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Patchwork bed cover

Patchwork bed cover

  • Place of origin:

    Kent (made)

  • Date:

    1690-1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Quilted patchwork of silk velvets, satins, silver and silver-gilt tissues, and backed with block-printed cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mary Ann Thomas

  • Museum number:

    T.615-1996

  • 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.

Quilting is a method of stitching layers of material together. The layers are most commonly divided as follows:

Quilt top: The decorative layer of the quilt. If the top is pieced (such as this example), it is known as a 'patchwork quilt'.

Wadding/batting: A layer of cotton, wool, polyester, silk or other material, which adds warmth and dimension to the quilt.

Reverse: The bottom layer, usually made from one piece of fabric.

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.

This small cot cover is thought to have been created by Priscilla Redding of Deal, Kent. Born in Deal Castle, where her father was governor, Priscilla Redding married in Canterbury in 1691, where she may have obtained some of the silks used here. Her contemporary Celia Fiennes described Canterbury as 'a flourishing town' with 'good tradeing in ye weaving of silks', and shopping for goods for the home was one of the primary attractions.

Few early accounts survive that document the lives of quilt makers. So it is rare to be able to link this quilt with a diary kept by Priscilla Redding. Her father, a Baptist preacher, was arrested during the Restoration, and she writes of his 'great persicution and truble' for 'not conforming to the worshipe of the nation'. She also records family births and deaths, from the arrival of her first child to the distressing loss of her only son. Both the quilt and the diary were passed down to her daughter, Susanna, before being separated at some point in the 19th century.

Physical description

Quilted patchwork bed cover created from a variety of silk velvets, satins, silver and silver-gilt tissues and other complex-weave silks. The central panel is an early brocade of silver-gilt thread on a blue, brown and white striped ground. The remaining silks are arranged in concentric borders around this brocade. Most of the textiles date to between 1660 and 1700. It is quilted in a design of geometric shapes that follows the design of the patchwork in some areas (a technique now known as 'stitch in the ditch'). It is deeply quilted with wool wadding, and has a reverse of an English or Dutch block printed cotton of red and purple flowers of the same date. It is bound at the edges with pink silk, and was probably intended for a child's bed.

Place of Origin

Kent (made)

Date

1690-1720 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Quilted patchwork of silk velvets, satins, silver and silver-gilt tissues, and backed with block-printed cotton

Dimensions

Height: 109 cm, Width: 102 cm

Object history note

Donated with T.616-1996. According to the donor's family history, it was worked by an ancestor, daughter of the Governor of Deal Castle. A genealogical trace suggests that this was Priscilla Redding (nee Tavenor), daughter of Captain Samuel Tavenor. Samuel Tavenor was appointed Governor of Deal Castle by Oliver Cromwell in 1653.

Descriptive line

Small cover of silk patchwork, Kent, the silks made ca.1680-1700, and made up ca.1700-1720

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

Bridget Long, 'A Comparative Study of the 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet'. Quilt Studies 4/5. 2002-2003, p.59
Browne, Clare. 'Making and using quilts in Eighteenth-century Britain'. In: Sue Prichard, ed. Quilts 1700-2010. London: V&A Publishing, 2010. p. 31
Smith, Claire. 'The governor's daughter'. In: Sue Prichard, ed. Quilts 1700-2010. London: V&A Publishing, 2010, p. 52-5

Labels and date

[#2] *
Quilted cot cover for a child's bed
Priscilla Redding (1654-1723), Kent
1690-1720

Born in Deal Castle, where her father was governor, Priscilla Redding married in Canterbury in 1691, where she is likely to have obtained the silk velvets, satins and silver-gilt fabrics used here. Her contemporary Celia Fiennes described Canterbury as 'a flourishing town' with 'good tradeing in ye weaving of silks', and shopping for goods for the home was one of the primary attractions.

Silk
Given by Mary Ann Thomas
V&A: T.615-1996

[#3]
Personal diary
Priscilla Redding (1654-1723), Kent
1678-1723

Few early accounts survive that document the lives of quilt makers. So it is rare to be able to link the diary of Priscilla Redding with this patchwork quilt. Her father, a Baptist preacher, was arrested during the Restoration, and she writes of his 'great persicution and truble' for 'not conforming to the worshipe of the nation'. She also records family births and deaths, from the arrival of her first child to the distressing loss of her only son. Both quilt and diary were passed down to her daughter, Susanna.

Paper
Private collection [20th March 2010]

Production Note

The silks date from the late 17th century, and the patchwork is likely to have been made up in the early 18th century.

Materials

Silk (textile); Cotton (textile)

Techniques

Patchwork; Printed; Satin weave; Velvet weave

Categories

Textiles; Interiors

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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