Quilting is the process of sewing together two layers of fabric with an insulating layer, called batting, in between. The batting is usually made of cotton, wool, feathers, or down. Perhaps best known as the process used to make quilts, quilting is not limited to only quilt making. As will be discussed later, quilting is a technique used to make clothing, quilts, and during times of war, protective clothing.
Historians credit both China and Egypt with the origins of quilting. The earliest reference to quilting is found in an Egyptian ivory carving of a pharaoh wearing a quilted mantle dating from 3400 B.C. Some interpret the mantle depicted in the statue to be a true quilt while others say it depicts a mantle with a woven pattern, but not a quilt.
In the 11th century, the Crusaders, intrigued by the quilted jackets worn by their Arab adversaries to serve as armor, found these quilts to be much lighter and easier to wear in the heat of battle, and more protective than leather underneath their chain mail. When the Crusaders brought these quilted jackets back to Europe, they eventually were adapted to be used as bedding.
Today, quilting enjoys a newfound popularity with books, magazines, television shows, and internet sites all dedicated to quilting. Quilting guilds and quilting conventions are also popular. A 2003 "Quilting in America" survey reports that 15% of U.S. households are involved in quilting. There are over 21 million quilters in the U.S., which means a 50% increase from the numbers reported in 1997. The survey also found that the average quilter spends $139.70 on quilting.
Quilting can be used for a wide range of products, including clothing and carpeting. Since its origins, which are believed to be in 3400 B.C., quilting has been used to make clothing in China, the Middle East, North Africa, and the colder parts of Europe. Later in Europe, during 17th and 18th centuries, quilted clothing became popular. Articles such as quilted petticoats, waistcoats, and caps were produced.
Quilting has also been used in history to make protective garments and armor. In the 11th century, the Crusaders, intrigued by the quilted jackets worn by their Arab adversaries to serve as armor, found these quilts to be much lighter and easier to wear in the heat of battle, and more protective than leather underneath their chain mail. When the Crusaders brought these quilted jackets back to Europe, they eventually were adapted to be used as bedding. A gambeson is a defensive armor popularly used in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries and was made by quilting. The outside layer was made of linen or wool, and it was filled with different materials, including scrap cloth or horse hair.
Quilting is always associated with quilt making. Early in history quilts were used to keep people warm during cold winter nights, and today this is no exception. Art quilts are also popular today. These are quilts made for decoration and come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Quilts are also used as a means of expressing political ideas or memorials. For example, during the Civil War, quilts with little black squares in the middle were hung outside to signify the building was a safe house for the Underground Railroad. A modern example of how quilts are used as a remembrance to honor the memory of people is the AIDS Memorial Quilt, an enormous memorial to those who have died from AIDS.
Quilting also has many different social aspects. For example, "quilting bees" are held where large groups of people gather together to apply their quilting skills. Quilt Guild meetings are a great way for people to meet other quilters, and share in different activities and guest speakers. This is also a great opportunity to share fabrics, designs, and quilt blocks.
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| October 22, 2017
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