Skip to content
3D Puff Embroidery Is Trending, and We Have It. View the PuffyStitch Collection Here.
3D Puff Embroidery Is Trending, and We Have It. View the PuffyStitch Collection Here.
Quilting From A To Z

Quilting From A To Z

What Is Quilting?

Quilting is the craft art of constructing pieces a patchwork of fabric together in a creative way and then sandwiching batting in between this creative layer and a bottom layer of fabric with decorative stitches.

The act of quilting is the securing of 3 layers of fabric together with decorative stitches. They can be secured with manual stitches, long arm quilting and also with an embroidery machine. Machine quilting can be done manually (by floating) or with a digitized design.

The quilting designs can be very simple and utilitarian or more intricate for an added overall dimension to the finished piece. Typically, these quilting designs are composed of neatly arranged running stitches, adding texture and character to the quilt's surface.

machine quilting 

Why Is Quilting Necessary?

Quilting serves a dual purpose - it not only artistically fastens the three layers of a quilt together but also plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the batting. Without quilting, large sections of unsecured batting could deteriorate over time, causing clumping and compromising the quilt's overall quality.


The Three Layers Of A Quilt Are;

  • Top Layer is the decorative design piece. Your “show piece”. This part is sewn/constructed together
  • Middle Layer is batting that creates the padding. This is what gives the bumpy quilted look. It available from thin to thick, fluffy to dense, acrylic and cotton. The end use will determine which is best for you.
  • Back/Bottom Layer Typically a solid color, often white, but can be one a coordinating material to the top piece. Wide width fabrics are available for full king size quilted blankets. Piecing a full back piece of remaining scraps is another option and would have been a common technique back when fabric was not as readily available as it is today.


Four Types Of Quilting

Free Motion (Hand) – Free motion is the art of feeding the material through a sewing machine with a walking foot. Stencils can be used for a more consistent look, or you can create the design as you go.

Custom – Each element is employed to create a unified over design that is unique to the quilt artist. Different quilt stitches can also add dimension and variety to the over-all piece.

Embroidery Machine – similar to Long Arm with the ability allow the machines pantograph stitch out a digitized design. Large areas can be quilted with the large hoops and even more with boarder frames. Also great for in the hoop projects.

Long Arm Quilting – Typically offered as a service by a “Long Arm Quilting Company”. They may have a single or multiple machines. Similar to an embroidery machine, a long are quilting machine has a pantograph that is driven by a digitized design. The entire project is stretched on a large hoop that is moved to repeat designs or aligned for more customized quilting.

 longarm quilting

Four Types Of Patchwork

Patchwork – Pieces of fabric are trimmed and sewn together to create the large top piece of a quilt. Fabric pieces can be small, medium, large or anywhere in between to create a master piece.

Appliqué – Larger pieces of fabric are used for background areas with multiple smaller pieces to be appliquéd in unique shapes to create elements of a design.

Paper Piecing – The use of a printed template to piece together intricate patchwork designs. The paper and fabric are trimmed along the process. Any residual paper remaining is removed once the patch piece is trimmed and complete.

English Paper Piecing – Tessellating Geometric shapes are cut into paper templates. Each piece of paper is wrapped with fabric and whip stitched. The finished pieces are then pieced together to create a final project.


Different Types Of Quilting Projects

Blankets of all sizes


Mug rugs,


Fat Quarter projects

Blankets of all sizes



Tote Bags

Bowl Cozy’s



Mug rugs,




Book Covers

Table Runners

Book Marks

Pot Holders


Laptop and Tablet Sleeves



Popular Quilting Projects 

In The Hoop (ITH) is a popular quilting project using a Heat Away Film. The Heat Away Film is hooped by itself and sandwiched in between the 3 layers being quilted. A placement stitch is stitched first as you would with an appliqué. Spraying a light layer of temporary adhesive on the film, the batting is laid down first with the decorative top layer adhered to the batting. Lastly the back fabric layer is adhered to the underside of the film and then the entire hooped piece is quilted together with a digitized design. Once un-hooped, piece and film can be trimmed to size and is ready for the outer binding. 


Do You Need A Special Thread For Quilting?

Remember that quilting is decorative stitches. When running at high speeds either on a sewing, quilting or long are quilter, an actual embroidery or more specifically a machine quilting thread should be used.

Many years ago, polyester was considered bad for quilting and even thought to be damaging to the materials. Polyester has come a long way in the past 20 to 30 years and is more smooth, gentle, as well as strong. Polyester is a great choice due to its durability and great run ability. It is available in a soft spun way that makes it appear to be a cotton thread. Think of it as the “Look of Cotton, with the Performance of Polyester”

Madeira’s AeroQuilt is a 40 weight spun polyester quilting thread with many colors to choose from. It is also available in multi-colors that would work well with intricate calico fabric.

When it comes to quilting, the thread you choose can make all the difference in the finished product. One popular choice among quilters is cotton machine quilting thread, and one brand that stands out is Madeira with its Cotona embroidery thread.

cotona thread

Madeira's Cotona offers a variety of options for quilting enthusiasts. Cotona 30, available in thread collections, is perfect for those aiming for a chunkier, more pronounced look in their quilts. On the other hand, Cotona 50, available both in collections and individual spools, is ideal for achieving a finer, more delicate quilted appearance.

Cotton thread is a top choice for quilters for several reasons. It's sturdy and versatile, with 40 weight being the most popular choice due to its balanced thickness. This weight provides excellent coverage without adding unnecessary bulk to your quilts.

One essential tip for machine quilting is to avoid nylon thread. Over time, nylon can become brittle and even change color, which can negatively impact the longevity and aesthetics of your quilt. So, it's ideal to use a quality cotton thread like Cotona for a beautiful, durable finish. You'll be on your way to creating stunning quilts that stand the test of time.

Our Recommendations For Machine Quilting Thread

Previous article Sensory Stuffed Animals: Huggable Comfort with Plenty of Extra Benefits
Next article Machine Quilting Thread: Recommendations for Beautiful Quilted Creations

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields