Patchwork Bed Coverlet
Patchwork and appliqué coverlet made from printed cottons by Nancy Horsfall for her wedding in 1833.
The design uses a typical early 19th century frame layout with a central section of finer, smaller scale piecing and appliqué that would have been the most visible part on the flat top of the bed. The edges are worked on a slightly larger scale and more sparsely decorated where they would have hung down the sides of the bed and been less visible. There is a central square of linen onto which the maker has inscribed in cross stitch two short rhyming verses and the date in which she made the coverlet, the verses read:
Nancy Horsfall is my Name
England is my nation
Tysehouse is my Dwelling place
And Christ is my Salvation
When I am dead and in my grave
And all my bones are gone to dust
Take up this work and think of me
When I am quite forgot
Encircling this are pieces of printed cotton and chintz arranged in a dog tooth or Vandyke border. The remainder of the coverlet comprises of a single layer of white cotton with meticulously applied floral and star motifs as well as a border of triangles and six pointed stars. The appliqué motifs are all cut from a variety of printed cotton fabrics, mostly dress fabrics dating from the 1800s to 1820s with a few examples of earlier fabrics such as a hand block printed chintz from the 1780 s or 1790s. The outer edges are finished with an 18cm deep border of chintz with a floral pattern on a tan ground that is probably a furnishing fabric due to the larger scale of the pattern. The edge of the border and backing fabric have been turned under and overcast to finish off the coverlet.
Quilts and coverlets like this were often made by the bride or her relatives to be used on the marital bed in her new home. The fabrics would have been saved up from scraps left over from making the family’s garments and furnishings for the home and fabrics might also be shared between extended families or circles of friends so that a greater variety of fabrics could be used. Nancy has dated the coverlet 1833 and this is probably also the year her wedding took place. A year later, in 1834, she also made a cot coverlet, perhaps in anticipation of the couple’s first child.