The estimated size of the quilting market today is $4.2billion. Who’d have thought the trend for that ancient quilt hidden in the loft could be a money maker!
When I started making quilts, I was amazed at how many quilt types exist and how different they are. From bargello to biscuit, the patchwork quilt you’re probably thinking of is only the beginning!
Let’s delve into the fascinating world of quilt styles!
What are quilt styles?
A quilt is a multi layered textile which has been pieced together.
It typically consists of three layers: the top quilt which is made from individual pieces of fabric sewn together to create a pattern or shape, the middle batting which is a layer for weight and warmth, and the bottom quilt which is often a plain piece of fabric.
The simplest way to describe quilt types, is the pattern or method in which a quilt top has been sewn together.
Different sewing techniques can create fairly simple to absolutely astonishing quilt tops.
What are the different quilt types?
There are a tonne of different quilt types which vary in sewing technique, to fabric and purpose. There’s quilts for the bed, quilts for decoration, lap quilts, baby quilts – a quilt for everyone in the family!
They’re so versatile and can be completely unique!
Let’s take a closer look…
Patchwork quilts are the most common types of bed quilts that you would see today due to their simple quilt pattern.
The one patch block quilt is made up of square fabrics the same size that are sewn together with a sewing machine or by hand with quilting stitches.
Typically a quilter would create patchwork blocks of 9, and then sew each block of 9 together to create the patchwork quilt top.
The patch quilt top layer is then attached to batting for weight and added to a back layer; finished with a border. Patchwork doesn’t have to result in a crazy quilt, simply mixing a few colors still has the same effect.
A patch quilt is an easy quilt pattern for a beginner to follow at home.
These types of quilts are intended to sit on a person’s lap. Lap quilts are often rectangular in shape measuring 36 – 48”, with a smaller width that can be snugly tucked in.
A compact cloth quilt is a perfect compliment to a cozy book reading day on your favorite chair.
Depending on batting thickness and the quilting fabric of the outer layers, a lap quilt can be heavy enough to provide comfort during cooler months without the bulk of a quilt used for a full sized bed.
Different adornments and fabric pieces such as large pockets can be added to make an art quilt, but ultimately there are no rules, and it all goes down to the preference of the user!
A bargello quilt is a pretty crazy quilt to look at, and requires a different quilting process than a patchwork quilt.
At least six different colored fabrics are required for making these art quilts.
Long strips of fabric are sewn together to create tubes or loops typically 2.5” wide, which form an appearance of movement within an art quilt.
Not for the dizzy, these quilts are often referred to as optical illusions because of the way the mimic waves seem to move with the eye. Although they look pretty wild, the quilting process is relatively easy.
Color coordination is important to ensure a motion effect across the entire quilt.
English Paper Piecing
English paper piecing, also called EPP, is a traditional quilting method where fabric is secured to a paper piecing pattern and then hand sewn together.
The individual paper templates are either basted with glue or stitched using a whip stitch before being attached to a foundation fabric.
It’s a very precise method, which allows the quilter to create accurate geometric shapes no matter the complexity of the art quilt design.
Smaller paper piecing is used for these art quilts, which is a great way to use up scrap fabric pieces to create a scrap quilt.
A pieced quilt has a quilt top which has been created by using paper foundations. A paper quilt pattern is used which has numbers depicting the order of the fabric to be sewn on. Sewing lines direct the quilter of the sewing order. Fabric is placed over a dedicated area in order sewn and pressed.
Once all pieces have been sewn, the paper is then removed.
A pieced quilt pattern can help to improve accuracy with unusual geometric shapes and small pieces.
Although English paper piecing and a pieced quilt may have similar quilt patterns – English paper piecing uses one paper template per fabric, whereas a pieced quilt pattern can have multiple fabrics sewn onto the same piece of paper.
Baking paper is a good substitute if you are making your own pieced quilt paper pattern as it’s very thin making it easy to rip out later.
The applique technique in the quilting world is where a raw edged shape is attached onto another block of fabric; secured with a stitch along the edge.
This is used to add colors, scenes and textures onto a quilt and can be attached by hand or with a sewing machine.
Very occasionally fabrics will be attached with glue or fusible web before sewing of the raw edges is complete.
Utilize leftover fabrics
Applique quilts are a great way to use up leftover fabric and can be called a scrap quilt. They quilting stitches and color add magnitude to a quilt top.
Although any type of embroidery stitches can be used to surround an applique quilt, the two most common stitches are zigzag and the blanket stitch.
Puff quilts or bubble quilts can also be called biscuit quilts.
They are made up of individually stuffed square fabric pieces sewn together to make up the whole bed quilt.
Each block is filled with toy or cushion stuffing before the quilt is finished which gives it a puffy effect.
The squares are sewn together in rows, which can either be attached using a different quilting technique such as ties and knots to a foundation fabric.
These types of quilts were particularly popular during the Victorian era but may have been decorative rather than utilitarian.
