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  • Writer's pictureJudi Kirk

The 1718 Challenge

There was a very special exhibit at this year’s Festival of Quilts. The 1718 Coverlet, the jewel in the crown of the Quilters Guild’s very extensive collection of important quilts, was brought to the NEC to celebrate its 300th anniversary. This is the oldest dated patchwork coverlet in Britain, and as you can image, it was handled with great care. Since light, pollutants, humidity and temperature are a fabrics’ worst enemies, the coverlet will now go into deep storage and will not be seen again for a decade.

As you can see from the picture, the coverlet features blocks of differing sizes, many of which depict animals and birds. The construction is very unusual as the blocks are pieced over papers.

The spectacular display surrounding the coverlet included a challenge for quilters to replicate the 1718 coverlet – either a total reproduction or an interpretation keeping the spirit of the original piece. I was very honoured to help judge the entries, together with Linda Bilsborrow (President of the Quilters Guild) and Heather Audin (Curator for the Quilters Guild). The standard of entries was very impressive, and many quilts were made of silk. After careful consideration, we chose this entry as our winner. We especially liked the high contrast fabrics and the original block designs.

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