Indian quilt, 18th century, possibly made for Dutch market. Indian quilt, 18th century, possibly made for Dutch market. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. IS.17-1976.

A quilt is a bedcover or coverlet normally made from two layers of cloth with a layer of raw or woven wadding in between. The top layer of a quilt (from the Old French coilte, Latin culcita, 'mattress' or 'cushion') may be made of a single length of material, or two or more pieces sewn together, often using a patchwork technique. The bottom layer usually consists of a plain length of cloth.

The wadding acts as an insulating layer and may be made of a wide variety of raw fibres or fabrics. The various layers are stitched together, generally using a running stitch, to keep them in place. The stitching is often applied in a decorative manner.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the making of purely decorative quilted pictures using various patchwork techniques became popular in many countries throughout the world. The end results are often called quilts, but technically they are not, as they do not have a practical, warmth giving function. A more accurate term would be a ‘quilted’ picture.

The verb 'to quilt' refers to the act of padding, covering, or fastening together two or more layers of material with stitches or lines of stitches. The first recorded English use of the word quilt in this manner dates to about 1555.

See also the TRC Needles entries on quilter; quilting; quilting bee.

Source: The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Quilt'.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 27 June 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 18:48
More in this category: « Inlaid Patchwork Piece (verb) »