The Austen Quilt
I have been working on the Jane Austen Community Quilt project since the spring so thought it was about time I shared a few photos here. The quilt project has been funded by grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of a wider commemoration of the 200 year anniversary of Jane's death. The inspiration for the textile part of the project came from the coverlet (it is two layers) below, which was made by Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother. We have been documenting it via a blog on the museum website, so if you want to know more about what is happening with the project visit their website here.
The coverlet is on display on the first floor of the museum, in this fantastic display case that protects it, but also allows visitors to get up close to see the printed fabric and the stitches. I have to confess sneaking in for a little moment with the coverlet on the days when I am working. It is an impressive size, but the really jaw-dropping thing is that it is symmetrical, even to the outer borders. Just amazing, and means you can spend ages looking at a patch on one side, then following it to the other.
Another clever design aspect is the way the sashing goes into the border. Just look at how that spotty fabric 'owns' the space between the main section and the border.
If you would like to know more, and to see the coverlet close-up, do visit the museum. It is closed this month, then open as usual from February. If you are lucky you may time your visit when Sue Dell, the quilt archivist, is giving a talk. Her love and enthusiasm for the coverlet are infectious and she is always happy to answer questions at the events. Over the last nine months I have overheard these range from evidence in Jane's letters about her sewing, to how lighting the home could have affected the womens' stitching.
There is something about textiles that takes you into another world, and when it is Jane Austen's home in Chawton that feels rather special.