This patchwork quilt dates from 1900 and is made up of around two thousand small hexagons. The lady who made it worked by gas light and it took seven years to complete.
This reflects the everyday life of women in the early 1900s. Patchwork quilting was born out of the practical need to provide warmth.
The practice can be traced back at least to the Middle Ages. The word ‘quilt’ seems to have first been used in England in the 1200s and is possibly connected with the Latin word ‘cucita’ meaning bolster or cushion. Two layers of fabric are stitched together, often with a layer of wadding in between. Some items of clothing are made this way, such as coats, but most notably the technique was used to make bedcovers, so much so that they became known as quilts.
Women often gathered together to make a communal quilt, usually to give as a present. These gatherings were known as quilting bees, especially in America, and the quilt was often given to a girl about to be married. Friendship quilts made for special occasions were very common in the middle of the nineteenth century.