January 28, 2013

Anatomy of a Quilt

A quilt is made up of multiple layers. There are traditionally three layers in a quilt: quilt top, batting, and quilt back. The above photo shows the top part of a finished quilt. This is a very traditional-style quilt and is made up of 35 different squares, or quilt blocks. The photo below shows a stack of quilt blocks before they have been sewn together. In this traditional example, the blocks are separated by a neutral sashing (the white part in the above photo). The entire quilt is then encased with a blue floral border. Many modern quilts do not use traditional sashing or borders, though some do.

Below is an example of a quilt top before it becomes a quilt. The light shining through allows you to see how thin this layer is. You are also able to see the seams. Notice the starts are each their own quilt block with white sashing between each of the blocks. 

The next layer of a quilt is the batting, or what can be thought of as the "stuffing." If you are unfamiliar with batting, it feels a bit similar to fleece. This is the part that gives a quilt thickness and keeps you warm. In the next photo, you can see the batting peeking out around the quilt top. This process is called "basting" and will be discussed later. 

The final layer of a quilt is the quilt back. Though I don't do this as much as I should, I really like the look of a "pieced back," or a deign on the back of the quilt. The quilt back can be a simple solid color or can be pieced with scraps or extra fabric. 

The next step in the quilting process is actually quilting the three layers together. During this process, someone stitches through all of the layers and creates some sort of design. This step gives the quilt a nice texture and will help to keep the batting from coming apart or moving about inside the quilt. Here are two different examples of quilting...

Lastly, a quilt must be bound. The binding is the edging that you find around the perimeter of the quilt. This helps to hide the batting and to hold all of the layers together. This horrible photo was taken on my iPhone while waiting in line at the post office - not the best picture, but it shows a great contrast between the quilt back and the bright blue binding. 

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