This late 19th century patchwork coverlet was donated by a Cheshire family along with several other textile items including an appliqué diamonds coverlet which you can view here. The Quilt Association has since bought a wholecloth quilt from the same family which you can view here.
The coverlet has been pieced from various printed dress and shirting cotton fabrics typical of the era. Red twill weave cotton has also been used for some of the patches. What is basically a very utilitarian coverlet has still been carefully planned for maximum effect, with a diamond in the square patchwork panel in the centre surrounded by four pieced borders.
There are a large number of mauve dress fabrics – which were very popular at this time. In 1856 English chemist William Perkin accidentally discovered that aniline – a by-product of coal tar – could be synthesized to create a purple stain on silk. William later set up a factory to produce his new synthetic dye which he called mauve. Synthetic dyes in other colours such as blue, red and green soon followed, and were keenly promoted at exhibitions in London. By the 1870s textile manufacturers had adopted these new dyes with enthusiasm, producing large quantities of cheap dress fabrics in the fashionable new colours.
Simple lines of hand quilting in white thread hold the two sides together. The coverlet is bound with red twill weave cotton. The reverse fabric is a white plain weave cotton.