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.

Collection Highlights

quilt
Memoriam, quilt, by Michele Walker, 2002, Brighton, England
kantha
Kantha, early 20th century, Bangladesh
coverlet
Coverlet, by Ann West, 1820, Wiltshire, England
hunting coat
Hunting coat, about 1620 – 30, India
evening jacket
Evening jacket, designed by Charles James, 1937, Paris, France
patchwork bed cover
Patchwork bed cover, 1690 – 1720, Kent, England
hanging
At the End of the Day, hanging, by Natasha Kerr, 2007, London, England
quilt
HMP Wandsworth Quilt, made by HMP Wandsworth, 2010, London, England
quilt
Quilt, about 1700 – 50, Coromandel Coast
bed cover
(Detail) Bed cover, about 1805, England
Jacket and trousers
Jacket and trousers, designed by Chung-hie Lee, 1992, Korea
quilt
Quilt, by Francis Brayley, about 1864 – 77, India

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