How to Choose a Quilt: Find Out What Material, Weight and Size Is Right for You

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how to choose a quilt

Having the right quilt for your bed is essential for a good night’s sleep. However, there are so many things to consider, including the material, filling and size. Not only do you need to find one that matches your taste, it also needs to be appropriate for your climate.

This guide will take you through all the factors involved in selecting the right quilt and give you pointers to pick a high-quality doona (same thing as a quilt) that will look great in your room and keep you comfortable all year round.

What Is the Difference Between a Doona and a Quilt?

In Australia, the words doona and quilt can be used interchangeably. They both refer to the thick bed covering that’s usually filled with feathers, natural fibres or synthetic fibres.

However, there can be slight differences in other areas of the world. For example, in the US and UK, the word quilt refers to a padded blanket with a patchwork surface.

Fillings: Feathers, Wool, Cotton, Silk, Microfibre and Hollowfibre

DIFFERENT QUILT FILLING MATERIALS

Quilts come with a choice of various different fillings, each with its pros and cons:

1) Feather and Down 

This natural filling is made up of real feathers from ducks or geese. Most often, they’re down feathers, the small, fluffy feathers found on the underside of the bird closest to their skin.

Down-filled doonas are breathable, lightweight and will contour to your body shape. They retain heat well and keep you warm on the coldest nights. As with most down products, if they’re cared for properly and professionally laundered, they’ll last longer than most synthetic options. 

The only downsides are that they’re likely to be more expensive than other quilts and some people can be allergic to the feathers.

Pros:

  • They’re breathable
  • They’re lightweight
  • They will contour to your body
  • They retain heat well
  • They last longer than synthetic-filled quilts

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Some people are allergic 


2) Wool 

This is another natural product that offers great breathability and retains heat well. Wool quilts are usually a similar price to those filled with feathers. However, they’re also naturally hypoallergenic, so wool is a great choice if you’re allergic to feathers.

Wool-filled quilts are better for the environment than synthetic ones. They’re renewable, sustainable and will biodegrade when thrown away.

The drawbacks of wool-filled quilts are that they need to be washed at a lower temperature and washing them regularly can shorten their life. You may also find that the wool flattens quicker than other fillings.

Pros:

  • They’re breathable
  • They retain heat well
  • Wool is naturally hypoallergenic
  • They’re better for the environment

Cons:

  • They can be expensive
  • Regular washing may shorten their life.
  • The filling may flatten over time.

     

3) Cotton

Cotton is a natural fibre sourced from cotton plants. When it’s used to fill a quilt, it’s excellent at keeping you cool and preventing moisture from building up. This makes cotton-filled doonas particularly useful during the summer. They’re also durable and easy to clean, so they’ll likely last longer than some other options. 

Cotton tends to flatten out and feels light, so you won’t get the comforting volume and fluffiness you can get from other natural fibre fillings. However, they’re generally considerably more affordable than feather and wool-filled quilts. 

Pros:

  • They’re breathable
  • They will keep you cool in the summer
  • They wick moisture away from your skin.
  • They’re affordable
  • They’re durable and easy to clean

Cons:

  • Cotton may be too light for cold winter nights.

4) Silk 

This is a naturally hypoallergenic filling that’s ideal if you’re looking for something that little bit more luxurious. It’s breathable and excellent at regulating retaining heat when necessary as well as keeping you cool in summer. Like cotton, it has a flatter profile, but it contours to your body well and will ensure you get a comfortable sleep. 

Silk-filled quilts can be hard to find, maybe more expensive and should only be cleaned professionally.

Pros:

  • They’re breathable
  • They will keep you cool in the summer and warm in winter
  • They feel soft and luxurious

Cons:

  • They can be expensive
  • They should only be professionally cleaned

     

5) Microfibre

Microfibres are tiny synthetic fibres that give a similar feel to down. Quilts filled with microfibres are very light and are usually affordable. They’re also extremely durable and easy to keep clean at home without the need for a professional. 

However, if you like the way feathers and heavier fillings hug your body, you might find that microfibres are too light and don’t give you that snuggly feeling.

Pros:

  • They’re affordable
  • They feel similar to down-filled duvets.
  • They’re exceptionally light.
  • They last a long time.
  • They’re easy to maintain.

Cons:

  • They don’t regulate temperature well.

6) Hollowfibre

These are polyester-based fibres with a hollow core. Hollowfibre quilts are light and retain warmth well. They’re not as breathable as some quilts but are very cheap and easy to maintain.

Pros:

  • They’re affordable
  • They’re lightweight.
  • They last a long time.
  • They’re easy to maintain.

Cons:

  • They don’t regulate temperature well.

Quilt Warmth Rating Guide

GSM – In Australia, most quilts will come with a GSM value. This stands for ‘grams per square metre’ and tells you the weight of the filling. Quilts with a high GSM will feel thicker and are best for cold climates or for people who like to be extra warm at night. Quilts with a low GSM are thinner and are best for hot climates or for people who prefer to stay cool.

