Mannin Quilters

Quilting in the Isle of Man
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Manx Patchwork - Sometimes referred to as Roof Pattern

made by Jo Thrussell

bound by Charmian Perston



The Earliest known example of Manx patchwork is about 1820.  Traditionally the fabric was torn, not cut (probably because scissors were expensive and rare); hand measurements were used, the base equalling the span of a hand (tip of thumb to tip of little finger).  The middle square was the length of the middle finger and the ‘strips’ were the width of the inner-thumb length from its base to the base of the nail.


The centre square was usually bright – either red or similar, representing the hearth with the sides being dark and light (the dark and light side of the room).  Sometimes the centre square would be a very special piece of fabric – silk, velvet, and satin.


Each round consists of 2 dark strips and 2 light strips which are tacked onto the backing square with a small ‘pleat’ left when folding back each strip.  This hid the large stitches and also made extra layers of warmth or insulation.


Squares were joined either into blocks of four or strips to make a quilt.  All types of fabric were used from cotton to tweed.


This is a very quick easy method of making a quilt as, during sewing, the needle is dropped to the back of the work on each round instead of having to finish off and re-start.  These quilts would have been made by candle or lamplight, the women being too busy to sew in the daytime.