By: Margaret Rolfe
In an Australia-wide survey of quilts from 1788 until 1945, it was found that while quilts were made in Australia, most were not quilted (that is they were not textile sandwiches made up of a top, filling, and backing which are stitched together). Styles of quiltmaking in Australia largely followed traditions from Britain: quilts pieced by the English method in which shapes are stitched over papers; quilts made by the log cabin method; crazy patchwork quilts; quilts made from ‘Suffolk puffs’ (yo-yos); and embroidered quilts. These styles can be without quilting, and generally were. Occasionally quilts were made that were partially quilted, and a few fully quilted quilts were found, but these were rare. Explanations for the lack of quilting include the influence of styles from Britain; the absence of suitable raw materials; the effects of climate on lifestyle; and the easy availability of woolen blankets, which gave quilts a decorative rather than functional purpose. The Australian domestic ‘wagga rug’ is a true textile sandwich made of top, backing, and filling, but is not called a quilt. The wagga also appears to follow British traditions of quilts filled with parts of used woolen clothes.