The-Many-Types-of-Quilts Essentially Loved Quilts

The Many Types of Quilts

I have heard on numerous occasions that they’d love to learn to quilt but can’t sew a straight line or they don’t want to be confined to “coloring inside the lines”. I can definitely understand the need to be creative and we all have our different creativity styles 😃. It’s one of the things that makes us so special as individuals and as quilters! 🥳

Luckily there are lots of options for quilting, so you’re bound to find the one that works for you! Grab a cuppa ☕️ and sit with me for a few minutes as I share with you what I know about the different quilt types. I hope you find one that works for you 😃. Then I highly recommend getting started with a simple class like this one (LEARN TO QUILT COURSE LINK), just so you can get the foundations of sewing a seam and learning how to read a pattern. Then you can do whatever your heart desires, and who knows, you may decide to move into another type of quilting later on, or maybe you’ll do both, either way… I can’t wait to find out! 🤩


Traditional Quilts

There are a few aspects of traditional quilting. 1) Traditional quilts are all machine (or hand) sewn together (this will get a little clearer further on). The units are sewn together into blocks and blocks into a quilt. Some pieces are curved, but many are a straight stitch. Other piecing can include Y-seams (not my favorite 😆), more on this at a later time 😊.

2) Traditional quilts also use more printed fabrics than solids and 3) also have units and blocks everywhere within the quilt versus large open spaces. 4) They also consist of specific shapes like triangles, rectangles, lines—like strips, etc, whereas modern quilts can be freer, like a bird 😉.

Essentially loved quilts blog post on the many types of quilts the civil war carpenter's wheel
A civil war version of the carpenter's wheel donated to soroptimist of La Grande for the 2023 Festival of Trees. 
Essentially Loved Quilts blog post on the many types of quilts the Christmas star block
This pillow was traditionally pieced to create a Christmas Star. 


Crazy Quilts

These come from older times when every scrap was used to make a quilt. There is a reason they’re called crazy as there’s all sorts of texture, and piecing was random and very irregular in that many different fabrics made a block, and all the pieces are crazy and wonky shapes.  They used whatever fabric they could get their hands on at the time—they couldn’t just run to the fabric store for cloth like we can now—so there was a mix of cotton, silk, velvet, wool, and much more. The fabric used may come from unrepairable old pants, curtains, dresses, shirts, tablecloths, uniforms (this was around and after the civil war), possibly even tent bits, baby clothes, and other out-grown clothing, so not only was each quilt unique, but they also held a lot of memories.


These crazy quilts were stitched together by hand (no sewing machines or too expensive), often times using “fancy” stitches we now see on our machines, but they used thread more akin to embroidery floss than the sewing thread we think about today. Another thing that makes these beautiful quilts stand out is the hand embroidery often done to add some life to the quilt. Names, dates, special occasions were often embroidered in as well as flowers, small birds, fruit, butterflies, fans, and other unique stylizations making each one that much more special to the recipient or snuggler1.
A close up version of a crazy quilt to see the different stitching done as well as the different fabrics and embroidery.
This more standardized version of a crazy quilt is full of embroidery, fun stitches, and texture. This may even have been a kit that was mass produced because crazy quilts became so popular in the late 19th century.


Modern Quilts

Modern Quilts, to me, are similar to crazy quilts in that there is a lot more flexibility and freedom to how they’re designed. A lot of times you’ll see these as “art quilts” where lines are not necessarily straight, large open spaces are dominant as much as the design, solid fabrics are used predominately, and shapes aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules, but are often very geometric.

These quilts are beautiful in their own way… free from constraint and really a great place to let yourself fly in creativity—use texture by adding yarn or sewing a strip on top that will fray after washing.
This very quilt is a textbook visual of a modern quilt, bright & bold colors, solid fabrics, empty or negative space.
This fun and beautiful quilt is full of texture and color and what I would consider and art quilt.


English Paper Piecing or EPP Quilts

English Paper Piecing is not something I’m super familiar with, as I don’t like to hand sew ANYthing, but I’ll get you started 😉. It’s on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from modern quilting, where precise and specific shapes are used to make certain designs. One of the most familiar EPP projects is the hexagons that often shape flowers. There are a few additional shapes, at least a dozen more, that all have to specially hand-sewn together to make the pattern—they cannot be machine sewn together due to their “irregular” shape but can be all hand sewn into a quilt or appliqued onto quilt tops.

Nowadays these shapes often have templates, paper or acrylic, you can purchase to use and re-use. Each shape is cut ¼” larger on every side than what will actually be sewn… similar to traditional and modern piecing ✅. From here it differs in that each piece is basted around a cardstock template, pressed to keep its shape, the shape can be hand-sewn to the rest, then the cardstock is removed, and voilà the shape or quilt is done and ready for the next quilty step.

EPP would be a great project for traveling or sitting and watching tv, so you could keep your hands busy while enjoying family and quiet time 😊.
The super sweet butterfly quilt is amazing with with the intricacy of the english paper piecing. Done in Tula Pink brights it's a fun color wheel styled quilt.
This Treehouse Hexagon quilt is a fun twist on the typical flower EPP quilt flower.


Foundation Paper Piecing or FPP Quilts

Foundation Paper is a little more my speed, but still not a favorite as I have, in the past (as a new quilter 😅) struggled with getting the paper pieces covered when flipped over or I would sew it on with the RST facing the paper instead of up 🤪. So, my recommendation for this type of quilting is to use solids or batik fabrics for your first couple FPP patterns, to at least ease the stress of right/wrong sides of fabric 😅.

