As a technique, quilting is believed to go back as far as the Crusades. It may also have been practised in ancient Egypt. Today, quilting is a favourite pastime of many crafters. It is sometimes done on clothing, but more often the technique is used to make warm and beautiful quilts.
The patchwork quilt is one of the most popular types. Originally conceived as a way to utilize left-over fabric, creating patchwork quilts was a favourite pastime of women in early America. The quilts they created held great sentimental value. They were often given as wedding gifts, and owners often mentioned them in their wills.
The Amish were pioneers in patchwork quilting. They developed intricate geometric designs, as well as many floral and heart motifs. They often held quilting bees for the purpose of socializing and rewarding skilled quilters.
How Are Patchwork Quilts Created?
The patchwork quilt is formed by quilting three layers together: the patchwork pattern, batting, and backing. The stitching may be done by hand or machine, and it can outline the patchwork or be a totally different design.
The most basic element of a patchwork quilt is the block. The blocks are defined by the number of patches they contain. The most commonly used design is the four-patch, which contains two rows of two squares each. Each patch may be subdivided, but the four-patch structure is still easy to recognize.
Nine-patch quilts are also common. In them, each square contains three rows of three patches each. A sub-type of the nine-patch quilt is the double nine-patch. In it, the patches in the centre and corners of the square are replaced with smaller nine-patch units.
Five- and seven- patch quilts consist of five rows of five patches and seven rows of seven patches, respectively. In these designs, the patches are not usually subdivided. There is also a one-patch quilt, which is made with one repeating shape.
Patches for the quilt are cut with a rotary cutter. In a four-patch quilt, two squares are sewn together along one edge, with the right sides together. Two other squares are sewn together in the same manner, and the two pairs are then sewn to each other. This creates one block. This process is repeated until enough blocks are created for the quilt, and then they are all sewn together. Batting and backing are added, and the three layers are sewn together.
Sewing patchwork quilts takes some practice. They are not the best type of quilt for beginners, because there is so much room for error. If one block is uneven, it affects the whole quilt. So if you're just getting started in quilting, a simpler design will allow you to learn the basics before attempting a patchwork quilt.