Sewing is a craft that involves the stitching or fastening of fabrics together using a thread, and a needle. Quilting, on the other hand, is the fastening of two or more (typically three) layers of fabric together with the use of thread and needle to create a material that has thick pads. The three layers of fabric are the quilt top or top fabric, the insulating material, and the back material.
What is the difference between sewing and quilting?
In essence, sewing includes all types of quilting and any other processes that use a thread with needle to join different fabrics together. So, all processes and types of quilting is sewing but not all types of sewing is quilting. Even though many people tend to use them together and mistake them for one another, sewing and quilting are two very different concepts that need understanding. This misconstruction would be solved with a basic understanding of what sewing quilting is and the different ways it differs from sewing.
Sewing is a process where pieces of fabrics are attached together to create a product but quilting refers to the creation of a quilt (a material having two layers of fabric and a batting in-between them, to make three layers).
Sewing is done for beauty and to create interest. But in quilting, there’s the addition of an insulating material or batting to the product to also provide warmth for its user. The three layers of the quilt, especially the front and the back side all contribute to the design of the quilt.
Differentiating between Sewing and Quilting
Sewing has been an art for thousands of years. It has been around since the prehistoric period when animal hides were stitched together to make clothing and shelter. The sinew was used as threads, and the animal bones were used as needles. From inception, the major reason for sewing is to create and mend clothes, crafts and other decorative items from different types of fabric. There are different types of stitching used in sewing but the most common one is the straight stitch. There are many other types of stitch that can be used depending on the type of material that is sewn.
Quilting is dated back to the First Dynasty of the Ancient Egypt. During quilting, the thread and needle is passed through all the layers of the quilt to the back and back up to the front. This is done throughout the entire part of the material to create the quilt. There are different types of stitching used in quilting. The most commonly used ones are rocking stitches, running stitches or straight stitches. Quilting can be used to produce different effects on the material but this depends on the preferred pattern.
To differentiate between sewing and quilting, there are four common differences to note:
- Layers: A quilt will always have three layers in it. The first layer which is the top fabric, the second layer which is the insulating material or batting and the third layer which is the back material. Sewing, on the other hand, is the use of stitching to fasten or attach two fabrics using a thread and needle.
- Insulation: The middle layer in a quilt, the insulating material, is added to provide insulation and warmth for the user. However, sewing doesn’t provide this luxury of warmth as it lacks this middle layer.
- Steps: Although, based on definition, quilting is also a type of sewing, the steps involved in quilting is quite different from sewing. The steps involved in sewing include processes like weaving, pattern making, cutting, alterations, etc. Meanwhile, the steps involved in quilting involves processes like cutting, piecing, designing, applique, and binding.
- Machines: Sewing and quilting were traditionally done with the hand. But with the introduction of the industrial revolution, and other advances in technology over the years, there have been machines introduced for both sewing and quilting. Although quilting is sewing, and sewing machines can also be used to quilt, there are machines made specifically for the purpose of quilting. This, again, differentiate sewing from quilting.
Differences between a Quilting Machine and a Sewing Machine
From the simple definitions of quilting and sewing, it is quite obvious that a quilting machine is a sewing machine. This means that it’s possible to use a sewing machine to quilt but there are quilting machines that are made specifically for that purpose. These quilting machines have other capabilities and other add-ons that make them more effective for quilting and separates them from regular sewing machines.
If you’re going to be quilting on a regular basis, there are some features that you must pay attention to that differentiates quilting from sewing.
- Work space needed
Quilting requires a lot more space than regular sewing does. This is a major difference between quilting machines and other sewing machines. The throat of the machine measures the space needed and length of the machine determines its throat. A long machine would have a wide throat and would invariably have a large work area.
- Extension table
An extension table isn’t necessary for sewing and is considered a luxury. But quilting needs a lot of space, so an extension table is necessary. It’ll give you the extra room that you need to maneuver and move. The table is designed to fit against the sewing machine. This gives you extra surface for binding and sewing along the borders.
- Sewing speed
If quilting is what you do for a living, then you should quilt machine for quilting and stop using other sewing machines. Quilting machines are made to enable you quilt at an increased speed, with an extremely sturdy build and an ability to withstand the motor’s speed. They also offer more stability feature such as a wide work space and a very wide flat bed. This makes quilting easier and faster than with the regular sewing machines.
- Quarter inch foot option
The quarter inch foot is the ideal foot option for piecing the top of a quilt with a machine. This quarter inch foot is specifically used for quilting projects with narrow seam allowance as it helps with achieving accuracy while quilting. It is however, not an ideal option for other types of sewing.
- Free motion or darning foot
The foot that’s most effective for free motion quilting is the free motion foot. This foot protects your fingers while you’re moving the fabric under the needle. It also minimizes puckering and skipped stitches and ensures that the stitch formation is proper. It’s most beneficial for people that are just learning free hand quilting. The open toe foot is the most commonly used version of the free motion foot because it makes the stitches more visible. For the best results during free motioning, you need to set the needle to the left needle position.
- Walking foot or even feed foot
The walking foot work very effectively to give you that extra help that you need to feed through heavy fabrics and multiple layers and other fabrics that are difficult to sew. This foot option works very well for quilting, especially in straight lines, as opposed to regular sewing in which it isn’t necessary or important.
Can you do quilting on a regular sewing machine?
It is possible to quilt with most sewing machines. However, it restricts the user to just two types of machines quilting. These are the straight line quilting, and the free motion quilting. These are two basic quilting techniques and the easier one to accomplish on a regular sewing machine is the straight line technique. But there are some heavy-duty sewing machines made for both sewing and quilting.
What is the best sewing machine for sewing and quilting?
The top four sewing machines for sewing and quilting are SINGER Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine, Brother CS6000i Feature-Rich Sewing Machine, Brother HC1850 Computerized Quilting Machine, JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine.