Whole cloth quilts, broderie perse and medallion quilts were the styles of quilts made during the early 19th century.According to the Wall Street Journal there are an estimated twenty-one million quilters in the United States.
Early wholecloth bed quilts which may appear to be a solid piece of fabric are actually composed of strips of fabric, inasmuch as early looms could not produce expansion of cloth large enough to cover an entire bed surface.Early quilts that feature the same fabric for the entire quilt top, whether that top is made of dyed wool or pieces of (the same) printed cotton fabric, are referred to as wholecloth quilts.In wholecloth quilts, the quilting stitches themselves serve as the only decoration.The earliest whole cloth quilts found in America were brought from Europe.An article published in The Quilter magazine, April/May 2014, titled "Early American Quilts in America, Part II: The Martha Crafts Howard Quilt" by Patricia L.
Cummings offers details of the wool wholecloth quilt made in 1786 by Martha Crafts Howard, whose life stories are also shared in that article. Cummings, wrote a series of five articles that explore the art of wholecloth quilting published them on her website, Quilter's Muse Publications.
In Europe quilting appears to have been introduced by Crusaders in the 12th century (Colby 1971), in particular in the form of the aketon or gambeson, a quilted garment worn under armour which later developed into the doublet.
One of the earliest existing decorative works is the Tristan quilt, made around 1360.
A more complete survey is needed to compare all of the wholecloth quilts held in the many museum locations who have collected such textiles.
Many early quilts did not survive the test of time or were discarded, or else, they survived but the name of the quilter is lost to history.
For a time, the trend in wholecloth quilting was a preference for all-cotton white quilts.