It's been nearly 3 months since I launched Love Entwined 1790 Marriage Coverlet; my pattern of the 1790's Marriage Coverlet quilt featured in Averil Colby's book Patchwork. It was listed in this book because it is a remarkable quilt; remarkable as both a work of applique and also as a historic legacy of British women's textile work.
Imagine my surprise when I realised that this quilt wasn't in archive. Actually, to say I was surprised is an understatement. We know from 'Patchwork' that before 1958, it had already been repaired at least once. This indicated that it had value and was cared for. All we know about this quilt is that a Mrs Erith of Dedham allowed it to be photographed for Averil Colby's book. However it's origin in 1958 was unclear. This might indicate that it was indeed passed down a family line (with knowledge of it's maker lost) or that it was at some point acquired by Mrs. Erith by source or means unknown. We don't know any more than this.
What I realised was that this quilt was nowhere to be found. Why wasn't it listed or held in a museum? And more pointedly, why wasn't anyone looking for it?
For let us make no mistake, whilst surely a beautiful heirloom of work, this quilt is also a historic marker and it matters. It matters as a record of women's textile work and it matters to British history. Lastly, it matters to quilters everywhere: it's a rich piece of our heritage. It cannot be allowed to be simply lost and therefore, destroyed, by time.
I decided that the best way to bring this lost quilt to light was to re-create and release it as a Historic BOM. Of course, I've made beautiful quilt patterns before and this one would prove to take me hundreds of hours to complete. But how could I really get it out in the quilting community? How could I convince hundreds of quilters to take up such an intense applique quilt? It had to be offered for free to allow everyone who so wanted, to freely take part. I had to share my hope for this quilt with everyone taking part and ask them to further the search as they themselves became involved.
With so many of you making this quilt, its not surprising that I receive so many query emails asking for updates on the original quilt. I know you'll understand that I can't possibly answer them all, so here's what I can tell you, in response to the most asked questions, current for now:
Do I know where the quilt is? No, I don't know
What happened to the quilt after it was photographed for Patchwork? I don't know
Why didn't Mrs Erith know the origins of the quilt if it was a family heirloom? I can't possibly answer this question and reasonably, the book simply doesn't offer enough information to go on. It might be handed down a family line, it might not. I think what's more important is that we discover where it is now
What is the quilt called? It doesn't have a title, it is referred to as a 'fine marriage coverlet' only throughout the book
I'm in the United Kingdom, should I look for the quilt? Certainly, if you belong to a guild or society who has textiles or past exhibition details in archive, ask the relevant person if they know anything about this quilt or if they have seen it in exhibition at any stage in the past
Can I contact anyone on your behalf? No. If I want to contact anyone, I will do so directly from my email account. Please don't make contact or make statements on my behalf under any circumstances
Why hasn't anyone looked for this quilt before you? I don't know, I am astounded that this quilt isn't already in a museum
Are you British? No. Please understand that historic relevance has nothing to do with social or cultural identity; this quilt is a British article however it's legacy should be available to everyone
Is anyone looking for the quilt right now? Yes, there are several leads which I am currently waiting for updates on. I won't be discussing any potential leads without actual outcomes as it's unhelpful
Did you contact the publisher of Patchwork? Yes. Although this book was published in 1958, the original publishing firm (Batsford, London) is still active. I contacted them and they didn't bother to respond to me. This was 5 months ago
Would you like to see the quilt? Of course, I'd like everyone to be able to see this quilt
Do you ultimately want to own this quilt? Certainly not. This quilt is a historic article, it belongs in a museum. It's likely that it may require further repairs and may need to be archived in specific light conditions, this can only happen if it is held in appropriate possession. Given the historical weight of this quilt, I believe that it must be kept, documented in detail and preserved for everyone to enjoy
Do you think this quilt is still in the UK? We have no reason to believe that it has been removed from the UK. I hope that it is still in the UK and if it is found, that it will not be allowed to be removed from it's historic home
Can I run an article on the story behind this quilt and your BOM? Yes, the more interest shown in finding the whereabouts of this quilt, the better
Will you let me know when the quilt has been found? I will let everyone know any actual updates right here, on my blog.
What will you do when your quilt is found? This is OUR quilt; it belongs to everyone. If it is indeed found, I will be satisfied that I accomplished what I set out to achieve - putting the 'fine marriage coverlet' in it's appropriate place as a significant historical article.
Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet BOM
Now, ordinarily each block is available for free during the month of its release and then removed. In the case of Love Entwined however, I have decided to leave all parts up for free for the duration the the BOM.