AskDefine | Define quilt

Dictionary Definition

quilt n : bedding made of two layers of cloth filled with stuffing and stitched together [syn: comforter, puff]


1 stitch or sew together; "quilt the skirt"
2 create by stitching together

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. An item of bedding consisting of two layers of fabric stitched together, with a warm stuffing between, often having a decorative design.


item of bedding
  • Bosnian: poplun
  • Chinese: 被子 (bèizǐ)
  • Croatian: poplun
  • Danish: dyne
  • Finnish: täkki
  • German: Quilt
  • Greek: πάπλωμα
  • Kurdish:
  • Portuguese: edredon
  • Serbian: poplun
  • Spanish: colcha, edredón


  1. To construct a quilt.
  2. To construct something, such as clothing, using the same technique.


to construct a quilt
  • Finnish: topata
  • Spanish: acolchar
to construct sthg else with quilting technique
  • Finnish: topata

Extensive Definition

A quilt is a type of bedding— a bed covering composed of a quilt top, a layer of batting, and a layer of fabric for backing, generally combined using the technique of quilting. Another technique for securing the quilt layers is tying. Tying refers to the technique of using thread, yarn or ribbon to pass through all three layers of the quilt at regular intervals. These "ties" hold the layers together during use and especially when the quilt is washed. This method is easier and more forgiving if the quilt is made by hand. Tied quilts are called, depending on the regional area, "lap", "comfort" or "comforter", among other names. Many quilts are made with decorative designs; some quilts are not used as bed covering at all, but are rather made to be hung on a wall or otherwise displayed. In British English, quilt is another way of saying duvet, wadding is another way of saying batting, and calico refers to muslin rather than to a fabric with a printed pattern on it.

Some uses of quilts

  • Bedding
  • Decoration
  • For wrapping bodies in
  • Armoury (see Gambeson)
  • Commemoration (e.g., the "Twentieth Century Women of Faith" quilt on the Patchwork page)
  • Education (e.g., a "Science" quilt)
  • Campaigning
  • Documenting events / social history etc.
  • Artistic Expression
  • Traditional gift

Types and traditions


Amish quilts are reflections of the Amish way of life. Because the Amish people believe in not being "flashy" or "worldly" in dress and lifestyle, their quilts reflect this religious philosophy. They use only solid colors in their clothing and quilts. Some church districts limit the use of certain colors such as yellow or red because those are considered "too worldly". Black is a dominant color. Although Amish quilts appear austere from a distance, the craftsmanship is often of the highest quality and the stitching forms vigorous patterns that contrast well with the plain background. These traits appeal to a modern aesthetic; antique Amish quilts are among the most highly prized among collectors and quilting enthusiasts.

Bangladeshi Quilts

Bangladeshi quilts mainly known as 'Kantha' are not piecing together of patches. They are two to three cloths joined together for thickness. They are made out of worn out clothes (saries) and mainly used for bedding, as a blanket, and sometimes as decorating piece as well. They are made in the leisure times of women mainly in the Monsoon before winter.

Baltimore album

Baltimore album quilts originated in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1840s, and are made up of in blocks in which each block is appliquéd with a different design. The designs are often floral, but many other motifs are also used.


Hawaiian quilts are whole-cloth (not pieced) quilts featuring large-scale symmetrical appliqué in solid colors on a solid color (usually white) ground fabric.

Tivaevae Cook Island Quilts

Tivaevae are also quilts made by Cook Island women for ceremonial occassions. Quilting is thought to have been imported to the Islands by missionaries. The quilts are highly prized and are gifted with other finely made works on important occassions such as weddings, christenings etc.

Ralli quilts

Ralli quilts are traditional quilts made in Pakistan and India. Ralli quilts are called rilli quilts somewhere. Handmade ralli quilts are used as blankets and bedspreads. These ralli quilts make use of patchwork, appliqué and embroidery. Parents present rallis to their daughters on their weddings as a dowry.


A quillow is a quilt with an attached pocket into which the whole blanket can be folded, thus making a pillow.

Quilting technique

See Quilting
As an example, the quilt image above has 24 blocks arranged in a 4x6 pattern, set with dark sashing strips, corner stones in a contrasting color, an outside sashing strip but no border, and a multicolored binding. Click on the image to see these details in a larger view.

