Difference between Quilt and Comforter

How many times were you scolded back home after asking for something to cover yourself while you slept, and didn’t know whether it was a quilt or a comforter? Or did it ever happen when you were in a store, looking for something to spread on the bed and you didn’t know what to ask the shop assistant for? Well, then it’s time you knew which is which and how to tell them apart.


Quilt vs Comforter
Close-up of a quilt pattern

A quilt is a decorative type of bedspread made out of three layers of fiber: a woven fabric top, wadding and a woven fabric back. The technique used to sew all three layers together is called quilting. The decorative pattern is that of a patchwork of small fabric pieces which are supposed to match in colors and overall design. Traditionally, the pattern of a quilt was made out of patches of scrap material added by North American women stitched to represent a special moment in life: a patch for when there was a wedding in the family, for the birth of a child or another special event important to all etc. Modern quilt designs have one prevalent motif and are also seen as symbolic gifts. In the 1930s they were given as wedding gifts and often had the motif of intertwining wedding rings.

Quilting is a custom in many other countries as well and various styles have developed through time; one way or another almost every country has some sort of decorative bedspread representative of the local culture. Quilt fillings can be different and can make a world of difference; some of them are antiallergenic or antibacterial, while others protect from the radiation coming from cell phones and other devices we keep near the bed.

Close up of a white comforter, spread out on a bed

A comforter is a soft flat piece of bedding, filled with fibers, intended to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer. The filling can be wool, feathers, silk or polyester, while the shell of the comforter can be made out of cotton, silk or other fabrics and blends. Usually, the comforter needs a cover to insure its proper maintenance in view of prolonged use. The patterns of the comforters are wide squares or diamonds which allow the inner filling to stay soft and puffy. The cover is dyed and the pattern is not embroidered.

Quilt vs Comforter

So what is the difference between a quilt and a comforter?

While both are pieces of bedding, the quilt has more of a decorative role as it can be embroidered, it can have special and intricate stitching and other types of embellishments as it only goes on top and there are no worries about being affected by the accessories. The comforter is the practical piece and it usually needs a cover. The quilt can be placed on top of the comforter or can even be displayed in other places in the house. Both are quilted and can keep you warm, but comforters are thicker and can also keep cool during summer. Quilts can also have a symbolic value, can be given as gifts and are part of the culture and tradition of many countries.

Comparison Chart

Quilt Comforter
Decorative piece of bedding Practical piece of bedding
Is a quilted three layered textile coverlet Is a quilted coverlet with filling and a shell
Can have a variety of designs which are stitched over or embroidered The shell cover is industrially dyed
Can be used to decorate other parts of the house such as the living room and can be hung on the walls Needs a cover for proper maintenance and is usually covered by the quilt
Most countries have a form of decorative quilt Used by people around the world without having a cultural value