c. 1300, "sack stuffed with wool, down, etc. used as a mattress," from Anglo-French quilte, Old French cuilte, coute, quilte "quilt, mattress" (12c.), from Latin culcita "mattress, bolster," a word of unknown etymology. The sense of "thick outer bed covering, cover or coverlet made by stitching together two thicknesses of fabric with some soft substance between them" is recorded by 1590s.
1550s, "to stuff or interline in the manner of a quilt; to stitch together in the manner of a quilt," from quilt (n.). Related: Quilted; quilting. Quilting bee, "a social gathering of women for the purpose of assisting one of their number in quilting a counterpane," usually followed by a supper or other entertainment, is attested from 1824, originally a New England custom (see bee).