Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dearle's Compton & Thistle for Morris Earthly Paradise

Compton reproduction print from my Morris Earthly Paradise;
the original a wall paper by John Henry Dearle in the mid 1890s.

Compton Hall is now a Hospice House

The is some controversy over who designed the Compton wallpaper, which was commissioned for Compton Hall in Wolverhampton by owner Laurence W. Hodson. Compton Hall sites describe it as Morris's last design, but it has an art nouveau complexity that reflects Dearle's style. The current attribution is that Dearle designed it in 1895 or 1896.

Repro Compton print cut into six triangles and rearranged for Block #2  
in the Morris Hexathon by Becky Brown.
The colorway is Kelmscott Blue.

Block #3 by Becky 
The flower in the center 
is from Compton.
How does Becky do it? Scroll down to see her methods.

The sample in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection comes from a wallpaper book which they describe as "Volume 2, containing 25 Morris & Co. patterns from 1882-96." Morris died in 1896 and he was not well in those final years. Dearle took over designing the flat patterns.

Wallpaper sample detail from the V&A

John Henry Dearle (1859-1932)  became head designer at Morris & Company in 1896.

The Morris Earthly Paradise collection has another Dearle print,
Thistle from 1897.

Thistle in the center of Block 3 by Bettina Havig. The print
was originally a large-scale wall paper---as large as the sample below?

I used the monochromatic, textured repeat
for a small print that you can use almost as a solid.

Thistle in the Madeira Wine colorway around the edges in 
Block 1 by Becky Brown

We printed Thistle in seven colorways.

SuznQuilts has sorted out her Earthly Paradise pieces.
She's making tiny Dresden plates

Dearle stayed in the background. Morris was the public face of Morris & Company, even after his death, so company history and personal biography about Dearle is slim. When I posted about him several years ago one of his relatives corrected a common error in his birth date. He was born in 1859.
"Some dates for you to expand the information of John Henry Dearle: [Father] William Dearle married Sarah Louise Palmer in 1855. He was born in 1832 and died in 1908. John Henry was born 1859 but baptised in 1860. He was the second son out of a family of 5 sisters and 5 brothers. William's sister married my maternal Great Grandfather and , as I have been researching the family tree, I have the information at hand.
All the best,
Colin Dearle Coke"
Thank you, Colin--- Henry Dearle deserves a lot more credit and a lot more research than he gets.

 Read more about Dearle here:

And see another picture of him here at the Victorian Web

The seams for Becky's #5 show the whip stitching and open seams typical
of English paper piecing. The paper
(freezer paper) has been removed.

Regarding the Paper Piecing for the Morris Hexathon. People have been asking about how to do these blocks. I watched Bettina make her models using traditional hand piecing, which she is quite adept at. I assumed Becky machine pieced the models but she says:
"NONE of mine are machine pieced - at this size is that even possible? I'm not that good! Just wanted to let you know that I don't sew those little pieces by machine. (have never even tried)
Most of my blocks were done EPP using freezer paper (faster than basting the seam over). I print your patterns directly to freezer paper. Some of the blocks with fewer pieces were done with traditional hand piecing."

Attached are a couple pictures showing the back. (Notice, I do nothing to the outer edge of the blocks)."
In other words she doesn't glue/baste those outer edges under. 


  1. Another great post filled with interesting historical background and helpful techniques. It's why I always read your blog.
    Thanks and keep 'em coming!

  2. Here's to Becky Brown, the MVP (Most Valuable Piecer) of the blog world!

    I could look at each and every block of her work for hours.

  3. Does Becky iron the edges onto the sticky side of the freezer paper or does she iron the freezer paper to the center of the patch and then just iron the edges over to the back? Does she use glue? Does she draw lines on the back of the fabric to position the freezer paper exactly where she wants it? With her precision fussy cuts, she must be doing something to get that freezer paper placed exactly right, not a thread off. Does she do any basting on the patches? I would love another play-by-play from Becky. To see how she uses freezer paper to get such exact matches in the center point of these blocks.

  4. Suzanne
    see this post which gives more information about Becky's methods.