How to choose a quilt size

What size should I make my next quilt? Here's the scenario..... there's a bed in the guest room that needs a pretty quilt on it before Christmas. But how do you decide what size the quilt needs to be?

You will need to make two decisions before you even pick up your tape measure. First, take a look at the side or bottom of the bed, and decide where you would like the quilt to end in length. How far off of the floor will look nice? Do you have a dust ruffle on this bed?

Quilts can be anywhere from 10 to 20 inches long on the sides, and as you can see, that will make a big difference in the finished measurements of your quilt. If you have a metal tape measure or yard stick handy, stand it up on the floor next to the side of the bed, to get a feel for the overall height. Now, still looking at your tape measure, decide if you would like the sides of the quilt that drape down to measure 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, or 20 inches.

Once that decision is made, we will move on to the decision of whether you would like to tuck the quilt in underneath the pillows, or just have the pillows piled on top of the flat quilt. Having a pillow tuck allowance will add another 10 inches to your overall length measurement.

Here is a handy chart to use in figuring out approximate quilt sizes. You may find a pattern that is just a little larger or smaller than these sizes, and you can decide if you would like to adjust the width of your borders to compensate for the difference, or maybe add or subtract blocks in your design. Click on the picture below to download a complete PDF file. This is handy to print out and keep in your purse --- you never know when inspiration will strike!

As our first example, let's choose a child's twin sized bed. I have decided that I want the twenty-inch drop so that the quilt almost skims the floor. I also decided I would like the extra length required to tuck the quilt under the pillows. From the chart that shows the Twin Mattress, I can go down the left side until I find the 20" drop and right underneath that line is the 10" pillow tuck. By running my finger across to the twin size mattress column, it's easy to see that my quilt should measure 79 x 105 inches. I will be cutting my backing and batting 87 x 113 so the quilt can be finished on a longarm quilting machine.

Let's try another example. This time, we'll use a California King sized bed. I want to keep the quilt high up off of the floor, and will not be tucking it under the pillows. A twelve-inch drop should be fine, with no pillow tuck allowance. Run your finger down the left side of the California King chart until you get to the 12" drop, and then follow straight across to the California King column. You'll see that the finished quilt should be 96 x 92, and your backing and batting will need to be cut 104 x 100 inches.

You'll notice that the measurements for the drop on the sides and bottom are only calculated for three sides. That's because the quilt does not hang down over the top of the bed.

You have a bit of leeway in these measurements, but this will get you started. Don't worry if things don't match up perfectly, BUT .... one thing to keep in mind before you get started is shrinkage. If you are using 100% cotton fabrics, and not pre-washing, you may lose a few inches in each direction when the quilt is first laundered. That may be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your intentions. Click on the picture below for a free complete PDF file!

Enjoy the process, and as always, enjoy the fabric shopping!