Patchwork and Quilting in Costume

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Our first Friends of the Collection mini exhibition took a look at how patchwork and quilting have been used through the centuries in clothing.

4Z5A8534This exhibition explored 31 items of clothing featuring patchwork or quilting from The Quilters’ Guild Collection—from prestigious and decorative professionally produced garments from the eighteenth century to casual and comfortable dressing gowns from the mid-twentieth century.


Quilting is a useful technique for clothing, as it provides warmth as well as decoration. It is most often found in dressing gowns and bed jackets, which are informal home wear not intended for public display. However, in the eighteenth century, quilted petticoats and other garments such as jackets and stomachers were very much on show as part of fashionable daywear. Corded quilted items were further decorated with embroidery and pulled work to create stunning decorative clothing.

Patchwork is less often found in fashionable outer clothing, but frequently used in home made dressing gowns, and occasionally finds its way into later twentieth and twenty-first century high street designs. This 1950 corded wedding dress is a stunning example of how quilting can be added to  beautiful effect.

If you’d like to find out more about each of the pieces we had on display you can find our curators notes on each item here.

We have 4 mini exhibitions per year and these are open exclusively to Friends of the Collection. The great news is that one of our favourite things is making new friends – if you’d like to become a friend you can join by emailing curator@quiltmuseum.org.uk or call us on 01904 613 242, it’s just £15 per year and Quilters’ Guild Members receive a discounted rate.

By becoming a friend you’re helping to support the collection for future generations to enjoy.

Our next exhibition is Turkey Red in Quilts and Patchwork and will be on display in York from 4th-8th December 2017.

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