Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Maryport Quilt goes National!

A very fine quilt, made in Maryport in Cumbria about 130 years ago, has been accepted into the Collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery in York. It’s a particularly good example of what is known as the ‘Sawtooth Medallion’ Style, made in red and white fabrics. The red fabric is Turkey red printed in a rich and complex paisley pattern. Only quilts of exceptional interest and condition are accepted into the collection so it is an honour that this one has been accessioned.

The quilt, which belonged to an established Maryport family, was given to me on long loan a few years ago. It is in perfect condition because, as I was told: ‘Grandma always kept it on the best bed, covered with a sheet.’ The owner and I finally decided that it needed to be offered to the Museum and Gallery so that it could be kept and preserved to museum standards. I’m delighted to say that it is now on display at the Museum as part of its current exhibition titled Quilts Then and Now. Full details of the Museum and opening times can be seen here:

A Victorian Surivival

Flat shot of table cover

Embroidery has outlasted silk
This Victorian table cover from a house in Cockermouth , measuring 56" square, was brought to me for advice on repair and conservation.  It has a square centre medallion organised round embroidered rectangles which are enclosed in velvet borders. The rest of the patchwork is 'crazy', i.e. randomly shaped  patches stitched together. Each patch is outlined in feather stitching, a very popular needlework tradition in this type of  crazy patchwork. The whole textile is surrounded with yellow cording, suggesting that its likely use was as a table cover or, possibly, a decorative throw.

 The fabrics are predominantly silks and velvets. The embroidery is of a good standard of workmanship and, in many case, the embroidery has outlasted the silks, which have worn away around them.

Unfortunately, it had deteriorated so far as to make any work on it impossible. On the other hand, it is clearly too interesting to simply be thrown away. One possible option would be to conserve it under glass, in which case it could be viewed but wouldn't suffer any further degradation of the fabrics. This, however, would be an expensive undertaking but enquiries are being made to see if it would be viable.