Toile, or "cloth" in French, has been embraced by interior decorators and clothing designers (and--more recently--quilters) since the 1700s. Inspired by the demand for the exorbitantly priced printed cotton fabrics of India, Irishman Francis Nixon created what would come to be known as the first toile fabric in 1752. His printing technique soon spread to England and France; the French expanded the style and gave the textile its name.
In the 1880s, the range of colors available for fabrics was rather limited, and--due to the stress of washing (boiling and bleaching)--colors tended to fade fairly quickly. Turkey-red cloth was a highly prized cloth that was intensely rich in color that would not fade or bleed.
The historic Rajah Quilt, sewn by women convicts on board the ship Rajah traveling from England on April 1841 to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land-now known as Tasmania. The original quilt measured approximately 128" x 128". This quilt was selected as the inspiration for the 2016 Block of the Month - the Rajah Quilt Revisited as designed by Lessa Siegele. Lilo Bowman was intrigued about the history of the quilt and added "History Tidbits" to each of the monthly BOM lessons. We thought you would enjoy seeing the history behind this amazing quilt.
Recently, while looking for a portable sewing project idea, we discovered the Japanese needlework called Sashiko (sashi = stitch, ko = small). A true art form, Sashiko evolved from the recycling and mending techniques developed by the rural population of northern Japan, but very quickly spread in popularity throughout the rest of the country.