The history of quilt materials is almost as varied and fascinating as the history of quilt names. For instance, our chintz may be traced back through various family connections and changes of name to the "India Chinces" brought over from India by the East India Trading Company. This very fine cotton material was charmingly designed in much the same motifs of Paisley fame. The Persian influence, particularly the "Persian Pear" which women called the "pickle pattern" or "gourds," peacock feather designs, with pineapple, pomegranates and certain exquisitely unreal but lavish flowers all bespeak the Oriental influence. Chintz came both glazed and unglazed.
Imported "unglazed chince" became English made "Flowered Callicoe," and then there came a day when the British sheep and flax farmers framed legislation making it unlawful to produce or wear this cotton stuff so beloved of the feminine heart! This stringent law raised such a storm from the ladies that in due time the ban was modified to a tax, but still unpopular. A few of these taxes on tea, stamps, etc., you will recall bore the fruit of real history on both sides of the Atlantic.
On to practicalities, the warmth of the quilt will depend upon the thickness and kind of interlining you use. If warmth is desired, have a thick interlining which means that the quilting lines must be farther apart. If the quilting is to be close and elaborate the interlining must be thin. When a bed cover of exceptional warmth is needed, use a comfort bat of cotton or wool. This will be too thick to push the needle through easily, making even stitches impossible. Instead of quilting, this coverlet must be tacked or tufted.
Cotton batting is most commonly used as interlining for quilts. One bat is enough for a quilt, unless it is over size. Four bats will make three extra sized quilts by using the length for width and piecing out the length. Sometimes a lightweight cotton blanket or flannelette is used, but the quilt will not have that soft puffiness that cotton gives. The best bat costs a trifle more but the finished quilt is a thing of beauty. If flannelette is used for padding, the breadths of cloth should be whipped together, as a seam will cause an ugly lump in the quilt. We never use sheet wadding as a filler for a cover that is to be quilted; it is much too stiff for easy work.
As to the lining or backing, colors are quite popular, lemon yellow, baby blue, or whatever tint harmonizes with the quilt top. White or unbleached were always used on the old time quilts. But white or tinted, the lining must be soft, unstarched either wide sheeting or strips of 36-inch width inconspicuously seamed, to use with wash material tops. Satine is best with satine, while a silk quilt may be lined with wool challis, with a silk that will not cut out, or even with dark cotton chintz where a blanket interlining is used.
Thread is the only other "material"; this is usually No. 50 white for piecing, finer or in matching mercerized tints for applique. For machine piecing use finer thread, perhaps 70. Numbers 50 or 60 are the standard quilting threads, white in almost all cases, although quilting on fine satine is lovely in No. 70. A No. 50 crochet twist in colors is effective for quilting on silk or rayon comforts.
Workmanship should be, like materials, the "best you can afford." This may mean machine stitching for busy women, or the finest of handwork which we prize so highly in heirloom quilts. Close stitches are imperative in quilt making. We certainly want no ripped corners where cotton will pop out, or pulled seams in our quilt top.
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