The Old-World Quilt Exhibition transports us to the 17th and 18th centuries. This was an age of growing global trade and cultural exchange. At this exhibition, you will view some of the earliest textiles from the International Quilt Museum’s collection.
During this time in history, Europe’s desire for goods from unfamiliar, “exotic” cultures led to unprecedented growth in overseas trade.
This desire (greed?) led to a boom in domestic manufacturing and fed a growing consumer mindset. The new production techniques and materials, and the development of hybrid designs resulted in textile designs that are useful in our lives today.
The growing textile and quilt trade
The global sea trade really began with the discovery of a sea route around Africa’s southern tip which made access to Indian goods easier. Prior to 1500, land routes—including the Silk Road—were primary ways for bringing Asian goods to Europe.
By 1600, the major trading companies of the Portuguese, Dutch, and English were importing great quantities of silk and cotton textiles. Shipping by sea from India, China, and Japan was part of the profitable Asian trade.
Textiles very quickly became prized commodities used in home décor and clothing.
Textiles imported to Europe reflected the traditions of the regions where they were produced. Also, they reflected the preferences of the consumers in the European countries where they were sold.
Merchants requested specific colors and figures from the Indian production centers specifically for tailoring designs to individual markets.
Even with these modifications, key materials, and motifs remained fashionable for centuries, forming a global textile language that ties these Old-World Quilts together.
My growing fascination with old quilts
I am fascinated with antique quilts and quilted items – especially from the Middle Ages through about 1820.
Thankfully, museums and individual collectors are opening their “vaults” to show off these items. I grow more amazed with each show or exhibition of quilted textiles.
Before all the modern conveniences we enjoy, people were using what they had to make gorgeous quilts and quilted objects.
I have been privileged to attend several historical events and lectures regarding historical textiles and quilts. It is wonderful to see the growing amount of historical textile finds that are available for our enjoyment.
Quilting is not a modern hobby or skill.
While our tools are different, the need to create useful beauty and show off our skills continues from long ago through today. Those quilters from the past would understand the modern quilters creative wants and needs.
If you are looking for more beautiful old quilts, please see this video.
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.