Coverlets vs. Quilts: What to Know When Purchasing Bedding

There are many wonderful pieces to choose from when creating your dream bedding collection. You need sheets, pillowcases and blankets, of course, but perhaps the most creativity goes into what you put on top of your bed. 

The ideal topper is a showcase of fine quality and beautiful craftsmanship, one that ties together your bedroom’s design scheme with sophisticated color, pattern, or texture. Coverlets and quilts are excellent options, but don’t assume they are the same thing. There are differences between coverlets and quilts, and understanding those distinctions will help you make the best choice in bedding for your home. Here are some of the most common questions answered for you.


quilted coverlet bedding set

What is a Quilt?

It’s not an overstatement to say that a quilt can be a work of art. In fact, a handmade, vintage quilt is as likely to be displayed in a museum exhibit as it is on a bed. 

Quilting is a centuries-old tradition in which patterns and colors tell a story. A star pattern on a quilt may reflect its maker’s religious beliefs, while log cabin quilts evoke America’s homesteading history. They can be cherished family heirlooms, passed down through generations and proudly hung on a wall or special quilt rack in a place of prominence in your home.

Quilts aren’t just historical artifacts, however. Today’s quilts can use clever riffs on traditional patterns and infuse them with contemporary color palettes for a fresh style. Nowadays, quilts can also be mass-produced, not just sewn by hand.

What Is a Coverlet?

Coverlets also have a rich historical tradition‚ÄĒthere‚Äôs even a museum dedicated to American coverlets made between 1771 and 1889.

These bed toppers were often woven on a loom, with the potential to create either plain coverlets or fanciful patterns in textiles such as wool or cotton. Contemporary coverlets would look right at home in the guestrooms at a world-class resort, with sumptuous fabrics that have a luxurious look and feel. Plus, today’s manufacturing techniques create coverlets with incredible durability.

Is a Coverlet Quilt a Thing?

Technically, no. While both types of bedding have roots that go back centuries and are still manufactured today, you cannot say a coverlet is a quilt. 

So How Are They Different?

Here are some of the significant variations between coverlets vs. quilts.


  • Coverlets are woven or manufactured to create a single piece of fabric. This makes a coverlet reversible.¬†
  • Unlike the single layer of a coverlet, quilts have three parts: a bottom layer of material, the top design layer and padding or batting encased between the two. The quilt designs are created with multiple pieces of fabric stitched together to form the patterns.¬†


  • What is the purpose of a coverlet? It‚Äôs an all-purpose bedding item with great versatility. Coverlets can be used on their own, without a blanket or duvet, during those seasons when the nights are warm. As the temperature drops, layer a coverlet with other bedding pieces such as blankets or comforters for extra warmth.¬†
  • The padding and multiple layers of quilts make them most useful during cooler months.


  • A coverlet is a decorative option that gives you multiple design choices. It can cover your bed, similar to a bedspread, or you can fold it over on top of a duvet for a sleek, modern look. A coverlet gives a lovely addition of color to classic white bedding, and you can pair it with matching pillow shams for the ultimate in elegant bedding.
  • Quilts often have a more homey or traditional appeal. You wouldn‚Äôt typically pair a quilt with a comforter or duvet; it serves as the only bed cover. With eye-catching patterns and colors, quilts, by their nature, become the signature design element of a bedroom, so you don‚Äôt want any other colors or patterns in the room to clash with or detract from this showpiece bedding.¬†


  • Because a coverlet is a piece of decorative bedding, it‚Äôs not as large as a duvet or comforter. It hangs about halfway down the sides of a bed, without reaching the floor.
  • A quilt is usually larger, similar in size to other covers such as comforters that hang all the way down to the floor.


  • A coverlet‚Äôs single piece of fabric can be quite durable, especially when it‚Äôs produced with high-quality craftsmanship. The finer fabrics tend to stay wrinkle free, and some may even be machine washable, though professional dry cleaning may be an option for greater longevity.
  • Mass-manufactured quilts should stand up well to heavy use. Hand-stitched quilts, however, are more delicate and require special care and attention. The same is true for vintage quilts.¬†¬†

How Do You Choose Between a Coverlet vs. a Quilt?

The final decision is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Think about what you want to achieve with the bed cover, whether it’s a particular design statement or how warm you like to feel while you sleep. For both quilts and coverlets, read the label to note the type of fabric and sewing techniques used, as well as the care instructions. You can even purchase luxury bedding online when you shop at a trusted retailer like Elegant Strand.

We’ve created a collection of quilted coverlets that are wonderfully soft and visually appealing. This Italian-made bedding is the perfect marriage of clean, modern design and sumptuous cotton, with color selections that would complement any bedroom. Use the coverlet and matching pillow shams with our crisp, classic white sheets and duvet cover for the ultimate in refined luxury. Shop our collection to complete your dream bed.