Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Compass.

Love Entwined, ('a fine marriage coverlet')

It has 32 points.

Cardinal Points: N., E., S., N.
Half cardinal points: NE., SE., SW., NW.
Three letter points: NNE., ENE., etc.
By-points; N. BY E., NE. BY N., etc.
(Ref: The Readers Digest Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary Volume One, A-L, page189, published1974).

The original quilt, used 32 dots on the circle of the  Mariner's quilt block.  This is very interesting, as most Mariner's quilt blocks do not have this feature.  This quilt block was first used in England in 1726. 

The maker of this quilt was definitely not uneducated.  She could read, write, draw, had a grasp of geometry, maybe, just maybe,  even nautical astromony?  She may even have had a few male family members who was into sailing? With all the Wars,  England was involved in, it is a possibility.

She had access to Linen and other materials, as we can see from the original grainy photograph in Averil Colby's  Patchwork book.  It give us another clue, she was not destitute, but from a family who had the means to buy the materials to make this quilt.  She had time, this is the most crucial of all the clues.  This is a labour intensive quilt.  Women had very few ways to express them in 1790, she could do this with her creativity.  She had others who could do the chores, household servants, which was common enough then, in big Manor Houses.

She shows her sense of adventure, with the choice of her center for this quilt. A Compass, with all those points, exactly thirty two dots on the circle frame of the Mariner's Compass quilt block.
Her inquiring mind, her level of intellectual ability, expressing  herself, in the only way she knew how, which would not cause offence. Well mannered, young Lady.

This was a romantic era, she paid tribute to that with the hearts and flowers on her quilt.  Jane Austen was only fifteen years old.  Did she read any of Jane Austen's books.  Did she keep a diary,  in which she wrote down her day to day experiences?

Making Love Entwined is a discovery, it forces one to think.  How did they do, what we do today?.  It is throwing up more questions than answers. Averil Colby is an Author and a Historian.  Why did she give so little information about this quilt in her book?...

Here is my progress so far.

 First attempt at the frame.


This is my second attempt with the frame, this will be the one I will use.

The first one did not  work as I had folded over the edges before stitching down the dots/berries.
The second one I stitch the dots down first, now the circle  have a nicer look.


  1. I think your compass looks lovely, Maggie! I downloaded the patterns for LE but have been too chicken to start mine yet!

  2. Beautiful start Maggie, it took me five attempts to get my LE compass 'just so' to my liking, but every minute was well worth it.

    LE is such an intriguing quilt and the more I think about it, the more bothered I get about its origins. Was there a reason why(despite acknowledging it) Averil Colby didn't go into more detail? if so, why?

    Then the quilt itself: I am convinced that if a British art historian took on the case of the coverlet, that they would be able to find who made it - and probably quite easily too.

    Firstly, I doubt Averil Colby would have listed the year if she was unsure of it, so I trust that the year is (with a modest margin or error) correct. How many woman of that era had access to such amounts of chintz? And mathematical knowledge? When I was designing the quilt I was struck over and over again by how much classical education the maker had. And yet, there is a an applique positioning error where pieces had to be crammed in to make them fit - that is not the work of a mathematically minded maker, so who made it? Did her servants do most of the sewing work? Did she have it sent out to be worked on in a seamstresses house where dresses were made? Was she given the pattern by someone else and was therefore just creating someone elses work? If so, why does this quilt have no peers? Could it be because it was designed (or the design purchased) in a foreign country?

    So here we have a potential society women with a good education, making a quilt that is unique in its era - design wise- and has no peer. How could that have gone unnoticed? Surely such a quilt would be listed on the chattels of personal property somewhere. You can't create this quilt and be poorly housed or who was she?

    The whole thing about the coverlet is that it is a piece of British history - not just quilting history - and I really wish it would be recognized and afforded the same care and diligence as any other work of art from the period as it most certainly is.

    And you know, once you start thinking about it, you just get more questions! I think about it all the time...