Happy 300th Birthday to our 1718 Silk Coverlet



The 1718 Silk Coverlet is our most treasured iconic piece of patchwork within The Quilters’ Guild Collection and we’re very excited to celebrate its 300th birthday this year.

2000-11-A cut out low res date cropThe 1718 Silk Coverlet joined our collection in 2000 having been purchased at an auction and is the earliest dated piece of patchwork in the UK (that we know about) with the initials EH and date of 1718 worked into a patchwork block.

Since joining us the 1718 has;

  • been extensively researched by members of our British Quilt Study Group.
  • undergone X-ray analysis – and was one of the first pieces used in developing the use of X-ray analysis in textiles to examine construction, now a standard procedure used to explore historic textiles.
  • undergone conservation to help ensure its stability and survival
  • been authentically replicated by members of The Quilters’ Guild
  • been on public display at the Quilt Museum, in the opening exhibition in 2008 and again in 2014.
  • had a book written about it and its own Facebook group with followers making their own versions and interpretations.
  • featured on a whole range of collectables from fridge magnets to fabric panels.

To celebrate such an important birthday we’re delighted that the coverlet will be guest of honour at two venues this year as we hope that as many of you as possible will be able to see it in person before the coverlet goes back to the safety of our archival store for the next decade due to its fragility.

Firstly, the American Museum in Bath will host the coverlet from 10th April  –  29th July. The museum sits in stunning grounds on the outskirts of Bath in an elegant Georgian manor house, Claverton Hall. The museum has a wonderful collection of American quilts on display. The museum is also hosting quilting bees with local quilt groups – check with the museum for details before visiting.American Museum quoteThe American Museum is a wonderful venue to see the quilt as the building is a similar period to that of the quilt and many rooms are displayed in keeping with the 18th Century. The 1718 Silk Coverlet will be displayed on a bed in the Lee Room and will be close to how we imagine it may have been used when first made. For more information about the American Museum visit their website here.

LeeII-028025-HR American Museum Image.jpg

The Lee Room, image courtesy of the American Museum.


We’ve been working very hard with Upper Street Events (USE) and we’re thrilled that the 1718 Coverlet will be coming to Festival of Quilts 2018!

Anna Baptiste (Events Director) at USE told us

“We’re really excited to display the Coverlet at the show in 2018 – it’s the oldest piece ever displayed at the show and a unique opportunity to celebrate the origins of patchwork and quilting. As a show with a strong international following this will be of particular interest to our overseas visitors.  Quilting has a very important heritage and it’s great to be able to celebrate this – especially because we know so many of our visitors consider themselves to be ‘traditional’ quilters. “

Due to its age the 1718 naturally comes with more challenges than other pieces in The Quilters’ Guild Collection when it comes to display. Our curator, Heather Audin along with the Collections Committee are tasked with carefully considering and balancing the risks and benefits for every location. At traditional museums these can be easier to address compared to an event such as Festival of Quilts. To help with this the 1718 Coverlet will be exhibited in a specially built enclosed gallery – something visitors will not have experienced at the show before. The area will have a controlled entrance and exit to ensure optimum viewing for all visitors.

Visitors to Festival of Quilts will also be able to enjoy a unique opportunity to view other quilts inspired by the 1718 in a one off completion category for 1718 replica quilts. This category comes with a once in a lifetime prize – a private audience with the 1718 coverlet for the winner and a friend at The Quilters’ Guild headquarters in York.

Festival of Quilts will be at the NEC in Birmingham from the 9-12th August. Tickets go on sale in April but don’t forget that Quilters’ Guild members get exclusive priority booking for tickets, workshops and lectures one week earlier than general release. Tickets go on sale to Guild members on the 9th April at 10am.

If you’re not already a member and would like to enjoy this fantastic benefit do make sure you join before the end of March as memberships start from the beginning of the following month. If you join in February you’ll also be in time to receive the Spring issue of our magazine, The Quilter which will include all the competition categories and entry forms for Festival of Quilts.

Join online now

As well as seeing the 1718 Coverlet at Festival of Quilts, Upper Street Events are already hard at work to bring you another fantastic show this year, as Anna Baptiste tells us;

“The team are gearing up for 2018, putting some exciting plans in place.  The galleries are all confirmed (of which Nancy Crowe, the 14th Quilt Nihon exhibition and the 1718 Coverlet are some of the highlights) and the floor plan is currently being amended. We have a number of new sponsors on board including Handi Quilter who are sponsoring the Best in Show Award and Lewis & Irene offering the Lewis & Irene Lounge. The competition entry form is being tweaked and will be ready in early February and last but not least, we have Ricky Tims coming to the show in 2018 offering various workshops and a concert on Friday 10th August!”

The Quilters’ Guild will be there with all our usual stands. Do come and say hello at our main stand by the entrance, we love to talk to you and show you some of the things we’ve been up to. We’ll also have a wonderful exhibition, Tercentennial alongside the original 1718 Silk Coverlet where we’ll have patchwork pieces made in the same period as well as all the history about the 1718 we can. Our British Quilt Study Group will also be exhibiting this year in their own gallery. All this plus our usual tombola, Young Quilters’ programme of workshops and shopping at the Quilters’ Guild Shop stand.4Z5A5320.JPG

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