Blog, Information, Quilts

Anatomy of a Quilt. Just the basics.

What is a quilt anyway? I’m writing this post for those of my friends who haven’t had the pleasure of owning, never mind making, a hand-made quilt. A quilt is not quite the same as a comforter or a duvet, and the mass produced quilts that can be purchased anywhere from Walmart to the Pottery Barn don’t have the charm and character that a one of a kind hand made quilt will have. As I continue this website and blog, I’ll be posting photos of quilts made both by me and by my clients. but here is an introduction.

In the most basic form:

  • The quilt top is the layer usually made from multi-colored pieces of fabric arranged in a pleasing fashion. This is typically a flat woven cotton. As of yet, this is not a quilt. I’ve heard that another name for a quilt top is a flimsy. Since I’m a fan of amusing terminology, here is the flimsy I was working on last week:
  • The middle layer is the batting. This is what gives the quilt its cozy and cuddly warmth. Most battings are made from cotton and polyester, though wool, bamboo, and even silk blends are readily available too.
  • The bottom layer is called the quilt backing. Usually this is made from a cotton weave, though some flannels, fleeces, and knits are used as well. A new favorite from the past several years is a product called Minky. This is a lush velvet like knit that requires extra time and attention to use, as it is very stretchy and the fuzzy fibers tend to migrate through quilting stitches.

So, my job as a long arm quilter is to take these three layers and use my machine to stitch them together. This serves the practical purpose of keeping the layers together and giving the quilt structural strength, while adding some artistic flair by using complementary designs to enhance the quilt. Here is my nearly completed quilt:You can see the lines of quilting stitches in the white background of the quilt. You can also see the fuzzy layer of batting lying on top of the quilt backing. This was my first experiment in what is called custom quilting, using specific designs for each background block, rather than an overall design usually called edge-to-edge or E2E.

And here is the finished quilt. The last big step to any quilt is to finish the edges by binding. In this case, I stitched a double-folded strip of fabric to the front of the quilt, wrapped that to the back, and hand stitched the folded edge to the back of the quilt. Now I just need to add a label and a hanging sleeve to the back of this, then it’ll be ready to enter the guild challenge at my quilt guild’s booth at Quilt Expo in Madison. More on that later…

So, how is that for a brief intro to the art of quilting? As I carry on with this new venture, what questions might you have for me? Leave a comment here, sign up to follow me, or contact me directly!

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