The UK’s earliest known dated patchwork, the 1718 Silk Coverlet, will celebrate its 300th birthday as guest-of-honour at The Festival of Quilts this August.
The 1718 Silk Coverlet is the most treasured piece of patchwork in The Quilters’ Guild Collection.
Since joining the Guild’s collection in 2000, the historically significant piece has been extensively researched by the British Quilt Study Group. It has undergone x-ray analysis to examine its construction, undergone conservation to help ensure its stability and survival.
Constructed in a mosaic style, the Coverlet features the initials ‘E.H’ and the date ‘1718’ in a central block, surrounded by blocks containing geometric designs and nature motifs. No details about the maker, E.H, have ever been discovered.
An Important Heritage
Anna Baptiste, Events Director for The Festival of Quilts, said: “Quilting has an important heritage and we’re hugely excited to be welcoming the 1718 Silk Coverlet to the 2018 Festival. It’s the oldest piece we’ve ever displayed and it’s a privilege to be given this wonderful opportunity by The Quilters’ Guild to celebrate the origins of patchwork and quilting.”
Due to its age and fragility, the iconic piece presents a number of display challenges for the curators of The Festival’s Quilt Galleries. The Coverlet will be exhibited in a specially built enclosed gallery – something visitors will not have experienced at the Festival before. The area will have a controlled entrance and exit to ensure optimum viewing for all visitors.
A Unique Opportunity
Visitors will also be able to enjoy a unique opportunity to view quilts inspired by the Coverlet in a one-off competition category for 1718 replica quilts. The category comes with a once in a lifetime prize – a private audience with the 1718 Coverlet for the winner and a friend at The Quilters’ Guild headquarters in York.
The Festival of Quilts is Europe’s largest patchwork and quilting event and takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 9-12th August 2018. Tickets go on sale on 9th April for Quilters’ Guild members and 16th April for non-members. Competition entry forms will be available in early March.