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Suiting Samples Quilt (c1910)

Ref: 2000-1-A

2000-1-A suiting samples quilt
2000-1-A suiting samples quilt

This utilitarian quilt was made by Mrs Gethin of Cwm Belan near Llanidloes, between 1900 and 1920. She used suiting samples, perhaps from a sample book, a common practice when making everyday quilts for use around the home or for farmhands and other workers.

The woollen fabrics are in purple, black, beige, grey, and other sombre colours, but are well preserved in this piece. Many other such quilts would have been worn until they literally fell apart. The suiting fabrics used here were commonly made in the mills of Mid Wales in the late nineteenth century.

The piece, whilst simple, has been organised in borders around the central medallion. It is machine pieced and machine quilted in the ditch.

The quilt features in the book Making Welsh Quilts, byClare Claridge and Mary Jenkins, (David & Charles, 2005) where it is referred to as the “Hired Hand Quilt”.

Flannel Brickwall Bedcover (c1890)

Ref: 2001-6

2001-6 flannel brickwall bedcover
2001-6 flannel brickwall bedcover

This flannel bedcover was made in about 1890 by Mrs Jones of Tyn Hendre, Llanidloes for her daughter Jane Beedle. Jane died in November 1942 and is buried at Cefn Chapel graveyard, Glynbrochan, Llanidloes.

This brickwall style bedcover measures 2055 x 2005 mm and is made of Welsh wool flannel in plain weave and twill – suiting samples and the red, green and black flannels being manufactured in the area at that time. There are stripes, checks and herringbone patterns. The reverse consists of four pieces of maroon wool and cotton mix fabric. It has been hand quilted in a black cotton thread.

Bowtie Quilt (c1880)

Ref: 2002-17

2002-17 bowtie quilt
2002-17 bowtie quilt

The Bowtie Quilt was bought for the collection in 2002. It is a typical example of a bold patchwork in flannel fabrics produced in Mid Wales in the mid to late 19th century.

The quilt measures 2278 by 2185mm. It was made in the Llangurig area of Mid Powys, not far from Llanidloes, in about 1880. Locally produced Welsh flannel in plain and twill weave, and cotton fabrics, have been used in triangular pieces to create the bowtie effect across most of the quilt. The red flannel is very fulled. The quilt has a border of “flying geese” using the same fabrics. The entire piece is hand-quilted in black thread. The wadding is a dark brown fleece. The ribbon binding has been machine stitched on and may have been added at a later date.

The quilt is in very good condition, and has been exhibited several times at The Minerva Arts Centre, including the summer shows of 1995 and 2005. It has also featured in several books, including Making Welsh Quilts by Mary Jenkins and Clare Claridge.

Military Quilt

Ref: 2003-3

2003-3 military quilt
2003-3 military quilt

This mosaic patchwork (2385 x 1725 mm), pieced with army uniform fabrics, came from the Thomas family in south Wales. It originally belonged to grandmother Elvira Thomas (neé Jenkins). It is believed to have been made by a cousin from the Talgarth area in Powys where there was a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.

The tiny patches in this piece are made of uniform fabrics - heavily fulled plain weave wool – in black, red, yellow, and white.  There are squares, hexagons, triangles, diamonds and hearts. The fading on the reverse shows where badges have been removed. There is a central medallion with two borders. The pieces have been painstakingly hand stitched with cream cotton thread, using running and backstitch.

There is a twill weave red cotton binding, which is probably a tape, but no backing material.

Petticoat Quilt

Ref: 2005-2

2005-2 Petticoat quilt
2005-2 Petticoat quilt

This is a patchwork quilt made of petticoat flannels, probably from south Wales. It was discovered in a charity shop in Llanidloes, and rescued for the collection.

The wool flannel petticoat fabrics are multi coloured, in stripes and checks. They are still very bright, with very little fading, which suggests that the quilt was little used once made. The patchwork piecing features a central medallion and borders. It has been machine quilted in diagonal lines across the quilt, with the front taken to the back to finish off the edges. The reverse of the piece is patchwork in flannel cloth.

This simple but striking quilt has been exhibited at the Minerva Arts Centre, and also at the Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead, Anglesey.

Blue Cross Wool Flannel Quilt (c1890s)

Ref: 2006-2

2006-2 blue cross wool flannel quilt
2006-2 blue cross wool flannel quilt

This stunning flannel quilt was made by Elizabeth Ashton (1873 – 1930) of Ty Capel, Llawryglyn near Llanidloes between 1890 – 1900. It measures 2105 x 2020mm and is a patchwork crosses design made of woollen fabrics, some of which have been fulled. Some fabrics are plain weave, others are twill. The quilt is held together with simple hand quilting. It has a plain weave red flannel binding.

