Christopher Wilson-Tate is an antique quilt collector from the North East of England, specializing in quilts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Zarafa is the latest giraffe-inspired fabric collection under the Regency name.
Zarafa is a 10-piece collection: a small, yet accessible, selection of designs and colours inspired by a strip quilt from Christopher’s personal collection. The focal design is based on Zarafa, a giraffe, and her handler, Atir. Zarafa was a gift from Egyptian Leader Muhammad Ali in 1826 to King Charles X of France.
Zarafa was known to be one of the very first giraffes to arrive in Europe, and the original fabric commemorates this novel wonder of the time. Zarafa lived in Paris for 18 years, and during this time, was a source of inspiration for fashion and decor. In this era and place, giraffes were rare indeed, and generally thought to be as real as unicorns or dragons.
In the above image on the left, you can see the original 1830s fabric depicting the scene of Zarafa and Atir. On the right is a close reproduction for the Regency Zarafa collection, in the Endless Sea colourway. This charming print is also available with a white background, called Indian White.
In addition, the collection features two medium scale indian florals that play upon the original motifs, which were very popular at the time. Six of the fabrics feature a small dot, mimicking the coat of the giraffe.
“The prints and colours are classic faded blues and pinks. Some of the prints have a more contemporary feel—which can work with so many other designs, particularly the dot design, ” Christopher says of his latest collection.
Christopher bought his very first vintage quilt at a vintage market when he was just 15 years old, and by the time he turned 18, he had his own business dealing in antique quilts and textiles between Tyneside and London. To date, he has sold around 15,000 quilts and has 600 in his personal collection, which he’s acquired over the last 40 years. He notes that most of his quilts are of European origin, although he does have a few from North America. This, he says, gives his collection a special quality that sets it apart from American-centric collections.
“I am not your usual fabric designer I suppose,” he observes, “my collections being based on reproductions of the many thousands of amazing fabric designs that are part of my antique British quilt collection from the 18th and 19th centuries.”
Christopher says he aims, with his collections, to celebrate some of the beauty of the past in modern quilting. “My Moda fabric collections hopefully provide quilters with an insight into the amazing world of fabric production that was taking place over 200 years ago,” he explains. “The designs and colours that were becoming available then are always a great surprise to quilters today.”
Christopher Wilson-Tate’s antique quilt store is called the Antique Textiles Company, and can be found online at antiquetextilescompany.co.uk. Regency Zarafa from Moda Fabrics is arriving in Canadian stores in late November. We encourage you to shop local, and touch, feel, and experience the fabric you’ll use for your next creative project at your local quilt store.