Whilst the tradition of patchwork quilts is well known across both the UK and USA, the Durham quilt is perhaps less well known and I am often asked about what "makes" a Durham quilt.
Durham is a town and a county in the North of England and the Durham style of quilts originates from the Northern Counties of England. However "Durham" quilt is now used to describe a quilt made in a specific manner rather than one that originates from Durham. The basic construction of a Durham quilt does not differ from those made elsewhere - they have a top and bottom layer and a layer of padding in-between. The three layers are then stitched together - usually by hand. However the feature that makes a "Durham" is the quilting pattern which is used to give a sculptural quality to the surface of the quilt. These patterns can involve a number of different named designs - Running Feather, Cable, Rose Motif and very often a central circular deisgn thought by many to represent the Pit Wheel that would so dominate the skyline in the North-East coal mining communities during the 19th century however "strippy" quilts are a paticular feature of North Country quilts. The quilt top was formed by alternating strips of plain fabrics - usually white alternating with red, blue, pink or yellow and then the quilting was carried out up the stripes.
I will be selling some of the Durham quilts that I bought over the next few weeks on Ebay - I just have the task of washing them first!