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A guide to buying quilts, comforters, blankets for any temperature

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As the temperatures start to drop across the country, we are all looking forward to snuggling up in our comfy blankets with some hot chocolate for company. Whether you buy a wool blanket or a microfibre comforter or a cotton dohar depends mainly on the temperature. But should you buy a quilt or dohar? How is a comforter different from a duvet? Is a fleece blanket warmer than a wool one? Read on to have your questions answered.

SO, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

QUILTS
A quilt is composed of three layers of fabric that are quilted or stitched together. A regular quilt has the decorative woven cloth top, the batting (or wadding) and the backing. Traditionally, the top layer is crafted from different pieces of fabric stitched together into decorative patterns.

DOHARS
A dohar, primarily an Indian version of a quilt, is a light covering that is traditionally made up of three layers of cotton muslin stitched together. Beautiful hand-block printed dohars are extremely popular in India.  

BLANKETS
A blanket is a piece of thick, woven covering usually made from wool or fleece. A blanket usually has only one layer of material.

COMFORTERS

A blue quilt, with hot air balloons printed on it placed on a bed with a sidetable besides it

A quilt is composed of three layers of fabric that are quilted or stitched together. Image courtesy, Safomasi

Composed of two layers of decorative fabric sewn together on all sides, a comforter is filled with down or fibres. They are usually stitched through to secure the filling and ensure that it is evenly distributed. The stitching is functional and not decorative, like a quilt.

DUVETS
Similar to a comforter is a duvet. Like a pillow, a duvet is usually white and purely functional; it requires a duvet cover for decorative purposes. It is essentially a big bag filled with down, feathers or synthetic fibres. The cover fits over the duvet (like a pillow case) and closes with buttons or a zipper.

DIFFERENT BLANKET MATERIALS
Blankets are woven from a variety of materials; each has its own advantages.

1.    Cotton fabric blankets are lightweight, soft and hypoallergenic. They are also easy to wash. However, they don’t work for very cold climates.

2.    To keep yourself warm and toasty, choose a wool or cashmere blanket. Wool is also breathable with moisture-wicking properties that keeps
        you warm and dry.

3.    If you are allergic to wool, try a fleece alternative which is made from synthetic materials. Fleece blankets are also relatively easy to wash at
        home.

4.    Another synthetic alternative is acrylic which is machine-washable and fade-resistant.

5.    Finally, polyester blankets are very durable and long-lasting. It also can take a machine wash without losing shape.


QUILT BATTINGS: WHAT ARE THEY AND WHAT ARE THEY MADE FROM?
The batting, sometimes called wadding, is a thin inner layer usually made of cotton or wool used as the middle layer in a quilt. The most common batting materials are:
 

A bedroom with a wooden bed, two pillows and a blanket on it

Woolen blankets are breathable with moisture-wicking properties that keep you warm and dry. Image courtesy, Raymond

Cotton: The batting is light-weight and quite thin. Keep in mind that cotton batting can bunch up, so look for cotton batting quilts where the quilting lines are quite close together.

Polyester: This batting retains its shape and thickness quite well. It is thicker than cotton batting and keeps you warm without being heavy. It also resists mold but is non-breathable.

Wool: This batting is the thickest and fluffiest option. It will make your quilt extremely warm. However, some quilts with wool batting tend to beard – when the fibres from the batting travel through the top layer of the quilt.

Cotton/polyester blend: Usually this batting consists of 80% cotton and 20% polyester fibres. It is thicker than 100% cotton and is relatively low maintenance. 

Bamboo: Gaining popularity is bamboo batting, though it is the most expensive option. Quilts with bamboo batting are soft and drape really well. They are also resistant to mold. 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF FILLING MATERIALS FOR COMFORTERS AND DUVETS
The filling of a duvet or comforter determines how warm it is. One factor to keep in mind is GSM or grams per square metre. It means the amount of fibre that has been used. The higher the GSM content the warmer, thicker and heavier the final product will be.   

1.    Cotton filling makes the covering breathable and hypoallergenic. These tend to be light-weight are good options for moderate winters.
       However, they aren’t very fluffy.

2.    For very cold climates, choose a comforter with a wool filling which is a good insulator. While these are moisture-wicking, they cannot be
       washed and will need to be professionally cleaned.

3.    Down filling is a high-quality and luxurious option. It is very warm but fluffier than wool. If you are allergic to wool, a down comforter or
       duvet might work for you.

4.    Another option that is high on the luxe factor is a comforter with silk fibre filling. It is breathable and hypoallergenic but high on maintenance.

5.    Finally, the popular option is a synthetic one like polyester or microfibre. The options available today are light-weight yet warm as it can trap
       warm air. It is also soft and fluffy and not as expensive as down or silk.


