Patchwork also known as pieced work is a form of needle craft that involves using smaller pieces of fabric and sewing them together to create a larger finished item. Many of our festival clothing items now use patchwork to bring them to life, but where did it all begin?
Patchwork back in time
There are few surviving examples of patchwork before the 18th century however it is clear that it was used to create some wonderful pieces of quilted work. You’ll not be surprised to hear that patchwork items have been found to have existed way back in history. With evidence showing that patchwork was being used around 5000 years ago in Egypt (examples of patchwork were found in Egyptian tombs) as well as early China. The middle ages also showed that this technique was used when producing armour. Thick layers of quilted fabric were produced and worn to keep soldiers warm and protected.
During the 18th century patchwork material became fashionable with both the upper and lower classes. Expensive printed cottons were used by the upper classes, often these materials were pieced together in a mosaic (patchwork) pattern. The lower classes couldn’t afford these expensive printed cottons and so used a lower quality material that closely duplicated the more expensive fabrics.
As techniques evolved in the 19th century including the creation of the first synthetic dye in 1856, the emphasis moved from using printed cotton to brightly dyed materials like silk and velvet. It became popular to have patchwork cushions, throws and table clothes spread throughout homes in Victorian England.
Patchwork used today
The biggest use of patchwork designs are for quilts. People produce these wonderful items at home using specially chosen fabric. Quite often the pieces used are square but the more adventures needle worker might use other shapes like hexagons to produce the finished item. Of course you can buy quilts already made and in a lot of cases this is how people prefer to do things. However for the few dedicated people making your own quilt means you have a truly unique handmade item.
Wall hangings in Nepal, India and Thailand quite often use mosaic designs to create the works of art. Using different coloured fabric the artist can create a wonderful piece of art that shows great detail and depth.
Patchwork clothing is also big at the moment not only because of the fantastic designs available to our customers but also because of the environmental advantages of using scraps of material and turning them into whole pieces of clothing. Recycling is a great advantage to patchwork materials as many off cuts no longer need to be thrown away.
With anything and everything having the patchwork treatment from dresses and skirts to trousers, shirts and jackets. There really isn’t anything that this style of needle work can’t be turned into. Our range of festival clothing heavily incorporates this style of clothing as we know that our customers want unique and individual pieces of clothing.
Thanks to the ideas found deep within our history we are still using the same kind of techniques were first thought to have existed thousands of years ago.