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Quilting History 1

Quilting History 1

History Lesson today.

Quilting is stitching together several layers of padding and fabric. Quilted items have been found as far back as 3400 BCE. Quilted carpets were found in Mongolia. These dated back to 100 BCE to 200 CE. Knights wore quilted garments under their metal armor during the Crusades. The padded jacket worn alone or over armor was called a gambeson. The gambeson was used by those who could not afford armor and for warmth. This morphed into a doublet. A doublet is a padded layer worn over shirts but under other clothing such as a gown or overtunic. Quilted garments became highly fashionable in the 17th century. Hunting jackets, silk doublets, and breeches were decoratively quilted and worn by the wealthy.   


The earliest quilt known is from the 13th century. Early quilting, in addition to the examples above, was to make bedcovers. The Victoria & Albert Museum in England has a quilt from Sicily that depicts 14 scenes from the legend of Tristan and Isolde. This quilt used trapunto or stuffed quilting. In the 17th century, quilts were made for special occasions, and from imported chintz fabric from India.


The use of quilts for domestic needs also has a history. Quilts were made for family’s own uses – bed coverings for warmth, to mark special occasions as a birth or wedding. Quilts were also made to tell stories. Blocks depicting scripture, the life of the family, historic figures, battles won and lost, family trees, etc. Baltimore Album Quilts are examples of this type of quilt.

Quilting and patchwork are considered different techniques. Patchwork refers to sewing together small pieces of fabric to create a flat design. Quilting is often associated with warmth, while patchwork is associated with economy of use of fabric. Women used scraps leftover from making clothing. There are also some examples of patchwork quilts made by middle class women in the mid-1800s. These quilts had fabric bought for this specific purpose(to make a quilt).

I share this information because of an email and pictures I received last week. It was about a quilt made with fabric from Quilting Adventures 10 yrs ago.

Benjamin Ross wrote:

                Hello, this is my first time responding to your emails, but I wanted you to know that ten (10) years ago, my church made a special quilt to honor the 200th birthday of our founding pastor, Rev. John Jasper (1812-2012).  All of the materials purchased came from a quilting shop in Willow Lawn Shopping Center in Richmond.  It is a celebration of Virginia's African American history, and is known as the John Jasper Bicentennial Quilt, which currently hangs in the Richmond Convention Center.  See attachment.

Benjamin Ross

Church Historian

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church


He also wrote in another email:

The quilt has a story that explains each of the panels of the sun and stars.  I have attached two images of Rev. John Jasper born July 4, 1812 and died March 30, 1901.  He was an extremely popular and celebrated preacher in Richmond and throughout the state of Virginia.  Next year, will be his 210th anniversary, and I am trying to come up with ideas on how to celebrate it which might include the quilt.  Any ideas you may have will be helpful.




I urge you to go see this awesome quilt. If you have an idea to share with Benjamin, you can reach him at  We love seeing and hearing about the history of the quilts you share with us. Don’t ever think the quilt you make isn’t worthy of praise, worth being part of your family’s, or all of our histories. Be sure to label your quilts for history purposes and so the family knows when and who made the quilt. You don’t know the journey your quilt will make.

Time for you to start a new piece of family history, repair a loved quilt, or finish one started. Come visit us and we can help get you started.

Some new, awesome fabric has arrived. I also received autographed copies of Kaffe Fassett's latest book. Lots of patterns and things for you to make in this. The Suez Canal debacle is going to effect all of us, so please be patient when looking for supplies and new fabric.



Thanks for taking the time to read these each week. Enjoy all the blooms and wonderful weather.

Happy sewing

Phyllis and the QA staff

Quilting Adventures                                                                     Hours: 
6943 Lakeside Avenue                                                                  Tues thru Sat  10 - 4 
Richmond VA  23228                                                                     Sun - Mon  Closed
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Quilting Adventures
6943 Lakeside Ave
Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 262-0005
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