Quilt Inspiration

History of Patchwork and Quilting

A brief history from ‘The Quilters’ Guild’ stating that patchwork was a ladies’ leisure pursuit, in the 18th century, whilst quilting was considered a professional skill and plain quilted petticoats were popular, worn for fashionable daywear. Technological improvements in textiles manufacture led to a fashionable phase of using printed cotton fabrics at the end of the 18th century, which continued in to the early 19th century. Little is known about patchwork and quilting before the 18th century, and there are few surviving examples.

1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet.


Patchwork quilting was often one of the main reasons for women to get together with other women in the community (quilting bee). This was often the time where women shared stories and taught the younger generations not only how to sew but how to look after a house and a family. Patchwork quilts were introduced to America by emigrants. These emigrants, mainly from Ireland had a long tradition of making patchwork. Patterns, fabrics and quilting ideas were sent back and forth across the Atlantic keep both cultures up-to-date on what was going on in each other’s worlds.

Patch-working is the process of sewing little patches of cloth together. These pieces can be cut in many different shapes and sizes. They are then sewn together to generally make a pattern or block pattern. The quilt blocks are then sewn together to make the quilt top (top layer of a quilt sandwich) and then finally into a quilt. Originally many quilts were made out of necessity to keep warm in winter and quilting was a much more common craft in the northern states of American where they not only beautiful and fun to make, but a important during the cold months.

Worlds AIDS Quilt:

The quilt was conceived in 1985 by long-time San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones. Jones and his friends were inspired to make the largest memorial and a little over a year he created the first panel for the quilt memory of his friend Marvin Feldman. In 1987, the goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of Aids, and thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. Today the quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the Aids pandemic. More than 48,000 individual 3-by-6 foot panels have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members for the people they love, who have died of Aids. What begin with a single piece of fabric with one name, has become the international celebrated, 54-ton Aids memorial quilt. The largest ongoing community art project in the world, which contains more than 94,000 names. There is now an online interactive digital exhibits that, was created to allow you to explore the entire quilt, block by block. There are 6000 blocks comprised of 8 panels each.


I really liked the quilts I came across in my research, however none of them really inspired me to create a quilt. I found the patchwork styles to folk art and I did not like the bold block colours together, they felt very girlie. Even though I appreciate the beautiful craft of textiles, I don’t always like textile art to be so perfect. I prefer it when I see textiles linked with paper, newspaper or just more modern twists to traditional methods. I decide to look at some textiles books for inspiration including the work of Gwen Hedley, Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn and Jane McKeating.

5468469478_b9aa262c6f_z  Weave book paper

Jane McKeating, embroidery.

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Sandra Meech, contemporary quilts inspiration.

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Images that inspired a new out look, on the traditional style of quilt making. I was thinking at one point of making my final quilt more abstract. Why only have square size panel for example.

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I looked at the work of Piet Mondrian, when researching how I was going to stitch each panel together. I was considering using a colour in between each panel however, change my mind because I did not want to take anything away from the individual panels everyone had created.


I was recommend to look, at the work of Amy Kett, who designed a quilt for her final MA Communication Design project, to visualise information about Glastonbury Festival. A very impressive and thought out project, from me relating the triangles to tents, to the different pieces of fabric Kett, has used, kitchen cloth, a camping need. A really successful final project overall.

Images of the quilt in process:

DSCN4333  DSCN4327  DSCN4328

The final piece:

DSCN4533 DSCN4470

Quilts have many different layers and have expressed various hidden stories. I like the idea that quilts record your hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations while also being associated with feeling of warmth, comfort and security. Quilts are about telling a story, your story and each piece represents memories. I like the idea of communicating within a quilt because we live, in a digital world, were we communicate to each other by text messages, emails, and social media now.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  11bb554b908769095b7662bff964b63c  fc5c1d1e29f28e94d71ffdab6b565bbd

cdac313fdd8382a23eaacd05f407fd26    ea62f7ec7b54bb795ebfd32b3dccbca5   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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IDEA: To look into my Celtic background and research Celtic quilt block techniques.


Quilt pattern’s for inspiration.

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Quilting Templates & Blocks

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Quilting Block Templates

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Geometric Quilt Patterns

ffb80392e1e536c973f2e447a84f3c55       TradBlocks

Quilt telling a story

Lady Isabell's travel quilt   map quilt





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