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The Practicalities of Quilts

by Sarah-Jane Galloway October 07, 2016 0 Comments

The Practicalities of Quilts

Handmade quilts appeal to me on many levels. I love the notion that they were originally born out of necessity. Desperate times ‘on the prairie’ meant old, worn out clothes were stitched lovingly into items of practicality.

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

Over time, (women being the sensational ‘creatives’ that they are) decided to raise the level of their patchwork skills and ‘quilting’ became an art form. Patchwork and applique patterns developed names such as Monkey Wrench, Ohio Star, Bear’s Paw and Nine Patch. (There are literally hundreds!) 

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

For the novice, patchwork and applique occurs on the top layer of the quilt. Small pieces of fabric are stitched together in a design of the patch worker’s choice. Once completed, wool or synthetic wadding is placed between the top layer and a large piece of backing fabric to form a ‘sandwich’ to be quilted.

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

Quilting is the process of stitching through the three layers to compact the fabric together and to ensure the warm wadding remains evenly distributed between the layers. Originally, quilting was completed by hand by one person or on a large frame, allowing several people to quilt at the same time. These days, special machines can complete this part of the process for you. The quilting stitches can be purely functional and consist of straight lines running across the quilt, or they can also be an added design element. (In the above photograph, you can see my mother quilted the pattern of the leaves and stems onto her design.)

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

I also love the notion that quilts brought people together - in particular, women. ‘Quilting circles’, where women gathered at people’s homes to collectively quilt, allowed isolated women in communities to meet at each other’s home and create, as well as converse. Celebrations such as a wedding would galvanise women into action and a gift would be made for the lucky couple. A new baby or an ill relative would also motive idle hands.

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

These days, quilts can be purely functional and provide you with warmth as you cosy up on the couch, or they can add colour and brighten your walls as an artistic nod to the past. Even when placed on a bare wall, quilts seem to instantly add warmth to a home.

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

A baby nursery or young child’s room can instantly be lifted with a quilt draped on a chair or used as a wall hanging - Neither of which is a permanent fixture. Both can be easily removed and updated with the minimum of effort. I have seen adorable quilts made with baby clothes that can no longer be passed on. If you have made the quilt, or you have been fortunate enough to be gifted one, the displayed quilt will have even more meaning for you. The quilts my mother has made for our home possess significant value to me. I know how long it takes to make a quilt as it is by no means, a weekend project. I also know that each stitch was completed with love.

 

(Photo source: The Polka-Dot Apple)

So check your linen cupboards and ask your aging Aunt of she has any family quilts tucked away. She may be kind enough to pass them on to you. Better yet, reuse and recycle fabric remnants, and get make your own family heirloom.

Sarah-Jane x





Sarah-Jane Galloway
Sarah-Jane Galloway

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