Quilt envy 2: The V&A exhibition

Quily 2

Ok, promise this is the last post for a while on quilts, but we're finishing on a high with the V&A exhibition Quilts 1700-2010. TWR went to this with our mate Belinda (who is a knitting guru and therefore knowledgeable about all things crafty) and we loved it.

The quilts were fab, end of story. If you're planning to go and already love quilts and quilting then get ready for a quilt-nerdy good time.

What we loved:

It's mostly made up of proper, traditional quilts, none of these happy-clappy modern numbers in hideous fabric choices (well there are a couple of new ones but they deserve to be there)

The crowd (and it's busy, be warned) is made up of TWR type readers -everyone is female and over 40. At one point Belinda looked up from the quilts and exclaimed 'Oh look, there's a man!' as a bemused husband was dragged passed us.

The little pamphlet that comes with your ticket is really concisely written under great section titles, it sums up everything you need to know about why people quilt.

The shop, which has some rather lovely books on quilting, sewing, fashion and everything else losely connected to making things. The fabrics, some made in conjunction with Liberty of London, are a good souvenir as are the commemorative fabric panels, which would be perfect to put into the quilt you will want to make on returning home. We bought the patchwork note book at £7.00 and some postcards.

The backs of the quilts. Actually we thought there should have been more of this, one of the best bits was seeing the snippets of hand written, swirling eighteenth century hand writing, glimpsed between the hand tacked stitches which held the cut up faded letters into the fabric shapes. It was like magnifying glass into the past, who wrote the letters? what were they about? How did they learn to write with such lovely, swirly style?

The realisation that hundreds (thousands?) of women really love and care about these utterly domestic and home based craft skills. The place was buzzing with admiration, curiosity and real love of what these women (and a few men) had achieved from scraps of fabric.

Every quilt has a story, which often revolves around favourite clothes (cut up and patched into something new), family happenings (marriage, death, birth, moving abroad) and moving life history (Tracy Emin's quilts and the ones made by male prison inmates). Captivating stuff.

So as keen sewers, after two quilting exhibitions in a week, we are now slightly over excited and need to lie down quietly in a dark room. I have to say that both exhibitions were terrific, Jen Jones's was smaller, but equally as good (she has a couple of quilts in the V&A one, as there is a good section on Welsh quilts) and she is an informed and passionate guide. For those that can't visit either, the March/April edition of Selvedge concentrates on quilts and is a good read.

The back of one of the hand pieced quilts, with its papers (cut up letters with swirly hand writing) still intact

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