Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Report on Lyn Dennis' talk to QSG of NSW on 9th March 2013

Lyn Dennis is a member of the Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc., the Needlework Tool Collection Society of Australia, and the International Sewing Machine Society (UK).  In 2012 Lyn travelled solo to France and the UK to pursue her interest in the history of patchwork and quilting in Great Britain. She designed her travels to include the study of quilts that are little known of in Australia.
Lyn started her talk by giving us a detailed description of the famous Anna Brereton Bed Hanging she saw in the Norwich Shire Hall Textiles Study Centre. Anna started the project in 1801 and retreated to sew it in her bedroom after the death of her beloved son. This four year project brought Anna back to normal society. The bed quilt has hexies cut from wonderful chintz fabrics and coffin patches are sewn on the bed hangings. Anna used different coloured threads to join the pieces and it was lovely to see them in the close up photos that Lyn took of the parts of the bed hangings she was allowed to view.
Brereton Bed Hangings

A photo of this amazing group of bedding textiles along with a description of Anna’s life can be found online at http://brereton.org.uk/brinton/bedhangings.htm. It is also in Janet Rae’s book, The Quilts of the British Isles. There is also a close up detail of one of the bed curtains on the Norfolk Museum’s website - see http://www.culturalmodes.norfolk.gov.uk/projects/nmaspub5.asp to start your search in the Costumes and Textiles section for the bed curtain.

 Lyn then spoke of her visit to Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire and the quilts and coverlets she saw in the wonderful Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth Collection (see http://www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk/ for more details). The collection contains the finest collection of textiles outside of the Victoria and Albert Museum. From the age of nine Miss Rachel collected, studied, made and taught textile techniques. Today there are some textiles on display in the public rooms but the best way to see the quilts is by arranging a behind the scenes viewing, as Lyn did. Gail Marsh, the curator and author of a number of books that contain detailed photos from the textile collection, showed Lyn 15 quilts from the collection. 
Lyn's Patchwork Tea Cloth
Lyn started this section by talking about the Patchwork Tea Cloth. It is a coverlet stitched to the backing fabric around the appliquéd pieces, signed I.B. and was made between 1780 and 1810. The strips of fabric were joined with run and fell seams and it contains an 18” centre, has 4” wide toile and coloured fabric strips and is finished with vandyke triangles on the outside. Both Lyn and Maureen Teager have made copies of this quilt. Maureen’s won a first prize in the 2006 Sydney Quilt Show and Lyn is still quilting hers. In quilt classes in Australia it is taught as ‘Gilly’s Coverlet’.
Maureen's "Tribute to Gilly's Find"

Close ups of the appliqués are also in Gail Marsh’s book – ‘19th Century Embroidery”.

Lyn then showed us photographs she took of both the 1833 Wedding Coverlet and the 1834 baby cot quilt made by Nancy Horsfall. You can see pictures of them in the V&A book Quilts 1700 – 2010 – Hidden Histories, Untold Stories on pages 70 and 71 (Brigitte Giblin also teaches a quilt based on it). The wedding coverlet is large (102” x 101”) and the cot cover is 34” x 45”. They contain similar fabrics and patterns and the inscriptions on both coverlets are excellent for quilters today. The wedding coverlet is a frame or medallion quilt appliquéd with simple motifs and shapes cut direct from fabric. The frames are all of differing sizes and it is finished with a border of chintz fabric.

Here is Maureen Teager’s copy of the Nancy Horsfall cot cover, “Hush a Bye Baby”.

Lyn was especially taken by the quilt donated by Miss Grimshaw. It is 98” x 111” and has the initals E.I. and the year 1812 is embroidered on it. In the centre is a piece of silk dated to 1700 that is tamboured with chain stitched flowers. This centre is bordered by unusual bias edged lappets. The rest of the top contains randomly placed units of hexies, daisies, hoverflies, flower vases, two floral panels and two- and three-petal flowers, appearing to be a representation of a parterre garden. We were especially taken by the close up photos Lyn had taken of the different elements used, especially the hoverflies and their wool antennae. An image of the full quilt can be seen on page 74 of the V&A book Quilts 1700 – 2010 – Hidden Histories, Untold Stories.
Miss Grimshaw's Quilt

We then saw detailed images of an 1850 Medallion Irish Chain and Flying Geese quilt. It contains small print fabrics, a simple 30” centre of red squares on point, and a dark border of 12.5” Irish chain blocks. The centre included some interesting turquoise, pink, mauve, brown and corn coloured fabrics. As Lyn remarked, it showed a love of stitching, not calculating! The final quilt we saw in detail was the Medallion quilt made in the late 1800s by Mary Bateman (she died aged 96). Again, it was a lovely quilt.
After the talk Noeleen Lutton showed us her interpretation of a silk bedcover from the V&A collection that she made in one of Jennifer Corkish’s classes (see page 13 of the V&A book for the original).
Noeleen's quilt

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