As we enter our 40th anniversary year, we’d like to reminisce about some of the early items which found their way into The Quilters’ Guild Collection. The Guild was founded in 1979, and during the first decade of our existence The Guild collected over 30 items varying in style and age, from early printed cotton frame quilts to fancy late Victorian patchwork. Whilst collecting historic pieces of patchwork and quilting was generally of interest, there was no specific plan or policy at this early stage. In 1980, we were fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of two quilts which represent an iconic era of quilt revival in inter-war Britain.
During the late 1920s and 1930s there was a determined effort by a number of organisations to revive quilting as a way of providing income for families. The aim was to regenerate the quilting traditions in rural areas such as the North of England and South Wales. One of these organisations, The Rural Industries Bureau, generated orders for quilts to be made in quilters’ homes or at classes.
The Bureau partnered with Mavis Fitzrandolph and not only engaged the skills of existing quilters, but also established classes to ensure the continuation of the craft by training new makers. A variety of large and small items were made, including dressing gowns, bed jackets, cushions and quilts. Claridges Hotel in London famously placed a large order for quilts and pillowslips to be used in their new Art Deco style extension. Wondrously, two of these well used quilts were rediscovered by the hotel in 1980 and donated to The Quilters’ Guild. Both of the quilts, as pictured here, were made in South Wales, one being of a traditional welsh design and one bearing a signature lotus motif taken directly from the Art Deco style of the building.
These quilts are both treasured parts of The Quilters’ Guild Collection, and join other examples of wholecloth quilting from the same era, including quilts from Hawick in the Scottish Borders and North Country pieces.