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UK Families Adopting the American Quilt Tradition

Why quilting is catching the imagination of British crafters

As quilting continues to grow in popularity, new technology makes practicing this traditional craft easier than ever before.

In recent years, Britain has become a nation of crafters as handicraft hobbies such as sewing, baking and pottery have soared in popularity, thanks in part to several well-known TV shows! One craft that is seeing a particular resurgence amongst UK families is the traditional American craft of quilting.

An American tradition

While quilting has been around in many places for many centuries, it is most commonly thought of as an American tradition.

Early colonial settlers created quilts out of necessity. Fabric and resources were scarce so nothing was wasted – when a blanket wore out it was patched with another piece of fabric, or incorporated into another blanket, to create a quilt that would keep the family warm on chilly nights.

The practice first became popular as a creative hobby in the mid-19th century when the mass production of textiles meant that fabric was more affordable for ordinary families. From this time, the craft of quilting quickly became widespread and people soon began to experiment with different techniques, combining different fabrics and colours into blocks to create the patchwork quilt that we know today.

Over the next 100 or so years, thousands of quilts were made. Many women used them as a means of expressing their creativity, and took pride in creating artistic and elaborate patterns. The most complex of quilts took many years to make and were often handed down through families as cherished heirlooms. Quilting also historically played an important social function, with rural communities frequently coming together for ‘quilting bees’ where several quilts were completed in just one day.

In America the pastime saw a resurgence in the 1970s and 80s as people started to explore their heritage through this creative art form. And its popularity has continued, crossing over the Atlantic in recent years to find new fans amongst the British public. 

Technological advances

Although American quilting harks back to a simpler time, today’s technological advances are certainly a key factor in the growing popularity of this traditional craft. For example, equipment such as the powerful brother quilting machine offer a range of innovative settings and special features, which make it easier than ever before for quilters to bring their unique and sophisticated design ideas to life.

Despite its traditional roots, quilting as an art form has always embraced change – from new equipment through to new trends and modern printing techniques – and it is perhaps this adaptability that accounts, at least in part, for the hobby’s longevity.

A healthy hobby

There are in fact many reasons why quilting remains so popular. As well as providing a much-needed creative outlet, researchers have also shown that the craft carries benefits for our mental and physical wellbeing. They found that quilting can distract from stress and help improve participants’ cognitive abilities, as well as providing an important social function.

It’s also something that anyone can do with a little bit of practice. When it comes to colours and patterns, there are no rules – the only thing you need to follow is your own creative instincts to create something that is completely unique to you.



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