There is something nice about making a reproduction quilt but putting your own stamp on it. I’m not sure what initially attracted me to the 1718 Coverlet, but having a facebook quilt-along as well as a published book available (The 1718 Coverlet, by Susan Briscoe) with pattern instructions for both the original and a more modern construction method, definitely helped put it on my to-do list. Being the 300th anniversary of the original was also a bonus, though at the time I started sewing no-one knew that the original was going to be displayed at Festival of Quilts, or that there would be a gallery of reproduction quilts alongside it.
It didn’t take me very long looking at other people’s fabric choices to realise that my stack of handwoven Fairtrade fabrics would be a perfect starting point – handwoven plains, checks and stripes, some with a shot look. I did need to add a few more fabrics, and chose a mix of Japanese cottons, shot cotton, and a few prints to give variety.
At times, the quilt moved along quite fast, as I would prepare anything from 6 to about a dozen applique blocks at one time (freezer paper applique) and also prepared the base blocks for the applique and the geometric blocks several at a time. I didn’t always stick exactly to the patterns for applique backgrounds, choosing sometimes to work in the spirit of the original putting together scrap fabrics to make up a block background.
By the time the Festival of Quilts 1718 category was announced, I was well under way with the top just about complete, so I took the plunge and entered it as my first ever show entry, slightly less stressful maybe than some as it is a non-judged category.
When it came to choosing the backing, I toyed with using something like a printed sheet, or a ticking stripe, but what kept coming to mind were the old blankets I had seen in Orkney, where worn wool blankets had been covered (both sides) in an irregular patchwork of largish bits of fairly random fabrics, and then sometimes patched again as that layer wore through. I still had a number of roughly fat quarter sized pieces of my quilt top fabrics left, so I decided to randomly sew these together to make a piece big enough to use for my backing. Rather than the knife edge finish of the original coverlet, I picked out the boldest printed fabric from the top and made a half inch double fold binding. The backing and binding have exactly the look now that I imagined – a new quilt but with a slightly old “heirloom” look to it. The final touch was adding my initials and the year – “CC2018” in place of the original maker’s “EH1718”
I’ve put a few teaser photos on here, but if you want to see the whole of the finished quilt, you will have to wait for this year’s Festival of Quilts (hoping, of course, that my entry was put in early enough to ensure a place in the 1718 gallery). The hand quilting isn’t quite done, but is well on target for an August finish.