Friday, 21 May 2010

QUILTS 1700-2010 and GIVEAWAY

Daughter is coming home today after a week away with the school. This has been her very first trip away without the family and I'm curious to know how she got on. Certainly, I didn't even get a goodbye. She saw her friends and was off, got on the coach and that was it, apart from a wave as the coach set off.

The house has felt very strange without her presence. She has a very sunny personality and I'm looking forward to having her home. That being said, I have had a very free week. As son is on study leave I have had no school run. HALLELUJAH! That has NOT been missed, I can tell you.

So on Wednesday I took myself up to London for the day. First stop was the V&A museum for the quilt exhibition. What a fabulous selection of quilts dating from 1700s. What little history was known about each quilt (if anything) was fascinating. From times gone by when women were not allowed to express themselves through art, music, writing (whilst acknowledging the handful of female writers who did make it through), it was quite moving to see the thought, design and dedication that had gone into each and every quilt.

Detail of a coverlet commemorating Wellington.
Worked by Elisabeth Chapman and dated 1829

There was a quilt named 'The Rajah' which had been worked by British female convicts during their transportation to Australia in 1841 on HMS Rajah. The quilt was worked by the women to voice their appreciation for all the support given by Elizabeth Fry and The British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, who donated sewing supplies to women in prison and later, convict ships.

Another story told how destitute women who found themselves 'with child' and unmarried, would sew a little motif on a small square of fabric, cut it in half and pin one half to their baby's clothing or shawl before leaving the baby with a foundlings hospital. The mother would keep the other half of the fabric in the hope that in happier/easier times they might meet up with their child again and would be able to recognise each other through the matching fabric. Unfortunately, the nurses, believing the women would not want their 'disgraced' past to catch up with them, disposed of the squares attached to the babies. Heartbreaking.

Patchwork with Garden of Eden
Worked by Ann West and dated 1820

The exhibition is on until 4th July 2010 and well worth a visit for anyone interested in quilting.

Wednesday was such a lovely day that I sat and had lunch by the paddling pond in the centre of the V&A grounds. The museum was founded with some of the proceeds from the Great Exhibition in 1851. It is a magnificent piece of Victorian architecture, just absolutely beautiful. Can you imagine any architect today incorporating even one example of this decoration? What a shame we seem to have lost romance and artistic flair to our buildings' designs today.

After lunch I took a short walk to Harrods to buy some (authentic) Japanese green tea which I grew to like during my time working for a Japanese company back in the 70s. The green tea sold on the supermarket shelves tastes nothing like the authentic stuff. While I was at the tea counter I noticed a canister marked 'Monkey Picked Oolong'. The assistant told me she didn't think monkeys picked it anymore, but it begs the question, 'Why Monkey Picked?' Does monkey essence add to the flavour?

A LONG stroll to the King's Road and I encountered these chaps:

These elephants are scattered across London in order to raise awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant which is on the edge of extinction. The elephants can be 'adopted' by sponsoring them. (I wonder if at the end of this particular campaign the sponsors will be allowed to keep their elephant? Just the thing for my garden!) You can see a few more elephants photographed by Wend over at Ticking Stripes

Then, because there was no school run to rush home for (have I mentioned 'Hallelujah'?) I met M for an early dinner and then on to see The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard at The Old Vic (another beautiful piece of architecture):

This was M's theatre choice and unfortunately, I don't seem to get on with Stoppard's work. Oh sure, I go with an open mind, and there were some funny lines/moments, but Tom and I are obviously travelling on different escalators and I just don't 'get it'.


Now we come to my very first giveaway. It's only a token, just to let you know that I was thinking of you all as I walked around the quilt exhibition, knowing some of you would love to attend but live too far away.

I have brought home two fat quarters of Limited Edition printed cotton which has been exclusively created for the V&A museum, and a V&A thimble. Humble offerings I know, but something I believe any one of you will be able to use with beautiful results.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and your name will be put into the hat (it would be nice if you could spread the word, too). One name will be drawn out of the hat by dear daughter on Saturday 29th May 2010.

And for all those who quilt, you may be interested in joining Maria's quilting bee over at Me and Ma's.