Biscuit quilts are dense but exceptionally snuggly because of the stuffing in the quilt sandwich.
Charm quilt or beggar quilt
Charm quilts are sometimes known as beggar or rag quilts. These types of quilts are extraordinarily unique.
Traditionally in these scrap quilts, no square of fabric is repeated and each fabric block is completely different.
When sewing materials were hard to come by, needleworkers used to beg and barter in fabric scraps and quilt patterns to create a quilt with.
People would beg their friends and neighbours for old scrap fabric pieces of neck ties or old dresses to use in creating their charm quilt.
Charm quilts from history can provide us with a catalog of the fabric pieces that were available at the time of creation.
A baby quilt is a smaller sized quilt roughly 37” x 52” that is intended for the use of babies and small children.
Mini quilts are rectangular in shape to fit most crib mattresses and prams.
Made from washable and durable material so they can be laundered frequently, a thin lightweight quilting cotton is a common fabric to use, but ultimately it’s up to the sewist to decide.
The top quilt patterns can be made up from patchwork squares, a paper pieced pattern or a can be adorned with thread during free motion quilting.
In this quilt sandwich you don’t always need to use a middle layer of batting.
White on white quilting for the quilt top is popular with this style of mini quilt.
Possibly the most fascinating quilt of them all is the freedom quilt, which historians believe to have been designed to direct slaves to freedom.
Secret messages were communicated in patterns on these quilts which gave information to people who were enslaved to escape to their freedom using the underground railroad.
Wall quilts or wall hangings are quilts that have been created for display purposes rather than functionality and will be hung as decoration.
These types of quilts can be pretty much any size, and the quilt is often completed with quilting techniques such as applique.
The benefits of hanging a quilt on the wall instead of using them functionally means accidents such as spilled food and drink can be avoided.
Hang a wall quilt in an area of your home where there is no direct sunlight.
Photo Memory Album quilt
These types of quilts can be called a photo memory quilt and can be a wonderful gift in remembrance to someone.
A photo quilt is created with pictures that are turned to printed fabrics and sewn together as a quilt top.
The resulting memory quilts are like a photo album or can be simply referential, to evoke a sense of time and place that might not be possible with regular store bought fabrics.
Quilters can use a home printer with special printing fabric, or iron on transfer paper. The album quilt can then be displayed as a wall hanging, and be a memory quilt.
The medallion quilt was brought to America by immigrants from Europe. These types of quilts have a central motif as a focal point on a quilt, which is surrounded by pieced or applique borders.
The center medallion can be used to show accomplishment of difficulty or various quilting skills, intricate design and is any shape and size. In some cases during the 1700s, the medallion could be the centerpiece in a wealthy couple’s home.
Round Robin quilt
A round robin quilt is an antique collective quilt made with other quilters. Historically these have also been called friendship quilts, or signature quilts as each quilter will have a signature technique.
Everyone begins by making a center quilt block usually 12” – 16” and a quilting styles kit which includes the fabric and a list of things they like or don’t like on a quilt.
The kits get passed around the group, with the idea to add something to the block that you took home; which then continues until the kit has completed one round between all the quilters. Round robin quilts are all completely different!
Odd Fellows quilt
Not to be mistaken with the ‘odd feller quilt’, the odd fellows chain quilt block originated before 1895 and is frequently seen in antique quilts.
The odd fellows pattern is a star shape which is created from half square triangles, to create a larger star formed in a block of a contrasting color. All the seams are matching in each square, so secondary patterns are formed.
The quilt blocks have lots of seams due to lots of color change and can be bulky, so quilters must press the patch blocks carefully.
A patriotic quilt is an American quilt made from just a few colors,, red, white and blue; which symbolizes the nation’s flag.
Most commonly found as a way to keep the American spirit into a quilt top, these make great gifts for quilters and veterans and celebrate a variety of national holidays with a patriotic quilt.
Civil War Quilts
The quilt making movement during the Civil War which began in 1861, was less about the art of quilting, and more about necessity and functionality.
Many Civil War quilts were a conglomerate of many different quilts blocks to help provide soldiers with warmth and bedding. Some quilts were sold at fairs auctions to raise money for the Civil War, and more fabric scraps.
DID YOU KNOW?
Quilts can vary in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands. The most valuable Civil War era quilt, known as the Reconciliation Quilt was sold for $264,000!
Hawaiian quilts are distinct for their radially symmetrical and applique botanical design. Each quilt block has a motif which is often stylized in a bold color on a white background.
The motifs were said to be created with someone special in mind, or even created as a memory quilt to guard a family recipe!
The style of needlework used with these pieced quilts was to help limit fabric waste.
So there you have an extensive list of the many different types of quilt and quilt styles. Which type of quilt is your favorite?
Have you made any of these quilts? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Share this around in your quilting community if you’re looking for a new quilting project or for someone looking to begin their quilting journey.
In the meantime, happy quilting!