What are the Parts of a Quilt?
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If you want to make a quilt for the first time, the number of new terms you need to learn can feel overwhelming. So, today we’re going to answer a very basic question you may have as a beginner quilter: what are the parts of a quilt?
If you know nothing about quilting, but want to learn, you’re in the right place. We’ll walk you through the parts of a quilt, and more. You’ll be ready to start your first quilt before you know it. Let’s get started!
What do we mean by “quilt?”
What makes a quilt different from a regular blanket, or a comforter? A quilt is traditionally made of three layers: the quilt top, the batting, and the backing. Around the perimeter of the quilt there is also a part called the binding.
These three layers are stitched together, or “quilted.” You may think that quilting simply means making a quilt, but technically, to quilt is to sew many lines of stitches through layers of fabric to attach them together.
When you think of a quilt, you are probably thinking of a patchwork quilt, which is the most common kind of quilt today. These quilts feature many different fabric pieces sewn together to create geometric designs. A quilt that only uses one piece of fabric for the quilt top is called a whole-cloth quilt.
So how is a quilt different from a comforter? A comforter also has three layers, but the top and bottom layers are the same fabric. A comforter also has lines sewn across it to attach the layers, but the lines form a grid with very large squares. A quilt has many more lines of stitches and can have more complex patterns of lines.
Now that we understand what is and isn’t a quilt, let’s break down those layers.
What is a quilt top?
A quilt top, as you may have guessed, is the top layer of a quilt. This is typically the side of the quilt that faces up, often with patchwork style designs.
How is a quilt top made? The easiest patchwork quilts are simple grid patterns. The quilter cuts out many squares of fabric that are the same size. Then, they sew squares together to make long rows. Finally, those rows are sewn together to make the full grid--the quilt top.
This kind of grid quilt top is popular because it is simple to make and so easy to customize! The design possibilities are endless. A really basic quilt may alternate two colors of fabric squares to create a checkerboard pattern, but the designs can be much more involved, too, like this skeleton design from the Candy Crush 2.0 quilt pattern.
Quilt top patterns can also be very complex. Often, quilt top designs use combinations of squares, rectangles, and triangles, like in this Southwest inspired Sienna Burst quilt pattern.
This Interwoven quilt pattern looks really intricate, but on closer inspection, you’ll see that it is really just a bunch of rectangle strips!
Other quilts create complex looking patterns by strategically using color. This striking Triangle Fade quilt may look complicated, but it’s actually just straight rows of equally sized triangles. It’s the design’s use of color that sets it apart.
Rectangles and triangles can even be used to create the illusion of curves, like in the whimsical Lucky Quilt. Notice how straight lines are strategically combined to create these curvy rainbows and fluffy clouds.
More advanced quilt patterns, however, call for actual curved pieces, like in the Moon Dance quilt. These types of patterns can be tricky, but handy tools like a curve ruler make it much easier.
Now that you are acquainted with a few different types of quilt tops, let’s look at the next quilt layer.
What is quilt batting?
The second layer of a quilt is called the batting. Batting goes in the middle of the “quilt sandwich,” and is what gives a quilt it’s slightly puffy appearance.
So what is batting, exactly? Also called “wadding,” batting is a thick layer of material; it is most often made from cotton, polyester, or wool. You can buy batting by the yard, the same way you do fabric.
Different types of batting have different properties. Some are thicker and puffier. Some have better “drape,” which means the finished quilt will be less stiff and be more, well, drapey. The color of your batting can also make a difference, so be sure to choose the right batting for your project!
What is quilt backing?
The quilt backing is the third and final layer of the quilt. It is simply a large piece of fabric that goes on the back! The quilt backing is usually a solid color fabric or a very simple pattern since it is often hidden.
That’s really all you need to know about the quilt backing, so let’s move on to the binding.
What is the quilt binding?
The quilt binding is what goes around the perimeter of the quilt, binding everything together. The binding is usually created by sewing long strips of fabric together, then sewing those long strips onto the sides of the quilt.
Quilters often sew the binding by hand. It may sound tedious, but many quilters enjoy getting to watch a movie or talk to friends while they take their time completing this step. Tools like binding clips can make this step easier.
Once all three layers are complete, they are quilted together using a sewing machine. The more “quilting” (lines of stitches) you use, the better! The closer the quilting lines are to each other, the sturdier the quilt will be.
Congratulations, you are now an expert on all of the parts of a quilt! Feeling ready to start you very first quilt? Be sure to check out all of our great quilt patterns! We’ve got all the fabric and quilting tools you need, too. Happy quilting!