The ability of layered fabrics to insulate against the cold has been known for a long time. Quilts as we know them are made of three layers: the quilt top, the batting and the quilt back. The quilting is the stitching that bonds these three layers together to create the quilt.
The top of the quilt can be one fabric, or, it can be a pieced quilt top, sometimes made of thousands of pieces of fabric sewn together to make the quilt top. The middle layer of a quilt – the batting – is more and more often polyester. Unless asked to do otherwise, even the Old Order `choose polyester batting over cotton batting. You may wonder why quilters use polyester rather than cotton batting? A polyester bat is easier to quilt, it has more loft (better memory) and it shows off the quilting more effectively than cotton batting. A handmade quilt with polyester batting is also easier to care for, it dries faster and the batting will not shift or shrink with use. Also, the quilt does not retain body moisture and it is much warmer than a quilt with a cotton batting.
The quilt back, like the top, is made of fabric and should always be quilt grade cotton. Some quilt makers prefer a solid fabric while others utilize print fabrics as quilt backing.The quilt back, batting and top are assembled then pinned together or stretched onto a quilt rack so that during the quilting they will remain fixed with respect to one another. You do not want one or more layers to shift , wrinkle, bunch or move in any way while the quilting is underway. The quilt is then stitched together via either hand or machine quilting.
The last step involved in quilt making is to bind the edges. This is the closing or sealing up of the three layers at the quilt’s edges and this is of course done on all four sides. The batting and backing are trimmed to be just short of the binding strip. The binding is folded over the quilt’s edges and then sewn to the back of the quilt using a blind stitch. It’s like folding over and sealing the flap at the back of an envelope.
This is what a quilt is. It’s light, warm and versatile.