Monday 10 June 2013

Introducing Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet

Well, I think it's time to announce that Love Entwined is my next Free BOM!

Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet
Taken from 'Patchwork' by  Averil Colby. Published 1956.
Each new BOM is an opportunity for me to accomplish a quilt from my quilting To Do List. I talk about this ‘list’ a lot, it drives me to trying new things and styles all the time. Although I think I already have a personal style of quilting design (we all do), I’m still growing as a quilt designer and I won’t be satisfied until I have completed ‘The List’.

Just the other day, a new member in my Yahoo BOM Group commented in the sign –up section that she wanted to create 100 quilts before she died. I read that comment and nodded enthusiastically, it’s such a great idea to constantly be striving towards something and I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one motivated by a personally set finish line!
The two BOMs I am releasing the next few weeks are quite different. Rose, Cherry & Lily is an applique quilt with a pieced centre and is unapologetically romantic. I’m already in love with it and it looks like I’ll be making two from the very start, one for each DD.
But the focus today is on the first BOM which will be released this month, and that BOM is Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet.
It's a historic quilt. It will be my first (and likely, last) historic. This is a big change for me as I am ordinarily focused with sharing my own original designs only and have never made an 'interpretation' quilt. Or a historic quilt specifically. But this quilt lured me in. It has a special place in my heart as it’s one of the first quilts I saw that made me realise I’d have to add ‘historic quilt’ to my Quilting To Do List and the idea to finally make it has been working away at me for over 10 years...

This is an enlargement from the only photograph I have been able to find of this quilt.

It’s a very special quilt, full of mystery and intrigue as far as I’m concerned. The only known photo of it is from an Averil Colby book “Patchwork’ printed in 1956. The photo is not great quality and it’s in grey scale. This should have deterred me from attempting to re-create it, but it hasn’t! I think I must live by the motto: an adventure isn’t complete unless it’s challenging as well!

This quilt has been a true labour of love. First, the work. I have a lot of quilting experience and even I grossly underestimated the time required to draft up, as accurately as feasible, this quilt. Then, with all my hard preliminary work out of the way, I thought I'd go ahead and try to create it in EQ7.  I did. Then disaster struck. I encountered a 'polygon error'. My quilt was gone. Just like that. GONE. I took a week out to recover from the lost work, I was frustrated and unsure if I would persist. I'd already invested so much time and taken time out of my life to create this pattern: was it better to cut my losses or try again?

I decided to persist or I knew I'd regret having nothing to show for my hard work.

Spending so much time alone with a design makes you think a lot about it's original work up. I’ve never seen this quilt in real life or in colour. I have searched for it, but it’s been very hard to track down – if it still exists. I really hope that somewhere, it does. Of course, a real issue with it is that it has no name to reference, and is simply referred to as: ‘a fine marriage coverlet’ and is dated 1790, placing it in the Georgian era, England.

What is the allure of this quilt? I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s not 'perfect'. There are some design flaws which made re-creating the pattern difficult; I had to make choices when several options were available, which I will point out in the pattern specifically as the monthly blocks are released. And yet, I persisted. In fact, the more time I spent with this quilt, the more purposeful the design appeared to be and the more keen I was to do it justice and revive it in some way.
I have spent months and hundreds of hours painstakingly tracing, as accurately as possible, the original quilt. Working from a grey scale photograph is difficult and there were points where I had to create options when they literally couldn’t be seen.

This quilt is not a ‘re-manufacture’of the original, it could never be that.

It’s my interpretation of the original, through my own eyes. Of course, every quilter infuses every quilt they make with a certain style or character, you see this when you look at the same quilt pattern made by different quilters, and it’s the same here. Some aspects of my own style have crept in, it’s unavoidable. But this is most definitely a historic quilt, which I have interpreted and re-created in order to be made and enjoyed for it's historic value and beauty.

As a quilter I have noticed details, such as broderie perse cutouts, which I am assuming but can't be completely sure of, and stitches inbetween shapes and other flourishes. I've been drawing things my own way, keeping as close as possible to what can be seen. The rest I have had to imagine and improvise, keeping in theme with the style elements dominant in the design.

The longer I spent on this quilt, the more attached I have become to it's design and it's designer. Details I looked over initially have come to have an important place in the scheme of the quilt. Take for example the bow border around the quilt; I never really loved these and assumed (years ago) that I would change them to something else if I ever made this quilt.

But after spending so long entrenched in the design elements, changing anything became impossible. Although I make each quilt to satisfy something in myself ( and although I enjoy sharing what I do with you, my fellow BOM Group quilters), this historic quilt is more than a satisfaction to me.

