Quilts, Comforters & DuvetsIn previous generations, synthetic pillow fillings were generally seen as cheap substitutes for the "real thing". However as technology has advanced so the quality of synthetic fillings has improved. Today
What Is A Quilt?
The whole area of quilts, comforters and duvets is a confusing one, especially when regional differences are taken into account. For instance, what is known as a quilt or a comforter in the US would probably be called a thin duvet here in the UK. And what we would call a duvet cover in the UK might simply be called a "duvet" in the US! When shopping for a quilt, comformer or duvet - either in a bedding store or online - make sure that you know exactly what you're getting before you buy.
In essence a quilt is simply two pieces of cloth sewn together and filled with some soft, comfortable insulating material (called batting or wadding). This filling was traditionally made from natural materials such as duck down (hence the name eiderdown, an eider being a type of duck). Nowadays an increasing number of quilts are being filled with artificial materials. Which is best is a matter of personal taste.
Quilts are an alternative to the more traditional sheet and blanket. They have the advantage that they are simpler and considerably speed up the process of making the bed in the morning. They are also frequently used as a decorative touch.
HistoryQuilts have long been a tradition with many parts of US society, in particular the Amish people. In the UK the duvet was a rare sight twenty years ago but has become increasingly popular since the 1980s and almost displaced the sheet and blanket.
Very often a quilt is placed inside a cover for use, making washing easier. In this case the quilt itself is usually plain and unadorned. If the quilt is to be used uncovered then it is often highly decorative. Some quilts are intended more as works of art to be hung on the wall than as functional pieces of bed linen; in these cases the distinction between "quilt" and "quilt cover" can become blurred. There are many quilt patterns and kits available to buy for home craft enthusiasts.
Decorative quilts are often sold as a set along with matching pillow shams. Other accessories you can buy include quilt racks.
Patchwork QuiltsA very famous tradition is that of the patchwork quilt, where the casing of the quilt is made from many different pieces of material sewn together. These patches usually consist of diamond shapes.
Initially the patchwork quilt was simply an economic necessity, a way of reusing cast off scrap pieces of fabric. Hence the common name rag quilt. However it has become a popular way of creating a group project, either to raise money or awareness of a cause. One of the most famous patchwork quilts is the AIDS Memorial Quilt.