“Patchwork” is also sometimes called “pieced work” and refers to a method of textile engineering in which the remnants of various materials are used to produce the most diverse furnishing articles and items of clothing.
The art form of “patching”, or the act of decoratively sewing together pieces of fabric, came into being some 3,000 years ago. It originated in the Buddhist countries of Asia, China and parts of the Orient. What made “patching” so popular was primarily the lack of fabrics and warm materials, but the opportunities it provided for freehand design were also a compelling factor.
With the Crusades, the artistic scarves and throws arrived in Europe in the Middle Ages and, from there, found their way to America with emigrés who settled there in the 17th century.
The oldest surviving “patchwork project” is a pall, dating back to 980 B.C. This specimen can be admired in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and comprises a work of art rendered in dyed gazelle leather.
Patchwork has been used for the most diverse fields of application in all corners of the globe, often using the simplest tools and techniques. In the first instance, for practical, everyday needs, such as tents, flags and throws, but also for luxury items, such as valuable wall-hangings, cushions, bags or stylishly embellished clothing.
Nowadays, practical utility has receded into the background somewhat, and “patchwork fabrications” are increasingly produced from an artistic standpoint. When the trend first emerged, patchwork bedcovers were the main focus of design, but now there are all sorts of items sporting patchwork designs. Cushions, bags, toys... The list goes on.
Types of design:
Patchwork involves the adjacent or superimposed sewing together of small or larger pieces of, for instance, felt, leather, silk, linen, cotton or any other kind of material to produce a large aggregate piece
1. If the pieces of fabric are sewn together so as to be adjacent to one another, the aggregate piece is called “pieced work” or “mosaic patchwork”.
2. If the pieces of fabric are sewn together so as to be superimposed, with different stitches being used to sew them together, what is produced is an “appliqué“.
The quilting connection...
Frequently, patchwork and quilting are mentioned in the same breath. This has to do with the fact that “patching” is often a component of a quilting project. For close to 2,000 years now, top-stitching has been used to make warm throws and clothing, usually involving the sewing together of three layers of fabric. To survive the cold winter, an insulating material, such as wool. cotton, feathers, leaves or straw, was inserted between two layers of fabric and secured by stitching. In order to prevent the “lining” from puckering, the three layers were secured by means of simple top-stitching.
The finished side of the quilt can be designed in a variety of ways. Colourful patches are often featured, sewn together in a, by and large, artistic manner. This is an example of classic “patching”. This is also called “pieced patchwork” or “mosaic patchwork”.