The Art of Quilting

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patterns, and creative threadwork — quilting has been used by women as an expression of creativity for centuries. In simplest terms, quilting involves stitching two or more bits of fabric together. The patchwork is then sewn on to another layer of fabric with an insulating layer in between; a sewing technique that dates back to earlier civilizations.

The word Quilt stems from the word “Culcita,” meaning mattress in Latin. For a long time, quilting had been restricted to clothing, but now it is associated with bedcovers and wall hangings. Art quilting has also become popular since the Art Quilting Movement of the 1970s.

This article will give you all the essential facts you need to know about the art of quilting!


History of Quilting- Evolution of Quilt Making


Quilting is an ancient art form. The earliest quilted pattern was found on a carved figure of an Egyptian pharaoh from the First Dynasty around 3400 B.C.

In Europe, quilting was introduced in the 11th century, through Crusades! Turks wore multiple layers of quilted garments under their armor for protection. The technique came in handy for the people of Northern Europe who used quilted fabric for warmth and protection against the harsh weather conditions.

The oldest surviving complete quilt is a bed covering from Sicily made from linen and insulated with wool. It dates to the late 14th century. The intricate designing of this particular art piece shows that quilting was an evolved art form during that era.

In Colonial America, quilted pieces were luxuries of the wealthy. Shipped from India, these detailed hand-painted and block-printed fabrics could only be afforded by the rich few. Quilted fabrics were also used as a form of currency to pay bills at some point in time.

In the early 19th century, America was producing its cotton fabric. This decreased the price of printed fabric used in layering of the quilt. Although wool, silk, and cotton were still being imported, it did reduce the costs of patchwork and appliqued quilts, making them affordable for ordinary people.

Most of the pieces from this era were in medallion style — patchwork in the center surrounded by a detailed patterned border. Later in the century, floral styles like Baltimore Album gained popularity as well. Bride’s friends would collaborate to stitch a quilt with individual blocks made and signed by each friend. The art piece was given to the bride as a souvenir on her wedding. It is important to know that quilting was restricted to clothing and bedcovers by this time, but it was also used as door and window covers or as floor mats for the kids to play on.

In 1971, an exhibition on abstract designs of American quilts paved the way for the revival of quilting as a modern artform! ”Art Quilts” became a thing. Quilting was no more restricted to practical use. Artists like Jan Myers-Newbury, Michael James, and Nancy Crow became the pioneers of the Art Quilt Movement.

By the 1980s, tools like rotary cutters and techniques like strip piecing began to change the quilting world. Innovative technologies, as well as traditional work, started reaching the audience through books, conferences, and the internet.  Today quilting is used for practical use as well as a form of artistic expression!


Quilting Techniques


Though several patterns require more than one quilting technique, the four primary methods are best to start with!

  1. Block or Pieced Quilting: It is, perhaps, the most used technique to make a quilt. You stick blocks and patches of fabric to create a variety of patterns.


  1. Applique: This technique involves cutting the patches in irregular shapes and patterns to add variety to your quilt design. It is more like a painting. Baltimore Album uses Applique work!


  1. English Paper Piecing: It is sometimes referred to as a simple paper piecing technique.  You stitch your fabric on pieces of paper that are cut in shapes of your choice.  You can even buy ready-made paper shapes. The idea is to make the planning and crafting process easier.


  1. Trapunto Quilting: Also known as stuffed quilting. The filler layer in Trapunto quilting is stuffed in a way to create a puffy effect.



Quilting Essentials – The Basics of becoming a quilter


Quilting can be overwhelming for first-timers. Not knowing where to start, what materials to buy, and how to go by the whole process, you might give up even before you begin! This section will give you a head start into your quilting journey, through simplified steps and tips.


Step 1: Understand the anatomy of a quilt.


A typical quilt has three layers of fabric:

  • Top Layer is made from pieces of clothes in a variety of shapes and patterns. These patches are sewn together, by hand or by machine, in either geometrical or random patterns.


  • Filler Layer is also referred to as batting. This tier acts as an insulator, making the quilt soft and warm. It is usually made of cotton and gives a puffy effect to the quilt.


  • Bottom Layer is also known as the backing and is a large piece of cloth used to seal the quilt.



Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Quilting Terminology


You will often be using tutorials to learn the techniques and patterns of quilting. Keeping a diary, with all the essential vocabulary and standard abbreviations, at hand will make this journey a breeze for you!


Step 3: Gather Your Supplies


You cannot start your quilting journey without getting your hands on the essential tools and materials. Look at the list below to ensure you have everything you need before you start:

  • Fabric: It is where you begin expressing your creativity! Choose a stash of fabric for your pattern. Do not compromise on the quality of the fabric. You don’t have to buy expensive material, but make sure that it is durable. You don’t want to waste your hard work due to a fabric that won’t hold up during washing!
  • Batting: You could choose your batting according to your preference. It could be cotton, wool, or polyester.
  • Thread: When it comes to threads, your choices are unlimited! Choose the colors of your choice. Make sure to select the right thread for your machine and design. Experts recommend higher quality threads that have less lint.
  • Rotary cutters and scissors: A medium-sized rotary cutter and regular use scissors are best for beginners. Please ensure that these tools are sharp enough to cut the fabric with ease.
  • Quilting ruler and Quilting mat: Get an extra-long and wide ruler and a self-healing cutting mat.
  • Other Tools: Pins, clips, seam rippers, needles, iron, and a sewing machine are other tools required for quilting.

Step 4: Select a Quilt Pattern


It is smart, to begin with, a smaller pattern to try the basic technique before moving on to more complicated projects. Expert quilters recommend making baby quilts with a simple design, as the perfect starting point.

Pro Tip:


·       Choose a simple project

·       Break it down into smaller steps

·       Deal with one step at a time!



Step 5: Cutting and stitching of the Patchwork


Using the supplies cut your fabric in desired patterns and shapes. Accurate cutting is a must for an excellent end-product. Make sure that the stitched seam is straight while sewing the patchwork together.

Step 6: Quilt basting

This is perhaps the most important step! Basting all the layers together so that the quilt is not puckered while stitching is essential. You can either use safety pins to hold the pieces together or use a spray-on adhesive. You could even use both pins and spray for extra secure basting!

Step 7: Quilt stitching

You can put together the layers of your quilt in numerous ways and techniques. Some commonly used methods are free-motion quilting, Straight lint quilting, and following the patchwork designs with quilting. Choose on your own accord!

It is always good to start in the middle and work your way outwards when it comes to quilting stitching. Using a washable sewing pen to mark the sewing pattern will help get the work done without errors.

Step 7: Quilt binding

Binding the edges of your quilt after stitching protects the seams and gives a more finished look. Once the binding is sewn on the front and backside, the quilting process is finished

Hang it on the wall, gift it to your loved ones, or keep it safe to make a collection. Now you can enjoy your HAND-MADE Quilt!