One of the staples of cottagecore style is the patchwork quilt. There's something very nostalgic and comforting about them, sparking childhood memories of granny's house, squashy armchairs, cosy fires and blanket dens.
Why do we love patchwork?
The scraps of colours, textures and patterns hold cherished stories and secrets of the past. Carefully appliqued motifs, embroidered names, love letters stitched inside the lining or precious pieces cut from children's clothes, a patchwork quilt is a memory box in fabric form.
An Instagram post I wrote recently on cottagecore got me thinking about why we're drawn to key pieces like patchwork and I think ultimately it's because we're drawn to the memories and stories captured in them. We love the nostalgic feelings sparked by them and if we don't know the stories behind each scrap of material, we like to imagine them. We wonder who stitched the blanket with such care and who it was for.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and vintage homewares act like a portal to the past. Remembering the past helps to unite us to our authentic selves and reminds us of who we have been and who we feel we are today.
History of Patchwork
Patchwork is an ancient Egyptian craft that dates back over 5000 years. One of the oldest surviving quilts in the world is the Tristan Quilt, which was made in Sicily in the 14th century. One section of it is housed in the V&A museum in London and another section is on display in the Bargello Palace in Florence, Italy.
Interestingly, Emma Bridgewater's Quaker ancestor, Elizabeth Fry, a forward-thinking prison reformer who campaigned for better prison conditions, ensured that women prisoners transported overseas received sewing supplies including tape, ten yards of fabric, four balls of white cotton sewing thread, a ball each of black, red and blue thread, black wool, twenty-four hanks of coloured thread, a thimble, one hundred needles, threads, pins, scissors and two pounds of patchwork pieces.
This ensured that every woman would have the means to make a patchwork quilt, which could be used to keep her warm, as well helping her to secure employment through skills gained on the long voyage.
Young girls were taught the craft of quilting as a way of learning many sewing techniques. A girl would often start work on a decorative quilt as part of her "bottom drawer" of clothes, linens and homewares collected ready for flying the nest. Once engaged, the young woman would complete the work on her quilt.
A similar idea was established by the settlers in America, who started the tradition of a quilting bee for a bride about to get married. The group would share out the task of stitching a quilt in one day, which would often be a design of interlocking rings.
Patchwork and Cottagecore
The seeds sown by the 60s hippy movement grew into the 1970s interest in small holdings, self-sufficency and all things 'good life'. There was an interest in handicrafts such as macrame, tie-dye, batik, patchwork, crochet, applique and embroidery, which are returning in popularity through the thrifty, made-from-scratch life that cottagecore celebrates.
Shop the look
Click on the picture below to view the blanket.
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