Wartime Quilts

This book is a dazzling array of unique and diverse
quilts assembled from private collections, museums and historical societies from around the world. What brings them all together is, that in some way, they all have a military connection, even if at times it’s a little vague. They date from 300 BC to WWII.

Many of the quilts represented are pictorial, showing military scenes, but not of the battle itself; sometimes they just depict a domestic scene with the local soldiers present. Often the designs were simply taken from a current print. Little village scenes of the local peasants often showed soldiers standing around, as at that time they were part of the general populace. Each image was chosen to reflect the moods and facets of the relevant century: the wit, the charm, the gallantry, the love of the exotic, and the light-hearted gaiety, before they were swept away by revolution and the tramp of armies. But not all the quilts are serious, there are delightful scenes from centuries ago showing little boys flying kites, wedding scenes and even a man proposing to his love.

Then there are the extraordinary visual geometric masterpieces made during the Crimean War and later during wars in India. With no scenes at all, but made from uniform fabric, these are made from countless pieces in diamond shapes in several sizes, the majority of which are less than one inch in height and width, and skillfully executed so they create illusions which fool the eye. For each of the thousands of threads running through the ‘Soldier’s Quilt’, there are unseen, accompanying threads of fact, history, story and legend about its creator and his intriguing story.

Many of these quilts used an ancient technique of piecing called ‘Intarsia’, ‘Inlaid’, ‘Mosaic piecing’ or ‘Silesian piecing’. The majority of these quilts were made by men who were either soldiers or tailors. And of course tailors never left a woollen scrap sitting on the floor. Many of these quilts were probably commissioned and made for kings to celebrate a life or their victories. 

During World War I and World War II we see marvellous quilts which are the work of women. These include quilts made for the Red Cross and quilts made when there was not enough fabric to cover the beds of their children. And there are quilts from prisoner of war camps made to let the world know their makers were still alive.

The book has over 100 quilts with full page photos and each quilt is accompanied by detailed photos so the ideas can be easily reproduced. Although the book is a serious documentation of the quilts which represent wars over the past 200 years, the colours and designs are quite extraordinary and although they are so old, the patterns are an inspiration for the modern quilter.

Hardcover  |  228 pages | 360 x 210 mm  |  RRP $120 | Distributor Annette Gero