sunday Lunch+good company+lovely hot spring weather = winner of a day :)
One of the other guests was my primary teacher at the age of 8 (??) the lovely Gwen (XX) and over the meal she got talking about a vintage wall hanging/quilt she has from a great aunt. I just had to have a look for myself....

Gwen was then worried that she had oversold the piece and it would not be worth the journey!

Well she need not have worried, look at this beauty-

It is about 2m square although it hangs up the side of a staircase so it was difficult to photograph in full and estimate the size.

As you can see, it's an eclectic pick and mix of hexagon patchwork appliqued onto the base fabric, wool embroidery, and finer embroidery depicting leaves, flowers and other pieces of foliage.

I took as many detailed photos as I could, but each section was a bit of a treasure, I especially loved this sweet chestnut leaf, the abstract shapes and colours which make up the of so recognisable leaf.

Gwen inherited the quilt from her own Aunt Gwen and then gave it to her son, who then got fed up with it I suppose and when she found it in a heap somewhere, it was in a very sorry state and had to be mended in places. It' not clear what is original and what is restoration apart from some obvious 'new vintage' fabrics.

The composition was strange, perhaps a quilt which started off as just traditional hexagon patchwork, the centre panel is complete I think. Then 7 patch flowers are appliqued on and around the central piece and the leaves are scattered amongst them. Either the maker got bored with patchwork or they were very daring and just loved playing around with details and abstract ideas. The overall effect is very balanced, but not symmetrical I think.

With my very limited knowledge of vintage quilts and embroidery, I am relying upon Gwen's guess work with the age of the bedspread - 1840's??
It did remind me of a quilt from the V&A last year, but I am no expert so if anyone can cast anymore information I would be grateful :) I cannot find the picture of the quilt which is in my head, I will have to come back and re-post!

I had a lovely day with family and friends and felt very fortunate to have seen Gwen after a good few years, a lovely character full of wit and wisdom and stories....what stories! One that I remember myself is of the class I was in at a local swimming pool and Gwen was leaning over talking to one of the boys and encouraging him to kick is legs, he must have felt a little worried because he grabbed the whistle hanging round her neck and pulled her in! She borrowed an attendants tracksuit to go back to school in.

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