The quilt has been exhibited several times at The Minerva Arts Centre, including the 2001 summer show, and also at the Festival of Quilts, NEC, Birmingham in 2009.

South Wales Red Cross Quilt

Ref: 2007-5

2007-5 South Wales Red Cross quilt
2007-5 South Wales Red Cross quilt

This is a Canadian Red Cross quilt brought to Ely in South Wales during the Second World War. It is one of thousands distributed in the UK by the Red Cross to help families made homeless by the hostilities. Sadly only a few remain, but those that do contain great textile samples from the war years. The Quilt Association has another quite different Red Cross quilt in its collection which you can view here.

The quilts were made quickly and simply using everyday fabrics and basic techniques by Canadian women using the sewing rooms of their Red Cross branches throughout Canada. The effort was co-ordinated by the Standardised Workroom – some of the quilts, such as this, have the recognisable Canadian Red Cross label stitched into the reverse side.

This quilt is a typical suiting samples quilt, machine pieced using tailor’s fabric samples in brickwall style. Fabrics include cotton and flannel, some suiting and shirting, in dark hues of blue, green, brown, and black, with some check patterns. The wadding is an unspun cotton. The quilt has been hand quilted with a dark grey thread in a large cable pattern, and the binding brought from the back.

Flannel Quilt

Ref: 2007-6-A

2007-6-A flannel quilt
2007-6-A flannel quilt

This flannel quilt (2206 x 1709mm) belonged to spinster Megan Jones who lived in Church Lane, Llanidloes until she died. Megan worked in the local leather factory. Her father worked in one of the flannel mills locally. The quilt was found during a house clearance – she had continued to live in her mother and father’s house as she never married.

The flannel in the quilt was made locally in one of the Llanidloes flannel mills (there were 8 flannel mills in the town). This flannel was made for shirts and sent to south Wales for making miners’ shirts. There are beiges, whites with brown, green, grey, mauve, and blue stripes. The quilt has been machine pieced in a simple style with a central medallion and borders. It is bound with a strip of cotton shirting at the sides, and the top and bottom have the back taken to the front. The reverse is made of cotton shirting in pinks, blues, mauves, grey, white, beige – pastels.

A flannel cot quilt (2007-6-B), in similar flannel fabrics, was acquired for the collection at the same time, also from Megan Jones’ house.

Brickwall Coverlet (c1920s)

Ref: 2008-1

2008-1 brickwall coverlet
2008-1 brickwall coverlet

This coverlet came to the collection from Stroud. It was made for the family of a farm labourer who had 13 children.  It was believed to have been pieced in the 1920s or 30s, between the two world wars, and shows the creative use of tailor’s fabric samples. Customers planning to order a new suit or coat would have browsed through the sample books, choosing from wool suiting fabrics of dark tweeds and herringbones in various shades of green, brown, grey, blue, fawn and purple. Once discarded these books made ripe pickings for anyone wanting to make a cheap but cosy bedcover.

This example of a utilitarian suiting fabrics patchwork is more elaborately designed and stitched than normal. The central medallion consists of many small rectangular samples in a brickwall design. This is surrounded by two borders of larger rectangular samples - the outer one having a scalloped edge. Every piece has been outlined in yellow herringbone stitch and there is yellow running stitch around the scalloped edge. There is no wadding.

The reverse of the coverlet is a pale grey cotton which has a border of fawn curtain lining in cotton sateen.

Suiting Samples Patchwork 2

Ref: 2000-1-B

2000-1-B suit samples cape reverse
2000-1-B suit samples cape detail

This quilt was made near Llanidloes between 1900 and 1920 and was donated by the maker’s son. It is made of woollen and worsted suiting samples in purple, black, beige and grey with one distinctive red patch.   It is machine pieced and looks carefully planned, using samples available at the time.  Some of the patches have labels on the reverse which can be seen because there are a lot of moth holes on the reverse, which is made of a black cape made of woollen twill.  1410 x 1360mm.

