For the Jane Austen Fan in All of Us
The fabric of Jane Austen’s home life is available for the first time ever. Riley Blake Designs has reproduced these beautiful floral prints to make this extraordinary part of British history available to everyone. To make this collection even more unique, we designed fabrics using music hand-written by Jane Austen, as well as passages from her personal letters. These treasured pieces of history are owned by Jane Austen’s House – an independent museum and charity in the UK. Join us in recreating this special Jane Austen coverlet quilt and other lovely projects for gifting or keeping.
Interesting Facts About the Coverlet
- Made by Jane Austen, her sister Cassandra, and their mother.
- Technically not a quilt, but a coverlet as there is no layer of wadding.
- Includes a central panel of 232 smaller diamonds.
- Symmetrical across width and length, even down to the tiny diamonds in the border.
- Extensive use of fussy cutting in the diamonds.
- More than 2500 small diamonds in the border.
- Has approximately 12 stitches per inch.
- Made using the English Paper Piecing method.
About the Jane Austen at Home Fabric Line
Jane Austen’s House is in the charming village of Chawton, Hampshire, UK. It is the place where Jane wrote or revised all her published novels and is visited by over 40,000 people each year, from all over the world. The House contains items that belonged to Jane, including her writing table and her ring.
One of the most popular exhibits is the quilt made by Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother. Strictly it is not a quilt, but a coverlet as there is no layer of wadding, simply a patchwork top with a cotton backing. It is a medallion quilt measuring 91 inches x 105 inches with a large central motif in chintz, cut as a diamond. This is surrounded by a central panel of 232 smaller diamonds interconnected by spotted sashing. The outer edge, 11 inches deep, is composed of tiny diamonds, each with edges of 30mm. There are over 2500 of these smaller diamonds in the border. All the patches are joined by very fine whip stitch – there are approximately 12 stitches per inch, which is quite remarkable given the lighting conditions of the period.
The fabrics used in the central panel are block printed dress weight fabrics and are arranged in alternating rows of darker and lighter. Those in the outer edge are a mix of block and roller printed material and include both dress and furnishing fabrics. There are many remarkable things about this quilt, aside from the fact that it was stitched by one of the world’s favourite authors. The central panel of diamonds shows fourfold symmetry in their placement and the tiny diamonds in the outer edge are also placed symmetrically with top and bottom and left and right sides matching. There is also extensive use of fussy cutting in the diamonds. This was a very carefully planned quilt. The diamonds are 70° and 110° angles, which is unusual, and the sashing joining the central diamonds is composed of short pieces, rather than continuous lengths – perhaps fabric left from a previous project? We have not found another quilt like this anywhere, it is a truly unique piece (although there are rumours of other quilts made by the Austen ladies, and this was clearly not the first quilt they had made in terms of the quality of the design).
We do not know the exact date of this quilt, but do know that the Austens were working on a quilt in May 1811, as Jane wrote in a letter to her sister, Cassandra, “Have you remembered to collect pieces for the patchwork – we are at a standstill.” Cassandra was staying with her brother Edward on his estate in Kent, where there would have been many fabric pieces available from the dressmaker who made clothes for his eleven children.
The quilt was made by the English paper piecing method - how we wish the papers had been left in, they might have been scraps of letters, or even discarded writings by Jane!
As passionate fans of the writings and handwork of Jane Austen, Riley Blake Designs is delighted to bring these exquisite designs to fabric. We love the intricate detail and captivating color palette. Our goal is to make this beautiful piece of history available to quilters and Jane Austen fans worldwide. In the words of Jane Austen, “What is right to be done cannot be done too soon.” We couldn’t agree more!
For more information, please see the Riley Blake Website at:
(The link was there as of August 26, 2020).