Behind the quilt: The Sidmouth Quilt

Behind the quilt Sidmouth revisited

When Susan Briscoe created her Sidmouth Revisited quilt for  issue 15 of Today’s Quilter magazine, she looked to the past for inspiration. Her scrappy medallion quilt is a fresh take on an early 19th century quilt in The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles’ collection. Susan had admired this quilt for a long time so, when the Guild reprinted the centre panel (from an identical unquilted one in their collection), a quilt based around it was the perfect project.

Here Susan tells us more about her love of heritage quilts, and the Sidmouth Quilt especially that inspired her, in our Behind the Quilt blog series. In case you haven’t got your hands on issue 15 yet, Susan’s breath-taking Sidmouth Revisted quilt is pictured throughout this post..

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“The original Sidmouth quilt must have been almost unused, ” she tells us, “as the fabrics are unfaded and in good condition for its age, and include an amazing collection of the vibrant cotton prints that were highly fashionable for dressmaking during that time. The bright colours predate chemical dyes, and include Turkey Red. The quilting on the original suggests that it may come from the Wales or the Welsh borders, as it includes typical Welsh quilting motifs.”

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Susan replicated heritage techniques when she made her version of the Sidmouth quilt – including Knife-edge finishing – find out how here.

“The Guild also owns an unquilted version of the central panel, which was used to create the reproduction print panel. It features rose motifs around a central scene of a bird feeding its young in the nest beneath a branch of an oak tree. As this was never used the colours of panel have been fantastically preserved, retaining the vivid blue which is so liable to fade to green when exposed to light over time. During the late Georgian period, block printed panels were bought for use as the centres for medallion quilts and coverlet or to be used in home and soft furnishings.”

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The Sidmouth quilt isn’t the only heritage quilt to share the central panel. “The Welsh quilt known as the Mary Lloyd quilt, in the collection at St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff, Wales, has the same panel in the centre,” explains Susan. “In this version, the circle has been cut out and appliqued. Some of the quilting patterns are very similar, including the use of cross hatching in the background, which is apparently rarely seen on Welsh quilts until the early twentieth century. Mary Jenkins has written about it recently on her blog, Little Welsh Quilts.

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