All You Need to Know About Quilts: History, Craftsmanship, and Sustainable Living

What is a quilt?

A quilt is a bed cover made of two or more layers of cloth with a filling of wool, cotton, or polyester, held together by patterned stitching. The term "quilt" is linked to the Latin word "Culcita", meaning bolster or cushion, and was first used in England in the 13th century. A quilt comprises a patterned top layer, a middle layer of batting or wadding, and a sturdy quilt layer at the back, all stitched together. Quilts can be functional, providing warmth, or decorative, adding colour and design to a space.

 Trivia: At Metaphor Racha, we work with women quilters from north Karnataka who have sustained the craft of upcycling fabric quilts for generations.

 A quilt is more than just a blanket; it's a tapestry of history and craftsmanship woven together by skilled hands.
In Pic: The craftswoman of north Karnataka quilting.

Where did quilts originate?

Quilts are believed to have originated with Turkish soldiers who wore quilted fabric under their armour to keep warm. This design quickly evolved into bed coverings and other forms of clothing, spreading across the globe. Detailed drawings of quilts have been found in ancient Egypt, and one of the earliest decorative quilts is the Tristan Quilt, made in Sicily in the 14th century.

 Trivia: Quilting has been practised in different parts of India for centuries, including the Kanthas of West Bengal, the Dhabadas of Gujarat, the Godharis of Maharashtra, the Koudis of Karnataka, and the Kalbelia Gudris of Rajasthan.


How are quilts made?

Quilts are made by stitching layers of fabric together. Depending on the pattern or design, these stitches can be done by hand, machine, or both. Techniques such as applique, patchwork, or embroidery create traditional or contemporary designs, often employing fresh or upcycled fabric.

Trivia: At Metaphor Racha, we always upcycle cotton fabric waste into beautiful, utilitarian quilts.

Every quilt stitch tells a story, a legacy of tradition, and a commitment to sustainable living.
In Pic: Our Upcycled fabric quilts.

What are wadding or batting in quilts?

Wadding, or batting, is the insulating layer between a quilt's fabric layers. It is usually made of cotton, polyester, wool, or flannel. In the UK, it's called wadding; in the US, it's batting. While poly-wadding offers warmth during winter, it is an unsustainable material. Cotton batting breathes well but may clump when washed.

 Trivia: At Metaphor Racha, we avoid batting altogether! Instead, we use an additional layer of fabric or a thicker, double-thread count fabric as backing, making our quilts eco-conscious and easier to maintain.

Quilts embody timeless artistry, where each piece of fabric is a testament to eco-conscious creation.
In Pic: Our Upcycled fabric quilts, also known as Koudi.

Which quilt is best for winter and summer?

Poly-filled silk quilts are preferred in winter, while cotton and linen quilts with cotton batting are ideal for summer.

Trivia: Metaphor Racha's quilts, made from ambara charaka handspun and handwoven cotton fabrics, naturally keep you warm in winter and cool in summer, making them suitable for all seasons.


How do you wash quilts?

If your quilt is too heavy to hand wash, use a gentle cycle with cold water in your washing machine, avoiding harsh or strong-smelling chemical detergents. Flat-dry it in the shade. We suggest dry-cleaning silk quilts. Quilts with cotton or poly-wad batting require extra care.

Trivia: Metaphor Racha quilts are medium-weight and without batting, making them easy to hand-wash at home or in the washing machine. In rural north Karnataka, quilts are spread out during the rainy season for natural cleaning.

To wrap oneself in a quilt is to embrace the warmth of tradition, the beauty of handmade craft, and the promise of a sustainable future.
In Pic: A Koudi/Quilt left outside during rains for natural cleaning and drying.

 What are quilts called in different Indian languages?

- Hindi: Razaee

- Urdu: Toshak, Gadda, Palang Posh, Razai, Lehaaf, Dilae

- Kannada: Koudi

- Malayalam: Puthappu

- Bengali: Lepa


Why choose Metaphor Racha quilts?

Metaphor Racha quilts celebrate tradition and sustainability by working with women quilters from north Karnataka, who have upheld the craft of upcycling for generations. Our quilts are made from 100% pure handspun and handwoven cotton fabric, reflecting our commitment to sustainability and craftsmanship.

By choosing Metaphor Racha quilts, you support local artisans and add a beautiful, functional piece to your home. Embrace sustainable, eco-conscious living with our handcrafted quilts.


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