Medieval Quilting

A lot of people know that a quilt is based on calico, modern and American cultures. The thing about this is that it is just the stereotype that you all know and does not go deeper than that. To the uninitiated, quilted garments go back to medieval times. When quilted garments are used as padding to a Crusader’s armor, quilted materials were used in beds way back during the Renaissance period, and quilted Evangelists were used by 15th century monasteries. The traces of quilted materials are all over the western hemisphere during these times although very hard to pin point, but quilts and the art of quilting itself is not a surprising part of these times.

The world Quilt has a latin origin which is the world culcita, that literally means padded and tied. It is a technique where you use two or more fabric materials, which usually includes sandwiching padded materials in between, that the maker will stitch together with elaborate (or simple) needlework.

The first ever discovered quilted item was from a Siberian cave tomb. It is a quilted linen carpet. It is not sure if quilting really originated in Siberia itself but quilted items like linen slippers began spreading throughout the Silk Road that connected Asia and Europe right around the 6th and 10 centuries.

The craft of quilting did not show up in Europe up until the 12th century and some records show that it was actually brought back by returning Crusaders when they came from the Middle East during the Crusades. Actually bed quilts have been mentioned in a couple of medieval poetry, one on the 12th century La Lai Desire and the 13th century poem titled Parzival. There was even an inventory log of a French ship in 1297 that was owned by the captain in Marseilles, it was a courtepointe or a quilt.

Then the quilted gear was started to be used for armor in the 14th century, most of it was made my armorers in Italy. The oldest surviving European quilts are three trapunto quilts that was apparently made in old Sicily back in the 14th century. In fact, a similar quilt was shown on a painting by Bartolomeo Bermejo back in 1450, The Death of the Virgin. Also an inventory was found dated 1426 that mentioned linen bedcovers made like it was from Naples.

It is known that the renaissance brought a surge of trade and industry with the East. Indian cotton quilts and quilted palampores were high popular in ancient Portugal. However the linens and silk quilts from this island of Chios in the Mediterranean was popular in Europe. This was a huge hit among the aristocratic circles of Europe, here you can see quilts all over the inventories of France, Wales, Italy and England. This is clearly evident in king Henry VIII’s palace inventory of 1547 that it literally consists of hundreds of “quyltes” and “coverpointes” among bed linens, the cloth used apparently came from Holland. The highlight entry on the list was quilt made for the king’s first wedding, it shows a quilt of green silk with embroidered gold or copper thread that is backed with linen and have a central medallion of roses and pomegranates.

It is going to be hard to trace the roots of modern quilting, but in the 21st century there have been traces of whole cloth quilts. Learn about the newest sewing machine models in the market.