The art of quilting can be traced to primitive Chinese culture. However, in the Holy land during the 12th Century, Crusaders used quilting for both warmth and padding under armor.
The quilting of bed covers appeared in the 14th Century during devastating winters in western Europe. At this time, frames were invented along with tools for combining layers of fabric. The first filling materials were lamb's wool, moss, feathers or grass to give added warmth. Later more elaborate techniques were used such as scrolling, motifs and applique for decorating quilts along with shoes, gloves and hats. After rising to higher levels of artistry, treasured pieces were handed down to relatives.
Up to this point, quilt tops were a solid piece of fabric. Arriving Europeans in 1700 and 1800 brought along quilted bed sets. In time, after many repairs, they resembled patch work tops. Today with inexpensive and easily obtained material, and the addition of sewing machines, quilting is once again reborn using new skills and techniques.
In our kit you will find pattern sheets for making templates and motifs, as well as step-by-step directions for making a completed quilt with edging. Instructions for applique and block composition diagrams are included. The supplies provided are a seam presser, a needle book, 2 sewing needles, 6 round-head straight pins and thread.
The effigy of Walter von Hohenklingen, an imperial knight killed at the battle of Sempach, depicts in minute detail the mixture of protective materials worn at the end of the fourteenth century. Note the mail shirt protruding from under the padded jupon, the mail neck protection (aventail) under a similarly padded cover, and the pieces of plate armor (breastplate, gauntlets, and strapped-on leg defenses), as well as the detached visor belonging to his helmet (bascinet) and the reinforcing plate strapped in front of his tournament helm (Stechhelm).
The Function of Quilted Armor in Medieval Europe
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In medieval Europe, not all armor was made of metal plate. Mail armor, a mesh of interlinking metal rings sometimes erroneously referred to as "chain mail," probably originated over 3,000 years ago. It remained the dominant form of body armor from long before the Migration period (ca. 400*600) until well into the fourteenth century. In western Europe, the development of plate armor for the body began in the thirteenth century and progressed throughout the fourteenth century. Aside from steel, plate armor was also made of leather, some of which was hardened by boiling in wax or oil (cuir bouilli). In addition to mail and plate armor, some European knights and men-at-arms wore armor made of fabric, many-layered and heavily quilted body armor known as a gambeson (worn under mail and early plate armor), or a jupon (worn alone or over a mail shirt). During the fifteenth century, plate armor became the dominant form of protection, and by about 1500 had all but displaced mail and fabric armor or relegated them to secondary functions such as protecting the joints and easily exposed areas of the body. Nevertheless, in all times a complete armor invariably consisted of a mixture of different materials.
Source: The Function of Armor in Medieval and Renaissance Europe | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Worn under chainmail coif or helmet.
Jupon coat Armor of Charles VI of France, late 1300's .
These garments were worn under or over chain mail. Similarly, a gambeson was a garment also worn for protection during the Middle Ages that was stuffed and quilted.