Sunday, 6 October 2013
Vintage Kentucky Quilts
On Saturday, I went to see a quilt exhibition with my Stitch And Bitch friend Lynne. It was held in the Parish Church of Fakenham, a small market town in the middle of Norfolk. The exhibition was entitled The Meador Williams Heath Quilt Collection, and was on loan to the church for the purposes of fund-raising, by a lovely chap called Alan Heath. Alan was born in Kentucky, arrived in England in 1973 and liked it so much he never went home, settling in a village just outside Fakenham. The quilts in his collection were all stitched by his grandmother Flossie, his great-aunts and his mother, from old clothes and feed-sacks. The family were farmers, and there was not much money; every scrap of fabric was utilised for quilt making.
The quilts were displayed as well as they could be in the church, and it was quite spell-binding to wander slowly round, examining the patters, and reading the accompanying descriptions and history. As there are so many photos I've loaded them smaller than usual, click on them and see ore detail. Also I took photos of the descriptions but to include them would make for a huge long blog-post - longer than usual! So just feast your eyes on these lovely old quilts, you can imagine how faded and soft the fabric is - so tempting to reach out and stroke the undulating ripples where the even quilting stitches cause furrows to appear. Being seasoned quilt-show aficionados, of course, we resisted!
I loved this one, which contains an older quilt inside. The outer fabric is of lesser quality and hasn't worn so well, hence we can see what's inside. I really wanted to bring this one home, despite the obvious wear and tear. See detail below.
Another favourite, this Nine-patch was such a perfect example, set on-point which gives the design an extra dynamic. The right size to cover a single bed top.
This quilt (above) is unfinished, and still has the papers in it, from which we can date the quilt to around the 1950's.
There were also some framed and glazed quilt blocks but they have not photographed well enough to include. We chatted to Alan, and asked what would happen to the quilts following the exhibition. He was keen to offer them to a suitable museum, probably back 'home' in Tennessee or Kentucky. We suggested the American Museum in Bath, and he smiled wryly, explaining that these are Confederate quilts, the American Museum is proudly Yankee, and was not interested. Old sins cast long shadows, it seems.
After we'd feasted our eyes on the quilts, Lynne and I drove over to Sculthorpe Mill and feasted our tummies on a lovely lunch there, watching a heron eyeing up the fish in the fast running river which flows past. So it's been a sun-kissed weekend here n Norfolk, and I'm hoping the good weather will stretched j...u...s....t a little longer as Jim and I are popping across to Wales for a few days mid-week. More textile goodness when I get back!