CHOOSING THE RIGHT BED COVERING

TEMPERATURE
The most important factor in choosing a covering is the warmth it provides. Comforters, duvets and wool blankets are best suited for cold weather as they provide the best heat insulation. For duvets, you can choose thicker duvet covers to add more warmth. Lighter blankets and quilts might need to be layered in colder climates but are perfect for moderate winters. The lightest, dohars, can even be used in the warmer months for those who like a covering when using the air conditioning.

APPEARANCE AND LAYERING
Based on the aesthetics and how you want your bed to look, you have different choices to opt for. Since they come in a variety of colours and patterns, you can use a dohar, quilt or comforter as a decorative bedspread. While not necessary, you can layer a bedsheet under the covering as well. Duvets with covers can also be used as a final top layer on the bed without the need for an added bedspread. Duvet covers and comforters also come with matching pillow cases. Blankets aren’t usually used as bedspreads

A cot with a colourful quilt along with three pillows

Bed linen for children, households with pets or bed linen used by people with allergies would have to be washed pretty often. Image courtesy, Little West Street

and most prefer a bedsheet layer between their skin and the blanket.  

LOFT
The loft or thickness of the filling of batting determines the weight of the covering as well as the level of insulation it will provide i.e. how warm it will be. Quilts, fleece blankets and dohars make excellent coverings for infants and babies because they provide warmth without being too fluffy or thick.

DRAPING
Depending on the batting material for quilts and the loft especially for duvets and comforters, the covering will drape differently. While this may not be a key criterion in choosing a covering, it will affect the final look of the bed. For example bamboo batting has a soft drape while 100% cotton batting is quite stiff in the beginning and need to be used a lot to loosen up. Additionally, a thicker covering like a comforter with wool filling will not have a soft drape.

MAINTENANCE
Bed linen for children, households with pets or bed linen used by people with allergies would have to be washed pretty often. Lightweight dohars and quilts as well as cotton, polyester or fleece blankets can easily be hand or machine washed. Read the maintenance instructions carefully as some dyes may bleed. The heavier and thicker the covering, the more difficult it is to wash. As such, heavier wool blankets and quilts with thicker batting might prove difficult to launder. This is also why people usually prefer duvets to comforters as you only have to wash the duvet cover. To keep the duvet clean, vacuuming and a few hours of sunning should do the trick. Using a machine to wash a comforter may flatten the filling or make it lumpy. In such case, you might have to consider getting it professionally cleaned.

SIZE
It is recommended to buy separate, twin-sized coverings for children. If you or your partner move around a lot in your sleep, you might consider separate coverings as well. If you are going in for a shared covering, get a size that is one size bigger than your bed to be able to sleep comfortably while not being so large that it falls over the sides on to the floor if you use it as a bedspread.


WHERE TO BUY

1.    Safomasi
The range of quilts by Safomasi are hand quilted and made from 100% cotton cover and filling. Their hand screen-printed patterns are inspired by their travels and adventures. The vibrant designs and joyful prints feature original and unique illustrations.

2.    Fabindia
Fabindia’s collection of cotton dohars and quilts feature beautiful hand-block prints, hand-screen prints and Dabu prints. They also feature traditional embellishments like Gudri embroidery.

3.    Himeya
Himeya offers a range of duvet covers with matching pillow covers in materials like percale, sateen and cotton linen. From subtle solids and rich hues to calming prints and subtle geometrics, there is a vast selection to choose from.  They also offer a collection of quilts and dohars in luxurious cotton varieties.

4.    Little West Street
Little West Street has a wonderful range of organic cotton and muslin dohars and quilts for babies and kids. They also offer bedding sets that make decorating your little one’s room a dream.

5.    Divine Casa
For microfibre comforters, browse through the colourful and patterned range by Divine Casa.

6.    Raymond Home
Raymond Home has a collection of blankets made from polyester, wool and wool blends perfect for various conditions from AC blankets to heavy winter blankets.

7. Nila House
Nila house offers quilts that are made by the rural communities in India. Some of these are made with techniques that ensure that the no fabric goes waste in production. Even with their simple designs, the products are striking and comfortable.

8. Saphed
Saphed is known for creating naturally textured, organically dyed and ethically made bed sheets. These come in a variety of colours, right from neutral shades to bold bright ones.

9. Okhai
Handcrafted by women that come from underprivileged backgrounds across India, Okhai offers contemporary designs through various products. They offer a range of quilts and bedcovers made from pure cotton.

10. House of Ekam
House of Ekam has a collection of quilts in a variety of designs. Right from contemporary to traditional motifs and patterns are found here. The products are made from high thread count cotton fabric which is layered with block printed muslin fabric. These come as a set with pillows and a storage bag. 

 

Feature Image Courtesy

Himeya

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