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Quilting has been practised for centuries in many parts of the world including India and China.

In Britain the use of quilting for bedding and clothing came into being during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

A quilt is formed by stitching together two layers of cloth with a central layer of some kind of padding. In Wales this was usually sheep wool but old blankets were also used as a filling, which made a heavier but less warm quilt.

The elaborate patterns made in the stitching together of these layers is what gives quilts their abiding interest and aesthetic value. Different areas used different designs but all the patterns have evolved from the basic need to stitch the three layers firmly together. A variety of fabrics were used for the top and bottom of the quilt including linen, cotton and in Wales often flannel.

Thrifty households also made patchwork quilts using up old sheets and other scraps of cloth. Tailors' sample books were used as a source of cheap or free cloth. These re-cycled patchwork pieces when quilted together made a robust and warm quilt.

It is interesting to note that the quilting very seldom followed the pattern of the patchwork and a geometric patchwork cloth would often be quilted with an elaborate design of circles, whirls and leaves.


Spiral quilting, found in quilts dating from as far back as the 1st century B.C., probably has the largest and most consistent record of any pattern in the tradition. The spiral is a characteristic Welsh pattern and is found in many quilts from South Wales, either as a chief pattern, in straight or circular borders, or in conjunction with other units in centre and border arrangements. The technique of quilting in close fine lines with repeated precision is highly skilled work and known as the "snail creep"