I treasure this photograph. It was a gift--a wonderful black and white picture, c.1950, of a lady hand quilting. On the back in wavering pencil is written "Durham quilter." Durham is both a city and a county in northeast England and famous for its beautiful quilts. For more information, check out the book, North Country Quilts-Legend and Living Tradition, by British scholar Dorothy Osler. And when you go to Durham, don't miss the Beamish Museum's extensive collection of quilts- http://www.beamish.org.uk/about-collection.html .
There are a number of interesting details that hand quilters can learn from this vintage photo. Notice that she's working on a wholecloth quilt, a classic type of quilt using solid color fabrics. The fabric might well be a cotton sateen since its surface seems to be very smooth.
The quilter must also be sitting in a chair that's much lower than the quilt's surface since the edge of the quilt is above her bust. This is probably because the quilt frame used here, although we can't see it, is a traditional table-top English frame, a half-size type of frame, derived from an embroidery frame, that sat on top of an already existing table. Unlike the American large-size quilting frame made of lumber, the old English quilting frame was smaller and had been adapted for the limited room available.
The puffiness of the part of the quilt (foreground) that's not yet quilted also tells us the batting (the English would call it 'wadding') was probably wool.
Lastly there's the stitching process on view. The quilter has quilted the outline inside of a feather wreath and its outline outside. Now we see she's going back and filling in the little curves of the feather spines. Clever, isn't it? For anyone who has pretzled themselves around a quilting hoop stitching feathers, this practical approach makes good sense!