This quilt began as a slight obsession: I glimpsed a quilt as I was scrolling through Instagram. It was posted by Christopher Wilson-Tate from the Antique Textiles Company on Abbey Road in London (@antiquequiltcompany) which is a gorgeous account to follow. Christopher has been collecting and selling antique quilts for forty years and his shop is what quilter’s dreams are made of. The quilt that caught my eye featured appliqued tulips and hearts in red and green on a white background, repeated to form a central flower.
When I wrote to Christopher to ask if it he remembered ‘my’ quilt - spoiler alert, he did! – he was able to tell me it was American, dating from the 1860s/1870’s and he even recalled the collector he purchased it from (he really is amazing).
Red and green applique quilts were enormously popular in late 19th century North America, combining Broderie Perse applique techniques - where printed motifs are appliqued onto a plain background to create another design - with the folk motifs of European settlers and the highly portable block-by-block construction preferred in North America. And although we now associate red and green with Christmas quilts, back then it was a combination that celebrated any special occasion.
As makers became more skilled, those expensive, imported prints were substituted for plain or small-scale fabrics that relied on the complexity of the applique for their impact.
Applique sampler quilt in the Baltimore Album style made by Mary Manakee, from the collection of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington DC
I made my quilt in some vintage Tilda prints - many of them collected before I'd even started quilting - mixed in with prints from newer ranges. As the prints were mainly in cooler shades of pink and red, I decided to use what I think of as a more 'traditional', darker shade of green - from the 1930's range by Dutch Heritage Fabrics - which balances out all of the red. Jayne quilted it with one of my favourite paisley designs.
Sadly 'my' quilt had sold, but there are so many more treasures to be found in Christopher's beautiful shop, chief amongst them the incredibly knowledgeable Christopher himself. And you can find my tribute in issue 90 of Today’s Quilter ,