International Patchwork Festival "Soul of Russia"

International Patchwork Festival "Soul of Russia"

International patchwork festival "Soul of Russia" has already become a traditional holiday for Suzdal citizens. It is annually held in August. Its organizers are the Association of Patchwork Masters of Russia and the Administration of Suzdal. The aim of the festival is to revive folk traditions of needlework and scrappy sewing.

Patchwork is a specific type of needlework: while sewing the master is using  pieces of fabric (flaps) to make a mosaic ornament.  As the result one can admire a canvas with a new color scheme, pattern and even texture. 

The need to use flaps was generated by the very practice of working with fabric as during the fabric manufacture small pieces were always left. That is why patchwork  (applique, quilted products - quilts -, etc.) appeared as a craft of many nations of the world. But, of course, national features were always reflected in the methods of patchwork (assembly, color scheme, product designation).  

In Russian peasant’s household, scrappy sewing technique was used mainly for practical purposes: guilt blankets, pillows, bedspreads, doormats were made. Decorative applique and other methods of patchwork sewing widely spread in Russia only at the end of the 19th century, when the production of cheap cotton printed fabrics began  and sewing machines appeared.

At the beginning of the 20th century, patchwork seized the attention of avant-garde artists who were looking for new means of expression. Interest in patchwork revived in Russia in the 1990s, when the study and promotion of patchwork as an independent genre of decorative art began.

The international festival in Suzdal gathers the best patchwork masters from different regions of Russia and other countries. The name of the festival – "Soul of Russia" – defines its main idea, the desire to show in-depth understanding of the   patchwork nature, to reflect the national traditions, character and culture of the people through this type of decorative and applied art. 

Both professional masters of any age and amateurs with any education participate in the Suzdal festival, representing various schools, clubs and patchwork studios. The festival helps craftsmen to communicate and exchange the experience with like-minded people who are interested in patchwork. At the festival one can visit exhibitions, take part in the round table talk or listen to the lecture on patchwork.  Numerous master classes are also held by the best Russian and foreign masters.   The main competitive exhibition is traditionally thematic, its topic changes annually. Fashion collection in patchwork style is usually of particular interest for viewers.

Traditionally, the most anticipated event of the festival is the art project called "Patchwork Field".  The participants gather on the field by the Suzdal Kremlin and make a huge quilt using their works. Thus, the idea of ​​the organizers of the festival is realized. They plan to collect 1000 masterpieces of patchwork created by masters from different cities and countries by the 1000th  anniversary of Suzdal (in 2024).

Author: V. Korolkova