It’s homage to the unknown woman who made it. So I found that when I reached the bow border, I couldn’t change it – I didn’t have the heart to.

Here I am with a mock up of the pattern. I'm afraid you can't see much, but I can tell you, this quilt grows on you and I am more keen on it today than I was when I started.

Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet is an intense applique quilt project: it’s not for the faint hearted and I don't recommend it for beginners.

As I mentioned, this will be a one in a lifetime quilt for me and I want anyone considering making this BOM to really be aware of the dedication involved to seeing it through to completion. This BOM will run for 18 months (more details later in the week) and is definitely one of those quilts that simply can’t be rushed.

For those of you who know this is just too much for you, don’t worry, the next free BOM Rose, Cherry & Lily is up next and is decidedly easier… there’ll be something for everyone, BOM wise, this year.

So this is a brief introduction to Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet, my first historic quilt. I'm excited about releasing it and like always, this BOM will be free for the first month of each block release.

Of course, I can’t possibly cover everything about
Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet in this one post so in the next few days I’ll be looking into the all-important era, colour and fabric issues before releasing the first block…

Would you like to make this quilt? I have created Love Entwined: 1790 Marriage Coverlet to be released as a free, 18 month historic BOM. Everyone is welcome to make it, including groups. The pattern will be available for free (limited to the block each month)download via the Esther Aliu Yahoo BOM Group only, after launching. Membership is, and always will be, free. Why not join us today?

Call To All Quilters!

I would like to call on all quilters, especially in the UK where this quilt was made, to look into your guild archives and groups and associations and find this beautiful, historic quilt. It must be somewhere. It's last reference is it's owner ( Mrs. Erith of Dedham) who granted permission for it to be included in the book 'Patchwork. It's important enough to have been featured in Averil Colby's book - so we know it has significance, but where is it?

Have you seen this quilt? Please let me know anything you know and hopefully we can solve this mystery. Feel free to add a comment or email me directly


  1. Thankyou so much, Esther, for giving us this quilt. I love a good challenge, and this looks perfect. I really appreciate all the time you've put into making this for all of us. Can't wait to start.

  2. What an absolutely heroic undertaking - just to have replicated the pattern. Making the quilt is the second hurdle and then, of course, there is the quilting...
    I commend your fortitude, Esther.

  3. Oh this is exciting! I can't wait to see what you have come up with this time!! Thanks in advance.

  4. thank you so much Esther! I have emailed you also, will let you know if I come up with anything about this quilt

  5. Thankyou looks live a great quilt. you are so kind.

  6. Ester, do you know if it is a colored quilt or is it only black and white? Thank you for being so generous with your bloggers.

  7. what an exciting project, i am giving some serious thought to joining in, as you said it will take a lot of commitment .


  8. Oh Ester I would love to make this,thank you so much....

  9. Thank you for all your time dedicated to this project. Very interesting and looking forward to this new adventure. Linda in NM

  10. I was thinking this morning about "Hearts Desire" and if I had seen the whole quilt I would NEVER have accomplished that quilt . Whew this one will surely be like eating an elephant one bite at a time. I do so appreciate the value of your work and your generosity. I need to see what is in my stash.
    Hugs Bunny

  11. Wow, how exciting! What an amazing quilt. Thank you, Esther!

  12. Hi, Esther. This is such an exciting post, you just exude enthusiasm for this phenomenal project. If I weren't up to my eyeballs in intricate needle turn appliqué, I'd join your group in a heart beat. And the fact that you've created the blocks to be finished in 18 months makes it very accessible. Brava!
    best, nadia

  13. Where's the excitement - that give us so much work, I am so grateful and very humbled "to know" so talented and generous lady. Imagine that you want to share so nice and huge lot of work with us. Thank you!
    Is now very excited about my poor abilities can turn to, I'm not that skilled yet - but I've decided to try. Excuse my bad english - but I wanted to thank you - hope it understood.
    Big hug from Denmark. Inge Lise

  14. My Goodness Esther!!! Don't you want to sleep for the next 18 months? No Neither do I! I can't wait. Many, many thanks for your generosity and you persistanse in drafting such a beautiful pattern and sharing it so freely with us.

  15. First i would to say thank you for all you do:-) you are a wonderful person you give so much of yourself in creating these BOM i'm currently working on the dear jane quilt. but i might just joing your BOM.

  16. You could try contacting the Quilt Museum in the UK. They have a website at quiltmuseum dot org dot uk and have a large conservation collection and resource library.

  17. I would like to say thank you for you BOM. I can wait for this block of the month as i love historic quilts. I will be intrigued to learn the history of this quilt as it grows.

