English Coverlet

Averil Colby wrote many books about quiltmaking in the mid-20th century. In fact, she was a major authority on quiltmaking in the United Kingdom at the time.

In one of her books, Patchwork, she included a black and white photo of a coverlet that she felt was a good example of the type of quilting/applique being done at the end of the 18th century.

Coverlets at that period were medallion style…meaning a maker began with a single block (whether it be a preprinted panel, or a block of her own making) and then she added “frames”, or, as we would call them in the United States, “borders”. To increase the size of the coverlet, the seamstress kept adding frames until the size and the design suited her. She was then finished.

This particular seamstress constructed her “center” from an intricate pieced “compass” pattern. She then framed it with a row of appliqued circles.

Next, she added a row of pyramid shapes around the compass, which directs the eye to keep looking outward. To embellish the pyramids, she appliqued tiny morning glory flowers alongside each pyramid. These morning glories were most likely already printed on a piece of  chintz furnishings fabric. She cut them out and appliqued them into place.

Enlarged from original tiny photo

For my center, I simplified the compass a bit (to suit my preference) and added the appliqued circles.

Compass before it is appliqued into center panel

detail photo of the compass and appliqued circles

I then drew a tiny morning glory flower to be appliqued next to the pyramid shape, imitating the preprinted ones the original seamstress used.

Appliqued morning glory detail



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