grandmother, Martha Alicia Brett brought this broderie perse quilt
to New Zealand when she
emigrated from Belfast , Ireland in 1881. It was a wedding present
given to her grandmother, Martha Alicia Black of Armagh, who married
Charles Brett in November 1795. It
has been passed down through the family for more than 200 years.
I first became aware of the quilt in 1972 after it was inherited by
my mother. Her handwriting on a family tree, presumably with
information from my grandmother, names the makers of the quilt as
Maria and Elizabeth Black sisters of Martha. Some years later, my
mother saw a newspaper advertisement. A quilt historian, Pamela Fitz
Gerald, was looking for people with old family quilts. She visited
our home in Orewa, north of Auckland, took lots of photographs and
introduced us to broderie perse quilting. Unfortunately her book*
was not published until 2003, 10 years after my mother’s death.
When I became interested in family history, telling the story of the
quilt seemed a perfect match with my needlework hobbies.
My husband’s study leave in the UK in 2006, provided an
opportunity for research.
to museums in Oxford, London and Armagh and later to the Musee de
I’Impression sur Étoffes in Mulhouse deepened an obsession with
early printed fabrics. Our wider family had no knowledge of the
quilt and I wanted to
share this treasure with them .
Read more about the quilt’s passage through the family and a full description in Martha’s Quilt
My older sister,who has the quilt lives close to us in Dunedin and is happy to show it to anyone interested.
The November / December 2013 issue of Quiltmania had a three-page article on Martha's Quilt.