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Bed cover

Bed cover

  • Place of origin:

    Wales (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Quilted cotton patchwork

  • Museum number:

    T.124-1937

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This patchwork quilt was owned by a family from Pwllheli, Caernarfonshire. It is not known if this is where it was made, but it is believed to have a Welsh provenance. The name 'Evans' is written in ink on a hand-stitched label on the reverse, which may possible be a laundry mark used by the family. The cottons are typical of those used for 19th century furnishings such as curtains, and may have been recycled from fabrics available within the home.

In 'piecing' or 'patchwork', small pieces of fabric are sewn together to produce a decorative design. The most enduring method in Britain is done by hand, and is known as 'piecing over paper'. The pattern is first drawn onto paper and then accurately cut. Pieces of fabric are tacked round each of the shapes, and then joined together from the back using overstitch. Geometric shapes produce some of the most striking examples. Large patchwork compositions such as this have always been favoured by Welsh quiltmakers as the stitched quilting patterns are shown to better advantage.

Physical description

This quilted patchwork bed cover has been made from a range of block-printed, discharged and roller-printed cottons, including some glazed cottons. The central section shows two large-scale printed designs: one of red flowers against a yellow ground (cut into an octagon to form the central piece), and one of red birds and palm trees against a blue ground. Both designs date from 1815-20. The most recent cotton, a repeating rosebud pattern on a black ground, dates from the 1840s. There are 156 patches in total, and the design is largely symmetrical, with the exception of an area designed for the pillow at the head of the bed. It is quilted in running stitch in cotton thread in a design that includes ram's horns, coils, leaves and repeating twists. It has a reverse of cream cotton and is wadded with wool.

Place of Origin

Wales (made)

Date

1800-1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Quilted cotton patchwork

Marks and inscriptions

EVANS
handwritten on a small label stitched to the reverse

Dimensions

Height: 235 cm, Width: 207.5 cm, Weight: 2.2 kg

Object history note

This quilt was owned by a family from Bronheulog, Pwllheli, Caernavonshire, at the time of its acquisition. It is not known if this is where it was made, but it is thought to have a Welsh provenance.

Historical context note

Large patchwork compositions have always been favoured by Welsh quiltmakers and this makes the quilting easier to sew and the patterns are shown to better advantage. In this example, the clever framing of the central octagon with a strip of plain white cotton has provided an opportunity to produce one of the simplest but most effective quilting patterns, a repeating twist. It would not be noticeable if worked into a patterned ground.

Most of the cottons used were originally glazed. The central section shows two large-scale printed designs both dating from 1815 to 1820 whereas the most recent cotton, a repeating rosebud pattern on a black ground, dates from the 1840s.

There is very little information on domestic patchwork and quilting from this period, but Ellen Stock (née Weeton), a Lancashire governess, left behind a detailed account of early nineteenth-century life. Among her correspondence are letters to her daughter, describing the importance of reusing textiles available within the home. When sending a parcel of patches and ribbon for use in patchwork, she urged her daughter to practise measuring, cutting and sewing, while also acknowledging the monetary value of textiles, ‘for you will never be fit to be a housekeeper unless you know the value of most things in daily use.'

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Linda Parry, A Practical Guide to Patchwork from the Victoria and Albert Collection (London, 1987) pp.38-9
Linda Parry, 'Complexity and context: nineteenth-century British quilts, in Sue Prichard (ed.), Quilts 1700-2010 (London: V&A, 2010) p.72

Labels and date

Bedcover with framed octagonal design
Possibly a member of the Evans family, Wales
1800-50

This patchwork quilt was owned by a family from Pwllheli, Caernarfonshire. It is not known if this is where it was made, but it is believed to have a Welsh provenance. The cottons are typical of those used for 19th-century furnishings such as curtains, and may have been recycled from fabrics available within the home.

Cotton

V&A: T.124-1937 [20th March 2010]

Materials

Cotton

Techniques

Patchwork

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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