Wales is a country known for its textile treasures. Thanks to the sheep farming industry, there has always been an abundance of wool in Wales and in turn, the textiles industry has thrived. One type of textile that is particularly famous in Wales is quilts and the craft of quilting has been a tradition since the 19th century. The Welsh quilting tradition is an interesting story for anyone with an interest in textiles or even history buffs, so allow us to give a brief summary.
What exactly are Welsh quilts?
It’s easy to say that Welsh quilts are simply quilts that come from Wales, which is of course true. But it can be argued that Welsh quilts are entirely unique and unlike any other that is produced elsewhere.
Traditionally, Welsh quilts are filled with local wool which gives the quilts their textured look and is what makes them unique. Since Wales has long been famous for its wool, it’s generally thought that Welsh wool is the best quality of wool you can get. So, Welsh quilts are also usually warmer than ordinary quilts.
Welsh quilts also tend to have distinctive designs too, like patchwork, paisley, leaves, hearts and spirals. Even modern-day quilts still have that vintage look.
Why did quilting become a popular tradition?
Sheep became an important part of the Welsh economy during the 12th century, mainly because of the wool that was gathered from them. This of course helped the textiles industry thrive. As a result, the Welsh woolen manufacturing industry was historically one of the most important industries in Wales. With the wool, it was household items such as quilts and blankets that were commonly made and shipped across the UK.
Traditionally, quilts were made by professional quilters by hand – usually one woman and an apprentice. The woman was usually a spinster in a town or a widow who needed a source of income for her family.
Nowadays, quilting is not only seen as a job and a way to benefit the economy, it’s considered as a form of arts and crafts too. Many quilters craft quilts now to simply keep up with the tradition because it’s an important part of Welsh heritage. For others, collecting antique Welsh quilts a hobby.
The Jen Jones Quilting Centre
The Jen Jones Quilting Centre in village of Llanybydder is a textile hotspot that is dedicated to Welsh quilting. Attracting thousands of visitors from across the world (including royals), the centre exhibits a collection of quilts and aims to stimulate Welsh quilting in its heartland. There are over 300 Welsh quilts here, where the owner, Jen Jones has bought and sold antique quilts for 35 years.
We have put together a package that revolves entirely around Welsh textiles. Our Textile Treasures of Wales package tours through mid and south Wales explore some Welsh textile treasures, from haute-couture fashion to traditional Welsh quilts and wool.
Visitors can see how quilts are made, visit a traditional woolen mill and the Jen Jones Centre and learn about the history of Welsh life and culture.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about this package.