Snuggling in bed, inside a layer of cosy blankets and quilts, makes for a deliciously warm feeling, especially in the face of unrelenting winter chill. If you’re in the market for a new blanket or quilt, be sure to read this guide. You’ll find tips and expert advice about how to make your best winter purchase yet.
Shopping for a blanket can feel fairly straightforward. And maybe it is. But, with a little information to back up your purchase, you can bring home a product that you’ll cherish and love using.
Start with size
Typically you’re looking for a blanket that will cover the entire surface area of the mattress with a good few centimetres spare to tuck securely underneath. Be sure to measure your mattress size before you step out to shop.
You can choose from a wide range of materials, and how you choose should depend on your individual preferences. You may be suffering from allergies, or prefer a smoother texture over a fuzzier blanket for example. Here are some of the most popular choices today:
Wool: Woollen blankets are warm and provide excellent insulation during cold winter nights. Being a natural fibre, wool is a breathable material. Another useful quality is wool’s ability to wick sweat and moisture away from your body, promoting a dry and warm experience. Woollen blankets are fire resistant, which makes them safe to use around heat sources.
Fleece: Fleece blankets are usually composed of synthetic polyester blends. They’re popular because they feel plush, velvety soft and warm. Again, fleece can wick moisture from your body and keep you warm, dry and snug through a cold night. Fleece blankets are also lighter than their woollen counterparts.
Heavier fleece blankets are best as bed blankets during colder weather conditions. It also pays to ask for anti-pill blankets (pills being little balls of fabric that you’ll often notice after washing your jumpers). On the downside, fleece can conduct static electricity and will attract hair and dust.
Cotton: Ideal for warmer weather, a 100-per-cent cotton blanket is also great during spring and autumn or with air conditioning in the room. As cotton is a natural fibre, it’s a very breathable material. Among its other attributes, cotton is also hypoallergenic and soft. This makes it an excellent choice for babies or those with sensitive skin types, or for anyone suffering from allergies.
Tip: When it comes to buying a cotton blanket, consider the following: yarn size, fibre quality, thread count and construction. Typically, a good cotton blanket will boast of high fibre quality and thread count.
Acrylic: Acrylic blankets are a great alternative to their woollen or cashmere counterparts and are light, hypoallergenic and warm. What’s more, they are easy to maintain and care for. They are also machine-washable and will retain their colours despite consistent washing.
What is GSM in a blanket?
GSM refers to grams per square metre. When you’re out shopping, GSM suggests the amount of fibre used in the blanket. The higher the GSM, the warmer the blanket.
Speaking of quality in blankets, Kate Pascoe Squires, director of Kate & Kate textile company says, “You can really feel a good quality textile in your hands – if it feels beautiful, it usually will be. If it’s flimsy, thin or shiny, you know it’s not going to last. Be prepared for balling and pills after the first wash. Good-quality natural fibres will wash beautifully and offer you a gorgeous product for years to come.”
“You can pick up a blanket for as little as $7, but it will only last a short period,” Pascoe Squires says. “You can also purchase stunning mid-range blankets that are great quality, but won’t break the bank. In terms of price, you should look at between $70 and $150 for these items. Then there are super-premium blankets, which can run up to thousands of dollars. The price reflects the beautiful materials used to knit these items, usually stunning wools, creating real heirloom pieces.”
If you’d rather invest in an electric blanket, here’s what you need to know:
- All electric blankets will use an integrated heating device to spread warmth through your bed.
- Electric blankets for children are normally available and labelled as waterproof electric blankets.
- Thanks to the overheat protection feature, your blanket will sense any abnormal temperature changes and switch off in case it gets too hot.
- Fitted blankets will remain flat and taut through the night and will feel the same as the mattress underneath it. Non-fitted blankets will not fit around the corners and will not provide the same level of comfort as its fitted counterpart.
- Before making a purchase, lie on the blanket to feel its thickness. For safety reasons, check that wiring is undamaged. Also, never leave your blanket on throughout the night.
- Some blankets are available with dual controls, so each partner can control the temperature on their side of the bed.
- If your blanket has removable controls, you can safely wash it as well.
- If your feet feel cold easily, it pays to ask for a blanket with warm foot zones, which will then focus more heat at the bottom of the blanket.
Tip: When you shop, don’t forget to look for the Australian Standard 3350.2.17:2000, which is a must for any electric blanket sold in Australia.
Quilts offer luxurious comfort and add tonnes of visual warmth to your bedroom. Typically a quilt consists of three layers; a fabric backing followed by a layer of soft batting and a top layer. Quilting is essentially the art of stitching and tying these layers together, often in sync with the pattern or design of the quilt.
Before you head to the shops
Consider who the quilt is for and how it will be used. Is this for an adult or child? Typically, adults will prefer a heavier variety whereas a child will be comfortable with a lightweight quilt. Also, when you’re buying a quilt for your child, you’ll have remember that you’ll be dealing with spills and messy situations. It pays to factor in climate. Are you looking for a quilt for very cold nights or just cool weather? Do you need something that is season-specific or something that works for all weather?
Quilts filled with natural materials such as cotton, wool, feathers and down are more breathable, softer, lighter and more comfortable. They will also last longer than synthetic or microfibre fillings. Cotton also makes for an excellent material of choice especially for lightweight quilts. While down and feather fillings provide the most warmth, they are more expensive and may not be ideal for those with allergies. In fact, in these instances, cruelty-free options such as microfibre work well, since they will imitate the look and feel of down without attracting dust. Even cotton and wool are excellent non-allergenic options. If you are tired of alternating between a lightweight quilt for summer and a heavier option for the winter, why not consider an all-season quilt?
How to choose your quilt?
When you’re out shopping, here are two terms you will need to familiarise yourself with: GSM and loft. GSM refers to the amount of fibre/ weight of the quilt’s filling, while loft is the quilt’s thickness. According to SleepSolutions’ guidelines, “240 GSM is ideal for summer, while 350 GSM is best for autumn or spring. Quilts with 500+ GSM are best for winter.” Your quilt’s warmth is additionally impacted by your choice of filling. So, choose well.
Tip: If you suffer from allergies, you may want to purchase quilts that come with the blue butterfly symbol, which is used by the National Asthma Council of Australia as their seal of approval.
Care for your quilt
Air your quilts every couple of weeks to keep them great shape and enhance their longevity. Certain quilts, such as down, are best dry-cleaned while some can be machine washed as well. A quilt cover is also an excellent way to protect your quilt and add to your room’s decor. Remember to read the manufacturer’s care guide to make the most of your purchase.
Still unsure? Ask an interior designer on Houzz.