Sunday, May 14, 2017

Past Perfect: Quilts de Légende

Somerset by Marie Francoise Gregoire
Inspired by a quilt in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

This month's Past Perfect post features a group: the French organization Quilts de Légende which as far as I can translate means Legendary Quilts---but I think the meaning is more like Traditional, Fantastic Quilts.

My French is pretty bad. I read just enough to mistake the meaning, so please, French speakers, correct my misinformation if you would.

Le Chapman by Marie Francoise Gregoire:
Another V&A quilt as inspiration.

I picked two of the many master artists to feature as I had shots of several of their quilts
from past years.

Here's what I can figure out.
Quilts de Légende is a branch of Association France Patchwork, the French Patchwork Guild, which began in 1984 and now has 12,000 members. Every other spring the group holds a special exhibition, usually in Brouage, France. The exhibit is up now until June 11th at La Tonnellerie & la Poudrière.

2017 is the 9th version for the juried exhibit, which is held every other year and travels through Europe. The current theme is QUILTS XIX Début XX Siècle. My translation: Quilts From the End of the 19th Century into the 20th.

Evelyne suggests looking at Linda Collins's Instagram page. She posts a quilt everyday and has been documenting this year's Brouage show:

And Francoise tells us: The show will travel to "St Marie aux Mines(France), half septembre"

Alabama  by Marie Francoise Gregoire.

Participants have been making reproductions of American quilts from that period for this year's competition. There are stringent rules for entry:

Page Botanique by Louise-Marie Stipon,

inspired  by Ernestine Eberhardt Zaumseil 's quilt 

at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sue Garman described the rules:
"The quilts are all reproductions of antique quilts from Europe, Australia, and the United States. The rules for entry state that every quilt must be an exact reproduction of an antique quilt, using fabric as true to the original as possible, and they must be made entirely by hand: no machine piecing, no machine quilting, no machine assembly, no machine binding. Every stitch in the quilt must be done by hand. Knowing this makes the quilts, indeed, legendary."

Quilting by Louise-Marie Stipon

Teri & Kara at the Needle'sEyeStories blog interviewed curator Catherine Bonte who said:
"The quilts must be made from a picture in a book or a museum, without kits or patterns. All of the work is by hand; no machine stitching is permitted. The members' work is strictly judged for quality of stitches, including quilting....the quilts included in the exhibit are 'the best of the best of the best.' "

Floral Sampler by Louise-Marie Stipon.

Needle manufacturer Bohin sponsors the exhibit which travels all over Europe. You may have seen one bi-annual version at the Quilt Festival in Houston.

It is wonderful that the French quiltmakers have so much respect for our quilt history and for handwork. (No matter how many times you read the cliche, handwork is NOT a dying art.)

The question might be: Why do we not have a similar exhibit in the United States? The prestige of being accepted is incentive to do a lot of handwork and studying antiques. The closest thing is AQSG's bi-annual challenge (this year on solid color quilts.) The rules are not so stringent and the repros are smaller.

Brouage is an old fortified city on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, about 183 kilometers from Nantes (114 Miles) so one could visit the quilt fest in Nantes, Pour l'Amour du Fil, and the exhibit in Brouage in the same trip--- some spring in an odd numbered year.. 

UPDATE: This book is a catalog of the Moda quilt collection.
Same name however.

There's a book from Moda and Linzee MacCray in 2012.
Quilts de légende : L'univers Moda by  Linzee Kull MacCray

Françoise Lietaert has corrected several errors.
1) that Moda book has nothing to do with the Quilts de Legende exhibit I am talking about..

2) The quilts do not have to be exact copies.

France Patchwork's blog:


  1. The level of skill and achievement in these quilts is just remarkable. My pie-in-the-sky dream would be to have a competition with the same stringent rules for quality hand workmanship (no machine sewing, no glue), but with no restrictions on the design source. And judging rules that encourage complexity and ambition, which I'm afraid to say is not the case here in Canada.

    (so yes, that's a pet peeve of mine...)

  2. Thanks for a great post! Beautiful quilts and workmanship - so nice to see handwork is alive and valued in other countries. Wishing it was so here!!

  3. Hello Barbara!
    Everything you wrote is perfect! The exhibition is currently taking place
    If you want to see the quilts you go on Instagram to: quiltaday @ linda collins. She posted the "Quilts of légende 2017"
    Friendship Mamifleur of the blog " Embruns et Petits points "

  4. I have always wanted to see one of these in person. I would truly love to meet these remarkable quilters!

  5. I've seen these in Alsace, France and they were pretty amazing to behold!