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Although the design of King Rene’s quilt is unknown, the Seven Deadly Sins quilt referenced above featured heavily stuffed fleurs-de-lis, a device used by the House of Anjou.

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By Lady Sarah Davies c/o Karen Evans 5 Deerfield Drive Easthampton, MA01027 The word "quilt" summons a host of images: thrifty pioneer housewives piecing elaborate patchworks for their families; album quilts signed by every member of a community as a gift for a departing mayor or pastor, or perhaps raffled for a worthy cause; perhaps even a wholecloth petticoat worn by a colonial dame as she danced with George Washington, or a brightly colored scrap quilt made by a grandmother or aunt during the Depression.

The popular image of the quilt is of the quilt is modern, calico, and American. The problem with this familiar stereotype is that it doesn’t go far enough.

The trio is worked in the same technique as the Siberian rug of 1200 years earlier: backstitched linen on linen around the decorative motifs, cotton stuffing in the trapunto sections, and running stitch quilting in the backgrounds.

A similar quilt, possibly of silk, is shown in the Flemish Bartolomeo Bermejo’s 1450 painting The Death of the Virgin, placing quilting in the Netherlands by the 15 century (Lidz), while a German painting of 1500 shows a quilted, pieced tunic in what may well be the first accurate depiction of pieced clothing in western art (Gwinner).

The central motifs (primarily animals, with abstract spirals on the borders) are worked in the backstitch, while the background is diamond quilted in a coarse running stitch.

Whether the Siberians developed quilting on their own or learned it from outsiders, its advantages in such a cold climate are obvious: warmth without bulk, strength without stiffness, useable in everything from clothing to saddlecloths, and unusual enough to be traded for luxury goods.Quilting may have even worked its way down to the lower classes by then; a tiny 14 century Italian ivory shows St.Joseph, traditionally regarded as a peasant or lower class artisan, wearing a diamond quilted tunic (Colby).The Renaissance brought increased trade with the Eastern countries where quilting originated. The Ottoman Empire had a native tradition of quilted bedcovers and caftans; surviving examples from the courts of 16 century sovereigns such as Suleiman the Magnificent and Selim the Grim are worked in the running stitch on silk broadcloth and brocade, sometimes in contrasting colors (Tezcan). Court ettiquette dictated that clothing be presented to foreign ambassadors, so it is probable that European diplomats posted to Constantinople returned with quilted caftans in their baggage.

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