Is Patchwork the Same as Quilting? [EXPLAINED]

Patchwork and quilting, while often thought of as the same thing, are actually very different and distinct forms of art that are created through the use of fabric.

If you are just starting out in the world of quilting, it might be tough for you to tell the difference between the two, but if you are an experienced quilter, then you can probably spot the difference fairly quickly.

Are Quilting and Patchwork the Same Thing?

Patchwork and quilting, while they look similar, are actually very different, and the techniques used have very different origins.

What is Quilting?

Quilting is when you sew layers of fabric together to form a finished quilt.

Usually, when you are sewing a quilt, you use three different tiers of fabric. The top and bottom layers of a quilt are made to hold the middle layer of padding.

Quilters will often use different lines of stitching and different stitching patterns to keep the fabric together and make artful designs.

What is Patchwork?

Patchwork is when you stitch fabric together to create a design.

Usually, when you are completing patchwork, you stitch fabric together that are different shapes, sizes, colors, patterns, and even textures that all come together to make one design.

It helps when you are doing patchwork to cut out and arrange all the different shapes beforehand so you can get a visual of what it will look like when it is done and whether or not you will like it.

Patchwork is often vibrant and artful.

How Are They Different?

There are a few categories that make quilting and patchwork different from each other.


One way in which quilting and patchwork are different is when it comes to usage.

Quilting was created mainly to create items that are insulated, whether that be a quilt itself or clothing items. Quilting then became a commercially used method of making items.

Patchwork, on the other hand, is usually a domestic endeavor and is not commonly done on a commercial level. Patchwork is a great way to use old scraps of fabric from other projects.

This is also a great way to extend the life of an existing item by adding a patch.


The technique that you use is also a way in which these two styles vary.

Patchwork is it’s own very distinct technique of sewing pieces of fabric together to create a whole different piece of fabric. Patchwork can use regular stitching or even embroidery to create the desired results.

Quilting, on the other hand, can be accomplished using a variety of techniques, including patchwork, which is why they are sometimes thought to be the same thing.

The most crucial element in quilting is the stitching. No matter what stitch or technique you decide to use when quilting, you will want to make sure that it runs through all the layers.


Another difference between quilting and patchwork is the pattern that is created.

Both patchwork and quilting have a variety of patterns and styles that you could work with.

Some patterns even look similar between quilting and patchwork, which is why it can be difficult to tell them apart.

What is Patchwork Quilting?

Patchwork quilting is a way to take the patchwork process and apply it to your quilting project. If you are interested in patchwork quilting, the patchwork part is usually done at the beginning of your quilting process.

Patchwork quilting, like patchwork itself, was initially used to use up leftover scraps of fabric to form a design on the top of the quilt. But now, more and more people are buying fabric to make patterns on top of their quilt.

When working on a patchwork quilt, geometric patterns are used most often because of how much easier they are to create. But you don’t have to just stick with geometric patterns, and you can use a more imaginative design.

When you are doing patchwork quilting, you will still use the traditional three layers for your quilt, with the patchwork layer on top.

Is it Easier to Quilt Than to Do Patchwork?

It is hard to say which one is easier. There are a few factors that can determine which is easier, patchwork versus quilting.

Some factors that can determine which one is easier includes:

Skill Level:

The skill level that you have can be important when you are deciding which one is easier between patchwork and quilting. If you are a skilled sewer, you might find both to be able to be completed with relative ease.

Between quilting and patchwork, whether or not one is easier than the other can also be a personal preference. Some people are just better at one style than the other, and there is no way to tell which one will be able to do better.

With practice, you could become excellent at them both and even work on patchwork quilting.

Detail Necessary:

Another way to determine what style would be more complicated would be how much detail you are looking for.

For example, if you are quilting and you want to use a simple stitch or design, that would be easier than a very complicated and freehanded stitching design.

Patchwork is also this way. If you are making a simple patchwork pattern, it would be easier than if you were making a more complicated, intricate, and detailed pattern.

What Are the Different Types/Styles of Quilts?

There are many different styles of quilting. Most of the styles dictate how you are putting the quilt itself together in terms of the fabric on the top layer.

If you like one style over the other, then there are so many different ways to utilize and specialize in these styles to make them your own.

Because these styles mainly focus on what fabric you use on the top layer, you can always use different stitching techniques to change it up.

Some examples of quilting styles include:

Pieced Quilting:

Pieced quilting is the most commonly used style of quilting and is used by taking blocks of fabric and sewing them together into columns and rows.

Each fabric block is normally the same size and is used to form a larger pattern. If you have ever seen a quilt that is made out of old t-shirt squares, this is a great example of pieced quilting.

This style is the least detailed and can be a great pattern for beginners to work with. Because the fabric blocks are larger, there is less work to do, and it can be completed quicker than other styles.

Applique Quilting:

Applique quilting is a pattern where you use smaller cutouts that vary in shape and design to a piece of fabric.

To complete applique quilting, you could use a specialized machine, or patch your pieces together by hand. This technique can be more time-intensive than pieced quilting because you are working with smaller fabric pieces and putting them together individually.

This technique is usually used to create a particular design motif. Because it is more detailed, it can be more complicated.

Paper Piecing Quilting:

This technique is also a more traditional style like the Piecing Quilting technique.

This style involves large blocks of fabric that are arranged in columns and rows, but the main difference is that the patches are attached to paper templates first.

This helps you to achieve clear, even, and perfectly placed blocks. After this, you then stitch the blocks into a larger design.

This technique might also be great for beginners to work with because of how you are able to lay them out in advance.

What Are the Different Types/Styles of Patchwork?

Like quilting, there are also different styles of patchwork that you can do. Like quilting patterns, these patterns dictate how you arrange the fabric that you are using.

Also, like quilting, you can change up the stitching technique that you use when working with the fabric in these patterns. Changing your stitching can give you a more detailed and unique design.

You can also use any of the types of patchwork styles when you are attempting to complete a patchwork quilt. This can really elevate your quilt and bring it to the next level.

Some examples of quilting patterns include:

Stained Glass Patchwork:

Stained glass patchwork looks like what it sounds like.

Normally when you are utilizing a stained glass patchwork, you will use a band of monochrome fabric that runs between the fabric pieces that you are using.

This emulates the stained glass window look with the colored glass being broken up by panes or other material. This design can be a great way to start your patchwork hobby.

It is an easier method to complete this design as the fabric patterns can be blocky, and you can overlay the band over your fabric to make sure that you clean up the edges of all your fabric pieces.

Cathedral Window Patchwork:

This is a traditional form of patchwork that gives you a three-dimensional type design that would remind you of looking out a window.

This design can be simple to complete, but the overall look is beautiful.

This design style can benefit from laying out your pieces before you start so that you know that you are getting the look that you are going for.

Somerset Patchwork:

This is also sometimes referred to as the “folded star” patchwork design.

This pattern is created using rectangular-shaped fabric that you fold into a triangle before stitching them onto the fabric. This design can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, but the end result can be really gorgeous.

Before attempting to work on this design, you will want to make sure that you have the skills to master it.

To practice is key!