22 South St, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 7PF

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01372 579 384

What is Quilting?

Quilting supplies at The Stitch Mouse in Epsom

What the dictionary says

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘Quilt’ (pronounced ‘kwɪlt’) is a noun, meaning a warm bed covering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabric and kept in place by lines of stitching (typically applied in a decorative design). The verb ‘Quilting’ is the joining together of layers of fabric or padding with lines of stitching, to form a bed covering, a warm garment, or for decorative effect. A person who works at quilting is termed a ‘Quilter’.


The word is derived from Old French word ‘cuilte’, and going even further back in time from the Latin ‘culcita’, which means ‘mattress’ or ‘cushion’.

Quilting is typically done with three layers: the top fabric (or quilt top), the batting (or insulating material) and lastly the backing material. Whether done by hand or using a sewing machine, the needle passes down through all three layers and is then brought back up.

This stitching creates a pattern that can range from purely functional to highly elaborate and decorative, the pattern extending across the entire are where it is desired. Quilting is used to create bedspreads, artistic wall hangings, items of clothing, and a variety of other fabric and textile products.

The whole quilting process actually refers to all the activities involved in the creation of the final quilt or quilted garment; including designing, piecing, appliqué, and binding.

In the past

Whilst Quilting has a rich history throughout the world dating back as far as the ancient Egyptians, it is in America where, from the 18th century onwards where it has developed a profound cultural significance. With the exception of a lull in the 1950s and 1960s, American women have kept alive a great tradition of quilting, originally mainly out of necessity but more so now as a pastime. It can be a community and family activity, as well as a solo pastime, and highly decorative quilts can become family heirlooms, passed on from one generation to the next. Indeed it is often said that the history of America can be seen in the history of quilts.

In recent years, quilting has become increasingly popular in the UK, and shops that sell quilting supplies such as The Stitch Mouse in Epsom sell fabric, thread, patterns and other goods that are needed for quilting. As with The Stitch Mouse, quilting supply shops often have groups and classes for sewing, knitting, quilting and other fabric crafting, where experienced crafters gather, and those who are interested can learn new skills and techniques.

The Stitch Mouse

Why not pop in to visit us at 22 South Street, Epsom, and see our range of quilting supplies, wools, yarns, crochet and knitting supplies, zips, buttons, needles, cotton, yarns and fabric craft kits too? We’re open every day and we look forward to seeing you.

Or if you’re not in the Epsom area, you can call us on 01372 579 384, sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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