April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.
Q is for Quilting
Most people think of quilting as making a bed cover, but it’s so much more. Quilting is a sandwich – a top layer of cloth, a layer of padding, and a bottom layer of cloth. It can be as thick and as intricate as one wishes.
Quilting dates back to ancient Egypt. As far back as the 12th century, quilting was used to make garments worn under armor. One of the earliest surviving quilts was made in Sicily around 1360. Pieces of it are in museums in London and Florence.
Quilting in America began in the 18th century. Women spun, weaved, and sewed clothing for their families. Quilts for beds were also made out of necessity. Until 1840, looms were not large enough to produce a piece of cloth that would cover a bed, so strips of cloth needed to be sewed together. Using the same cloth was known as ‘whole cloth’ quilts. Contrary to what many of us would think, quilts were not made of left-over scraps of cloth and old pieces of clothing. They were instead examples of the fine needlework of the quilter.
Once looms were large enough to produce large pieces of fabric and became common enough and cheap enough for the average person to afford, women didn’t have to spin and weave anymore. Readily made fabrics changed the look of quilts. They began to contain different fabrics and the ‘block’ quilt was born.
During the 1850s, Singer mass produced a sewing machine and made it affordable with payments. By 1870, most homes owned one. This was a huge time-saving tool that made clothing one’s family easier and afforded women more time to quilt.
The art of quilting was once an important part of a woman’s life, but over time, it has become mainly a hobby. The amount of time and materials that go into a quilt make it very expensive to produce, so most quilts are passed down through families.
I love quilting, though I admit, I’m not very good at it. My grandmother was a professional seamstress, but I didn’t inherit that ‘fine needlework’ gene. Regardless, I enjoy it, and I’m currently working on the quilt pictured here. It is a Vin Du Jour pinwheel quilt, if you’d like to know. I got all the pieces cut out and you can come back in a
couple million years and see the finished product. There are about 600 pieces in this darned quilt. If anyone out there has a smidgen of time to help me, that would be great!