Patchwork Quilts

It is a popular misconception that all Welsh quilts were relatively plain. Patchwork quilts were also popular but suffered considerable wear and tear through daily use. Plain wholecloth quilts were often regarded as best quilts and treasured, whereas the everyday patchworks have not survived. Patchwork varied from simply joining remnants together randomly to make a suitably sized piece of fabric, to the intricate piecing of small fabric scraps. It encompassed the large bold shapes of the flannel quilts, quilts assembled from square or rectangular fabric swatches, and many other different patchwork styles. Some Welsh quilts had patchwork on both sides despite bulky seam allowances making hand quilting more difficult. Printed fabrics could be quite challenging to incorporate as the eye could be distracted by the patterns, so leading to uneven stitching. It could also be difficult to find a suitable means of marking the design onto the fabric. It was often easier to draw or trace the quilting designs onto a plain backing fabric and stitch from the reverse side. This meant the 'best' stitches would be shown to good advantage on the plain side whilst the patterned fabric and patchwork would disguise any uneven stitching underneath. It was probably this approach that led to the traditional Welsh quilt style where the quilting designs are independent of fabric placement.