  18. I am intrigued with this quilt. I do not usually do BOM's but this one looks very interesting and that you are having it free is such a plus! How kind of you, creating this pattern from a copy in a book and a black and white copy at that. I will be watching for the beginning of this.

  19. Hello Esther

    Oh my goodness - Averil Colby's book was given to me on my 11th birthday and I have been staring at that picture for over 44 years - one day, Fiona... one day... I love the weeping willows in the corner. I have wondered whether it was stencilled?

    You ask if anyone knows of its whereabouts - well it's definitely not in the V & A museum and I query the York Castle Museum, because I think I will have seen it in the "flesh" so to speak having looked for it for 44 years. If it is still out there then I think it's more likely to be in a family trunk hidden away just like the "lost" Isle of Wight Quilt which is also in AC's book which magically reappeared back in 1998 during an edition of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow - it has been residing in Oxfordshire.

    What we also have to remember is that whilst Averil Colby's book was published in 1956, she had quite a collection of photographs, etc and it could well be that the photograph of the Dedham Quilt was taken back in the 1930's and 1940's.

    I think I would start in Essex with the County Museum in Colchester - many counties have collections hidden away - Hampshire being one and Essex being a wealthy county could also have a collection that ne'er sees thelight of day!

    I look forward greatly to joing you on your jounrey with the 1790 Marriage Coverlet.

    Best wishes

    Fiona in England

    PS another thought - could it be Irish? It has some similarities to Mrs. Bennis' quilt in the Winterthur

  20. My! You dare to tempt us! Gorgeous!

  21. Wow. Your work always blows me away. I haven't even seen the first block and I am in total awe.
    This quilt is so beyond my capabilities, but in saying that, I will collect the monthly blocks and watch the progress.
    Maybe try small parts to see if I can possibly master the skill needed.
    Thank you so much for this and all your wonder patterns. I will eagerly await the release of the second BOM as well. This one might be closer to my abilities. We will see.

  22. this quilt is amazing!!!!!

  23. I'm so looking forward to this quilt!
    It's so beautiful and I really hope it wil be found.
    Thanks for such a great work in recreating this quilt! I sure hope to be able and join your group so I can join in the fun in making this beauty!
    Greetz from the Netherlands!

  24. I'm gonna sign in to your group.
    it is a challenge to make this wonderful quilt.
    Greetings from the Netherlands Anita

  25. Thanks for sharing this beautifull quilt! I can only imagine the vast amount of hours you've alreay invested in it.
    I'm in although I'm a novice in applique! :-) Guess I'll have to practice a lot! :-)
    Can't wait! Ann

  26. Hello Ester. I'm new to your blog - I found it by following a link on another blog. Looks like I got here at the right time!

    I would love to recreate this quilt with you. I have always loved antique quilts, and strive for their feel in my own quilts. I was extremely fortunate to take four years of classes with Eileen Trestain, the quilt historian and appraiser who wrote the two "Dating Fabrics" books published by the American Quilters Society. The first year was "pre-1830 medallion quilts from the Georgian Era. I have collected a good stash of fabrics true to that period, and finished the medallion I did in class. It, however, was all pieced. I would love to do an applique quilt from the same time period as I love to applique.

    I sent a request to join your Yahoo Group - I hope you will approve me. 200 characters wasn't nearly enough for my "introduction" - I had to shorten it 4 times!

    Thanks Ester. I'm looking forward to reading backwards through your blog.

    Patti in Vancouver WA

  27. Wouw fantastic beautiful quilt
    I hope that i can sign in in your group
    Greetings from Holland Elly

  28. Esther, How very generous of you to share what is such a mammoth undertaking of drafting this lovely historic quilt. I am certainly going to share the journey with you and all your lovely group members and I hope I can do it justice. Thank you so much for making this available for us after you have done all the hard work.
    Love and hugs, Jan Mac

  29. Esther for you this quilt is a labor of love and for all of us making it I'm sure we will always remember what you are going through to get this pattern for us. And I know for me it will be a labor of love just to make it. Thank you so much for offering this opportunity. I look forward to the launch.

  30. Oh my...this quilt is beautful. I cannot resist a Medallion quilt. It is going to be spectacular!!! And my favorite - Mariner's Compass - in the centre. It just can't get any better :)

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Wow this quilt is amazing. I am definitely signing up.

  33. Thanks so much! I can't wait to start. Going to sign up next!

  34. I am so excited! Definitely going to join this one...

  35. Thank you so much for your perseverance and dedication in bringing this historic quilt to the modern quilting world. I feel honored to be able to make something like this.

    Blessings to you!


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