Quilting back in Fashion

Crazy Quilt, 1883-93 (textile detail) by Victoriene Parsons Mitchell (1829-1916) Indianapolis Museum of Art, USA/ Gift of Mrs Jaema C. Ryan
Crazy Quilt, 1883-93 (textile detail) by Victoriene Parsons Mitchell (1829-1916) Indianapolis Museum of Art, USA/ Gift of Mrs Jaema C. Ryan

In March the V&A Museum in London opened a very popular exhibition on quilts which will run until the 4th of July.

The examples on display date from 1700 to the present day and are predominantly from the V&A’s own collection but also include a number of important loans and some contemporary works commissioned specifically for the exhibition.


In March the V&A Museum in London opened a very popular exhibition on quilts with examples on display dating from 1700 to the present day.

A renewal of interest

Considered as one of the V&A’s most successful shows, the enthusiasm can be partly attributed to the growing attraction for craft works and the personal narratives behind them; documenting the big events in predominantly women’s lives – love, marriage, birth, death - as well as thoughts relating to politics and patriotism.

Take a closer look at the unique embroidered quilts and needlework designs within the Bridgeman archive

The Patchwork Quilt by William Henry Midwood (fl.1867-71) Private Collection/ The Stapleton Collection
The Patchwork Quilt by William Henry Midwood (fl.1867-71) Private Collection/ The Stapleton Collection

Ship and Flags, by William Sandle (woolwork) Private Collection/ © Crane Kalman, London
Ship and Flags, by William Sandle (woolwork) Private Collection/ © Crane Kalman, London

Craft highlights in the Bridgeman archive

Quilts range from a commemorative quilt from 1876, featuring the American flag, to a pictorial quilt with narrative scenes from the bible. Nifty needlework is also displayed with woollen and cross-stitch samplers of moral and religious verse bordered by intricate flowers, maps of Europe and even anti-slavery protests.

Collections strong in quilt and craft designs include the Indianapolis Museum of Art and 15 regional American historical societies, among them The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. Bridgeman also has access to archives such as The Design Library in New York and Christie’s which also have wonderful collections of 19th and 20th century textiles and decorative arts.

Competition results revealed!

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition to identfy the image number the detail of this quilt is from. 

We can reveal that the image number of the detail is BST 196430 or 196435 (detail); a Pictorial Quilt, c.1895-98, pieced, appliqued and embroidered by Harriet Powers, from The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.  

Read more about the V&A quilt show
Browse craft & design images in the Bridgeman archive


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