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Bed cover

Bed cover

  • Place of origin:

    Wales (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1830-1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    quilted patchwork of printed cottons

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Hugh Lee

  • Museum number:

    T.340-1977

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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. Small 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.

Hand-quilting is done on a frame using needles called 'betweens'. The stitches are executed with one hand; the other hand is kept underneath the quilt to feel for the needle. Small, uniform stitches (usually a 'running stitch') are taken through the three layers to form a decorative design.

At the time this quilted bedcover was created, the British textile industry was producing a great variety of printed cottons in different qualities, available at different prices. Textile designs were developed with an emphasis on novelty, such as the four large leopard skin squares in the corners.

Physical description

Quilted patchwork bed cover of printed cottons in a number of small-scale designs. Some are dress fabrics that date from the 1820s to 1840s, including a cotton in an animal print design in the four corners. There are 1,690 patches in total. It is quilted in running stitch in cotton thread in what is now known as the 'wine-glass' pattern (overlapping circles). There reverse has been constructed from eight separate pieces of cotton and linen. Wadded with cotton.

Place of Origin

Wales (possibly, made)

Date

1830-1840 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

quilted patchwork of printed cottons

Dimensions

Height: 255 cm, Width: 259 cm, Weight: 2.44 kg

Historical context note

This quilt was created at a time when the expansion of the textile industry improved the supply of cottons to consumers. The repeal of the Excise Duty in 1831 made most goods for home consumption 30–40 per cent cheaper. Radical new textile designs were developed, with the emphasis placed on ‘novelty’ – such as the four large square pieces of printed cotton resembling patches of fur seen here. Such designs were popular throughout the 1830s. The wider availability of cottons had an impact on the creation of patchwork by both the working and middle classes. In the novel Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) Elizabeth Gaskell describes the domestic arrangements in a retired farmhouse in the North of England, where:

'the united efforts of some former generation of the family had produced patchwork curtains and coverlet; and patchwork was patchwork in those days, before the early Yates and Peels [textile manufacturers] had found out the secret of printing the parsley-leaf. Scraps of costly Indian chintzes and palempours were intermixed with commoner black and red calico in minute hexagons; and the variety of patterns served for the useful purpose of promoting conversations as well as the more obvious one of displaying the workwoman’s taste.'

Descriptive line

Quilted patchwork bed cover of printed cotton and linen, possibly made in Wales, 1830-1840.

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

Sue Prichard (ed.), Quilts 1700-2010 (London: V&A, 2010) p.191

Labels and date

Bedcover with leopard-skin print textiles
Britain
1800-40

This bedcover contains 1,690 patches. When it was created, the British textile industry was producing a great variety of printed cottons in different qualities, available at different prices. Textile designs were developed with an emphasis on novelty, such as the four large leopard-skin squares in the corners. The repeal of the Excise Duty in 1831 reduced the cost of most domestically produced goods for home consumption by 30-40%.

Cotton

Given by Hugh Lee
V&A: T.340-1977 [20th March 2010]

Materials

Cotton; Cotton; Linen

Techniques

Quilting; Patchwork

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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