This truly is a Pandora’s Box of a post, because I know that after re-visiting all the wonderful types of quilts out there, I am going to want to make them all! I won't be able to shut them inside the box again! There is a myriad of different ways of putting tiny pieces of fabric together to form a quilt. It is a treasure trove to explore!
Types of Quilts
Pieced Patchwork Quilts
The most common type of quilts is a Pieced Patchwork Quilt. Within this category, there are endless variations. There are thousands of different quilt blocks to choose from, and then variations within those blocks. Will your entire quilt be made up of the same block? Or alternating blocks? Or what about alternating pieced blocks with plain blocks? Your color choices and arrangement of the blocks all make a huge difference to the appearance of these quilts.
Within the pieced quilt category are also Scrap Quilts, where scraps of leftover fabric are used in any color. They are not usually color-coordinated and are very often lovely and bright and cheerful. The scraps, if large enough, can be cut into specific quilt block patterns, or just randomly sewn into squares, which are then pieced together.
Even more economical are String Quilts, which are made from tiny strips of fabric leftovers or even ribbon or lace scraps. Some quilters even save their selvage strips and add these into string quilts. These are usually sewn onto a base fabric and then all the base patches are put together.
The next category and one of my personal favorites are the Appliqué Quilt. Generally, designs are appliquéd onto square blocks, which are then pieced together to form the whole quilt. The designs are cut out of coordinated fabric and then stitched onto the basic blocks. They can be attached by hand, using blanket stitch or needle turn appliqué techniques, or they can be attached by machine. Some quilters like to cut out the shapes already printed onto the fabric and then appliqué those into place. Others like to build up the shapes from different fabrics, cutting, say, petals from one fabric and building them into a flower, then adding leaf and stem shapes cut from another fabric. Each element is appliquéd in place separately.
Broderie Perse Quilts
Broderie Perse quilts fall into this category where pre-printed elements are cut out and appliquéd onto a neutral fabric to create a scene or a picture.
Crazy Quilts are made by joining several irregular scrap pieces to one foundation fabric. There is no set design for the patches. These quilts were extremely popular in Victorian times. They are always heavily embellished with embroidery, lace, and bead-work, and the fabrics used are often luxury fabrics such as velvet and satin. They are generally on the small side, and are probably more suited to embroiderers than to quilters! The beauty of these quilts is that you are not bound by any rules or designs, and you have complete freedom to make things up as you go along, and create something which you really love.
Trapunto Quilts sound rather advanced and intimidating, but the technique is easily mastered. They are made by outlining a design on your fabric with stitches and then stuffing that design to give it a raised effect. Narrow areas are stuffed with yarn, larger areas are stuffed with multiple rows of yarn, or stuffing such as is used to stuff small toys. To make one of these, you will need a ‘front fabric’ and an ‘inner lining’. You baste these fabrics together, outline your design with a running stitch, and then stuff the design. Narrow areas can be stuffed by threading a needle with the yarn, larger areas will need a small open space to push the stuffing into. You will still apply a conventional backing once the trapunto work is complete.
More Quilt Blocks
Whole Cloth Quilts
Whole Cloth Quilts are made, as their name implies, with one solid piece of fabric, rather than with multiple patchwork pieces. The beauty in these lies in elaborate quilting to give the fabric texture. They are often made with cream or white fabric and quilted with white thread, so they are also known as ‘White on White’ quilts. They are made by tracing your quilting pattern onto your single piece of fabric, then adding your batting and backing, and then quilting along the pattern lines. Trapunto and whole cloth quilting are often combined to give the whole quilt more visible relief and texture.
Stenciled Quilts are simple, easy, and fun to make. A motif or design is drawn on acetate or stencil paper. This pattern is then applied to your blocks using textile paint. The paint must be heat set by ironing with a hot, dry iron after application. It is also possible to use stenciled designs on a whole cloth quilt.
Medallion Quilts have a large central block or motif which is framed or encircled by a decorative border. The central motif may be stenciled, appliquéd, or embroidered and the border around it can be pieced or decoratively quilted. If piecing the outer rings/squares, is almost like adding multiple quilt borders. These quilts need to be carefully planned in advance!
Sampler Quilts are another of my favorites! They are made up of different quilting blocks all stitched together, rather than using just one or two repeated blocks throughout the quilt. They are made with a unifying color or theme to pull the whole quilt together. These are great fun to make, as you can experiment with making various block designs, then stitch them all together. You will certainly not get bored making the same block over and over again! The varying designs are generally unified by using sashing, or exactly the same colors in each block. (Or both!)
Watercolor Quilts are exceptionally beautiful quilts made with small square blocks blended together in tonal range to make a quilt that looks like an impressionist painting. They may have motifs appliquéd on top of this blend of colors, or the colors may change subtly to create a picture. They are also called Colorwash Quilts.
A Memory Quilt is made of discarded clothing worn by a loved one. They are often made up of scraps of baby clothing or of T-shirts with slogans on them that have happy memories. They are also sometimes made from scraps of clothing worn by someone who has passed away, as a lovely way of remembering them. I have seen beautiful cushion cover quilts made from Grandad’s old ties. It is also possible to make a photo memory quilt by transferring photos onto fabric and then using these as blocks for your quilt.
English Paper Piecing Quilts
English Paper Piecing Quilts, also called EPP, are made by stitching or sticking fabric around paper templates and then stitching all these pieces together by hand. The paper templates are then removed before adding batting and backing. They are usually elaborately shaped pieces, which would be difficult to stitch together by machine. Hexagons are a popular shape for EPP, but this technique can actually be used with any shape at all. A Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt is a good example of an EPP quilt. You may be put off by all that hand stitching, but it is very easy and relaxing, and great as a project to carry with you because you only need to carry a few pieces at a time! Until you want to join the entire thing together, of course!
Foundation Paper Piecing
Foundation Paper Piecing, on the other hand, is a completely different technique, which is done by machine. It is done by sewing your various fabrics onto a printed paper foundation. It is popular because it enables you to create very detailed quilt blocks with perfect points and shapes. The pattern usually has numbers printed onto each shape to help you with the order of placing the fabrics. All the fabrics for a block are sewn onto one paper foundation. The paper is removed once the block is complete.
Types of Quilts - Sizes
I am certain that I have left a few types of quilt out of this long list! As well as all the different ways of putting a quilt together, there are numerous sizes of quilts.
The smallest is called a miniature quilt and is made exactly like a large quilt, with whichever construction technique you enjoy, but all in miniature. Each block is made to scale with tiny pieces. They are often used as wall quilts, and are really cute!
Wall quilts are next up in size and can vary from miniature to fairly large. They are a great way of experimenting with a technique without having to make a full-size bed quilt.
Baby and crib quilts are next in size, then a lap quilt to keep you warm while sitting watching TV. A throw quilt will be large enough to cover a sofa or chair. Then come all the bed-sized quilts, from single or twin bed size up to California King size! Start small and work your way up!
Types of Quilts - In Conclusion
If you have never tried your hand at some of these types of quilts, choose a couple that appeals to you and your style of sewing, and makes a small quilt using that technique. There are umpteen methods with which to experiment and each has its own joys and quirks of construction. The final thing left in Pandora’s Box was hope, and I really hope that you will have fun experimenting with different types of quilts!