A quilt is a bed covering composed of two layers of fabric and a layer of batting in between, made by the technique of quilting. Many quilts are made with decorative designs; indeed, some quilts are not used as bed covering at all, but are rather made to be hung on a wall or otherwise displayed.
Some uses of quilts include
Armory (please see the article on gambesons)
Educational (e.g., Amish quilts are not only utilitarian, but also typically document a religious or spiritual conviction.)
Documenting events, social history, etc.
The Museum of the American Quilter’s Society (also known as the National Quilt Museum) is located in Paducah, Kentucky. The museum houses a large collection of quilts, most of which are winning entries from the American Quilter’s Society festival and quilt competition held yearly in April. The Museum also houses other exhibits of quilt collections, both historic and modern.
Quilting is a method of sewing two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating batting in between. A bed covering or similar large rectangular piece of quilting work is called a quilt.
Quilting originated in utilitarianism rather than decoration, which distinguishes it from most other fine needlework.
The origins of this method of craft are thought to be in the Crusades, when soldiers needed warmth as well as protection from the chafing caused by heavy armour. Additionally, there are ancient Egyptian sculptures showing figures which appear to be wearing clothing which is quilted, possibly for warmth in the chilly desert evenings.
Quilting is used in the making of a garment called a gambeson
In modern times, so-called art quilts have started to become popular for their aesthetic, artistic qualities rather than for functionality (i.e. they hang on a wall instead of lying on a bed)
The most basic form of quilting is a simple geometric grid sewn either by hand or nowadays by machine. The gridwork of stitches traps air in the material, making it much warmer than a single layer of fabric would be, or even the layers separately.
Quilting can also be used as a form of elaborate decoration, where the stitchery creates complex designs and patterns, with or without the use of color. Designs in the original fabrics can be put together to form new patterns.
A quilt using a single piece of fabric as a quilt top is called a whole cloth quilt.
Quilting is often combined with embroidery, patchwork, appliqué and other forms of needlework to create patchwork quilts.
Specialist quilting techniques include
Trapunto quilting, also known as Italian quilting
Shadow trapunto – quilting a design in fine Lawn and filling the pattern with small lengths of coloured wool.
Tivaevae (common in the Pacific, e.g., the Cook Islands)
Quilters are cooperative people. They exchange fabrics or quilt blocks with each other.
They also frequently gather in larger groups (sometimes called “quilting bees”) to collectively apply the gridwork of quilting.
Quilters may also attend Quilt Guild meetings in their local area. Many quilt guilds meet monthly and feature lectures and other activities.
Quilters are usually very charitable, giving away many of their beautiful projects to family, friends and organizations.
Quilts are often made to commemorate events (e.g. weddings and births) and can incorporate pieces of fabric from used or worn-out clothing. Such quilts become historical documents for the quiltmaker and his or her loved ones.
Quilting is an excellent educational tool. It requires students to use mathematical, spatial, artistic and manual skills. It can be used in conjunction with any unit of study (examples would be to make a pictorial quilt that depicts a story the class is reading, or a particular event in history). It can be made age-appropriate by choice of materials (paper, fabric, etc.) and complexity of design.
Patchwork is a form of needlework or craft that involves using small pieces of fabric and stitching them together into a larger design, which is then usually quilted. Patchwork is traditionally ‘pieced’ by hand, but modern quiltmakers often use a sewing machine instead.
Patchwork enjoyed a widespread revival during the Great Depression because it was a way to recycle worn clothing into warm quilts. Even very small and worn pieces of material are suitable for use in patchwork, although crafters today more often use specially bought patchwork material as the basis for their designs.
Patchwork is most often used to make quilts, but it can also be used to make bags, wall-hangings, warm jackets, skirts and other items of clothing. Some textile artists work with patchwork, often combining it with embroidery and other forms of stitchery.
Patchwork and quilting are both enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity around the world, particularly in the United States and Japan.
A survey in America identified Quilting as a multimillion dollar industry. International quilting exhibitions attract thousands of visitors from around the globe, while countless smaller exhibitions are held every weekend in local regions.
Active cyber-quilting communities abound on the web, books and magazines on the subject are published in the hundreds every year, and there are many active local quilting guilds and shops in different countries.
‘Quilt Art’ is established as a legitimate artistic medium, with quilted works of art selling for thousands of dollars to corporate buyers and galleries.
Quilt historians and Quilt appraisers are reevaluating the heritage of traditional quilting and antique quilts, while superb examples of antique quilts are purchased for large sums by collectors and museums.
Types of patchwork
Stained glass window patchwork
Cathedral window patchwork
Trapunto (Stuffed or Puff patchwork)
Types of patchwork block
Aunt Sukey’s Choice
Barbara Frietchie’s Star
Crosses and Losses
Dolly Madison Star
Double Irish Chain
Hen and Chickens
Hole in the Barn Door
Next Door Neighbor
Old Maid’s Puzzle
Road to California
Rocky Road to Kansas
Star of Bethlehem
Steps to the Altar
Tree of Life
and many, many more
A gambeson is a padded surcoat, usually worn underneath flexible metal or leather armor, such as a chainmail shirt. It was often produced with a sewing technique called quilting. The gambeson was vital in preventing crushing damage, since even if the edge or point of the weapon was stopped by the exterior armor, the remaining impact could still splinter bone and rupture internal organs. The gambeson distributed the impact over a larger area, and absorbed some energy by deforming.
For soldiers who could nor afford a harder, more expensive exterior armor, the gambeon was often the only armor available. As a gambeson is very labor intensive in the making, most common soldiers would have to produce their own.
Quilted leather open jackets and trousers were worn by Scythian horsemen before the 4th century BC, as can be seen on Scythian gold ornaments crafted by Greek goldsmiths. The European gambeson can at least be traced to the late 10th century, but it is likely to have been in use in various forms for longer than that.
The gambeson was used not only as a sole defense, but was worn beneath mail and plate in order to cushion the body and prevent chafing. It was very insulatory and thus uncomfortable, but its protection was vital for the soldier. Use of the gambeson declined during the renaissance, and by the 17th century, it was no longer in military use.
Several different patterns were used, and the form of the gambeson varied throughout the middle ages and the renaissance due to the ever increasing percentage of the body protected by rigid steel armor. Usually constructed of linen or wool, the stuffing varied, and could be, for example, scrap cloth or horse hair.
Tivaevae (also spelled tīvaevae and tivaivai) are a form of art common in Pacific nations such as the Cook Islands. They are needleworks often created by groups of women called vainetini, though some women prefer to work on their own.
By custom, a tivaevae is not measured by monetary value or production cost. Its value is said to be reflected by what is shown on it and the socialising during the creation.
Tivaevae are often given to important visitors, and in the Cook Islands are often displayed in houses during annual public health checks. Other important occasions for presenting tivaevae include during traditional boys’ hair cutting ceremonies and weddings.
The tivaevae’s origins are uncertain. Rongokea (1992) believes it to be an imported art form, and cites two sets of Christian missionaries in the 19th century as possible origins.
Note: some academics consider tivaevae to be a separate art form from that of quilting. However, there appears to be no consensus on this.
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