Quilts on display

Amongst famous quilts in history is the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was begun in San Francisco in 1987, and is cared for by The NAMES Project Foundation. It is periodically displayed in various arranged locations.
The Museum of the American Quilter's Society (also known as the National Quilt Museum) is located in Paducah, Kentucky. The museum houses a large collection of quilts, most of which are winning entries from the American Quilter's Society festival and quilt competition held yearly in April. The Museum also houses other exhibits of quilt collections, both historic and modern. Many historic quilts can be seen in Bath at the American Museum in Britain, and Beamish Museum preserves examples of the North East England quiltmaking tradition.
The largest known public collection of quilts is housed at the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Examples of Tivaevae and other quilts can be found in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
The second Saturday of each July, the town of Sisters, Oregon hosts the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, which features more than 1,200 quilts on display throughout the town.

In literature

  • Ismat Chughtai wrote an Urdu-language story Lihaf (The Quilt) (1941) that lead to scandal and an unsuccessful attempt at legal prosecution of the author because it was about a lesbian relationship.
  • Ralli Quilts The Traditional Texiles from Pakistan and India, By Patricia Sttoddard
  • The Quilter's Apprentice and many others by Jennifer Chiaverini
  • The Quiltmaker's Gift and The Quiltmaker's Journey by Jeff Brumbeau, illustrated by Gail de Marcken
  • How to make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto

Art quilts

Distinguishing art quilts from the main category of quilts can be difficult. Art quilts can be created using any of the techniques of a quilt - piecing, applique, whole cloth, or even machine embroidery. These are techniques, though, and art involves more than mere technique. Meaningfulness, in whatever way the viewer perceives it, is involved in the experience of an art quilt, as opposed to a quilt built as an exercise in craft or technical capabilities, or for practical bedroom purposes.
The term art quilt itself is controversial, since it implies that quilts in other categories are not art. Quilts have always been made, however, with their aesthetic value as a consideration, even when makers were creating objects for practical use in their homes and bedrooms. To this extent, nearly all quilts evidence artistic/creative expression and their functional raison d'être as well as their materials and techniques support their visual statements, expressions that can be as powerful viewed on a bed as from the flat expanse of a gallery wall. What perhaps distinguishes the art of the home-based maker from that of the studio-based maker are context and intent. The works of makers such as the quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama demonstrate, however, that notions of what distinguishes a so-called 'art quilt' from an everyday 'bed quilt' may reside less in the minds of the makers than in the eyes of the beholders.

Color theory and patterns

The colors used in art quilts are determined by their creators, but quilts which go beyond the basic "bed quilt" are usually distinguishable by non-traditional colors or pattern interpretation. Fiber Artists such as Valerie Page and Melody Crust demonstrate their vision by the use of complementary and contrasting colors, and complex and unpredictable but balanced patterns. The result may be mathematical in nature, as is the case with the Fibonacci number textile patterns Valerie Page creates.

Quilts are named

During the late 1900s, the quilt community started to encourage quilters to label their quilts, starting with a name for the quilt, in addition to their own name, and completion date for the work. This was an important step in taking the craft of quilting into the art realm. A quilt's name implies there is some meaning to a quilt beyond its creation, to whatever degree, though meaning is found in quilts without names as well.

Emotion in an art quilt

One aspect of some art quilts is the ability of the piece to evoke an emotion in the viewer. While examples of quilts displaying the darker end of the emotional spectrum are still rare, they do exist. Quilts focused on the September 11, 2001 attacks have particularly explored grief and anger.

Notable quilters

External links

quilt in Czech: Quilt
quilt in German: Quilt
quilt in Spanish: Edredón
quilt in Dutch: Quilt
quilt in Japanese: キルト
quilt in Portuguese: Edredom
quilt in Russian: Стёганое полотно
quilt in Simple English: Quilt

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

afghan, bed linen, bedclothes, bedcover, bedding, bedsheet, bedspread, blanket, buffalo robe, case, clothes, comfort, comfortable, comforter, contour sheet, counterpane, cover, coverlet, coverlid, eiderdown, fitted sheet, lap robe, linen, patchwork quilt, pillow slip, pillowcase, puff, robe, rug, sheet, sheeting, slip, spread
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