Quilting in Fashion: How It Evolved Through the Years


When you hear the word quilt, what probably comes to your mind are bed covers that are created with a variety of patchwork. In fact, when you look at the dictionaries, quilts are described as thick bed linens that provide a cozy warmth to beds. Quilting, of course, is the process of creating quilts whereby two layers of fabric are stitched together into a pattern.   While the definitions of both are correct, quilts also refer to fabrics that are used in fashion trends. Quilting, too, is a term in the fashion arena. From leather jackets to coats to vests and blazers, quilting has developed from just being a process of producing bed covers into a fashion style that even celebrities love.

How Quilting Began

The art of quilting can be traced back to the medieval period. This process of sewing or stitching fabrics together to form a thicker, padded cloth was used in the clothing of the ancient Middle East, China, North Africa, Egypt, and in the colder parts of Europe. Quilts first appeared in Europe during the Crusades. Back then, soldiers wore quilted armors when they went to battle. At about the same time, quilted clothing and quilted bed linens also became popular among European families. Those had beautiful and intricate needlework designs. The quilts were made from one large piece of fabric and the complex designs were stitched by hand on them.

Quilting in America

In America, quilting started to gain ground in the 18th century. The lack of available fabric, though, prevented it from becoming popular among Americans. It was not until the Civil War was over that fabric became available and patchwork quilting became pervasive in North America.

In the 19th century, quilting evolved even more. It gave birth to block quilting, where a single pattern can be made repeatedly in blocks and then joined together to form a quilt. The blocks allowed the quilters to carry their work wherever they go. They were also easier to store until they were ready enough to be joined together to form one piece of quilt.


Album Quilts

Also called autograph quilts or commemorative quilts, album quilts also began appearing in the 19th century. It started in Baltimore, Maryland USA, and was made by Methodist women who shared designs with each other when they attended one religious service to another. Album quilts were usually made of 25 blocks that were sewn together and they often commemorated an event or carried a message.

Ink sketches and poems may even be stitched on them. The blocks of album quilts also contained cloth appliques, which were usually in shades of green, blue, or red and stitched onto off-white or white ground material. The appliques can come in various designs, including images with symbolic Christian meaning, birds, ships, and flowers.

Commemorative quilts were often used as wedding gifts or gifts for certain occasions. They were also not made for actual use but for display purposes only.

Quilting Bees

Due to the popularity of quilting as an art, quilting bees also became popular. These social events allowed women to gather socially, catch up with each other’s lives, gossip, and express their artistic abilities. Quilting bees were often attended by a maximum of 12 women, each of which would show their expertise in the art.

The Onset of Sewing Machines and New Technologies

Quilts continued to be made by hand until the 19th century when sewing machines were created. Sewing machines made the creation of quilts easier and quicker, with many quilters able to complete their quits in days or weeks. Before the sewing machines were created, quilts could take some time before they get completed.

Now, new technologies and techniques have made quilting even easier to perform. The leading industries in these modern times have created new tools that can help quilters create a work of art in the easiest way possible. These tools have also provided quilters an array of inspiration that allows them to create more beautiful and more intricate designs. These new technologies and tools have also allowed lovers of this art to choose from the different styles of quilted clothing and other quilted products from various quilt supply stores. In fact, there are many stores selling these products online these days.

As quilting continues to hold its place in the fashion arena, more people will be able to get a taste of fashion in the medieval era. It even continues to evolve, with smaller, emerging brands trying to reinvent the art and introducing new styles to the modern fashionistas.

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