Local schoolchildren have created stunning patchwork quilts inspired by the famous story of the Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt .

Children from Ysgol Froncysyllte and Rhosddu Primary School created their own quilts as part of school projects.

Both schools were invited to bring their quilts to Tŷ Pawb, where they met the Mayor of Wrexham, Cllr Beryl Blackmore and with Tiffany-Jayne Davies, the four-times great granddaughter of the creator of the original Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt, James Williams.

A historic Wrexham treasure

The quilt is one of the most well-known patchworks produced in Wales. Created by James Williams between 1842 and 1852, the quilt depicts scenes from the Bible such as Adam naming the animals, Cain and Abel, Jonah and the whale, and Noah’s ark. It also features motifs symbolizing Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland. The Menai Suspension Bridge and Cefn Viaduct are also featured.

Such was the workmanship of the quilt, it was displayed at the Art Treasures Exhibition of North Wales, held in Wrexham in 1876 and the National Eisteddfod in 1933, also held in Wrexham.

The quilt is housed permanently at St Fagan’s Museum in Cardiff, but was loaned to Tŷ Pawb in 2022 for a special exhibition.

Pupils from Ysgol Froncysyllte and Rhosddu School were among thousands of local visitors who made the most of a rare opportunity to come and view the quilt up close.

“The children were blown away with the fact the quilt was from Wrexham!”

Mrs Sophie Hughes, a teacher at Ysgol Froncysyllte C.P. School explains how their project developed: “We discovered the incredible Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt as part of our topic ‘We are creative’. In our planning with the children, we like to look for a ‘golden thread’ which encompasses our locality, Wales, and the wider World. This makes it meaningful for the children, something that they can relate to and celebrate their Welsh identity. The Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt was perfect.

“The children really wanted to see the original quilt in Cardiff, Mrs Hughes got in touch with the curator in St. Fagans and how lucky were we…. she agreed to meet us online! She told us all about the quilt and wow she had the quilt on show too!

“The lady sent us a life size screen print of The Tailors Quilt which we can keep and is central to the display in our school museum and gallery. Seeing the quilt inspired the children to embark on a journey to make our own Dee Valley Quilt.

“We also contacted Adam Jones who featured in the Tŷ Pawb exhibition, and we were very lucky to be able to loan the Adam Jones quilt for our Museum. The children embraced the many images, patterns and ideas held within both quilts and used this as inspiration on their own designs. The children were blown away with the fact the quilt was from Wrexham and how important it is to Welsh Culture.

“During the making process we all worked together, the children made a list of all the places and things that were important to us. The list was quite long and reflected our school, the local community, and Wales. The children chose which subject they would like to represent on the quilt using textiles and so our Dee Valley Quilt was born!

“During the project, the children developed their numeracy skills through creating timelines, measuring, calculating area, calculating sales, percentages, and budgets, tessellating shapes, and understanding symmetry. To practice our sewing skills, we used binca squares and wool. We all learnt how to do a running stitch. It was quite tricky at first, but we soon got the hang of it. We used a variety of different recycled fabrics and adornments. We used dressmaking scissors, fabric glue, sewing needles and threads and were supervised using a real sewing machine. Many new mediums, tools, and skills for the children to experience for the first time.

“We got the community involved too. We invited local groups and businesses to create a square for the quilt and held community days where people joined us in school to share their skills and enjoy a cuppa and a chat, it was such a lovely atmosphere, and we had many comments from everyone who enjoyed being a part of the project.

“On our next phase of the journey, we researched Alexander McQueen and the Sarah Burton designs inspired by the Quilt. In literacy, the children created explanation texts on materials. Younger children looked at ‘How wool is made’ and older children at ‘How cotton is made’.
We also explored materials and their properties in science, testing the absorbency of paper and looking at natural and man-made materials. We used all these skills to become fashion designers. They produced their unique designs based on the quilt just as Alexander McQueen had done. With thought and care they began measuring, cutting, and styling their wooden mannequin.

“This all led to our amazing Tailor’s Journey Museum and Exhibition, where all the children’s hard work and creativity was put on display for the community to embrace. The children are all so extremely proud and have led the process from start to finish, including planning, setting up and running the exhibition. They were on hand to show and explain the displays as well as run workshops on the day to share the skills that they have learned with others. We all hope our Dee Valley Quilt will also be added into the dynamic and rich culture of Wales for generations to come.”

“Learning new and challenging skills”

Zara Jebb, teacher from Rhosddu Primary School explains their project: “When we were planning our ‘City Circuit’ trip, where the Year 5 and 6 pupils visit our city’s most important buildings, we included a visit to Tŷ Pawb because they had the Tailor’s Quilt on display. The quilt is an excellent primary source, allowing us some insight into what was important to James Williams more than 170 years ago, so the opportunity for us to be able to actually see it ‘in the flesh’ could not be missed!

“The quilt inspired us to make our own version. Each child designed and created a ‘patch’. Maybe, in 170 years’ time school children will look at our quilt and see what was important to Wrexham’s children in the early 2020s!

“Sewing the patches involved learning new and challenging skills for a lot of the children – but, inspired by the perseverance of James Williams, they worked together to create The Rhosddu Tailor’s Quilt.”

Bringing the quilt to its original home

Lead Member with responsibility for Tŷ Pawb, Cllr Hugh Jones said: “The Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt is a stunning creation, however the conservation requirements, fragility and size of the quilt meant that until recently it was a huge challenge to find a space in Wrexham where it could be safely displayed.

“Tŷ Pawb has a category one gallery which means we can now accommodate works of this calibre right here in Wrexham. We are very proud to have been able to bring the quilt back to its original home and display it alongside the works of modern day Wrexham artists such as Adam Jones.

“The stunning quilts created by the children and the wonderful work by the teachers to weave their creative projects around this important piece of Wrexham history show just how valuable it is to be able to bring significant artworks like this to our city.”

Inspiring careers in creative industries

Lead Member for Education, Cllr Phil Wynn said: “Congratulations to the teachers and pupils of Ysgol Froncysyllte and Rhosddu Primary School for creating such wonderful artworks. Both the quilts look absolutely stunning. It’s fantastic to hear that local children have been so inspired by the story of the Wrexham Tailor’s Quilt and their visit to Tŷ Pawb.

“It was also great to hear that Ysgol Froncysyllte had featured Adam Jones and his modern day version of Wrexham Quilt in their project. Adam is a former pupil of the school who is now a London based fashion designer and contemporary tailor. What a fabulous role model for the children and a great example of how to pursue a career in the creative industries.”