Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Tea cosy

  • Place of origin:

    Wales (made)

  • Date:

    1930s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rose, Muriel (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Quilted silk padded with woollen fibres and trimmed with silk and cotton cord

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Lucy Archer

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This tea cosy was made as part of the Rural Industries Bureau Scheme to assist miners' wives in South Wales through a period of economic crisis.
In 1928 the Scheme's aim was to establish home industries among the women of the stricken Welsh mining communities which could be developed for a wider market. Traditional quilting had been successfully used to the same ends in County Durham. A few quilters still worked in South Wales [not necessarily in the pit villages] but the quality of their work was poor. When they were interviewed they explained that if they had better materials and a rate of pay that would allow them to spend more time on a quilt, they could produce something much better. The Bureau provided £30 for materials and wages and orders were given to the most promising quilters. The neediest women in the pit villages were provided with Durham quilts as samplers through the Women's Institute. Classes were organised in six centres in South Wales: Porth in the Rhondda, Aberdare, Blaina, Merthyr Tydfil, Abertridwr and Splott [Cardiff]. The teacher for each class was a Welshwoman who had learned quilting the traditional way and knew the traditional Welsh patterns.
The first commercial exhibition of their work was held at Miss Muriel Rose's The Little Gallery, off Sloane Street, London, in autumn 1928 and brought in many orders. This tea cosy was purchased from Miss Rose's shop. She promoted the work of leading craftspeople and played a major role in re-establishing patchwork and quilting in Wales. She insisted on good needlework and good design. One of the commissions she undertook was to fill an order from Claridge's hotel for quilted bedcovers to use in their new Art Deco wing.
As well as The Little Gallery, two other London retailers were authorised to sell quilted products under the Bureau scheme. In this way the Bureau established a new type of professional quilter who worked for a luxury market outside her own locality. At the beginning of the scheme about 170 quilters were registered; the scheme ended with the outbreak of the Second World War by which time there were 60 or 70 quilters still working.

Physical description

Tea Cosy, quilted yellow silk backed with cream silk. Yellow thread was used for the quilting. Made from four panels, each one is an elongated arch-shape. The panels were quilted separately and then stitched together and the seams have been concealed beneath a silk-covered cotton cord. Loose woollen fibres form the layer of padding between the two layers of silk fabric and the quilting goes through all three layers.
The same pattern is on each of the panels: there is a deep border at the bottom decorated with stitches in a large chevron pattern; above this are three elongated ovals forming a vertical line with a spiral either side of the lowest oval. The ground has a small diamond pattern.

Place of Origin

Wales (made)


1930s (made)


Rose, Muriel (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Quilted silk padded with woollen fibres and trimmed with silk and cotton cord


Length: 23 cm maximum, Width: 12 cm folded flat, Circumference: 52 cm maximum

Production Note

Made under a scheme supported by the Rural Industries Bureau


Silk; Wool; Cotton


Weaving; Quilting

Subjects depicted

Lozenge; Spiral


Embroidery; Drinking; Food vessels & Tableware; Household objects; Tableware & cutlery; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.