Quilting refers to the creative process of joining two pieces of fabric together to make a thicker material. Quilting encompasses several processes, including piecing, binding, applique, designing, and more. Quilters, people who craft quilts, may use their hands, a sewing machine, or a long-arm quilting system to finish their projects. The quilting process involves passing a needle and thread through multiple layers of material before bringing it back through for a second pass. The quilter repeats this process across the entire spectrum of material.
Quilters aim to create bed spreads, wall hangups, clothing, and a variety of other textiles. Quilters purchase fabric, thread, patterns, and other goods at specialty stores. They can also purchase or rent quilting machines. Some stores offer beginners classes and group sewing sessions. In addition, customers can custom-order quilts at specialty stores. Needless to say, quilting stores offer the widest selection of related supplies to this niche hobby.
History of Quilting
The origins of quilting remain shrouded in mystery; however, the earliest use of sewing techniques employed in quilting occurred several millennia ago. The earliest known record of a quilted garment is depicted on the ivory representation of a Pharaoh during the First Dynasty. Archaeologists also uncovered a quilted floor covering in Mongolia, with its origins dating back between 100 and 200 AD. In the late 11th century, Crusaders brought quilted products back from the Middle East. During the Middle Ages, quilted garments known as gambesons, aketons and arming doublets were popular, especially among knights. The earliest bed quilt can be traced back to 14th century Sicily. It was made from linen and padded wool.
Quilting became a common pastime in Colonial America. Most women kept themselves busy spinning, weaving, and making a variety of textiles. During the 19th century, wealthier women prided themselves on their ability to make whole cloth quilts. Block cloth quilts emerged at a later time. Paper quilts became popular during American pioneer days. Quilters used paper as a pattern to cut and piece fabric. It also served as an insulator. Quilts without any batting or insulation were made to keep warm during cool summer nights.
African-American women developed a different style of quilting than the commonly identified Amish style. Harriet Powers was one of the few slave-born African-American women who helped contribute to the quilting community. In fact, the communal style of Harriet Powers and other quilters of Gee Bend, Alabama had shown that women of different racial and economic backgrounds shared similar interests. The Native Americans and Hawaiians also quilted in their own right. The United States Postal Service actually honors this notion with a series of stamps depicting the quilts of Gee Bend. During the Civil War, slaves sewed quilts to communicate with other fugitives to travel the Underground Railroad.
Types and Equipment
Many types of quilting styles emerged over the centuries. The two most widely employed methods include hand and machine quilting. Hand-quilting involves the process of using a needle and thread to cover an entire area of material. This method binds layers together manually with a running stitch. Quilters may also use a rocking stitch to push the material from the bottom up to the top of the quilt. The quilter usually wears a thimble to protect the thumb on the upper layer. A third option called a rocking stitch involves doing four or more stitches before pulling the thread through the cloth. The Amish and Mennonites still use hand-quilting methods today.
Machine quilting makes the process faster because it employs home sewing or long-arm machines. Quilters who use home sewing machines tack the pieces of clothing together before they sew. This usually involves cutting, piecing, and laying the batting before tacking and sewing the pieces together. Quilters who use a long-arm machine place layers of material on a frame. This special frame has bars that allow the quilting process to begin without tacking or pinning the material together beforehand. The frames usually sit on a platform with a sewing machine mounted to it. The quilter runs the platform along the tracks to allow the machine to move across the layers of material on the frame.
Some quilters may choose to fasten three layers of material together without sewing at all. Many quilters refer to this process as tying; however, it is traditionally not considered a quilting technique. Tying quilts generally involves binding pieces of cloth together with yarn or thread. Square knots are used to keep the material from coming undone, especially while washing.
One of the first steps in the quilting process involves piecing or sewing small pieces of cloth together into blocks. Quilters may piece these blocks together edge to edge or separated by strips of cloth. Whole cloth quilts typically do not require piecing before sewing. Quilters may add borders along the perimeter of the quilt top. Borders are typically made with strips of fabric of various widths. Quilters may stitch pattern blocks together as a border before adding it to the quilt top. Layering involves the act of placing the quilt top over the batting and backing. This serves as the layered pieces of materials that will create the final product during the quilting process. The stitching of these layers is called quilting. The quilting process serves three purposes, including securing the layers together, adding a decorative touch, and trapping air in the quilted sections to make it warmer as a whole. Quilters may attach long fabric strips to the borders of the quilt as a final touch in the binding process.
Quilters can create elaborate quilting designs consisting of complex patterns, geometric shapes, pictures, and more. The quilter may choose a variety of materials to accentuate the appeal of the design. Many quilters combine other forms of needlework, including embroidery, applique, and patchwork to make their design a success. Some specialty styles include echo quilting, foundation piecing, ralli quilting, tivaevae , trapunto quilting, shadow trapunto, watercolor quilting, and thread art.
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