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On Quilts and Coverlets: Understanding the Difference
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That’s a query we encounter from time to time here at InnStyle, and it’s certainly a fair enough question. Let’s start with a general description of a quilt, which, traditionally speaking, is essentially a cover that can be used in many different ways.

A quilt has a layer of batting — or padding — which is placed between two layers of fabric and then stitched into a specific pattern or design to hold the layers in place. Batting (or padding) is a soft, bulky assembly of fibers that provides loft and a layer of insulation.

There are actually two different types of quilts. One type of quilt uses a single piece of fabric for the top layer. A piecework quilt, meanwhile, joins smaller sections of fabric together to create its top layer. The underside of a piecework quilt will generally be a one-piece (solid color) fabric.

Pieced quilts are made from fabrics that may have been used previously as clothing, upholstery, drapery, bedding, or any other fabric that’s no longer being worn or used in its original form. Some quilters will purchase bolts or yards of fabric, and then cut that fabric into smaller pieces to create a quilt of their own design. This style of quilt often makes an interesting cover for a bed, couch, throw or chair.

Coverlets can be a solid, a print, a stripe or one of many types of fabrics including Matelassé. Most Matelassé products are of a heavier cotton fabric (although some are made with a cotton/polyester fabric) which can give the appearance of padding, although they’re not filled with batting of any sort. This look is meant to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in France.

Specialty jacquard looms or quilting machines are used to give a Matelassé fabric a unique appearance of intricate designs, raised patterns, indentations, and the padded look often associated with quilts.

English Rose coverlet

Quilts and coverlets are shorter in both length and width than a bedspread, and lighter in weight than a comforter. That makes them easier to change, and it simplifies the bed-making process as well. Also, most quilts and coverlets are washable. Be certain to check the washing instructions, though, before washing and drying.

Both quilts and coverlets are sized differently depending on the manufacturer. To choose the correct size for your particular bed, measure the depth and width of your mattress, as you need to cover the depth of your mattress.

The next step would involve measuring the depth from your box spring to the floor, assuming you’re using a box spring, of course. (Some beds sit on a platform and don’t use a box spring).

If you do have a box spring, however, you don’t want to leave it exposed — you’ll want to use a decorative box spring cover that completely covers your box spring (InnStyle offers these on our Bed Scarves & Bed Skirts page) or a bed skirt that will go underneath your mattress and over the top of your box spring.

If you decide to go with a bed skirt, it will drape to the floor with either a ruffle or a box pleat finished look. Before purchasing a bed skirt, measure the drop that you will need by measuring from the top of the box spring to the floor. Bed skirts come in many drops from 14″-22″ and longer.

If you’re looking to purchase either a quilt or Matelassé coverlet for your top-of-bed covering, we have numerous choices on our website. We also have decorative box spring covers and bed skirts that will finish off the look you’re trying to achieve.

Please visit our Quilts page, Coverlets page, Bed Scarves & Bed Skirts page, and our Mattress Pad & Box Spring Cover page to see examples and choices for your top of bed needs.

Please call us at 1-800-877-4667 or email us at with any questions about quilts, coverlets, or any other products shown on our website. Our friendly sales reps will welcome your inquiries and guide you through the process of purchasing just the right product for your inn, home or vacation rental property.

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