How to talk quilt: explanation of the use of the terms quilt, quilter, quilted and quilting

How do I talk Quilt? Explanation and use of the terms quilt, quilted, quilting and quilter.

05 september 2021

The words ‘quilt’, ‘quilted, or ‘quilting’ have various different meanings. This can make it difficult to understand what quilters are talking about. This is exemplified with the following grammatically accurate sentence: 

Quilter: One who quilts and spend many hours quilting. Some people only make quilt tops and engage a quilter to do the quilting. Other quilters do their own quilting on their quilts. After quilting, you can call a quilt ‘quilted’.

This sentence will make sense to most quilters. Not to beginners though, so I will explain the different meanings and uses of the words ‘quilt, ‘quilting’, ‘quilted and ‘quilter in this article. All four words abbreviate from the same origin and have similar meanings. 

In this article, the most common uses of the terms are explained. Find the quilt dictionary to find the meaning for other quilting terms.

Where does the term ‘quilt’ come from? 

Before I delve into the different meanings of quilting, let me explain to you the origin of the word. It will help to understand all the different meanings. 

The earliest known origin is Latin: 

  • Culcita:  Meaning “mattress, bolster, or cushion”

Later it got adapted in Old French (12th century)

  • Cuilte, coute, quilte: Meaning “Quilt, Mattress”

The word transitioned into Anglo-French (13th century)

  • Quilte: Meaning “Sack stuffed with wool, down, etc. used as a mattress

The origin of the word has clearly something to do with mattresses, or broadly speaking items to sleep on. Which makes sense because a mattress is also a top and back fabric with a filling secured together by stitching. Only quilts are now mainly used as a blanket, and not as a mattress. Maybe the mattresses of the olden day looked more like what we call blankets now. 

Because of how a quilt is constructed, it gives a lot of softness and comfort, even laying on it on the floor. That’s why it’s also suitable as a picknick blanket. 

Now we know the origin of the word, let’s see how the word is used now. This is done in 4 different chapters, with the most common forms of the word

  • Quilt
  • Quilting
  • Quilter
  • Quilted

Different uses of the word quilt: 

  1. The finished project. Usually associate with the blanket or bed covering, but a quilt can be many different things from stockings, to school bags, coasters and mousemats. The main thing is that it has more than one layers which are sewn together through quilting
  2. ‘To quilt’, a verb describing the action of making a quilt. It doesn’t matter which part of the quilt you are working on. Although, there are different names for the different actions, ‘to quilt’ is a collective term.
  3. ‘To quilt’, also describers the specific action of sewing through the different layers of a quilt.
  4. Name of the object as an art-piece. You have specific art quilts, but to me any kind of quilt can be considered art.

Summarizing how I use the term ‘quilt’ most often: 

Quilt: An object created with the quilt technique having several layers of fabric which are kept together with thread.

Different uses of the word Quilting:

  1. Technically speaking, the verb quilting means sewing through the three layers of a quilt. Piecing is the term used for sewing fabric pieces together into a quilt block and quilt top. However, quilting is also used as a general term to describe every part of the quilting process. This includes all the steps from picking out fabric to putting on the final border of the quilt.
  2. The technique of sewing layers with insulation (batting) together
  3. To construct a quilt
  4. To construct something with the same technology
  5. Present participle of quilt
  6. A layer or layers of quilted padding

How the term ‘Quilting’ will be used at Kick Ass Quilts

Quilting; Any kind of activity relating to creating a quilt or quilted object.

How the term Quilted is used

  1. Adjective quilting. For example: ‘a quilted bag consists of several layers of fabric hold together with thread’
  2. An object, clothes, bags e.g. filled with thick or soft materials that is sewn into place

How the word ‘quilted’ is used at Kick Ass Quilts:

Quilted: Any object that consist the quilting technique of several layers of fabric held together with thread.

Different uses of the word Quilter

  1. Someone engaged in making quilts, be it as a hobbyist or a professional. Some quilters only make quilt tops, others finish the quilt tops for other people professionally.
  2. A person whose hobby or profession is the entire process of quilting (all aspects / collective aspects)
  3. A person whose hobby or profession is to do the quilting part (sewing through the 3 layers)

How we use the word ‘Quilter’ in Quilt College and Quilt Library:

Quilter: Someone who engages in the activity of quilting, or someone who identifies themselves as a quilter.


Hopefully these definitions have made things clearer for you. If not, leave a comment and I’ll make sure your confusion will be taken away. 


  1. (Accessed on 27-08-2021)
  2. (Accessed on 05-09-2021)
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