Patchwork is often used to combine pieces of cloth in a specific order, so that a larger design is created. These designs may be based on a series of repeating patterns built up with one or more different colours, patterns and/or shapes.
There are two main techniques used for patchwork:
Crazy patchwork: which is where apparently randomly shaped and coloured pieces of cloth are sewn together. This type of patchwork was known as puzzle patchwork in late nineteenth century England. It was also often used in the Netherlands for a form of skirt called a feestrok ('festival skirt'), which were made to celebrate the liberation of the country at the end of the Second World War (1939-1945). See also American crazy patchwork
Pieced patchwork (also known as piece work): which is a technique whereby geometric shapes are cut out in a stiff card or paper and then covered in cloth. The shapes are then sewn together in a pre-defined pattern to create blocks that are sewn together to create even larger areas of patchwork. Once sewn together the stiffened shape is removed and often re-used elsewhere in the design. Pieced patchwork is well-known for the very wide range of geometric designs that can be created by changing the colours, patterns and shapes used.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, patchwork is well known and widely produced in combination with quilting to create quilts and similar objects. But this was not the only use for patchwork. It was often used, for example, to make blinds, curtains, dolls, garments, rugs, etc.
V&A online catalogue (retrieved 9 July 2016).