I will say that FPP is FABulous for precision! You follow the sewing line, cut where you’re supposed to cut and voilà you have a perfectly pieced unit or block to use in your quilt. Paper piecing can give you rounded edges where traditional piecing cannot as easily; it also offers unit units that you’d have to be a master quilter to do traditionally 😅. FPP can also eliminate Y-seams or just give that perfect precision for even basic blocks like the log cabin block or flying geese.

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post on the many types of quilts foundation paper pieced evergreen tree
The was my first introduction into FPP and though I did very much enjoy it, I'm really glad it was batik and the pieces to be sewn on were precut to a rectangular to fit the paper. My biggest complaint about an FPP pattern was all the fabric waste, but that may not be the case with all FPP patterns.
This beautiful lion is fully foundation paper pieced in sizes up to 50". Patterns are available to so many of these beautiful patterns, animals, people, and more. FPP patterns can be picturesque like this one or look like traditional blocks, but more intricate.


Applique Quilts

Applique is fabric that is sewn onto the top of the quilt fabric. This is a great way to add fun designs that are less able to be pieced like flowers, birds, vines, leaves, and other specific shapes. It’s a great way to add some fun elements that can really spice up the quilt. Typically, applique is added to in “blank” blocks.

Appliqueing can be done a couple different ways… there’s turned applique where the edge of the pieces is turned under, so they won’t fray and there’s also raw edge applique where the fabric is added to the top, but the edges are left to fray with wash and use. Raw edge applique is my preferred choice of applique and different stitches can be used to secure the applique on… two of the most common are the straight stitch and the blanket stitch. The straight stitch will allow the threads to fray, whereas the blanket stitch will have very minimal fraying.

Although, applique really isn’t my favorite to do, due to the time it takes for more intricate (but beautiful) designs I have done a little bit of it and definitely admire appliqued quilts—my favorites are typically flowers 😁.
Kim Diehl's famous for her appliqué patterns; this is Garden Grove.
Wool appliqué; these projects are typically smaller than a throw or larger sized quilt.


Embroidery Quilts

Flowers are a commonality in additions to quilting and as you saw in the crazy quilt pictures above. Those flowers were embroidered on by hand in those older quilts (and any Amish quilts), but nowadays much embroidery is done by sewing machines. Embroidery machines are a special breed of domestic sewing machine as there is a special attachment with an arm that moves back and forth to help move the fabric to create the programed design.

Hand embroidery is also a popular quilting technique and can be very simple or more intricate, red work and blue work are popular quilts where the thread used on the embroidery was either red or blue and the fabric used for that quilt was also red and white or blue and white. I think of these quilts in a historical sense as I don’t know that’s its hugely popular anymore since colored fabric is so widely available now.

A note about embroidery, and applique as well, is these can be added before or after the quilting is done, but if done before the quilting will go over the work, unless being custom quilted. The other option is hand appliqueing or embroidering after the quilting is done. 
I'm not sure if this is a small block section of a larger quilt or embroidery done on a "whole cloth" quilt, either way the embroidery and custom quilting make for a beautiful combination.
A snowy sample of a blue work embroidery quilt.

Rag Quilts

Rag quilts are a fun, easy and fairly fast quilt to make… the quilt sandwich (top, batting, and backing) is done with each block instead of after the quilt top is finished. Usually, a simple X is sewn through the three layers to keep them together, then the wrong sides of the blocks are sewn together with a large seam ½-1”. When the quilt is fully put tother a good set of scissors is used to snip the large seam allowance down almost to the sewn seam. Once this is completed when it gets washed it is soft and textural. A rag quilt is fun to make for a baby because of its texture and with the use of flannel fabrics it’s not only heavier, but also fluffier than a regular quilt.

Essentially Loved Quilts blog post on the many types of quilts rag quilt
A rag quilt I made for a friend having a baby. One of my early quilts 😊.
This is a fun stash busting quilt, make a rag quilt for a guest room, couch pillows, kid quilt, or fun project.


Quilt as You Go or QAYG Quilts

Quilt as you go is another type of quilting that relieves the need to have the quilt quilted once it’s done as all the layers are sewn together as you make it. This is a little bit of traditional, foundation paper piecing, and rag quilting all rolled into one. But it’s actually quite fun and pretty easy to do. It does require piecing with a ¼” walking foot, so all the layers play nicely as you’re putting it together 😅.

QAYG projects aren’t typically full-sized quilts, but more wall hanging, table runner, baby quilt sized projects. I have a couple of these patterns, that will be fun to make… someday 😉, but for now I have a full list of quilts to make. 😂
Quilt as you go looks just like a quilt on the front, it's the back that will indicate its QAYG status.


Other Quilts...???

Hmmm… are there any more quilty types? I’m not actually sure. There very well may be as some may have lost over the years or just not very well known. If you know of a quilt type that I missed, please reach out! I would love to update this post with more 😃. I love history and geek out about quilty things like this… my poor boys got a quilty lesson during our civil war/underground railroad unit in history 🤣. Let’s not let history disappear, so let me know if I’ve missed something. 😘


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Warmth & Love,
💜 Tracy


  1. Newport Art Museum 
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