After several meetings where we shared ideas and sought assistance from well- known local artist, Sandy Thomas, we made a start. Embroidering and assembling the quilt went like clockwork.
German Settlers Quilt 1857 was made with German Print fabric (shweshwe) manufactured by Da Gama in East London.
The centre piece is ‘Trip Around the World’ which is no doubt exactly what the settlers must have felt they were experiencing.
The embroidered borders are inspired by Ivan Vincent’s illustrations in the book ‘Guten Appetit’ by Gabriele Schuch and Gillian Vernon.
The top section shows the sailing ships crossing the ocean and the settlers rowing to the shore. The left panel depicts the journey in ox wagons, camping out in tents, a typical wagon and household implements and finally the farm and ploughman. Along the bottom section the gentlemen make music while the women bake bread. The family work together selling vegetables flowers and other produce. Fruit, a typical settler home, children going to school and a church occupy the right panel.
The colours of the embroidery cottons reflect those of the centre piece.
Trade beads and mother of pearl buttons were used for barter.
The ochre inner border is typical of the earthen dye used by tribal people to enhance their clothing.
Pieced by: Marcia Alston
Quilted by: Barbara Charlton.
Embroidery: Barbara Charlton, Janet Jordaan, Jenny Flemmer, Lorraine Daniel, Thelma Schwulst and Vyvyan Muller.
Taking a Coffee Break while working on the quilt.
It was a happy time and after hanging the quilt in The Craft Gallery, a member of the Quilters’ Guild suggested we enter it in The National Quilt Show. It was a good way to make further use of the quilt and we were delighted when it was awarded a 3rd prize – the only prize in the section.
At the exhibition the quilt was noticed as a possible entry to travel to America, mainly because it told a local South African story. Away it went and it eventually arrived back after having travelled the length and breadth of the country. It was great to think that so many folk had enjoyed our work.
The East London Museum also featured our quilt in an exhibition which included traditional clothing and shweshwe fabric.