Quilting is a sewing method done to join two or more layers of material together to make a thicker padded material. A quilter is the name given to someone who works at quilting. Quilting can be done by hand, by sewing machine, or by a specialist longarm quilting system.
The process of quilting uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material together to make a quilt. Typical quilting is done with three layers: the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material. The quilter's hand or sewing machine passes the needle and thread through all layers and then brings the needle back up. The process is repeated across the entire piece where quilting is wanted. A rocking, straight or running stitch is commonly used and these stitches can be purely functional or decorative and elaborate. Quilting is done to create bed spreads, art quilt wall hangings, clothing, and a variety of textile products. Quilting can make a project thick, or with dense quilting, can raise one area so that another stands out.
Early functional quilting
The word quilt is derived from the Latin culcita, meaning a padded and tied mattress. Quilting originated for its utility, as the technique produced a thicker padded fabric either for warmth or for protection. The first evidence of quilting is found in Asia sometime before the 1st century CE. A quilted linen carpet dating from that time was found in a Siberian cave tomb. The central motifs (primarily animals, with abstract spirals on the borders) are worked in the backstitch, while the background is diamond quilted in a coarse running stitch.
Ancient Egyptian sculptures show figures which appear to be wearing quilted clothing, possibly for warmth in the chilly desert evenings. Quilting has been part of the needlework tradition in Europe from about the 5th century CE. Early objects contain Egyptian cotton, which may indicate that Egyptian and Mediterranean trade provided a conduit for the technique.
Quilted objects were relatively rare in Europe until approximately the 12th century, when quilted bedding and other items appeared after the return of the Crusaders from the Middle East. The medieval quilted gambeson, aketon and arming doublet were garments worn under, or instead of, armor of maille or plate armor. These developed into the later quilted doublet worn as part of fashionable European male clothing from the 14th to 17th century. Quilting clothing began to be generally used in the 14th century, with quilted doublets and armor worn in France, Germany, and England and quilted tunics in Italy.
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