Quilting has been around a while…
According to an authoritative source, the practice of quilting began in England in the 13th Century AD, mainly for warm or protective clothing. Written records suggest that bed quilts were first in use in the 13th century, but few examples survive.
Quilting as we know it today was first practiced in the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing with it the start of the huge collection of traditional blocks we know, love and make regular use of today, whether we favour modern or traditional quilt design.
The patterns of these traditional blocks are timeless – even more so than we perhaps realise.
My sister was showing me photographs of Byzantine mosaic pavements she took on a visit to Myra in Turkey, and a Roman one from Spoleto in Italy. It amused me no end to realise I was looking at square in square (economy) blocks, hexies, snowballs, orange peels, HST, mariner’s compass, sashing and mitred corners. Just as with antique quilts, the colours have faded and some of the patterns are a little threadbare. But it’s still possible to see the jewel-bright, crisp patterns the mosaicist created, and visualise the magnificence of the finished work. I think those Byzantine and Roman artists still have a lot to teach us, and I’ll be looking at those ancient blocks with a newly respectful eye.
Quilting isn’t new. But the sources it draws upon go far back in the mists of time, and today’s quilters are joined to their sisters and brothers in history by threads of tradition, and the beauty and clarity of the mosaicist’s art.