An intriguing headline for sure.  Every so often something really interesting drops on my desk that captures my attention and draws me away from the day job.  This was one of those moments.

The Bowes Museum have been talking about their exciting new exhibition for some time, and we have seen mention of it across the different Facebook groups.  Of course, with travel restrictions and lockdown pressures, we have not been able to visit. So when two books, written by Dorothy Ostler, celebrating their new acquisitions of North Country Quilts arrived I could not resist a peek inside.  Did I say peek?  Hours later I realised just how absorbed I was. Each featured quilt tells its own story, but what strikes me most is how relevant many are for today’s quilt patterns.

One of their oldest acquisitions dates back to the early 1840’s – almost 200 years ago- to days before the notions, rulers and electric machines we have now.  The accuracy of the points and the symmetry of the quilt patterns are beautiful.  What does strike me is the relevance of the patterns to today ..and the fabrics.

The books feature this lone star quilt which could sit proudly on the UK Quilters FB Group for recognition today, yet it was created circa 1875, which all goes to prove there really are no new ideas, just the older ones recycled and isn’t that what our craft is about? (Check out the feather quilted borders too .. today’s longarmers will love this detail).

This Jockey Cap pink quilt in the Legend and Living Traditions stands out for me .. created in the early 1900’s with such exquisite detail in piecing and quilting.  Imagine how long this must have taken to make and bear in mind the maker likely worked by candlelight too.

There’s mention of their Hannah Hauxwell collection which we have featured here on the website and which are housed at the museum.  Our own Chirs Franses reviewed and interpreted many of the patterns that were used in the making of the quilts .. a very interesting read for anyone interested in the history and influence of that collection.

I cannot express enough how wonderful the quilts in the books are, from the traditionally pieced quilts to the wholecloth quilted ones.  The books are more than coffee table decoration, they are full of the history of quilting in the North.

The museum is open daily apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and there’s much more to see besides the quilts.  Details can be found online if you google search about opening times and more.   Durham might be a distance for some, but it’s worth a trip.  For those who can’t make it then treat yourself to one or both of these scrumptious books.