My brother has a very logical mind and once said,
‘Why to you cut up fabric just to sew it back together again?’
I can totally see his point. 😂
I think he said this because I wasn’t approaching the quilt I was making in quite the same way a woman (sorry men, it would more likely have been a women) in the past would have. I bought metres of beautiful fabric and set about cutting squares, stars, heart and other shapes.
Patchworks of the past were made for various reasons. To use and keep us warm is the main main one but to remember people, to celebrate an event and also to create something new out of old and used fabrics, particularly those that had special associations or couldn’t be used again to make something else.
They would be sewn by women often working alone by candlelight who would hand sew or later hand wind a precious sewing machine. Groups of women work get together and work on quilts to or a special quilt for a common goal.
Fabric was precious. Being expensive to buy just for clothing every scrap had a use. Items were taken apart and adjusted or remade for younger family members. Every scrap had a purpose from the larger pieces saved for quilting to the smallest scraps used in rag rugging.
The women wouldn’t have had the luxury I have to go out and buy exactly what I need. They wouldn’t have been able to chose the colours they would have wanted because making from fabrics you already have will dictate what colour quilt you’ll make. Neither would they have made the quilt all in one go because saving fabric takes time and everything that could have been made with the fabric would have been made first, patch working really would have got the scraps.
So I can understand what my brother is saying. It is odd to cut fabric up to then sew it back together again.
Patchworking came from necessity. I’ve never seen a patchwork quilt on any bed in any stately home I’ve been to. I’ve seen examples of fine sewing such as embroidery or cross stitch but no patchwork (unless a lower class bed hidden away). I’ve seen many examples of working class houses having patchwork quilts.
I love how many of my pupils want to make a patchwork quilt which I why I include a patchwork cushion in my 6-week ‘Make friends with your sewing machine’ course. Working with squares is a good introduction and the skills learned with a cushion are exactly the same just repeated on a larger scale.
The picture shows the back of the patchwork I am working on. I was told by the fabulous lady who taught me to sew that the back of your work should be as tidy as the front. I think she’d be pleased with this....