TQS BOM 2016 - Rajah Quilt Revisited

By Lessa Siegele

Made by Anita Fraser-Day

Quilted by Connie Potter

Join us on a TQS exclusive 12-month historic journey recreating the historic Rajah Quilt, sewn by women convicts on board the ship Rajah traveling from England on April 1841 to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land-now known as Tasmania.  The original quilt measured at approximately 128" x 128", but Lessa recreated it in quarter scale with fabrics from her stash. She used many different scraps, imagining that's what might have happened when the original quilt was being made.  She followed the colors of the original quilt loosely, and tea dyed fabrics that didn't look old enough.  You can obtain the same look with reproduction fabrics, or make a more contemporary-looking version like the one created for TQS.

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Available On: June 1, 2016

We are halfway through our journey, and this month you will be working on the third of four Diamond-in-a-Square borders.  Many of the women were what we might think of as a "diamond-in-the-rough".  With time, a basic education and a learned skill, they might later become gems and model citizens.

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Available On: May 1, 2016

This month you will be making the first of two hourglass borders.  Lessa's border needs 15 hourglass units per side, while the original quilt needed many, many more.  As the hours turned to days on the long and seemingly endless voyage, did the women think of what new possibilities their lives would bring?  Did they dream of good fortune?

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Available On: March 30, 2016

This month you will make the second of four Diamond-in-a-Square borders. Do you wonder how the quilt was designed?  Was the idea sketched out on paper?  Remember, there was no design wall.  Do you think that the Matron decided on the pattern before leaving England?

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Available On: March 1, 2016

This month you will be working on the Cross and Flower applique motifs.  Using a light box or other light source greatly eases the placement of the applique pieces.  The women on the ship didn't have our modern tools.  Perhaps they used some of their limited quantities of thread as a guide.  After the applique was stitched down, the placement thread could have been retrieved for re-use.

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  1

Available On: February 1, 2016

This month you will be working on the first of four Diamond-in-a-Square borders, and attaching this border to the center panel.  While you have been provided with printed paper foundation patterns for accuracy, take time to remember the women who did this task completely by hand, by daylight or lamplight.

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Available On: January 1, 2016

We begin our Rajah journey with the center panel that features a cluster of birds flying around a spray of flowers and leaves.  As the ship pulled away from the harbor, the birds circling overhead might have been the last reminders of England for the convict women.

The original Rajah quilt's center panel was created in broderie perse, an applique technique in which elaborate printed motifs were cut from chintz and stitched to a background. 

Lessa Siegele (Show 1801) offers ideas for other options for the center panel of the quilt.

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