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DCM tells the cover story

1 Mrs C Alderson, Eleanor and Jennifer, Black Howe Farm, Swaledale, working a quilt and stitching traditional patterns
1 Mrs C Alderson, Eleanor and Jennifer, Black Howe Farm, Swaledale, working a quilt and stitching traditional patterns
2 Close up of hexagon design patchwork coverlet made in the mid-20th century by Norah Worth of Gayle
2  Close up of hexagon design patchwork coverlet made in the mid-20th century by Norah Worth of Gayle
3 Dales Countryside Museum volunteer Maggie Townsend stitching on a quilt sleeve in preparation for the display
3 Dales Countryside Museum volunteer Maggie Townsend stitching on a quilt sleeve in preparation for the display

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Bainbridge, 28 January, 2019

Striking homemade quilts – which covered the beds of Dalesmen and women before the coming of the duvet – are to go on display at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

A new collaborative exhibition with The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, “Colour and Comfort”, will open on Friday 1 February and run until 8 May.

It will showcase pieces from the collections of The Quilters’ Guild and the Dales Countryside Museum.

Visitors will, for instance, be able to see an 1890 Swaledale farm quilt saved from being used as a cover for a tractor; an unusual patchwork coverlet made in the mid-twentieth century by Norah Worth of Gayle; and a 120-year old black cotton quilted skirt worn by one Mary Metcalfe of Stalling Busk.

Museum Manager Fiona Rosher said: “The variety of patchwork and quilting styles in this exhibition shows the changing fashions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

“Some pieces are purely decorative, made from expensive materials and indicate the type of patchwork that would have been made in higher class households of the Yorkshire Dales. But many of the pieces on display are practical quilts and demonstrate the need for a warm, comforting layer to soften the harsh conditions of rural, working life.”

As part of the exhibition, a demonstration on quilting will be given by Kate Trusson between 1-4pm on Saturday the 13th of April, 2019.   Entry to the demonstration will be included in museum admission (£4.80 adults, children free, or £9 annual pass).  

A quilt consists of three layers: a top layer that can be plain or pieced, a central layer for warmth, and a backing. These three layers are joined together by stitches, either decorative or simply even spaced knots, known as quilting.

References to quilts can be found in inventories and wills of the wealthier classes from the 13th century. They were treasured possessions in a household, often worth more than the bed itself.

In the 18th century there was a move away from the use of silks towards the new and fashionable cotton fabrics used for both dress and furnishings.  By that time, quilting was being used for fashionable garments such as jackets, waistcoats, nightcaps and hats.  The wearing of quilted petticoats may have been quite commonplace in winter in the Dales, perhaps long after the general fashion for wearing them in more urban areas had gone.

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