I watched the Olympics this last week with interest–yes, there was some yelling going on at my house as we cheered our favorite athletes to victory. My mind and the internet combine with, sometimes, curious results. I originally thought that I would write about quilts and the Olympics. For example, during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, each athlete received a quilt, pictures of which are published in this book: Olympic Quilts. However, I thought I’d go a little further back in time to the 17th century. Yes, there were Olympick Games in Cotswald, England starting in 1622, the games included sledgehammer throwing, horse racing, jumping, fencing, and, my personal favorite, shin-kicking. I had no idea that shin-kicking was a sport, I thought it was just a game we played in school while waiting for the bus to pick us up. Yes, it is real and it is still played today…they even have a Youtube video:
Padding the shins in ‘modern’ shin-kicking is seen as essential–the sport has set aside the more extreme elements of the rules such as steel toed boots and winning by breaking the leg of the opponent. Likewise padding was seen as essential in many of the fashion trends of the 17th through 19th centuries. Waistcoats and petticoats for women and doublet’s for men were quilted both for warmth and to show off the wealth and status of the wearer. In fact, some of the earliest quilts in the Americas were items of clothing.
These quilted pieces were valued by their owners and were recorded in household inventories and wills. I get inspiration from looking at many of these items. Of course on cold winter days here in Wisconsin I often yearn to wear a silk quilted petticoat!!