Quilts can be treasured heirlooms passed from generation to generation. A quilt can keep you cozy on a cold winter night, remind you of a loved one, or brighten up a wall. Whether you’re purchasing a quilt as a gift or for yourself, choosing the perfect quilt can be daunting. This practical guide will help you navigate the process like a pro.
Before you get to the purchasing stage, start by reflecting on what you like and want in a quilt. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What is the purpose of the quilt?
Do I want it to be used as decoration or as bedding? Is it meant to signify a special person or event? Do I want an everyday quilt that I can easily throw in the wash?
With a purpose in mind, you can choose a shop that meets your needs. If you’re looking for a unique, handcrafted quilt, seek out craft fairs, specialty shops, and individual artisans. Department and big box stores offer less unique and lower quality options that are cheaper but can work for everyday use.
If you’d like to use the quilt for display, you may want to also purchase a quilt rack or quilt rods for wall hanging.
What are my (or my gift recipient’s) personal aesthetics? What styles, themes, and colors appeal to me? What will work for the space?
Consider the colors and patterns that you love. Think about season – lighter, brighter colors are more at home in spring and summer, while darker colors can feel cozier in the winter. You can also check out our guide to different types of quilts to see if a particular style appeals to you.
Think about the space where you’ll be housing the quilt and how the quilt will fit in with your other décor. A log cabin quilt works great in a rustic space, while a Provençal quilt has more elegant charm. A modern quilt will be perfect for one person and space and completely wrong for someone else.
What size quilt do I want?
Quilts come in standard bed sizes, from baby and crib sizes up through king and California king. Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to size up if you want the quilt to drape over the sides.
If you want a hanging quilt, be sure to measure the wall space you have available.
Once you know what you want, you can look more systematically for the right quilt for you. As you’re shopping, you’ll have more questions for your quilt vendor. Regardless of the type of quilt you’ve decided to purchase, here are two questions you’ll want to ask:
What is the quilt’s quality? What’s my budget?)
Keep in mind that a well-made quilt will last longer – for many generations, even – than a hastily-made quilt and should be considered an investment.
Artisan quilts are more expensive because someone has individually designed and crafted a unique product, using hand stitching, machine stitching, or some combination of the two. Manufactured quilts are made entirely by factory machines and have a generic pattern. They’re less expensive but also less unique and less likely to be passed down from generation to generation.
Pay particular attention to stitching, which can be done by hand or by machine. In either case, quality stitching will ensure the quilt lasts. You can identify quality stitching by looking at the evenness and tightness of the stitches. A well-made quilt will have at least 6-8 stitches per inch, and they’ll be evenly spaced out.
What is the quilt’s filling?
And ask yourself: Will this be a quilt for winter or summer? How frequently will I wash the quilt? How much time am I willing to invest in the quilt’s care?
Quilts are made by intricately stitching together two fabric layers with filling sandwiched between. The filling will affect the use, comfort, and ease of care of your quilt. Common fillings include natural fibers, like wool, down, and cotton, as well as synthetic fibers, like polyester. Less common fillers include straw, recycled plastic, and bamboo.
In general, quilts with thicker filling will keep you cozier in cold weather, and quilts with less filling will feel lighter in warm weather.
Wool is breathable and can work well for both winter and summer, while down filling will keep you toasty when it’s cold out. Cotton and polyester stand up better than other fillings to frequent washing.
If you’re purchasing the quilt as a gift, also consider allergies – many people are allergic to feathers and straw.
Lastly, don’t worry if you don’t know what you want in a quilt – just allow your tastes to develop as you look. You really can’t go wrong as long as you choose a quilt you love!