Research Point: Medallion Quilt


This is a quilt I started making as part of a ‘Hand-stitched Class’ from a blog called ‘Stitched in Color’ when I was in the dark depths of post-natal depression. The colours feel rich, warm and jewel-like to me which I find rather comforting. It is roughly a square shape, about 60in sq. Not only is it made from beautifully patterned fabrics but it also has plenty of hand embroidery and quilting to add to the decorative effect.

  • When was this piece made and how long has it been in your possession?
    I started making this quilt in the January of 2013, and finished it in the summer of 2014. The actual quilt construction was finished in about 3 months, but the hand quilting and binding took me about another year to finish.
  • Who made it and where was it made?
    I made this quilt myself, mostly sat on my sofa I believe!
  • What is it made of?
    The fabric which I used to make this quilt is quilting weight cotton, mostly made and printed in the USA. It is sewn together with polyester sewing thread and cotton hand quilting thread, then decorated with cotton embroidery floss and perle cottons. The batting in the middle is Quilters Dream Request which is 100% cotton and designed for hand quilting.
  • Can you identify the techniques that have been used?
    The centre of this quilt was made using reverse applique, three borders with mitred corners were then attached by sewing machine. The second of these borders (the white one) was then embroidered by hand using back-stitch, running stitch and satin stitch. Then patchwork sections were made on a sewing machine from solid coloured fabrics, joined in the corners by paper-pieced blocks which were sewn by hand. The next border is made from squares set on point joined by appliqued blocks made using bond-a-web, which is ironed on to hold the fabric in place whilst it is blanket stitched on by hand. Two more borders were then attached by machine, and the whole thing was stuck to the cotton batting and backing material with basting spray. The binding was then sewn to the front of the quilt by machine, before being folded over to the back and hand-stitched down using a ladder stitch. Over the next year, the entire quilt was then hand-quilted with particular attention being paid to the plain navy blue border.
  • Was it made by hand or machine? How were you able to determine this?
    A bit of both, which I know because I made it.
  • What is its purpose? Do you still use it? If not, how was it used and by whom?
    I keep this quilt on my sofa to keep me warm when I’m watching TV or knitting in the evening. It gets used almost every day.
  • What does it tell you about the maker or the user in terms of gender, role in society, wealth or environment?
    I think the colours used are feminine, especially the many pinks and pale yellows. This wouldn’t necessarily reflect on the maker though, as a man could use these colours with a female user in mind, however, sewing and quilting have traditionally been a female pastime. The decorative embroidery and applique show a certain level of wealth as it takes time and money to learn such skills and buy the materials necessary, whereas a plain but functional quilt could be made for much less. I think the fact that I made this item makes a difference to how it reflects on my role in society, as just a user it would be unremarkable as most people get cold and require a blanket of some description, it’s also different as I didn’t make this item to sell, I believe that the fact I made this quilt to go in my home where my family can benefit from its warmth and comfort shows that I spend my time caring for others and being creative. With regards to the environment, this quilt simply shows that it sometimes gets moderately cold where I live, it’s still fairly small and lightweight though as we don’t experience arctic-like conditions!
  • What do you particularly like about the piece?
    I love the colours used, they feel warm and comforting to me, and when combined with the various embroidery and applique used create something beautiful as well as functional to have on display in my home.

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