Depending on the time of year or where you live, you may not need or want a regular quilt to sleep under. It is amazing how warm a quilt can be and so the warmer temperatures or climate may find us looking for an alternative to the quilt we normally have on our bed.
Called a summer quilt, this quilt is a lightweight alternative to the traditional batting-filled quilt. This isn’t anything new, though, as women in the 1800s were making summer quilts for their homes. You can make your summer quilt the weight you want for your climate. I will talk about the possibilities from the lightest weight quilt to the warmest weight for a summer quilt.
The coolest quilt would be the one without any batting. You will piece the top as with any quilt and you back it as you would any quilt, but there is no “meat” in the sandwich. Leave the batting out completely. You can quilt it the two layers of pieced top and back if you choose, but there is no loft to the quilt without the batting. You can tie the two layers instead and give it a little interest, or maybe a little of both. And rather than binding it, you may wish to sew it around the sides with right sides together and then turn it right side out (called "birthing a quilt"). If I did this, I would prefer that the top be pieced with at least one border and then after turning it right side out, I would stitch ¼” on around the edges to reinforce it and add a little interest. You can also choose to do no quilting or tying, but you will have to take care when laundering it.
If you wish to have something lightweight in the middle of your quilt, you can create a 100% cotton fabric “batting.” It simply is a neutral cut of quilting fabric that adds just a bit of weight and just a little warmth because of the three layers of cotton. An easy alternative is a quality cotton flat bedsheet. But be careful with this alternative because the quality of the bedsheet likely will not be the same as the quality of your cotton quilting fabrics. You don’t want to put all that work into the perfect quilt top only to have it negatively affect it. And I would recommend that you pre-wash the bedsheet first to help alleviate possible issues.
With three layers now, choose to quilt it, tie it or a little of both. For the finish work, you can bind it, but I believe it still lends itself to sewing the edges and turning it as I described previously.
Need a just a bit more warmth for cooler nights in the north or in the mountains? Make your middle layer flannel. This will also give you just a little loft that will enhance your quilting design a bit more than the prior two options. I suggest that you use 100% cotton flannel, preferably a lightweight flannel, and prewash it to ensure no shrinkage to affect your finished quilt later. I would definitely bind this quilt sandwiched with flannel, and you can quilt and/or tie it however you wish.
The last option is to use a lightweight batting. Not many shops carry lightweight batting and so you may have to do a little searching to find some but if it is the perfect weight for your summer quilt, go for it. It will obviously be the warmest “summer” quilt of the options I’ve presented here, but it will not be as warm as those made with regular weight batting.
So with these options, you can start planning now for the summer quilts you will work on this fall and winter for your family. And when the warmer weather rolls in, you can grace every bed in your house with a beautiful but perfect weight quilt. And then, everyone will sleep comfortably under their new summer quilts!