These are some examples of GSM ratings:

  • 200 to 300 GSM – These are lightweight doonas suitable for summer or warm climates.
  • 300 to 400 GSM – These doonas can be used from spring through to autumn.
  • 400 to 500 GSM – This midweight doona is great for mild to medium winters.
  • 500 to 700 GSM – These are the thickest doonas you can get. They’re great for harsh winters and very cold climates.

Fill power – This is a measurement used for feather and down-filled quilts. A higher fill power indicates fluffier feathers that can trap more air. This means that quilts with a high fill power are softer, thicker and warmer.

These are some examples of fill power ratings:

  • Up to 500 – This is a lightly filled quilt that will provide moderate warmth.
  • 500 to 600 – This is the most common range of fill power and will provide enough warmth for all seasons.
  • More than 600 – These are the thickest quilts and provide great warmth for winter.

Quilt Weight and Thickness

GSM and fill power will help you match a quilt to the season or to your local climate, but if you’re looking for a specific thickness, you’ll need to consider choosing specific filling types. 

For example:

Thickest filling types – feathers and down

This type of filling usually stays thick throughout its life. If a down-filled quilt flattens, it can easily be thickened by shaking it and fluffing up the feathers.

Medium filling types – hollowfibre, microfibre and wool

These fillings are generally thick, but they may flatten slightly as they age.

Thin filling types – cotton and silk

These quilt fillings are best for cooler climates or for hot sleepers. Cotton and silk settle quickly in the doona, which can give it a flatter appearance over time.

Choosing a Quilt Based on the Seasons

What are the warmest quilts for the winter months?

When it’s cold outside, you need a doona that’s going to keep you warm and cosy throughout the night. The warmest quilts for winter are:

  • Down-filled
  • Hollowfibre-filled
  • Microfibre-filled

What are the best lightweight quilts for summer?

In the warmer months you’ll need a quilt that’s lightweight, breathable and won’t make you feel sweat and uncomfortable. The best quilts for summer are:

  • Cotton-filled
  • Silk-filled

What are the best quilts for all seasons?

Sometimes you don’t want to have to worry about swapping quilts with every new season. If you prefer to keep one doona for all year round your best options are:

  • Wool-filled
  • Silk-filled
  • Hollowfibre-filled
  • Microfibre-filled

What Are the Standard Quilt Sizes in Australia?

When you’ve chosen the type of quilt you want, you’ll need to decide which size you’re looking for. There are several standard sizes to choose from. To help you make sure you get the right one, here are the measurements of the most common sizes. 

We recommend opting for a quilt that’s one size bigger than your bed, particularly if you share your bed with a partner. This makes sure you have enough overhang and prevents any warmth from escaping.

Kids Single

140 x 210cm

Single

140 x 210cm

Double

180 x 210cm

Queen

210 x 210cm

King

240 x 210cm

Super King

270 x 240cm

Conclusion

If you care for your quilt correctly, it will likely last you for a long time. Consequently, it’s worth taking your time and choosing the right one. Getting a quilt that suits your local climate and your preferences won’t just make you feel more comfortable, it’ll also help you get a relaxing night’s sleep. To help you make your choice and to learn more about the best quilts available in Australia, check out our article: Best quilt, doona and duvet in Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How warm is a 500gsm wool quilt?

A 500gsm wool quilt is ideal for mild winters but may not be enough if things start to freeze outside. For harsh winters, we recommend a 700gsm wool quilt.

Q: What’s the best quilt for hot sleepers?

Quilts with natural fillings are more breathable than synthetic materials. A down-filled quilt is the best option for hot sleepers. They allow for lots of air circulation, which keeps the temperature down and prevents moisture from building up.

Q: What’s the best quilt for sleepers who have allergies?

The best quilt for sleepers with allergies is either a wool-filled quilt or one made with synthetic hollow fibres. Both are hypoallergenic and can easily be found with anti-allergy covers.

Q: What’s the best quilt filling? 

The best quilt filling is down. A down-filled doona will be breathable, lightweight and contour to your body as you sleep. The feathers hold enough air to keep you warm in winter but allow it to circulate enough to prevent you from overheating.

Tom Russell

Tom Russell

Tom Russell is a web content writer who specialises in health and wellness. He has a particular interest in sleep quality and how it can affect our day-to-day lives and overall health.

Five years ago, Tom was suffering from regular bouts of insomnia, which led him to explore the concept of sleep hygiene. He learned that a few changes and the introduction of a night-time routine could improve his chances of a good night's sleep. Now he avoids caffeine after 12 pm, puts all screens away at least an hour before bed, and sleeps like a log.

Tom and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime's collection of books. He grew up in Norfolk, UK, and graduated in English and History at Anglia Ruskin University.

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