Newsletter No. 6-07 (Jun. 2007)   Page 4 of 5 / Sidan 4 av 5. [back to page 1] Arcive/Arkiv: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


This newsletter is written in order to spread experiences within the topic of historic textiles and reconstructions. Our ambition is to amuse you and stimulate interest in the 18th Century. Durán Textiles, who is mainly working with museum collections and Royal Castles, was founded in 2002 by CEO and production manager Laila Durán, with co-worker artist Torkel Henriksson who is doing the artworks and preparing the designs for production. Our production is done mostly in India supervised by Duran Textiles inspectors. 
- The articles are mainly written by Laila Durán but we also have help from colleagues and specialists from several museums and universities.  In the future this newsletter will be distributed four times a year and is free of charge. We hope you will enjoy our stories and offers and help us to spread the letter to friends and colleagues. Contact:

Detta nyhetsbrev skrivs för att sprida erfarenheter inom ämnet rekonstruktioner av historiska textiler och 1700-talet. Ambitionen är att roa och stimulera intresset. Durán Textiles har varit verksamt sedan 2002 och arbetar med projekt för Kungliga Slott och museisamlingar i hela Skandinavien. Laila Durán är VD och projektledare, Torkel Henriksson arbetar med originalen och alla förlagor för tryck och väv. På plats i Indien, där de flesta av tygerna produceras, finns Durán Textiles egna inspektörer.
- Artiklarna skrivs huvudsakligen av Laila Durán men vi får även hjälp av kollegor och specialister från olika muséer och universitet.  Nyhetsbrevet kommer i fortsättningen att komma ut fyra gånger per år och är helt kostnadsfritt. Vi hoppas ni ska uppskatta våra artiklar och erbjudanden och även sprida informationen vidare till Era vänner. Kontakt:



Quilts and quilting in the 18th century
By Katriina Flensburg.

Quilting is a sewing technique traditionally used for preparing clothing, bedding and bed clothing with an isolating and warming layer of batting. Quilting - practised in the means of simple running stitches - unites two layers of fabric trough the batting. Parallel with the utilitarian use of quilting it has been used purely in decorating purposes. The global practice of the word quilting today often includes somewhat loosely all the various sewing methods that have been used by tradition when preparing bedcovers and patchwork quilts. This is, except quilting also application and piecing.

All the 17th century in Europe was a blooming era of the East Indian trade. Among other products there was an all growing import of beautiful, very colourful and decorative hand printed chintzes from India and Egypt. These fabrics – very unlike any European fabrics available those days – were even produced and imported by commission to the affluent over class. With their overwhelming flower motives on fine cotton and due to their colour consistency these fabrics grew to be very desirable.

During the 18th century there was no industrial fabric printing in Europe yet. The high demand for and relative exclusivity of the printed fabrics from Far-East is therefore believed to have been the starting point of decorative and thoroughly worked European patchwork. Left over pieces from interior decorating projects were all too exclusive and beautiful to be wasted and thrown away. Women started to stitch bed curtains, cushions and decorative bedcovers by using “Embroidery Perse”, an appliqué technique where beautiful cutouts are reused by rearranging them in a decorative manner on a plain background. The “Medallion” setting on a bedcover – an eye catching central motive lined with repetitive ornamental borders - was introduced and gained popularity.

The dominating English and French fabric industry with silk and wool manufactures felt threatened by the growing import of cottons. As a result of this the import of cotton fabric was prohibited in both countries. In 1720 England prohibited even domestic producing of fabric of cotton. Holland, which stayed outside the embargo, continued however to supply the European over class with the popular chintzes. Also the import of “Calico quilts” sewn in India by using block printed fabrics with overwhelmingly decorative motives continued to be a lucrative product of import for the traders of Holland.

In this partly empty space in the availability of printed fabric quilting got a growing use, besides as a utilitarian technique also in the means of decorating. Except quilting through three layers there were two other parallel practises: “Matelassé” with a French origin and an Italian variation called “Trapunto”. When practising the first one, decorative ornaments were sewn with two parallel rows of stitching, uniting two layers of fabric without a batting. These “canals” were then filled with thin cotton rope. In Trapunto ornaments were sewn in the similar manner and filled afterwards tightly with cotton batting from the backside of the work.

