Monday, 27 September 2010

Durham Quilts

When I was a child I had a Durham Quilt on my bed. It was to my childhood eyes warm, comfortable and functional but meant little more. Unbeknown to me then the quilt was made by my paternal grandmother.

My Nana Barrow died when I was only five and I have few memories of her, though my one clear memory is sitting on the couch with her while she crocheted and allowed me to thread the contents of her lovely and fascinating button drawer onto a piece of knotted embroidery cotton.

Time passed and the quilt was relegated to a cupboard as more fashionable bed linen in the form of the "continental quilt" (duvet) took over.

When I set up my first home money was tight and I was grateful for whatever I was given. I was given some of mam's old bedding, and yes you've guessed one of the things I was given was Nana Barrow's Durham Quilt. As soon as I could afford to the old fashioned bedding was replaced, but I kept the quilt because it was made by my Nana and it was the only thing that I had that was hers. I'd like to say I kept it because of it's beauty and an appreciation of the work that had gone into making it, but I am ashamed to say I just didn't see it like that at the time.

As I grew older (and maybe wiser???) I took out the quilt one day and laid it on the bed and really looked at it. I realised that the patterns all over the surface of the quilt were handstiched and the realisation struck me that this was an amazing handcrafted work of art.

This marked the beginning of a love affair with Durham Quilts and I now have a small collection of five Durham Quilts. Of course the one my Nana made will always be my favourite, but by far my best bargain so far was the second quilt I acquired from a Salvation Army shop for the princely sum of £1.50.

Now maybe your wondering where I'm going with this post?

My latest acquisition -

This is the main picture of the quilt as it was pictured on EBay. The seller did make it clear that the quilt had however been "tampered" with and someone had in the past covered the other side with and bound the edges with a rather inappropriate fabric, and, furthermore they had machine sewn the addition - hence the vertical straight lines of stitching that can be seen on the pictures above and below. Because of this however the quilt was cheap enough for me to take a chance and see if I could restore it in some way.

More before pictures -

I initially just unpicked a corner of the cover and was delighted to find that it unveiled a beautiful original paisley patterned fabric and much more unpicking later revealed ...

Most of the fabric that was under the cover was in very good condition, however a section of about 5 inches in the centre of both the top and bottom is badly worn - this will be the reason for the cover. Also the original quilt must have already been shortened to remove earlier sections of wear. The quilt will still be a good size if I remove the worn parts but will no longer be long enough to use as a bedspread, so I intend binding the edges with a suitable complimentary binding and using the quilt as a throw. The colours will complement those in my sitting room perfectly and ... little female cat Esme definitely approves!


  1. Lovely story and a great find on ebay.

  2. What a beautiful find. I love that picture of Granny and I think Esme steals the show, what a gorgeous cat! xxx

  3. What an amazing find. A risk that certainly paid off. Its strange how we see things as children. And I certainly remember the introduction of the duvet in our house. Before then it was very scratchy blankets and nylon bedspreads! Oh the things I could do with those now! lol.

    MBB x

  4. Thats a great find, the fabric underneath is gorgeous! Lovely story too! :-) x

  5. Gosh, what a discovery. It's just beautiful and all the underneath fabric is amazing.

  6. What a lovely story. I am very sentimental and it must be lovely to have something in your posession that your Nanna put so much love and time in to.

    I want to see a picture of your Nannas one now!


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