Quilting Facts
Quilting Facts

32 Charming Quilting Facts

By Madeline Thatcher, Associate Writer
Published February 19, 2019
  • “Quilt” is derived from the Latin word culcita, which means “stuffed sack.”[5]
  • The earliest depiction of quilting was discovered in Egypt; it was an ivory figurine of a pharaoh wearing quilted clothing, ca. 3400 BC.[5]
  • Quilted clothing was popular in Europe, especially under chain-mail armor for soldiers. It kept the metal from rusting and kept the knights comfy under all their heavy gear.[5]
  • European settlers brought quilting to the Americas, and the earliest-known quilt made in America is from 1704.[5]
  • During the expansion into the Western United States, quilts were used as window coverings, doors, and walls for temporary housing as well as currency for pioneers.[5]
  • “Quilting bees” originated in the midwest United States during the 1800s, where a lack of neighbors and a need for socializing drew women together to finish quilts and make new friends.[5]
  • Most quilts are built with squares, ranging from  8” x 8"  to 16” x 16" (20 cm x 20 cm to 40 cm x 40 cm).[5]
  • Quilt Fact Couple
    Quilts come in all shapes, sizes, and patterns, but patchwork and simple squares are really common

  • A quilt is made of three layers: a quilt top, batting, and a bottom layer. The top and bottom layers are made of fabrics stitched together. Batting (usually made of cotton or something similar) is insulation that makes the quilt warm.[3]
  • There are three basic types of quilts: plain, or whole cloth quilts; appliqué quilts; and patchwork quilts.[3][4]
  • Whole cloth quilts use single pieces of fabric on both the top and the bottom. Cords or stitching are used to make a design on the fabric.[4]
  • An applique quilt has a top layer made of a single layer of fabric with additional pieces stitched on top. It was more popular with wealthier quilters, since nicer fabric had to be purchased and more time was spent adding intricate detail.[4]
  • After all, a woman didn't leave much behind in the world to show she'd been there. Even the children she bore and raised got their father's name. But her quilts, now that was something she could pass on.

    - Sandra Dallas

  • Patchwork quilts were common in areas where women had few resources to make them. Using leftover fabric from earlier projects, old clothing, or other cheap materials was very common.[3][4]
  • A “summer quilt” doesn’t have batting inside, making the blanket lighter and more suitable for warmer temperatures.[4]
  • In the 19th century, it was customary in certain parts of the United States to have a girl make a selection of quilts before she got engaged. Twelve would be made for everyday use, and one be used to show off her quilting skills and be placed on the bed she would share with her husband.[4]
  • Even though the sewing machine was invented in 1790, hand-quilting was still more popular for the next 100 years.[4]
  • Quilting became popular again in the 1960s, when the counterculture movement encouraged people to get back to their early, industrial roots.[4]
  • In 1971, Jonathan Holstein opened the first quilt exhibition in a major museum. It was entitled, "Abstract Design in American Quilts" and helped launch the craft into a realm of appreciation and criticism it had not known before.[10]
  • Crazy Quilt
    This crazy quilt from the 1990s draws its inspiration from the Victorians, who, despite their reputations, could get a little wild!
  • The “crazy quilt” was introduced during Victorian times. In order to showcase their wealth, high-brow women would use expensive fabrics, like velvet or silk, and brightly colored thread to make quilts. They were intended to be admired as art, not used for warmth or protection.[1]
  • The most expensive quilt ever sold was a Civil War-era piece purchased for $254,000 in 1991—the equivalent of $470,230 in 2018 dollars.[9]
  • While quilting has traditionally been a female activity, some men in the United States military spent time quilting in order to pass the time while enlisted.[2]
  • Many quilts made by military soldiers were known as “convalescent quilts,” since soldiers did quilting work while recuperating after being wounded in the line of duty.[2]
  • Some military quilts are made up of 25,000 different pieces, since fabric was scarce on the front lines.[2]
  • There are fewer than 100 military quilts worldwide, since many were not preserved after the wars during which they were made.[2]
  • Alice Walker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, wrote a famous and often-anthologized short story about quilting called “Everyday Use.”[8]
  • The largest patchwork quilt was made in 2000 and measured 270,174 square feet (251,000 square meters). That’s more than 54 times the square footage of the White House![6]
  • Marxist Jean Baudrillard claimed quilts and other antique traditions were prime examples of the 20th century's desire for a "bygone" era, a nod to why humans seem to prefer the old over the new.[10]
  • Quilting Fact Bee
    Most quilters are seniors, but they're no strangers to socializing
  • The average quilter is 63 years old.[7]
  • “Dedicated quilters” (those who spend more than $500 per year on quilting) buy, on average, 99 yards of fabric a year, almost an entire football field’s worth![7]
  • Dedicated quilters usually spend an average of $3,363 on quilting supplies per year.[7]
  • Beginner quilters spend an average of 6.9 hours a week on their craft. Advanced quilters spend around 17.6 hours.[7]
  • Dedicated quilters spend almost 8 hours online per week visiting quilting sites and groups centered on quilting techniques, supplies, and news.[7]
  • Quilting was a $3.7 billion industry in 2017.[7]
  • Fun Quilting Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Quilting Statistics Infographic
References

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