It’s February, it’s midwinter and it’s really cold! What needed right now is a stylish warm coat, and my own preference is for wool. I generally opt for natural fabrics, and wool is fabulous as it is superbly warm and breathable too. As with most of my own clothes, I look for a stylish vintage option, and living as I do, in West Wales, I keep a look out for Welsh wool, and in particular for the amazing fabric known as Welsh Tapestry. Welsh Tapestry is not a tapestry at all, but a woven double cloth. It has two distinct patterns, one one each side of the cloth, so it is reversible. Traditionally, Welsh Tapestry was produced for “carthen” , or quilts, heavy double sided bed covers, often fringed at each end. In the mid and late 1800s there were many woollen mills throughout Wales, and particularly here in West Wales. It was also a cottage industry, with processes such as carding, spinning, dyeing and finishing taking place in homes as well as in factories. Other woollen fabrics, like Welsh flannel, were also woven here for clothing. Welsh Tapestry patterns are traditional, but variations are particular to certain mills. The industry went into decline, but was revived in the 1960s, when fashion designers like Mary Quant chose Welsh wool fabrics in bright colours for clothing such as mini skirts, waistcoats, jackets, capes and matching bags.
Today, Vintage Welsh Tapestry quilts and clothes are sought after and collectible. A traditional double cloth quilt will cost around £250-£300, a 1960s coat around £150.
My own collection includes several double cloth quilts. These are fabulously warm and look stunning on a bed. I have also recently bought two incredible capes, a short blue and black one and a full length beige and brown one. I have to say, I love wearing them, and they are warmer than any coat I possess!