I have been interested in patchwork for a while now, after a friend bought me a present of the Cath Kidston book, originally titled “Patch”! I’ve made a few things from the book, most notably the patchwork hexagonal pincushion. I really enjoyed making the pincushion as I could sit down and take my patchwork with me anywhere as it was all handsewn. It even went on holiday with me! It’s just so relaxing, sitting down in front of the tv, just me and my patchwork (and hubbie of course)! I like the idea you can mix and match fabric for patchwork, using up scraps of fabric or incorporating different themes.
Indeed, I have made several patchwork pincushion, including a sewing notions pincushion, which you can see on my Etsy shop: Lizzyshomemade
I’m currently in the process of making a small patchwork cushion with a vintage style maps material. It’s been lovely this month to take my patchwork outside on a sunny afternoon and to sit sewing.
Anyway, as I knew next to nothing about patchwork, I thought I would look into this lovely craft.
According to the V&A museum in London, their definition of patchwork is ” 2 layers of fabric sandwiching a thickish padding, all held together by lines of stitching. It is associated with quilting and involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design”.
Apparently, from google research, the earliest examples of patchwork were found in the Egyptian tombs and there have also been finds from the Middle Ages, however patchwork seemed to become popular during the 11th to 13th centuries in Europe.
Many people associate patchwork and quilting with the USA. Indeed, the art of quilting became widespread during the Great Depression from 1929. It became popular as a means to recycling clothing into quilts as money was scarce.
Indeed, I can remember the film “How to make an American Quilt” from 1995 with Winona Ryder, where a family sat around making a beautiful quilt for a wedding gift from fabric that had meant something to them. Indeed, I love the idea of incorporating your fabric strips from garments that you no longer wear but mean something to you. For example children’s clothing and wedding outfits etc. These quilts then become heirlooms down the generations and can take years to make. Its a lovely tradition of families and friends coming together to sew a quilt for someone they love with their memories incorporated into it.
One of my recently read books from my favourite author, Tracey Chevalier was about quilt making in the 1850’s. Quaker Honor Bright comes to 1850’s America from England and has to overcome tragedy and misfortune, however she takes refuge in her quiltmaking. “The Last Runaway” written in 2015 is a must for those patchwork and quilting fans out there. I loved it!
From searching for patchwork and quilting museums or exhibitions, I recalled that there was a quilt museum in York, I remember my mother in law, who is an avid quilter visiting it. Unfortunately, it closed in 2015 which is a bit of a shame. Apart from the obvious V&A in London, I did find the American Museum in Bath which looks to have an extensive collection.
With regards to patchworking and quilting in Birmingham, I am very lucky to have a patchwork and fabric shop about 10 minutes drive from where I live in South Birmingham, called The Cotton Patch. They specialise in patchworking and quilting plus have a good array of fabrics for dressmaking.
When I last visited I picked up a leaflet about an exhibition of Welsh quilts in Lampeter, which looked interesting. (I think Welsh quiltmaking and blanket making will have to wait for a new post!). It turns out that there is a Welsh Quilts centre which houses the exhibition. As I am Welsh, hopefully my husband and son won’t mind a weekend away soon. The exhibition runs until 5 Novemer 2016.
On a slightly more local basis than Wales, there is a Festival of Quilts held yearly in Birmingham at the NEC which has exhibitors from all around Europe and sells itself as the largest patchworking and quiliting exhibion in Europe. I missed it this year due to school holidays, but would love to go next year.
My other local haberdashery shop, Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley runs patchwork and quilting courses, so I am signing up for one of these. I would love to make a proper quilt, even if it would take me years! I need to learn how to do it though, as quilt making is obviously on a much bigger scale than patchwork pincushions and cushion covers!
I really enjoyed researching this blog and hoped you liked reading it and it has prompted you to try patchwork for yourself!
For more information on quilting, the Quilters Guild is a very interesting read. Hobbycraft also specialises in fat quarters for quilting and has a lovely range of fabrics.