CharacteristicsFabrics: Sateen, silk, satin and later nylon Stitches: evenly spaced running stitches Thread: same colour as background fabric Design: flowing pattern inspired by everyday objects-flora, feathers, fans, shells, star, wave, and wineglass. Uses: bed covers, wall hangings, dressing gowns, evening jackets, cushions.
Different regions of the UK developed their own quilting- One outstanding tradition is that of the North of England. The quilts here were called Whole Cloth Quilts, North Country Quilts or Durham Quilts whose designs tended to be flowing, whereas those in Wales were traditional Celtic designs, such as spirals and interlinked bands.
The quilts consisted of three layers, the top a whole cloth with a filling/padding/wadding and a backing held together by fine quilting. stitches over the entire surface, It is the patterns and their arrangement which give this quilting its beauty.
A variation was the ‘Strippy’ quilt, in which the top was pieced from long strips in fairly wide bands and the quilting pattern was done within the bands. Wadding was most often cotton batts or wool. These were much easier to stitch than cotton, reflected light heightening the effect of quilting and had the added advantage the fabric came in wider widths, ideal for quilts and bedspreads.
County Durham in England covered quite a small area from the river Tees to the River Tyne. This craft was practised throughout a much wider area of northern England, dating from before the Industrial Revolution. To help alleviate the distressing poverty in County Durham in 1920s and 1930s, the Rural Industries Bureau and the Women’s Institute did much to promote the craft as “Durham” quilting and to find a market for the work in London. [Emms, p 6] When the county boundaries were reorganised in 1971, the large towns of Gateshead, Sunderland and Washington were amalgamated to form part of the new country of Tyne and Wear and nowadays, the craft is generally referred to as North Country quilting.
Amy Emms, born 1904 in Sunderland, devoted her life to the craft of quilting and promoting Durham quilting. In 1984 she was awarded an OBE for her outstanding contribution to the craft.
1. Emms, A, Story of Durham Quilting, Search Press, Kent, UK 1990