Historical Quilting

Historical Quilting

It's not your normal quilting book, but you already have those. This book is designed for living historians re-creating times before 1600. Modern quilters used to making patch- work blankets and whole-cloth clothing.Before 1600, the opposite was true. Martha Rice, or Her Ladyship,Caitlin nic Raighne, has brought together sources on quilted and pieced textiles, and supplemented them with practical tips on making historical quilts.

She has also included designs for making projects from European cultures before 1600. Highlights of the book include a recently conserved, but as yet unpublished, needlework by the hand of Mary, Queen of Scots, notes on the origins of filling designs, and patterns from medieval and Renaissance quilts. Robert Kalthoff has illustrated the book with line drawings of period quilts, (It's sometimes difficult to make patterns from photos.), diagrams to aid the text instructions, and full size patterns for quilting.

The book is spiral bound to lie flat, so that you can transfer the patterns easier, and in large type. The format is 8 1/2 by 11, with 78 pages of text and patterns, plus 8 pages of preliminary tools.

This book is for sale by the author. It sells for $25.00, which includes shipping costs. All International orders, please add $5.00.
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Sample of Text:

A quilted slipper was discovered on a part of the Silk Road to the north of the Taklamakan Desert near the present Sino-Russian border. It had been discarded in a rubbish dump of a fort occupied by a Tibetan garrison sometime during the eighth century AD. Becasue of the way the pattern is severed at the ankle, the top of the slipper was clearly cut from something else, perhaps a quilted coat. (Lidell, p.4)

quilted shoe

5. Quilted slipper from 700 AD; Copyright the British Museum; MAS 495 (Both the photo- graph and this drawing of the pattern is provided in the book, however, the BM only gave permission for the paper publication. I respect their copyright.)

Domestic quilting probably did not play as small a part in the development of quilting in the Early Middle Ages as written evidence suggests. The fact remains that it is with accounts of quilted fabrics for military wear that this period is most represented. Before the eleventh century references to quilting are few and uncertain. From that time on the art of quilting became increasingly prominent in the needlecraft of nearly every country in Western Europe.

This was caused by the many specimens of applique hangings and garment brought from Syria by the Crusaders. On page 53, #138 in the Rule of the Templars, the French Text of the Rule of the Order of the Knights Templar by J.M. Upton-Ward, "each knight brother of the convent should have three horses and one squire; and a fourth horse and a second squire, if he has them, are at the discretion of the Master; and they should have a communal ration of barley for their horses; a hauberk, iron hose, a helmet or chapeau de fer, a sword, a shield, a lance, a Turkish mace, a surcoat, arming jacket, mail shoes, and three knives: a dagger, a bread-knife and a pocket-knife." The author, in footnote number six, defines an arming jacket as "a padded jerkin worn under armor."

The Crusaders found that the quilted shirts worn by the Arabs in the Near East, when worn under their chain mail prevented chafing better than the shirts of single layers of cloth the Europeans had always worn. "There is, however, something about the quality of honest purpose in the making of armor, with no fine stitching, no decoration - just strong linen or canvas, strongly sewn in straight lines, with tough thread, which has to be well done or it failed in its vital purpose - that gives to the tradition of quilting, a backbone not possessed by any other kind of domestic needlework." (Colby, Quilting. p.8)

Quilted armor had advantages over armor made from metal. The garments were lighter and less cumbersome on long marches. They were more easily put on and off, and the cost was cheaper than those for chain mail or plate armor. An early kind of armor was the Jack, a sleeveless coat. It was made of two outer fabric layers and contained stuffing and small plates of horn enclosed within the padding. The whole was laced together in a type of rough quilting through rows of spaced holes punched through from side to side of the coat. The lacing appeared on the outside as lines and triangles. The jack could be made at home by the soldier himself or his wife. The common soldier who couldn't afford armor wore shirts of canvas and leather stuffed with flax tow and quilted in losenges, squares, or lines to deflect the force of the weapons.

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