I've been enjoying a week off work which has included a lovely few days away in Cornwall with my husband and some beautiful historic quilt exhibits from The Quilters' Guild at my local quilt shop, Exeter Sewing Machine Company. Shop owner, Jenna, hires a selection of pieces from a collection that travels around the country and customers can book viewing time slots. It's a free event and Jenna always allows plenty of time for us all to look over the exhibits. I took lots of photos so I'm going to split this across two posts: this post features hexagon nineteenth-century quilts and second will feature a range of twentieth-century quilts and fragments.
I'm not usually a huge fan of hexagons but these two examples were so charming. The first is sewn on to a backing for display so only the front can be seen. It was the colour range that really grabbed my attention, especially the mustard yellow and blue border. The hexagons were really quite small- maybe an inch at the widest point?
You can get an idea of the scale in this photo with the arm underneath! Note the white gloves worn for any handling of the exhibits. Jenna leads the way carefully taking the quilts out of their storage bags and laying them out for us to look over.
Close up you can see all the adaptations, the pieces sewn together within a single hexagon and the wonderful range of prints used. There was some variation in the regularity of the hexagons but the overall effect was so pleasing! This piece dates to the earlier part of the nineteenth century.
The second example has larger hexagons with many of the papers intact. They are stitched into rosettes, some very fussily, some almost haphazard and lots in between. There's a range of fabric weights from lightweight fine shirtings through to heavier chintz fabrics where the shiny glaze and thicker threads can still be seen.
The reverse is just as fascinating with lots of handwritten letters and papers being used for the hexagons.
It was a fascinating piece to look over. You can see a date below, 1802! The Quilters' Guild date this uncompleted piece to around 1840. You can also see the mix of threads and stitch styles below.