This is a commercially produced reversible bedcover made by the British Quilting Company in the mid 20th century. The company operated in the small town of Waterfoot in the Rossendale Valley north of Manchester between 1912 – 1970 producing a variety of products, including the Comfy quilt. It is one of two such quilts in the Quilt Association’s collection.
The BQC made machine quilted reversible bedcovers in three styles. This Comfy is in the patchwork style featuring a reverse diamond and border. One side is plain mauve fabric, the other a paisley floral print. Machine quilted in wavy parallel lines the diamond shape was cut out and turned over before being sewn back down. The other two styles were a wholecloth and a double frame version.
Little was known about the production of Comfy quilts until 2012 when Janet Rae presented a paper at the British Quilt Study Group annual weekend seminar at Gregynog Hall near Newtown, Powys, outlining the research she had completed about the history and origins of these bedcovers. First she tracked down the company with the Comfy logo using local records and archives. Later she met with former factory workers, some of whom had started work at the factory aged just 14, and learnt more about the products (including pram covers and dressing gowns) and production techniques.
Janet discovered that “not all products depended on the use of the American multi-needle machines: many women also worked on quilts and bedcoverings on single-needle machines following patterns marked with templates.” The workers recalled cutting out the diamond shape “with a small hand-held electric blade”. A twin-needle machine was used for sewing binding around the diamond and the borders. Comfys were packed in “big square canvas bags that were closed with hand stitching.” The machinists were paid about £4 a week, although they may also have received a piece rate.
Further information about the production of Comfy quilts at the Holt Mill in Waterfoot by the BQC is available in “Quilt Studies: The Journal of The British Quilt Study Group, Issue 13, 2012”.