Quilting is one of the world’s oldest crafts. Though its exact origins are not known to mankind, it is estimated that quilting originated in China and Egypt. The earliest example of a quilted garment is recorded in at around 3400 B.C when a carved ivory figure of a pharaoh belonging to the first dynasty of Egypt was found wearing a quilt.
In the eleventh century, the Crusaders picked up this art form from the Middle East and introduced it to Europe. Then soldiers started using it to use quilted material for protection rather than using heavy armors. The Romans used quilted bedding to serve as a mattress and the Europeans inspired by this idea and transformed it into a combined mattress and coverlet to help protect them from cold winters.
The first quilts consisted basically of different layers of cloth that were held together by stitches. However they were really inconvenient to use as the pieces of cloth kept falling apart and then quilting frames came into scene and with the help of these Europeans started creating more elaborate and exquisite designs. Quilting was not very common in America and only a few wealthy women would engage in it. The kind of styles that were prevalent in the 1800’s were whole cloth quilts, broderie perse and medallion quilts.
It was in the nineteenth century that because of industrial revolution, textile was available easily and as such quilting became popular. Quilting was no longer done to fulfill any need or requirement but instead became a medium for women to express their creativity. There were a variety of fabric that was being manufactured and as such block quilting on different fabrics became very popular. Quilts in fact were sewn and sold to help support some movements during the Civil War.
Another invention that changed the field of quilting was the invention of the sewing machine. Using a sewing machine, it became much easier for women to make a quilt and hence they could make more quilts in less time. Changes in the field of quilting were taking part in other parts of the world as well. The Spanish started making ecclesiastic quilts, the French introduced appliqué, the Japanese introduced Sashiko quilting, the Italians bought in Trapunto quilting and the Japanese indulged in a new form of quilting called as Yosegire which was used to decorate clothing.
In the United States, a new form of quilting known as “crazy quilting” became very popular. The quilts consisted of abstract shapes and designs all sewn together and this trend really caught on during that period. The most popular types of quilts presently are memory quilting, watercolor quilting, album quilting, echo quilting and free motion quilting to name some. With the advancement of technology, even quilting software such as PC Quilt, QuiltSoft, QuiltPro and QuiltStudio have also been developed to help us. Thus, with so many advancements and so many styles and designs to choose from quilting is definitely going to retain its popularity in the coming future.
ImagineFabric is an online specialty retailer of designer fabric, quilt fabric, home decor fabric, and throw pillows.
Thank you Rachel for a great article on the history of quilts. You need to check out the awesome quilts for sales at www.HandmadeCatalog.com!