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Getting Started in Quilting

06 July 2021

Quilting has been traditionally passed down as a skill by women in the family. As a way to economize on heat and blankets generations before us. Sometimes done by hand or sewing machine, it’s a great way for mothers and grandmothers to find ways to keep their family warm during the harsh cold of the winter seasons every year. 

In fact, it is not really uncommon to find homemade quilts in a lot of grandmothers, at least that’s the case for my family. Everything she has sewn is still intact and could still be used when family comes to visit her. Very convenient for the family and also fun for the elderly who loves sewing very much.

Quilting is the process of sewing three layers of fabric together or a variety of different pieces of fabric together that are shaped as squares for quilt tops.

For companies that manufacture quilts en masse, there is a dedicated machine called the Longarm sewing machine. It makes bringing together quilt tops, quilt batting, and quilt backing much easier and faster. 

However, as one of the popular arts and crafts activities for elderly women and sewing hobbyists, the hand sewing and home sewing machine is still the better option. Customizing quilts for loved ones as gifts is also a common practice.

The earliest sign of the existence of quilting was from around 3400 B.C. in Egypt.

It is found in an ivory-carved statue of a pharaoh during the earliest dynasties of Egypt. While in Mongolia, archaeologists studying a site uncovered the existence of a quilted floor covering which they estimated to have been from 100 B.C. to 200 A.D. 

This discovery was made in 1924. Since then, quilting has been found in various countries in Asia and Europe. The latter may have been brought about by trade with these Asian countries as quilting did not exist in Europe until the 5th century. It was a very rare thing to have back then and only became more mainstream in the 12th century after the Crusade.

During the Medieval Ages in Europe, the usual quilted products were used in armor instead of bedding or floor covering.

Examples of these are aketon, which is a padded jacket used with mail or plate armor. Another one is the gambeson which is worn underneath a hauberk as padding. Later on to lessen the load of the armor it had been used alone as a defensive garment. 

From this war armor, it became part of men’s fashion as a doublet. A doublet is a fitted jacket that goes up to the hip or waist and is worn above the drawers and shirts. As men’s fashion changed and evolved, the doublet had been worn with another layer of clothing like tunic, mantle, or jerking which would have been the ancient version of a leather vest. This is the high fashion of men’s clothing during the 14th up to the 17th century and so quilting was an advantageous skill for women to have during those times.

Around this time quilting for bedding also gained momentum starting in Italy.

The earliest evidence of this was found in Sicily and had been approximated to be from the late 14th century. The Tristan and Isolde quilt or Giuccardini, one of which can still be viewed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, depicts the famous love story of Tristan and Isolde. 

There are three of these series in existence today. One as aforementioned is in London that depicts Tristan in battle in lieu of his uncle, King Mark. The quilt also depicts the oppression of Cornwall of the Irish King Languis and his champion, Morold.

Another quilt is found in Florence and can be viewed in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, a former soldier barracks slash prison which is now an art museum. While the one in London has 14 scenes, the one that is in the hands of Bargello depicts 8 scenes from the same romance tragedy classic.

On the three horizontal stripes found on the quilt, it shows Tristan departing from a meeting with his father-in-law to pick up his right hand Morholt. The rest of the panels depicts Tristan in his battles while horseback.

Quilting also has a good foundation in American culture.

During the colonial period, quilts were made as a whole cloth with layers sewn together skillfully with fine needlework. A beautiful example of this is the Broderie perse also called Persian embroidery.

In this type of quilting, a Chintz type fabric is used and has beautiful motifs cut off and then neatly sewn on another fabric to create a scene. Afterward, patchwork quilting was popularized during the 1770s, the same time America gained independence from the British. Summer quilts which were quilts made without any materials for insulation were also created to keep warm during cooler evenings in summers.

More cultures adapted to quilting as the cold during winter months is an unchanging factor that we as human beings have to adapt to and survive. In modern times, it is easier for us to have central heating at home, the office, the stores, and whichever place we may go. However, this does not take away the aesthetic value and warmth of a quilt. Whether bedding, upholstery, clothing, covers, and others you will find a use for one at home sometimes even in the car for traveling.

If you are one of those avid hobbyists or dressmakers with a passion for quilting, there is a product at  FlexiSpot that might rouse your interest. The Height Adjustable Sewing Table is sturdy and high-tech furniture which would make your sewing more comfortable and easy. It has an additional and removable side panel that you can use to make your sewing table bigger for sketching or cutting fabric accurately. The sewing platform can also be lowered or adjusted to the height of the table depending on your sewing needs. Apart from the entire height of the desk can be adjusted to conform to your healthy posture. So you can work, standing up or sitting down whatever your height is.