Thursday, April 8, 2010

FAQ on buying a quilt

This article was submitted by Nancy of Anotherghost Quilts

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON QUILT-BUYING

1) WHAT IS A QUILT?

A quilt is not just a blanket. Technically, a quilt consists of three layers: a patchwork or whole-cloth top, batting on the inside (varies in loft and material from traditional low-loft cotton to puffy comforter-type thick loft in cotton, poly, a blend of the two, or wool.) The quilting in a quilt refers to the stitches that hold the three layers together. These can be done by hand or machine. The quilting stitches in a quilt are typically what give it its texture. There are some exceptions to this - for instance a log cabin quilt consists of many narrow strips and is often tie-quilted. The texture in this case comes from the many pieces or "logs". A cathedral window quilt is another example in which the texture comes from the technique of folding fabric into a complex design and doesn't involve quilting the layers, but the folding and pressing is extremely labor-intensive and done by hand. In a patchwork or whole cloth quilt, hand quilting gives quilts wonderful texture and bumpiness because the stitches can be pulled tightly by the quilter. Washing a quilt and gently drying it will also cause the inner batting to shrink a bit and this also gives that wonderful texture, but be careful about washing and especially drying an heirloom quilt. A good quilter will include care instructions with your quilt.


2) WHY BUY A QUILT?

A nicely made quilt is both functional and beautiful. Most quilters will tell you that they derive great satisfaction from the opportunity to combine beauty and practicality into their craft. The layering provides great warmth and comfort as well as durability, which is why a well-made quilt may be handed down from generation to generation. Quilts make special gifts, add a cozy feel to any space, and come in styles to fit any decor, from traditional to contemporary. Quilts also look great on the wall, and "art" quilts are made expressly for this purpose. It's important to hang a quilt properly so that the weight is evenly distributed to prevent stretching. Most quilters will add a hanging sleeve upon request. The buyer can then slip a dowel cut to size and easily hang a quilt on the wall. Art quilts and wall hangings are a wonderful decorative alternative to paintings and prints and add dimension and charm to any room.


3) QUILT SIZES SEEM TO VARY GREATLY. HOW DO I KNOW WHAT SIZE TO BUY?

Standard mattress sizes (in inches) are as follows:

Crib 28 x 52
Twin 39 x 75 long (dormitory) twin 39 x 80
Full (double) 54 x 75
Queen 60 x 80
King 76 x 80
California King 72 x 84

The size quilt you choose depends on how much overhang you prefer on the sides and bottom, and whether or not you want a pillow-tuck at the top. Many buyers say that if they see a quilt they absolutely love, they buy it and find a place for it, either folded at the bottom of a sofa, over the back of a chair, or layered on a bed over a plain bedspread. Most quilters will work with you on customizing a quilt to the size you need.


4) WHY DO QUILT PRICES VARY SO MUCH?

The advent of e-commerce has made quilts more affordable by eliminating the shop-keeper middle person. Prices vary widely depending on the size of the quilt, and the quality and cost of the fabric. This is important because a quilt is only as nice as the fabric with which it is made. Top quality designer cotton fabric costs 9.00 or 10.00 dollars a yard. Many quilters have serious fabric addictions and keep their eye out for sales and pass the savings on to the buyer. The third factor in price variance is the type and amount of quilting. A quilt that is simply pieced in large squares and tied will cost much less than an intricately pieced patchwork with lots of dense, fine hand quilting. With the invention of the long-arm quilting machine, many of today's quilters do the quilting stitches by machine. Although not as labor-intensive as hand quilting, machine quilting still requires great skill and patience. The quilter still has the tedious chore of burying all the threads.

Whether hand tied, hand quilted, or machine quilted, crafting a quilt is a labor-intensive process. It requires designing, cutting, piecing, marking, layering, basting, quilting, binding, and labeling.


The art and craft of quilting has undergone a true renaissance in the last decade, resulting in surprisingly diverse styles and designs. Many people don't realize that quilts are not the stereotypical grandmotherly blankets of yesteryear. The key to buying a quilt that you love is to find a quilter whose taste, artistic eye, and design style correspond to yours. Now more than ever, there is a quilt out there for every buyer!

7 comments:

krissybizz said...

Wonderful article!

Nancy said...

Great article! I enjoy the sharing of designs and ideas and look forward to more.

Cathie said...

and I thought I "knew it all!" when it comes to quilts and quiltmaking. Very, very informative article - enlightening me on things I never really thought of. Thanks!

Nora said...

Very informative article and very nice selections to reflect quilting.
I'm going to link this from my own blog.

Charyl said...

What a wonderful, informative article! I will be forwarding this article to my etsy customers who wonder about quilts and quilting. Thank you for this article and hope to see more in the future.

Valerie said...

Very well written and informative article, and gorgeous quilts.

Sue Andrus said...

Great information!! Answers a lot of questions people have.