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What is a quilt?

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

A quilt is a layered textile composed of 3 layers of materials, the top fabric, batting, and backing fabric.

The quilter stitches the layers together by hand stitching or machine quilting. The middle layer of the quilt is called batting or padding which is an insulation material that gives warmth and puffiness to the quilt. This makes the quilt suitable for warm beddings and clothing in the cold seasons. It is also used as wall hanging decorations, table runners, valued art pieces, and other home decors.

What is quilting?

Quilting is a needlework technique of stitching a quilt sandwich together to make a quilt. This can be done by hand sewing or by using a sewing machine or a long-arm quilting machine. Below are samples of quilting designs done through free motion quilting, a popular technique of creating free formed-shapes and patterns on the quilt using a domestic sewing machine.

Parts of a quilt.

1. Quilt Top - is the top layer of the quilt that can be either a patchwork or a whole cloth.

A patchwork is a kind of needlework technique of piecing or sewing together small or big patches of fabrics to create a new piece of cloth and design. Some quilters use plain whole cloth or fabric panels with printed patterns or images.

2. Quilt Batting - this is the middle layer material of the quilt sandwich that adds weight and puffiness to the quilt. Depending on the purpose of the quilt, the quilter chooses the appropriate type of batting material for the project. Batting thickness or loftiness also varies according to materials, such as cotton, polyester, wool, silk, and bamboo fiber.

3. Backing fabric - is a whole piece of fabric used as the bottom layer of the quilt to make the sandwich.

4. Binding - is a long strip of fabric that is attached to the raw edges of the quilt to bind the layers into a finished quilt.

A brief history of quilt-making.

According to Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, with various collections of quilts made across Europe, India, and the Far East dating back centuries ago, quilting can be traced back to the medieval period. The word 'quilt' was first coined in the 13th century in the United Kingdom, which refers to the Latin word, 'Culcita', which means a bolster or a cushion. In this era, quilting was used to produce bed covers and quilted clothing for the cold seasons and was passed down to generations, making them family heirlooms.

In North America, early settlers from England and Holland organized social groups for women to make quilts for occasions like weddings and childbirths. While in Great Britain, quilting became popular in the 17th century as the wealthy elite wore petite coats, jackets, and waistcoats.

Moving forward, with the advancement of the textile industry, modern fabric designs and colors became available in the market. In 1998, Denyse Schmidt's quilts were featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, resulting in the popularity of modern quilts. With the rise of social media and digital photography, modern quilts capture the hearts of many quilters around the globe.

If you want to learn more click, the history of modern quilting from this link.

What is the purpose of a quilt?

Women in the early times made quilts not only out of necessity to keep themselves warm in wintertime, but also to commemorate special life events such as weddings and births. Patchworks were often made out of scrap or old fabrics to save or repurpose, however as the textile industry keeps advancing, patchwork quilts become a popular hobby among women in pursuits of making art.

Here is a list of common applications of quilts in our modern time.

  1. Warm Beddings

  2. Winter Clothing

  3. Wall Hanging Decorations

  4. Upholstery

  5. Kitchen Cloth

  6. Throw Blankets

  7. Luxury Apparel such as handbags, boots, etc.


When we think of a quilt, what immediately comes to our mind is a beautiful blanket-sized fabric that can be used to cover and warm up the body, but if we look around quilt can be any form of clothing, upholstery, or other items that uses a quilting technique of producing a product.

If you like to learn how to make your first quilt, then click this link.

Thank you so much for stopping by and if you have more questions, then don't hesitate to leave a comment.

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Judith from Osaka, Japan. I’m a machine quilter and I love free-motion quilting using my domestic sewing machine. I like learning new quilting  patterns, designs, and techniques, which I would love to share with other quilters. If you’re looking for quilt ideas and inspirations, or you're new to free-motion quilting, then this place is for you. You can find my original works in the Gallery.

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