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Bed cover

Bed cover

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1797-1852 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Printed cotton, patchwork, quilted, ink, lined with cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Margaret Hughes

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In piecing or patchwork, small pieces of fabric are sewn together to produce a decorative design. This can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine. 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 and enduringly popular designs, such as this simple repetition of hexagons to form rosettes.

This patchwork quilt is composed of hundreds of pieces of printed and plain cotton, which show the development of textile printing from about 1790 to the 1840s. From the late eighteenth century the British cotton industry developed into one of the most successful in the world. Woven silks had been the dominant fabric used for quilts and coverlets in the eighteenth century. They retained their appeal with the aristocracy, but by the early years of the nineteenth century printed cottons became the preferred choice of furnishing for fashionable middle-class homes. To keep up with the latest trends it was important to use up-to-date patterns, and because they were expensive to buy, they had to be used to best advantage. The maker of this coverlet has paid meticulous attention to the grouping of fabrics in each rosette, carefully placed and rotated each printed design - from bold stripes to sinewy, organic lines - to create new visual patterns.

Physical description

Bed cover of quilted patchwork in plain and printed cottons of 2.25 inch hexagons cut from white and printed cottons. In the design now known as 'grandmother's flower garden': rosettes of seven patterned or coloured hexagons separated from each other by plain white hexagons. The fabrics for each rosette have been carefully grouped, so that each rosette is made from pieces of one printed textile design. Some rosettes have plain centres. The whole of the ground is covered with coloured rosettes:- each formed by seven, patterned and separated from each other by white hexagons.

The border is of straight strips of printed cotton but encroaches on the centre in groups of hexagons to fill in the space around the outside row of rosettes.

There is an inscription on the white hexagons in one coiner. Attached to the back is a label with an inscription.

The cover is lined with beige cotton and quilted with running stitches in diagonal lines. The printed cottons have been grouped to form a rosette, or a rosette with a contrasting centre, made from pieces of one design. The prints include natural forms, grapes, ears of corn and flowers. Most are full chintzes but there are a few cottons which appear to have been demys and drabs. There are also numbers of simple stripes, checks and very small sprigs, one or two of which may have been roller-printed: the rest are block-printed. This central section is framed by a wide outer border of roller-printed brown cotton, with a design of flowers contained in alternate stripes of patterned shapes. The reverse is beige cotton. Quilted in running stitch in cotton thread in diagonal lines.

The later border contains flowers in alternate stripes of patterned shapes in red, lilac, pale single green, dark brown, pale brown and pale olive, with areas left in white.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1797-1852 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Printed cotton, patchwork, quilted, ink, lined with cotton

Marks and inscriptions

'The property of / Mrs W. J. Nash'
Written in black marking ink on a white hexagon in one corner

'The outside / by / Mrs Cockrell / 1797 [underlined] / Lined and bordered / by / Miss Diana Margaret / Smith 1852 [underlined]'
Written in black marking ink on a white hexagon in one corner

'Marked by F. Nash / May 12th 1852'
Written in black marking ink on a white hexagon in one corner

'The patchwork of this quilt was made by Mrs Crockett, my great grandmother in 1797. Lined and bordered by her companion Miss Margaret Smith in 1852'
Written on a label attached to the back of the bed cover, written by the donor


Length: 85.5 in, Width: 94 in, Length: 217 cm, Width: 238.7 cm

Object history note

The donor lived in Chiswick, London. According to her family history, it was worked by her great grandmother, Mrs Crockett.

Descriptive line

Bed cover of quilted cotton patchwork, England, 1791-1852

Production Note

The patchwork was made by Mrs Crockett (or Cockrell) in 1797, lined and bordered by Miss Margaret Smith in 1852, and marked by F. Nash.

Subjects depicted

Grapes; Flowers


Interiors; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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