Quilting and patchwork

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From luxurious 17th-century courtly robes to a quilt stitched by 21st-century prison inmates, the V&A holds a rich variety of objects created through quilting and patchwork – two distinct but frequently combined stitching techniques. These objects are remarkable both for their exquisite craftsmanship and their emotional resonance – gateways to fascinating stories and social histories.

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While patchwork involves the sewing together of small pieces, often fabric remnants, quilting describes the stitching together of several pieces of fabric, layered on top of each other. The two methods are frequently used together, particularly in the making of patchwork quilts, yet our collections include diverse examples of these techniques, from pin cushions to prayer mats, smocks and coats, as well as bed covers – spanning the domestic and the professionally made. We also hold works by contemporary artists who use the domestic associations of the quilt to explore political and social issues, and commemorate private grief.

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