A Brief History of Quilting
Patchwork has its beginnings in the dawn of time dating back to when clothing was first considered a good idea. Animal skins were stitched together to make clothing, with patches applied to worn garments to extend their life or even for decoration.
Examples of patchwork have been discovered in Egyptian tombs, and during the Middle Ages quilted garments where the height of military fashion!
Patchwork did not become common in Europe and the UK until the 1600s when cotton printed fabrics from India became available. English laws prevented the colonies from manufacturing or buying their cloth from anywhere but England, so fabric for American settlers was very precious and they based their early designs on simple shapes to prevent wasting too much fabric. Eventually the cotton industry in the US grew, and patchwork came into its own in North America.
The original purpose of patchwork was to teach young girls the basics of cutting, sewing and combining fabrics. A girl would often make as many as a dozen quilts before becoming engaged or married. Upon her engagement an elaborate masterpiece was designed and made.
Patchwork has had its ups and downs over the centuries. After flourishing in the late 1700s and early 1800s it went into decline.