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.

Exploring Quilting and patchwork

Photo of Memoriam, quilt, Michele Walker, 2002, England. Museum no. T.6:1-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Memoriam, quilt, Michele Walker, 2002, England. Museum no. T.6:1-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Kantha, unknown, early 20th century, Bangladesh. Museum no. S.16-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Kantha, unknown, early 20th century, Bangladesh. Museum no. S.16-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Coverlet, Ann West, 1820, England. Museum no. T.23-2007. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Coverlet, Ann West, 1820, England. Museum no. T.23-2007. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Hunting coat, unknown, about 1620 – 30, India. Museum no. IS.18-1947. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Hunting coat, unknown, about 1620 – 30, India. Museum no. IS.18-1947. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Evening jacket, Charles James, 1937, Paris. Museum no. T.385-1977. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Evening jacket, Charles James, 1937, Paris. Museum no. T.385-1977. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Patchwork bed cover, possibly Priscilla Redding, 1690 – 1720, England. Museum no. T.615-1996. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Patchwork bed cover, possibly Priscilla Redding, 1690 – 1720, England. Museum no. T.615-1996. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of At the End of the Day, hanging, Natasha Kerr, 2007, England. Museum no. T.43-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
At the End of the Day, hanging, Natasha Kerr, 2007, England. Museum no. T.43-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of HMP Wandsworth Quilt, made by HMP Wandsworth, 2010, England. Museum no. T.27-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
HMP Wandsworth Quilt, made by HMP Wandsworth, 2010, England. Museum no. T.27-2010. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Quilt, unknown, about 1700 – 50, Coromandel Coast. Museum no. IS.17-1976. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Quilt, unknown, about 1700 – 50, Coromandel Coast. Museum no. IS.17-1976. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Bed cover (detail), unknown, about 1805, England. Museum no. T.9-1962. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Bed cover (detail), unknown, about 1805, England. Museum no. T.9-1962. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Jacket and trousers, Chunghie Lee, about 1992, Korea. Museum no. FE.281:2-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London/Chunghie Lee
Jacket and trousers, Chunghie Lee, about 1992, Korea. Museum no. FE.281:2-1995. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London/Chunghie Lee

Photo of Quilt, Francis Brayley, about 1864 – 77, India. Museum no. T.58-2007. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Quilt, Francis Brayley, about 1864 – 77, India. Museum no. T.58-2007. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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