November 7, 2007

I’ve noticed that quilters have been finding this site by searching for information about the history of appliqué. In 1993, esteemed author and quilt historian Barbara Brackman wrote an invaluable resource guide called Encyclopedia of Appliqué: An Illustrated, Numerical Index to Traditional and Modern Patterns.

The first chapter, “The Rise of the Conventional Appliqué Technique,” gives an overview of the history of American appliqué from its beginnings in the broderie perse method to what we know as appliqué today. Then, Barbara shares her years of extensive research into appliqué patterns with hundreds of hand-drawn thumbnails and information on the origins of the patterns.

You won’t find patterns ready to use in this book. It’s just what it says, an index. The compendium of patterns is indexed by class of design rather than by name, so that you can find a pattern without knowing its name. It’s all very organized and well thought out, and in my estimation an astounding achievement and contribution to the world of quilting.

Sadly, this book is now out of print, but you can still find copies here and there. So keep an eye out for it, or do some internet searching.

Until next time,


6 Responses to “History of appliqué”

  1. pamela on January 28th, 2009 6:52 am

    Just wondering when does appliqué date back to, who is first to be recorded to starting it, and was it America or some where else it was founded?

  2. Kay on January 28th, 2009 7:59 am

    According to Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Appliqué, “European and African traditions of decorative appliqué date back centuries,” so I don’t think we Americans invented it, but it seems the Europeans and Africans used it for way more things than bedcovers.

    Barbara also says, “The appliqué quilt, so typical in America, is unusual elsewhere,” so Americans may have had a lot do to with popularizing appliqué on bedcovers. And, the red-and-green quilt with its “distinctive repeat of floral forms” in uniquely American.

    I hope some readers who are versed in quilt history will chime in here to add more. Pretty please?


  3. hannah on May 9th, 2010 2:13 am

    Thanks for helping with my textiles homework :D
    Love Hannah

  4. shannon on January 28th, 2012 9:42 am

    It dates back to 980BC if thats any help:)

  5. shannon on January 28th, 2012 9:51 am

    The Egyptians wrapped mummified animals in applique cloth and the Tomb of Tutankhamen contained an applique linen collar, made 3 thousand years ago. I hoped this helped too:)!!!!

  6. bobby on June 16th, 2012 1:55 pm

    i need some help !!! history of applique and reverse applique????? anyone help