LAST week’s Memories introduced our second CineSecrets video which is available on the Echo’s website. Each month, the North-East Film Archive is producing a digitised clip from a forgotten old film for us – the second is from Downstream in Durham, a late 1950s amateur travelogue through Weardale.

Our two-minute clip features scenes of Stanhope and particularly looks at the work of a Durham quilter who was believed to be Amy Emms. Amy, who received an MBE in 1984 for services to quilting, lived near St John’s Chapel and is credited with keeping the skill alive when it fell out of fashion after the Second World War.

“I’m afraid the lady displaying her lovely patchwork quilt is not Amy Emms,” says Gillian Banks, of Durham. “Amy was famous for her ‘wholecloth’ quilting. She didn’t like patchwork – she couldn’t see the point in cutting up fabric to stitch it together again – and the patterns on the quilt in the film, the pink zig-zags, are more Cumbrian than they are North-East.”

Patchwork and wholecloth are very different types of quilting. Patchwork is scraps where the pattern comes from the designs and colours on the scraps, whereas wholecloth is a single piece of cloth – or several long strips of cloth that are joined to make one piece – and the pattern comes from the intricate sewing.

Two parts of the country are renowned for their wholecloth quilts, Wales and the North-East, and each had its own traditional designs.

“The Welsh patterns are more geometric whereas ours are more curving with feather patterns,” says Gillian. “We have a design in the middle and in each corner and then borders which are infilled with diamond patterns.”

Quilt-making was an 18th and 19th Century occupation that was revived during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Quilt clubs were formed in many struggling mining communities with the women earning a few pennies when the men were out of work. The government promoted the initiative, even seeking markets for the quilts outside the region – “Durham quilts for Claridges” was one headline as the quilts made it into a fashionable London store.

Perhaps because of its association with dark days, the popularity of quilting ebbed after the war, but Amy Emms kept the traditional patterns and skills – the running Durham feather stitch – alive. Today, with handicrafts fashionable once again, quilting is thriving – there are six quilting clubs in Durham city alone.

And Gillian herself is one of those who inherited Amy’s mantle when she died in 1994. She is a quilting tutor who in 2008 co-curated an exhibition of the greatest surviving North-East quilts in Yokohama, Japan, and who in 1998 won a national prize for her quilted selfie.

Entrants had to take inspiration from the Quilters Guild of the British Isles holding its annual conference in Bath, and so Gillian won with a design of herself in the bath without a stitch on. If nothing else, it quite brilliantly embarrassed her three children.

THE North-East Film Archive is on the look-out for any old, forgotten films which shed light on life as it used to be in the region.

Julie Ballands, from the archive, says: “We’re looking for amateur collections which may be hidden away in lofts and garages. Films and videos that document the

social history of the region including the fashions, cars and buildings are all important, and we’re not just after famous faces and professional productions.

“We’ve recently received some beautifully-shot home movies from Darlington that record a family’s bonfire night celebrations in the 1940s, as well as some amazing 1960s advertising films from the former Vaux breweries in Sunderland.”

Another recent addition was shaky footage of Liz Taylor on Bamburgh beach on a chilly Sunday morning in 1964 – she was killing time while her husband, Richard Burton, was filming the lead role in Becket at the castle.

If you have anything that may be suitable, email or call the archive on 01642-384022.