Quilt Quality

Most handmade quilts, that are offered for sale today, are not of good quality. In part, this is because the demand for quilts is far greater than what can be met by the diminishing number of experienced quilt-makers. In part, it is because many people will pay just as much for a quilt that is poorly designed and sewn as they will for one that is well designed and finely sewn. Surprisingly, it’s easy to recognize a good quality handmade quilt. Most individuals just don’t have any idea of what to look for.

It is difficult to design a quilt. The choice of patterns, fabrics, and proportions is daunting, and a quilt can be ruined by the inclusion of a fabric in the design with just slightly the wrong hue. Most quilt-makers are far better at sewing than they are at design. Consequently, look critically at how the fabrics in the quilt play off against each other. If it doesn’t look good to you, it isn’t good!

Keeping all the pieces of a traditional patchwork in alignment is a challenge to the the quilt-maker. Any misalignment of more than an eight of inch indicates an inferior quilt. Look closely. If there are flaws it won’t take long to see them.

It has got to be enticing to a quilt-maker to cut back on the density of the quilting pattern. The hand sewing of this pattern is by far the biggest cost of making a handmade quilt, anything that can be done to cut back on the sewing will reduce the cost (but not necessarily the price!) of a quilt. The purpose of the quilting stitches is to hold the batting material and two outer fabric layers together. On average, within each square foot of a good quilt there should be at least 90 linear inches of quilt stitching (if a crosshatch pattern was used for the quilt stitching, the crosshatch squares should be no more than 3 inches on a side). Where one quilting patterns stops and another starts, the designer sometimes leaves small areas without any quilting stitching. In a good quilt, there will be only a few areas where there are gaps in quilting larger than a fist. Before you buy a quilt, look at the back of it (where the quilting pattern is most apparent) and confirm that you are getting your money’s worth.

The quilting stitches in a well made quilt will be the same size and evenly spaced (about 6 to 8 stitches per inch). A good quilt will have over 50,000 stitches, so some quilt-makers feel an economic incentive to make bigger (and consequently fewer) stitches. Uneven stitching is the mark of an inexperienced or sloppy quilt-maker. Again, the quality of the stitching is usually best seen on the back of the quilt.

All the quilts offered for sale here meet these standards.