The History of Quilting
The history of quilting can be traced back to both ancient Egypt and ancient China where three layers of fabrics (top, batting for warmth, and backing) were stitched together to keep the middle layer from slipping and clumping. In Europe, quilting was introduced by Crusaders in the 12th century in the form of the aketon, a quilted garment that was worn under their armor.
US Quilting History
Most early Colonial women didn't have time for quilting. Some quilting was done by women who could afford help around the house, leaving them time for decorative needlework. Those women used the quilting methods from their home countries. Their styles were far different than the patchwork quilts we often associate with that period of history.
Because imported prints were difficult to obtain, Broderie Perse quilting was a popular way to stretch the use of the beautifullly printed fabrics. Colonial women would cut out flowers and motifs from the fabric and carefully turn a tiny seam and applique each to a large piece of solid fabric.
Whole-Cloth quilts were made by layering together a solid piece of fabric for the top, the backing and the filling. The layers were quilted together with elaborate designs. This method resulted in a pattern that was beautiful in both texture and shadows.
When pieced blocks were used to create a quilt, they were usually used in one of the many borders of the Medallion Style quilt. A central motif was surrounded by several of these borders. Star blocks, Saw Tooth, and Hour Glass are a few of the patterns that early American quilters used.