What’s the difference between a blanket and a quilt? Why should you choose one over the other, anyway? When it comes to sewing blankets and quilts there is a difference… a big difference actually.
Quilting is really in a sewing realm of its own. It is an artistic endeavor as well as a style of manufacturing. In a traditional quilt you will find three layers: top, inner batting, and bottom. The top layer of a quilt is crafted from many different pieces of fabric stitched together into complex patterns – a true work of art! The batting is a thin inner layer of wool or down that gives dimension and warmth. And the bottom is usually a solid piece of fabric – but you can get creative with this piece as well. A quilter stitches through all three layers, creating the familiar “quilted” look of this art form. Once the three layers are quilted, the design really comes to life.
Today, inexpensive quilts are generally made with sewing machines, not by hand. A common question for beginner sewists is “do I need a quilting machine to quilt?” And the answer is NO, absolutely not. There are so many ways to quilt with a regular machine. But what I also recommend for beginners interested in quilting is to start small. Learn the techniques in making quilted bags, palcemats, table runners, or even pot holders. Play around with it on a smaller scale and see what is best for you. Then work your way up to something a little bigger like a baby quilt or couch throw size. Quilting takes a lot of time and precision. Jumping right into a California King size quilt will do nothing but cost money, time and create frustration.
Speaking from personal experience, it is a realm of sewing that once finished, is a true work of art. My first quilt is on display like a trophy. Such a sense of accomplishment and work of art!
Blankets are typically two-layers of fabric, and are a much easier beginner project to learn. Although it is a simpler sewing avenue, it still has lots of options for adding new sewing techniques and embellishments. For example, you can still sew fabric in patterns and blocks like you see in quilts, however the process of putting it together will be different.
What sets it apart from a quilt is the lack of the inner batting layer. The two pieces of fabric are sewn together at the edges only, which means the front and back fabrics and be pulled apart throughout, and there is not batting so it does not have the same “thinkness” as a quilt might have.
Just like sewing a quilt, I would suggest starting small to learn techniques. Start with a baby size blanket, work your way up to a throw size, and then see how you feel from there. Learning the sewing techniques and getting comfortable with them on a smaller scale will keep you from getting discouraged in moving up the size ladder.
My suggestion if you are looking to make blankets is to play around with new fabrics. Design your top, then try a minky for the back!