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Quilting and Textile Art
Marina Sigalas


The word quilt usually evokes in our minds a bed covering, something with a utilitarian function. In Europe, quilting appears to have been introduced by Crusaders in the 12th Century in the form of a quilted garment worn under armour. One of the earliest surviving quilts is the Tristan and Isolde quilt made in Sicily in 1360 and it shows scenes from the story. It is made of linen and padded with cotton wadding then quilted. The stitching outlines the figures in brown and white linen thread. The quilt is displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum. To view details of the quilt on the web go to The Tristan and Isolde Quilt.
From those humble beginnings, quilts have made a big leap, are now made as a form of art and are meant to be hung on a wall or otherwise displayed. They are decorative and used to express feelings or even make statements about the current situations. On the left is my work “Money Tree”, created during the economic crash and inspired by Pamela Allen.
A typical quilt is a type of bedding composed of at least three layers. The decorative top, the batting (filling) and the lining.

On the right is the quilt I dedicated to my husband’s childhood in Greece.


Textile Art

Textile art is more than just quilts, it is the creation of textiles or the creation with textiles.
A textile art piece expresses an idea through the medium of textiles and it refers to a garment or object which may be suitable for display or, if wearable, is not suitable for regular use. There are many ways of creating textile art. One or several of the following disciplines can be used to create an artwork. Crochet, embroidery, felt making knitting, lace, needlework, patchwork, quilting, sewing, weaving and knotting.

Examples of my Textile Art works:


Dyed and Printed Fabrics

Not able to find quite the appropriate colours for my quilts, I started to experiment with dying and printing my own fabrics.


And there was white cloth - before dying, the white fabric needs to be washed.

I made this fabric colour wheel which I have found to be invaluable when mixing dyes to create the colours of my choice.
I use Chemosol dyes, which require an initial temperature of 60º C, they do not require boiling. After the fabric is placed in the dye bath it is left to steep. I often use the sun stove or leave them in a warm place.

My dyed fabric hanging on the line to dry.

Then the fun begins – the printing starts. Here I used bleach to remove the colour. Using a stencil the bleach is painted onto the fabric. When the colour has been satisfactorily removed, the fabric is neutralized with Vinegar.

After the initial patterning, using stencils I have cut myself, more printing takes place. This time using a darker value of the same colour. I continue with the printing in different colours and patterns until I am satisfied with the result.
The finished cloth


Below are some examples of my quilting:




A versatile textile artist, excellent and prolific weaver, Marina was a recipient of the Johannesburg Spinners and Weavers Guild’s Ogilvie Trophy for weaving excellence and is a member of the Textile Arts Group Gauteng (TAGG).
When Marina developed back problems, she was no longer able to sit at her floor loom. 
But once a fibre artist always a fibre artist. Marina turned to other forms of fabric art. In this article she shares her skill, knowledge and experience