As soon as you mention quilting one almost immediately jumps to thinking, or blurting out, “that’s women’s work”. Historically this craft has been so often depicted as enjoyed and carried out by women and young ladies. Like so many other constructs when you look deeper you find examples of male involvement as an individual pursuit or a joint hobby/craft shared with those close to them including daughters, sisters and wives. More and more men are discovering the craft, according to the 2017 “Quilting in America” study conducted by The Quilting Company, in partnership with Quilts, Inc. This study articulates that, in America for example, one percent of the estimated 7 to 10 million quilters are male. (https://www.quiltingcompany.com/store/quilting-in-america-2017-survey-results-download)
As a technique, quilting has been used for a diverse range of objects, from clothing to intricate objects such as pincushions. Along with patchwork, quilting is most often associated with its use for bedding. But quilts are not only practical objects and are created and kept for many different reasons, whether sentimental or commemorative, as examples of needlework skills and techniques, or even because of the specific fabrics used in their designs.
What is quilting?
Quilting is a method of stitching layers of material together. Although there are some variations, a quilt usually means a bed cover made of two layers of fabric with a layer of padding (wadding) in between, held together by lines of stitching. The stitches are usually based on a pattern or design.
The history of quilting is fascinating and can be traced back at least to medieval times. The word 'quilt' – linked to the Latin word 'culcita', meaning a bolster or cushion.
The photo attached to this blog is the Tristan Quilt which survives from 13th-century Sicily and forms part of the quilting collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It depicts 14 scenes from the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde – lively depictions of battles, ships and castles – and is one of the earliest surviving examples of 'trapunto', or stuffed quilting, (from the Italian 'trapuntare', to quilt). Pretty amazing work when you spend some time looking at it.
What is patchwork?
Whilst closely linked to quilting, patchwork is a different needlework technique, with its own distinct history. Patchwork or 'pierced work' involves sewing together pieces of fabric to form a flat design.
Although quilting can just use basic running stitch or backstitch, each stitch has to be made individually to ensure it catches all the layers within the quilt. Where the stitching is laid down in decorative patterns, it can be extremely fine work. Of the many choices that go into the creation of a quilt, the pattern that embellishes it is so often what gives it its final touch of grace, beauty, and enchantment. There are thousands of quilting patterns available to you. Our favourites are those from Anne Bright Designs. At Ripley Sewing Learning Centre we have almost 300 quilting stitch patterns in our edge to edge library we offer our patrons when they bring us their masterpiece for quilting. (http://acoupleofquilters.com/quilting-service/quilting-patterns/).
Please join Paddy soon for a demonstration of quilting on our Bernina Q24. You, like Paddy, will become intoxicated (no Guinness required) with how beautiful your patchwork creation can be transformed into a quilting masterpiece.
Until our next chat it is Happy “Lá Fhéile Pádraig” from all the team at Ripley Sewing Learning Centre.