What Are Quilts?

A quilt is a layered textile composed of a decorative top, a warm filler called batting or wadding, and a practical backing. Joining the three layers are quilting stitches, or sometimes regularly spaced yarn or string ties.

The layers of a quilt:

1. The quilt top is the decorative part of the quilt. The quiltmaker can create this element using techniques including piecing, applique, or other decorative stitching. Some quilt tops, known as “whole cloth,” consist of only one piece of cloth.

2. The batting is the inner layer which provides quilts with warmth. Traditionally, quiltmakers used fluffy cotton or wool fibers, but today synthetic fibers are just as common. Sometimes old blankets or worn quilts served as batting.

3. The backing is the third layer and is usually plain, but enthusiastic quiltmakers sometimes have created a specially designed backing as well.

4. The quilting holds the three layers of a quilt together. The stitching can be simple and minimal, or it can be complex and abundant.