Suiting Samples Patchwork 3

Ref: 2000-1-C

2000-1-C suit samples unfinished
2000-1-C suit samples detail

This quilt was made near Llanidloes between 1900 and 1920 and was donated by the maker’s son.  It is made of woollen flannel and suiting samples in purple, black, beige and grey with one distinctive red patch on the edge.  It has a patchwork design which is machine stitched in white on the smaller samples and in black on the larger ones.  It is unfinished and measures 1350 x 1300-1260mm.

Suiting Samples Patchwork 4

Ref: 2000-1-D

2000-1-D suit samples medallion
2000-1-D suit samples medallion detail

This quilt was made near Llanidloes between 1900 and 1920 and was donated by the maker’s son.  Made of suiting samples in purple, black, beige and grey.  It has a central medallion and is machine pieced in a coarse black linen thread.  The backing and binding have been removed.  2488 x 2058mm.

The Shepherd’s Quilt

Ref: 2014-6

2014-6 shepherds quilt
2014-6 shepherds quilt detail

This utilitarian patchwork quilt features many flannels and tweeds, some of which could have been made locally as the quilt came from a farm in a village just outside Llanidloes.  It is believed to have been used by one of the farm’s shepherds and is a good example of a ‘working shepherd’s quilt’ from the late 19th century.  The fabrics include uniform fabrics, tweed, Welsh petticoat flannel and suitings, some of which could be tailor’s samples. 


The colours of the fabrics include khaki, red, grey and blue.  There is a central medallion made up of machine pieced rectangles surrounded by nine borders which have been hand stitched. The borders are made up of squares, rectangles and triangles.  They are not symmetrical and some of the red patches have been appliquéd on.   There is no wadding and the reverse layer is a piece of blue/grey flannel.  The hand quilting has been done in a black cotton thread and is very basic, using crosses, zigzags and parallel lines.     2002 x 1908mm.

Small wool patchwork coverlet

Ref: 2017-4-A

2017-4-A flannel half coverlet
2017-4-A flannel half coverlet detail

This is a Patchwork coverlet which looks as if it has been cut down from a double size to make a single quilt. There is half an on point square from what was originally a central medallion. Made from grey and purple flannel fabrics, many of which are stripey, it has been pieced in a medallion style with brickwall and then borders. The blocks are handstitched and the outside borders are machined.


It has been roughly hand quilted  in a black thread following the patchwork shapes on the front. The original borders have been machine quilted in black. The coverlet has been bound by machine with a red cotton around the original edges and a red flannel down the cut side.

The Benjamin Davies Quilt

Ref: 2017-6

2017-6 Benjamin Davies quilt
2017-6 Benjamin Davies quilt reversel

Benjamin Davies was born in Bwylch-y-sarnau in Radnorshire in 1905 and died in 1932 aged just 27. He was stricken with polio and used a wheelchair. This lovely quilt was made in the 1920s and was passed down the family after his death until it was donated to us in 2017.  It is made from flannel fabrics. The top is a patchwork in shades of purple, grey and white and the reverse is made from a patchwork of offcuts of plain, checked and striped flannel.  The wadding is a fine layer of wool fleece which has become felted over time.


The patchwork top has a central medallion of small squares on point. This is surrounded by four more borders, alternating between two of squares on point and two with squares in each corner. There is then a wider border with half-square triangles and a final plain borders on each edge.  The quilting features fans, chevrons, cabling and chevrons. This was Benjamin Davies’ first quilt but, nevertheless, it is very evenly quilted.  

1880mm x 1650mm.

Tumbling Blocks and Stars Quilt

Ref: 2017-8

2017-8 tumbling blocks & stars
2017-8 tumbling blocks & stars detail

This quilt was donated by an elderly lady from Surrey who was born in Aberdare, a small mining town in the Cynon Valley in South Wales. The quilt had originally come from her grandparents’ home in Aberdare and she believes it was made by her grandmother and aunt.  Her grandfather was a signalman on the Great Western Railway and her father began working as a clerk for the same company at the age of fourteen.


The quilt is made out of various woollen fabrics – tweeds, bouclé, coating and suiting fabrics – in a variety of colours as well as a few silks which have rotted. Some are pattern book fabrics in different colourways.  The reverse is a maroon woollen twill fabric.   The top is a patchwork of tumbling blocks and stars made from parallelogram shaped patches which have been hand pieced.  The quilt is partially hand quilted in brown button thread and has four ties around the edges in a brown tape.  The quilting design uses semi circles, concentric circles, cross hatching and random lines and it is possibly unfinished or has unravelled.        2135mm x 1810mm.

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The Minerva Arts Centre, please get in touch with us here

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