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What Is a Quilt?

Learn what a quilt is from quilting expert Cathy Izzo in this Howcast video.


At its most basic a quilt is two pieces of fabric on either side of a piece of batting held together by the quilting stitches. In actuality it is much more.

Quilting has a long history. It was used in feudal Japan as armor, heavily quilted clothing used as armor to protect people against arrows. I think when people talk about quilting mostly they mean as it's been done in this country especially in the pioneer days. When scraps of fabric were precious and everything had to be reused you wouldn't throw out a worn shirt. You'd carefully cut out pieces and make it into something usable and beautiful.

In the days of the pioneers women didn't really have a lot of ways to express any kind of artistic vision, and this was a very accepted useful way to make something beautiful out of scraps. So, traditionally, quilts have been considered valuable items. People always recognize the amount of work that went into them, the amount of care, the designing, the cutting, the stitching. Especially in olden times before the advent of sewing machines and rotary cutters, it did take a lot of effort to make a quilt.

They were usually well cared for. Sometimes, of course, people made quilts purely for utility purposes. You needed to keep warm at night. You had a drafty cabin. You needed a quilt.

But, there were also quilts that were made for people's weddings and quilts made to memorialize someone who had passed. All these quilts were usually very precious to people, and they are handed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter. A quilt is something that you can tell the person who made it put a lot of themselves into it. People recognize that, and they realize what a valuable thing it is.

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