Yes, there is actually a difference between a comforter and a quilt, even if you’ve been using the words interchangeably your whole life. (They’re also both different from a duvet!) The biggest difference between the two is how they’re made. There’s a stark difference in how each of these blankets is put together (aside from the fact that quilts are often homemade and comforters are not). There are some other differences between them as well, and we’ll go through all that here. Plus, we’ll help you decide if a comforter or quilt is better for you.

What is a quilt?

Quilts have long been a homemade blanket consisting of patchwork fabrics. These blankets typically have a patchwork top layer — sometimes extremely intricate with stitched patterns — a layer of batting and a bottom layer of material. The top layer, commonly, is where all the pizzazz, is and the bottom layer of fabric is plain. Most families probably have some quilts around the house, especially if they have a crafty grandma or great aunt who loves to sew. Quilts have also been family heirlooms or keepsakes. A fun way to keep old clothes is to cut them up and turn them into a quilt. 

Though quilts can also be manufactured by machines, they’re largely viewed as a DIY project at home that takes a lot of time and a lot of love. The quilt top is first pieced together. Sometimes there’s an intricate pattern that’s painstakingly measured and cut out. This can be any variety of patterns. Sometimes it’s as simple as a pattern of squares — like commemorative t-shirts even. These are measured, cut out, and sewn together to create the top. The whole quilt, the batting layer (which can be polyester, cotton, etc.) and the bottom layer of fabric are then put into a quilt frame. This frame holds the three layers together while they’re all connected. In many cases, the quilt is knotted through the layers, often at the corners of the squares. It provides both function and decor.   

What is a comforter?

Comforters are another type of blanket, and while they can be crafted at home, they’re not usually. These blankets also have multiple layers of fabric with a layer of cushion in the middle. Comforters often have a down or a down alternative inside them with stitching all around the comforter. The stitching creates compartments in the comforter to keep the down or down alternative evenly distributed. These blankets are usually very warm and cozy.

Whereas a quilt is only knotted from top to bottom and sewn around the edges, a comforter is sewn throughout. When you look at a comforter, you’ll see stitches all around the blanket, and it all also extends to the bottom layer. This means when you flip a comforter upside down, the bottom looks the same as the top (as far as stitching is concerned).  

Comparison: Comforter vs. Quilt 

While comforters and quilts both do the job of acting as a blanket, there are some differences between them. One is simply the construction. Comforters are stitched through all the layers to keep the filling distributed. Because these blankets are made with a down or a down alternative, the filling can move around easily. The quilts’ layer of batting doesn’t shift once it is made. The down in a comforter also generally makes it warmer. Quilts are often paired with sheets or another blanket, whereas a comforter doesn’t need much else because they’re made to keep you toasty while you sleep.

Pros & Cons of Quilts 

  • Pro: They’re beautifully made. Because they’re often handmade, they’re not only stunning to look at, but they usually are made with love by someone who cares about you.
  • Pro: They’re light in terms of a blanket. These are good for fall or spring or if you live in a warmer climate.
  • Pro: You can use this in conjunction with a comforter if you want. You can double up if you need the extra warmth.
  • Con: They won’t keep you as warm in the winter. Unless the quilt is made with a thicker fabric (which they sometimes are), they’re only two pieces of fabric and a thin layer of batting thick, which isn’t much.

Pros & Cons of Comforters 

  • Pro: They’ll keep you warm in the winter. Comforters are made with a down or a down alternative, which makes them very thick.
  • Pro: They’re cuddly. Comforters are thicker than quilts, so if you want something you can snuggle up with, a comforter is better.
  • Pro: You can use this in conjunction with a quilt if you want. You can double up if you need the extra warmth.
  • Pro: You can put a comforter inside a duvet cover a little more easily than you can with a quilt.
  • Con: If you sleep hot, this might make you even hotter because they are so thick. 

Which should I get? 

A lot of the decision on if you should get a quilt or comforter comes down to what temperature you sleep at and what your preference is. Those who sleep hot are better off with a quilt because they’re not as thick. Those who sleep cold or live in colder climates might be happier with a comforter. 

For those who sleep temperature neutral, the choice is yours between a quilt or comforter. Neither should affect you based on what sleeper type you are, whether it’s back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper. If you move around a lot during the night, a quilt might move with you more easily because it’s lighter. If you’re a side sleeper and enjoy cuddling with something while you sleep, a comforter can provide that for you. Otherwise, it might be trial and error to decide which type of blanket is better for you.

If you’re someone who has the opportunity to have a homemade quilt in your home, it’s a great choice because it becomes more than just a blanket on your bed. If someone made it for you, it probably comes with a story and a lot of good vibes. Plus, quilts make nice decor pieces, especially if they’re very intricate. Making a quilt of your own can also be a really great project if you have the time, the tools, and the know-how. There’s a great satisfaction that comes with sleeping under a quilt that you made by yourself from scratch.

Final Thoughts

Quilts and comforters have a lot in common — they’re both blankets that will keep you warm while you sleep. Though they are crafted differently and provide differing levels of warmth, they do similar jobs. People who sleep hot will probably like a quilt better, and people who sleep cold will probably prefer a comforter. If you’re temperature neutral? Take your pick!