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Is Patchwork the Same as Quilting (Interesting Facts!)

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You’ve probably come across the terms quilting and patchwork. Some quilters also make patchwork quilts for sale and others as a hobby.

Is patchwork the same as quilting?

Patchwork is not the same as quilting. Although the two may sound similar, they are two separate forms of textile art used across different cultures to create various decorative items like heirlooms, clothing pieces, furnishing items, and more.

Quilting and patchwork are sewn differently, which is what makes them different. In this guide, we explore the meaning of quilting and patchwork. We also look at the various interesting facts that differentiate these two forms of art.

beautiful handmade quilt in bright colors

What is Quilting?

Quilting is a term that describes a stuffed sack. In quilting, different layers of fabric are sewn together to create a finished quilt. Typically, a quilt consists of three layers of material. 

These three layers consist of the top fabric, batting/insulating material, and the backing. The middle layer of padding is held by the top and bottom layers through lines of stitching. That creates a padded feel. Stitches can differ in design and pattern based on the quilt’s purpose.  

Modern quilters now use long-arm sewing machines to create unique patterns as decorative pieces. You can now find quilts with circles, swirls, boxes, and more. Quilting creates art wall hangings, bedspreads, and various textile products.    

What is Patchwork?

Patchwork is a craft that combines small pieces of fabric that are sewn together to create a large, finished piece. With a patchwork design, different fabric shapes, sizes, patterns, textures, and colors are sewn together to create a unified theme.

Quilters will simplify the process by cutting the fabric into its desired sizes and shapes. Patchwork is more creative and vibrant.

colorful patchwork fabrics

What is Patchwork Quilting?

Patchwork quilting is another popular form of art that makes use of leftover fabric scraps to create a design on top of a quilt. However, more quilters are now purchasing quilts to create patterns on top of their quilt.

Similar to quilting, patchwork quilting uses three layers of fabric and the patchwork layer goes on top.

Geometric patterns are used on a patchwork quilt as they are simpler to create. Nonetheless, quilters are free to explore other patterns.

What are the Differences Between Quilting and Patchwork?

Quilting and patchwork are used interchangeably when it comes to throws and blankets. However, these two terms are different. Some of the differences include:

1. The Technique

The stitching technique between quilting and patchwork is evident.

Quilting combines different sewing techniques that involve layering fabrics to create quilted garments or coverlets. The technique involves layering the top fabric with backing and batting fabric.

A quilter sews a layer of batting in between the top fabric and the backing material to create a quilt.  Additionally, the quilter has to perform some applique work to add texture and ensure the layers are in place.

Stitching is a critical aspect of quilting as it affects the overall design. The stitch should run through the layers whether the quilter is using applique needlework or a basic stitch.

On the other hand, patchwork concentrates on how various pieces are sewn together to create one piece. The quilter can choose to combine random fabric fragments or stitch similarly sized and shaped patterns. Patchwork can also use embroidery or regular stitching to create the design  

patchwork pattern

2. The Pattern

Another difference between patchwork and quilting is the created pattern. Both sewing styles have varying patterns to work with, and some can be similar.   Here are some patchwork and quilting patterns explained in detail.

Patchwork Patterns

Various patchwork styles depend on how you assemble the fabric. Similar to quilting, you can switch up the stitching technique to create a detailed design. A few examples of patchwork styles include:  

  • Cathedral Window Patchwork

The pattern is made when a quilter folds and stitches blocks of fabric to create a 3D window-like design. Most quilters will first lay out the pieces to better understand how the final product will look.  Although the design is easy to complete, the finished look is beautiful.  

  • Stained Glass Patchwork

Stained glass patchwork uses a monochrome fabric between each fabric fragment you’re using.  That creates a stained glass window look.  

  • Somerset Patchwork

This style of patchwork, also popularly known as the folded star patchwork, uses rectangular-shaped fabric pieces that are folded to form triangles and stitches to the fabric. The design is labor-intensive and requires an experienced quilter.

distinct color abstract patterns

Quilting Patterns

There are various styles or types of quilting depending on how you are assembling the quilt. The varying styles depend on what material you use on the top layer. You can change the stitching techniques to create different styles. Some of the popular quilting styles include:  

  • Applique quilting

Applique quilting uses small pieces that have different designs and shapes. These pieces are sewn into a piece of fabric to create the pattern. You can either patch the pieces by hand or use a machine as the process can be time-consuming. Applique quilting is also labor-intensive as it’s more detailed.  

  • Pieced Quilting

Pieced quilting uses blocks of fabric that are sewn together to form rows and columns. It’s the most popular style of quilting. The quilter uses the same size of fabric block to create a large pattern. Unlike applique quilting, pieced quilting is less labor-intensive as there’s less work to do because the fabric blocks are large.  

  • Paper Piecing Quilting

Paper piecing quilting involves huge blocks of fabric that are arranged in rows and columns.  However, the patches are placed on paper templates first and later stitched into a large design.  

3. Usage

Quilting was first meant to create stuff that is insulated, whether they were clothing items or bed covers. The sewing technique then became a method quilters used to make various items for commercial purposes.

Patchwork started as a hobby as people would use old pieces of fabric to create a unique design. It wasn’t done commercially as its main purpose was to extend the longevity of an existing cloth or blanket.

Final Thoughts

Patchwork and quilting are often used interchangeably and may be confused to be the same thing.

Hopefully, you now understand that quilting involves sewing together three fabric layers, while patchwork is more of sewing pieces of fabrics together to create a block or pattern.


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