Andi xx


  1. What a lovely trip you had. I've heard so much about the exhibition so must get there before it ends. Lucky you not having to do the school run - it's amazing how much time you have when you don't have to do it!
    Enjoy your weekend with your daughter's return, and yes please, count me in for your giveaway!

  2. wow, i've just recommended the quilting exhib to others... and not quite made it there myself. it is really kind of you to offer up the giveawaya s i am sooo precious about the fabric i buy, expecially from such a lovely gift shop. i am banking on getting there soon. and i loved the elephants in london when i had a special w'end with hubby. i will post this giveaway and also cross my fingers!

  3. Isn't it wonderful to have a day all to one's self occasionally? I'd love to see the V & A one day - what an amazing quilt exhibit. I enjoyed the stories you told, how heartbreaking for those poor mothers.

    Have a wonderful weekend! Here in Canada, we're celebrating Victoria Day - the third Monday of May is a holiday to celebrate the Queen's birthday.

  4. Hi Andi, It looks as though you had a lovely day out..Thank you for mentioning the quilt bee, are you sure you do not want to take part, it would be a great way to pick up some quilting skills and end up with a gorgeous quilt at the end, the rest of the group would be very supportive and help you along the way..

  5. The V&A quilt exnition must have been great. What a fun day. I'll second Maria's comment. We'd love to have you join our Quilt Bee (I'll be on a steep learning curve too).

  6. hiya- I recently attended a talk here in Dorset, by the exhibition curator given in aid of the charity Cellwork, which promotes needlework done by prisoners.
    The slides of the quilts were stunning, and as you say, some of the stories heart-rending.

    I actually collect the paper templates from inside quilts- many of the 18C ones are made from handwritten letters and documents, plain paper in those days being a great luxury.

    Glad you enjoyed your day- I can't "get" Tom Stoppard either (I thought it was perhaps just me!)

  7. My daughter & I visited the V&A Quilts exhibition & it was very inspiring.

    Love the Ellys


  8. I used to love going to quilt exhibitions, they were just amazing. When you look at those beautiful pieces and think of how many hundreds of hours have been spent on some of them, then I am just in total awe. I love making quilts, but they are simple things.
    The fabrics which you brought back are scrumptious!

  9. Oh Andi, thank you, thank you for that lovely tour of London and the museum! It's amazing what women have gone through, how inspiring and how sad. As usual, you managed to make laugh, that monkey picked green tea story, love it! Have a beautiful weekend xx

  10. What a lovely trip - one I must do before July!

    Yes please enter me for your giveaway :-) How inspiring! I'm just about to do a blog so I will mention it on there for you.

    Perhaps we can meet up soon?

  11. I too did a post about my visit to the Quilts exhibition recently - it was lovely wasn't it and the architecture too. Perhaps you'll pop over to mine for a look. I found some of the quilts very moving and some of the modern ones thought provoking too. A lovely day out. Glad it's not just me that sometimes doesn't "get" things that others find really exciting and interesting!!


  12. Hello! thanks for your comment on my blog, I love hearing from you! I loved the story of the stitched motifs, it is so sad to think of what women have had to endure throughout the ages. You sound like you had a very enjoyable time. Love the thought of monkeys picking tea, and yes, I would imagine that the green tea in supermarkets is nothing at all like the autentic type! Love the fabrics! suzie xxx

  13. the quilting show looked fab, hope your daughter had a nice time away! fliss xx

  14. Just popping in to let you know I've left something for you at my Blog on today's post. Have a great weekend! XX

  15. Great post - wasn't going to go to this exhibition as one or two bloggers hadnt enjoyed it but you've changed my mind! Lovely fabrics. Love the elephaant pics too - don't they just brighten up the day!

  16. Thanks for the tour. The elephants look cool. They did something like that down here in Texas with longhorn cows.

  17. Look at those fun elephants!! One of the little towns close to us had about 20 donkeys painted in every imaginable way. It was fun seeing the different creative process!

  18. What a wonderful day you had! Lots of creative and relaxing fun! Your comment about architecture brought to mind a comment made by Prince Charles years ago--something about the awful architecture of current designs? People were all up in arms about what he said. I agree that the V&A museum is a wonderful design.


I'd be really pleased to hear from you.