Due to their decorative and emphasizing effect these various quilting techniques grew popular. They were used for bedcovers, curtains and cushions sewn of growingly available and colourfully dyed fabrics of linen, wool and silk. Due to the relative humidity and coldness of the houses there was a constant need of warming textiles. The popularity of quilting techniques was probably raised by the fact that preparing and decorating could be achieved simultaneously.

Quilting patterns were usually advanced flower and leaf ornaments with symmetrical repetitions and emphasizing framework and settings. ”Empty” spaces in between the ornaments were filled with quilting in checked-, diamond-, wave- or “zick-zack” pattern or decorated with French knots.

Quilting as a means of decorating the clothing was popular in all Europe already since the 17th century. The overwhelmingly decorative quilting was however mainly seen on the clothing of the wealthy middle- and over class. Quilted jackets were carried both by men and women. Beautifully quilted filled petticoats, exposed in front due to the fashion influences of that time, were sewn both by professional seamstresses and young girls in homes. Also hand quilted fabric sold by the piece was available on the market. It was prepared by seamstresses and was sold as a material for clothing and decorating.

The increasing domestic know how of the techniques of fabric printing in England and France resulted in removal of the sales and import prohibition in the end of the 18th century. French produced printed fabrics carrying the name “Toils de Jouy” due to the place of their manufacture, Jouy, gained a position as a serious competitor to the imported calico. Use of printed fabric became growingly common in clothing and interior decorating. Quilting retained however its popularity most certainly much due to its usability. Also, the educational authorities of those days excluded women from all kind of artistic and aesthetic education outside the home. It is possible, that the beautifully patterned fabrics now freely available filled a function not only as a raw material but as an inspiration to the growingly refined aesthetical creativity of the women, expressed trough sewing and patchwork.

Information about the practice of quilting in Sweden during the 18th century is quite rare. A quilt made of silk had however been included in the king Gustaf Wasa´s possessions in 1529. There is a reason to believe that it was of continental origin – maybe a gift or possibly sewn by imported “seamstresses” from the continental Europe? Quilted bedcovers and clothing started to appear more commonly in Sweden after the middle of the 17th century. During the 18th century decorative quilted bedcovers became a growingly common possession of the bourgeois. These “Parade Quilts” with thin batting were often decorated with quilting combined with embroidery. The top layer of the quilt was either of silk, white linen or – later on – of cotton and the back piece of linen. The eldest pieced and quilted bedcover resembling those made on continent belongs to the collection of the Röhsska Museum of Gothenburg and is dated to the middle of 17th century. A handful of beautiful quilts of silk dated back to the end of the 18th century are found in collections of various regional museums.


“Quilting” A Colby, 1971, ISBN 684 16058-7
“Patchwork” A Colby, 1958/1982 ISBN 684 17605-8
“Chintz Quilt: Unfading Glory”, L Folmar Bullard/Betty Jo Shiel, 1983 ISBN:
“Quilted Planet” C Eddy, 2005 ISBN: 1 84533 009-9
“Hemslöjd” A-M Nylén


(big picture – click on picture)

”Portrait de jeune fille en costume de d’Arles”, 1779 by Antoine Raspal.

A woman’s cap and a quilted petticoat dated from the early 18th century. Netherlands Open Air Museum.

Wedding quilt, made by Kristina Jansson-Blom, Edsbro 1885.
200 X 140 cm.

Detail of quilted petticoat dated end of 18th century, made from Indian chintz.

The quilting frame is set up in the drawing room of Bishop Lindblom at Brunneby, Vreta Abby. Watercolour by Isak Kiölström. 1797.

A superb quilted travelling costume. 1745-1760.

Indo-Portuguese silk quilt, early 17th century, in which the Eastern influence on early European silk quilt can clearly be seen.

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