A sewing machine is a machine used to sew fabric and materials together with thread. Sewing machines were invented during the first Industrial Revolution to decrease the amount of manual sewing work performed in clothing companies. Since the invention of the first working sewing machine, generally considered to have been the work of Elias Howe and Englishman Thomas Saint in 1790, the sewing machine has greatly improved the efficiency and productivity of the clothing industry.
Home sewing machines are designed for one person to sew individual items while using a single stitch type at a time. In a modern sewing machine, the process of stitching has been automated so that the fabric easily glides in and out of the machine without the inconvenience of needles, thimbles and other tools used in hand sewing. Early sewing machines were powered by either constantly turning a handle or with a treadle mechanism. Electrically-powered machines were later introduced.
Quilting is the term given to the process of joining a minimum of three layers of fabric together either through stitching manually by hand using a needle and thread, or mechanically with a sewing machine or specialised longarm quilting system. An array of stitches is passed through all layers of the fabric to create a three dimensional padded surface. The three layers are typically referred to as the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and the backing.
Quilting varies from a purely functional fabric joinery technique to highly elaborate, decorative three dimensional surface treatments. A wide variety of textile products are traditionally associated with quilting that includes bed coverings, soft home furnishings, garments and costumes, wall hangings, artistic objects and cultural artefacts.
Patchwork is most often used to make quilts, but it can also be used to make bags, wall-hangings, warm jackets, cushion covers, skirts, waistcoats and other items of clothing. Some textile artists work with patchwork, often combining it with embroidery and other forms of stitchery.
Using this technique, quilts began to appear in households of the 11th to 13th centuries. As the European climate became colder around this time, the incidence of the use of bed quilts rose, and so developed the practice of embellishing a simple cloth through the creation of pattern and design, alongside the development of decorative quilting. The tradition of making quilts in this fashion was taken to America by the Pilgrims.
A pattern is a regularity in the world, in human-made design, or in abstract ideas. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. A geometric pattern is a kind of pattern formed of geometric shapes and typically repeated like a wallpaper design.
Visual patterns in nature are often chaotic, never exactly repeating, and often involve fractals. Natural patterns include spirals, meanders, waves, foams, tilings, cracks, and those created by symmetries of rotation and reflection. Patterns have an underlying mathematical structure; indeed, mathematics can be seen as the search for regularities, and the output of any function is a mathematical pattern. Similarly in the sciences, theories explain and predict regularities in the world.
Plants often have radial or rotational symmetry, as do many flowers, as well as animals which are largely static as adults, such as sea anemones. Fivefold symmetry is found in the echinoderms, including starfish, sea urchins, and sea lilies.