There are four main types of quilting: FLAT QUILTING uses two layers of fabric, held together by all over stitching. This is used to add weight to a flimsy fabric, to give warmth without bulk, or as protection at a point of hard-wear such as collars and cuffs. WADDED QUILTING or ENGLISH QUILTING e.g. Durham quilting has three layers - a top fabric, a filling/wadding/padding, and a backing held together by stitching. Used to give warmth, cushion against hardness, and enliven the surface texture. CORDED QUILTING or ITALIAN QUILTING uses two layers of fabric with the design having parallel lines of stitching, three to six mm wide. Cord or wool is threaded through the channel from the back. The result is a pattern of raised lines on a flat background. It is used mainly for decoration and also used to add extra weight to a flimsy fabric. STUFFED QUILTING or TRAPUNTO- has two layers of fabric with only one line of stitching around a design shape. On back fabric, a slit is made, wadding inserted and the slit stitched up. Or muslin fabric parted and wadding inserted with knitting needle.


In the last 100 years almost any kind of bed covering has been called a quilt, whether any kind of quilting has been used or not.

The noun “quilt” comes from the Latin ‘culcita’ or ‘culcitra’ meaning ‘a sack, mattress or cushion filled with feathers, wool or hair; an object which could be used for lying upon or as a covering for warmth.

Like most embroideries, the origins are clouded through history. From records we know that quilting has been used and adapted to strengthen or preserve worn clothing, as a protection for the head or body in combat, as a warm covering, and as protection from a hard bed or floor (mattresses and carpets).

A carved figure of the Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty, 3400 BC, shows the king wearing a quilted mantle. The patterns used on this mantle are still in use today. The fact that the garment was worn, probably as a ceremonial robe, signifies that quilting was a skilled and established form of needlework.

The earliest surviving example of quilting is a first century quilted carpet found on the floor of a tomb in the USSR. This suggests that it was used by a chieftain, confirming the importance of quilting. In earlier times, quilts may have been used to cover the floors of dwelling caves


Colby, Averil, QUILTING Batsford, London, 1987.
Poe, Ann, Quilting School: Complete Guide to Patchwork and Quilting, Readers' Digest, New York 1993
The Batsford Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques, Batsford, London, 1984
Weldon's Encyclopedia Of Needlework, The Waverly Book Co, London

© Valerie Cavill