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Bedroom Comforters: A Guide to Quilting

A Guide to Quilting Header

Victorian Illustration of Woman Quilting

Quilting was known in extremely early times, as early as the first century. The quilts were just used for warmth and security during this time because of the multiple layers that quilts can come with. Quilting was first founded in the country of Asia, and then moved to Egypt where they wore the quilts for style as well as warmth. The technique of quilting was brought over to Europe in the 5th century through trade with Egypt. Quilting was something that was not practiced in Europe until around the 12th century. This is where the first under armor was quilted and developed. Russia was the next to get the quilting technique by making carpets from it.

America did not get word of this new craft until around the 18th century. A lot of the women during this time would make clothing and material for themselves and their families. Quilting was a craft that was only done by those that had money during this time in America. The price of materials needed to quilt with was too high a price. New fabric was often obtained for the quilts, while now we use scraps of material. In the 19th century, quilts were used more for artwork purposes more than anything. Textiles became widely known and used in the 19th century which allowed more women to make their own quilts for clothing and bedding as well as artwork. Not only that, but the sewing machine became widely used which allowed women to sew quilts much quicker than before.

Types and Equipment

Hands Quilting Next to Sewing Supplies

Edge to edge quilting is used for hand guided, single pantograph designs that are being quilted over the top of the quilt.

Free hand or meandering quilting is a free form of quilting that is done on the top of the quilt.

Outlining is when the quilting is done free hand around any appliqué or printed designs that are put onto the fabric.

Heirloom quilting is when patterns, grids, backgrounds, feather designs, trapunto, or whole cloth designs are done that require the quilter to hand mark the quilt. This is one of the more intricate quilting types, and creates heavy quilts that take a long time to make.

Quilting can be done by machine, hand, or tying depending on the type of quilt that you want to make. Hand quilting generally is the first to be used over machine, but there are many quilt types out there that can allow you to machine sew your quilt. Tying is used as a quick form to piece together quilts. It consists of pieces of fabric or yarn looped through the material and then tied to keep it together.

Processes and Definitions

Traditional quilting is the one most used process of quilting. It consists of a few basic steps such as selecting the pattern you want to use, measuring and cutting the fabrics, sewing the pieces of fabric together by hand or by sewing machine, layering the quilt with batting and a backing, quilting the blocks together, putting together the backing, batting, top pieces and cutting off any excess over the edges, and finally stitching the sides and edges together by hand or machine. This process is generally used for any type of quilt that the quilter wants to make.

Piecing refers to the sewing of the pieces of cloth into intricate patterns for the quilt. These are also known as blocks that are the finished top piece of the quilt.

Quilt Square in a Blue Star Pattern

Layering refers to putting all of the pieces together, the batting on the bottom, and then the top over the batting to create a sandwich.

Bindings are the long strips of fabric that are cut and attached to the border around the outside of the quilt. It is then machine sewn onto the edges of the quilt.

Quilting refers to the sewing or stitching of all the layers of the quilt, top, bottom and middle batting. It is sewn together using block patterns, or other types of quilting patterns.

Quilting is started from the middle and works its way out towards the edges of the quilt, and can be combined with patchwork, needlework, appliqués, and even embroidery to add a little more to the quilt itself.

Specialty Styles

Cathedral window quilts are mostly made as artwork. They are beautiful, and were inspired in part by stained glass windows of cathedrals. The material is folded like origami, and then plain folding material is placed over it. Since it is being folded, the material can be put into different shapes so that the bright colors underneath can be shown through.

Hands Sewing Quilt Stitch

Rag quilts are a new style that has evolved over time. They are one of the quickest ways to make a quilt. The seams are not perfectly lined up, and usually they are made from bits of scrap found around the home. The extra scraps then just hang over the sides and make the quilt both beautiful and unique.

Memory quilts are made with scraps of material that a person has saved throughout the years which could be baby clothes or blankets, and clothes as a child was growing up. All of these scraps are then cut down and sewn together to create a quilt. Fine sewing might be done on top of the quilt for extra design.

Patch work quilts are made from a wide assortment of blocks of fabric. They are then sewn together to make a pattern. The bottom and middle layer of the quilt is just one layer each. The blocks make up the top layer of the quilt.


Below are some informative resources on quilting:

  • Types of Quilting (PDF)
  • Types of Quilts
  • The Art of Quilting
  • Quilting Library
  • African American Quilting Traditions
  • National Quilting Association
  • Quilt Museum
  • Quilt’s Inc.
  • Sew a Quilt
  • The Alliance for American Quilts
  • Art Quilt Network
  • Quilting Tutorial
  • Quilt Surface Design Symposium
  • Quilt Shows
  • Sleeping Baby on a Quilt
  • Quilts: Not Just for Beds
  • The Care and Feeding of Antique Quilts
  • What is Potato Dextrin?
  • Southern Quilting Traditions
  • The History of Quilting (PDF)
  • Quilting Resources

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