Quilts range from under $100 to over $1000. What are you paying for with more expensive quilts? Are they really worth the price? This guide breaks down the differences between a $100 and a $1000 quilt.
A Quilt’s Cost: Materials, Labor, and Expertise
Labor, materials, and expertise are the three main elements that determine the cost of a quilt. They’re what separate a $1000 quilt from one that costs $100. When you buy a more expensive quilt, you’re paying for higher quality materials that were carefully and uniquely put together by someone with expertise and attention to detail.
A significant difference between a $100 and $1000 quilt is the quality of materials used, including fabric, filling, and even thread.
This includes the quality of fabric used for both the top and bottom of the quilt. A $100 quilt is made with lower quality fabric. Truly quality fabric is more expensive, is softer, and has a higher thread count. Higher thread count also keeps coarser fillings, such as down, from poking through the fabric with time.
Even the same material can be more or less expensive, and this is especially true for filling. Cheaper polyester found in mass-produced quilts will break down faster from use and washing than certain cotton/polyester blends and higher quality synthetic fibers, which may also be treated for allergens.
A $1000 quilt will have a filling chosen with care that will stand up to the material of the quilt’s top and bottom. This might be a high-quality synthetic filling, cotton, down, or wool. A thicker quilt with more filling will also be more expensive.
Even quality thread is a factor. Cheaper thread will pill and lint, whereas quality thread stands up better to time and use (and washing machines!) More expensive quilting thread is sturdier and thicker than regular sewing thread, and the color of the thread should match the materials being sewn.
Manufactured quilts are made in bulk by machines in factories, whereas handmade quilts are unique products made by individuals. The $100 quilt you find in big box stores is one of many that have been mass produced.
The labor that goes into designing and stitching a unique product costs more than manufactured quilts that are made in bulk. For example, a $1000 quilt will have carefully chosen fabrics, with attention to how the hues play off of each other and contribute to the overall design.
Expertise and Attention to Detail
With higher labor costs come greater attention to detail and the expertise of someone who lives and breathes quilting. Practically, you’ll notice this difference in the quilt’s details.
Here are some of the little details you can expect to find in a $1000 quilt that are likely to be absent from a $100 one:
- The piecework will be neat and even, with corners that match up cleanly. Some cheaper quilts that appear pieced together are actually single cloth quilts with a “patchwork” print. They are stitched along the lines of print to create a patchwork effect but are not actually pieced together.
- The quilting stitches will be dense and evenly distributed over the entire quilt. This means that the filling will stay in place and not move around as you sleep or when you wash the quilt. It also helps the quilt lie flat on a bed.
A $100 quilt will not have such dense quilting. As a result, the quilt will have more bunching or it may be completely flat. This means it is likely to sag over time, and the filling is unlikely to stay evenly distributed.
- Individual lines of stitches will be evenly spaced with at least 6-8 stiches per inch. Cheaper handstitched quilts will have very uneven stitching and low density of stitches per inch.
- The quilt will have true binding (fabric finishing along quilt’s edges). Cheaper quilts may have fold-over or even no binding. Bindings should be straight and full with sharp corners, and secure stitching.
- Borders will be even and consistent, and will complement the quilt’s design.
- The overall effect of the quilt will be tidy. Piecing lines will be straight, and curves will be smooth. Appliqué will lie flat and not be distorted.
- Equal attention is paid to the quilt’s back. A fabric that suits the quilt’s overall design should have been chosen. Stitching needs to go through all layers, and the back should be free from pleats.