Sunday, 17 July 2016

when is a quilt big enough

My daughter recently commented that I didn't make my quilts big enough... and it's got me thinking!

I don't know about you, but my quilts seem to end up all slightly different sizes. Sewing scrappy must lend itself to some uncertainties, yes? Like running out of fabric and doing a spot of creative substituting, all the while trying to achieve cohesion & balance. But I never seem to know just how big my quilts will be until I've finished, and I'm sure it's mainly because I tend to cut first and think later!

Like today for example...

... but more about this WiP next time!

I have of course, made a few large -ish quilts over the years...

"trippin' lightly round & round"

BOM scrappy sampler

AMH 1/4 log cabin

... and I do enjoy making smaller scrappy baby/ cot sized quilts.
They are quick to make, you get a real sense of accomplishment pretty quickly,
and they make wonderful gifts.

... more recently, I find I'm simply wasting enjoying time with a little creative play,
 'doing it for the process'
with no intention of getting any results.
Some of these little bits & pieces of random trial blocks and improv do make it into a quilt,
usually a throw sized one that I can quilt easily on my home machine.
And any rejected blocks all get popped into a basket for later,
maybe for an 'everything but the kitchen sink' kinda quilt one day.  

I remember a quote I read a long time ago by Roberta Horton
"a quilt must be big enough to say something." 
Well, when I'm not following a pattern, I seem to end up mainly making what I would call throw sized quilts
- for a variety of reasons including fabric scale, block size, quilt symmetry, available stash fabrics, expense of backing & batting now I'm retired, etc.

{sigh} not sure if my quilts actually 'say anything'
but they are cosy, and warm, and comforting...

retro flowers quilt 125cms x 125cms

'spice road' quilt 130cms x 165cms

              flying geese quilt 120cms x 140cms

vintage spin quilt 145cms x 145cms

Is there any 'right' size?
Linking up with Cynthia for 'oh scrap' here and with Beth for MainCrushMonday over here
... love to hear your thoughts on quilt sizes?

If you are interested, there's more on quilt sizes, balance & proportions over here
and I found this too- suzyquilts quilt size chart 


  1. I hadn't thought too much about it. Every quilt is different, I suppose. If I'm making a quilt for a specific purpose - a bed quilt, or a sofa throw - then I'll figure out a rough target size and work out how to end up within shouting distance of it. That might involve changing the block size or adding borders until it comes out. But if I'm just making blocks for the fun of it, I'll just make them until I'm tired of them or until I think I have 'enough', and then start planning the quilt. That one ends up the size it ends up. 8)
    I do have to make things symmetrical or balanced, though - otherwise I start twitching!

  2. It does depend on who or what I am making the quilt for, My Liberty Bloomsbury for my bed is about 80" square, my scrappy sampler is more of a throw quilt to snuggle under on the sofa. My smallest was about 55" square. I don't usually make rectangular quilts either, so often have to make extra blocks to square them off.

  3. If a quilt is for me I usually make bed-sized quilts (at least 80 x 80 inches or more - usually rectangular) because I don't need anymore throws. With leftovers I make child donation quilts usually 40 x 60 inches). For gift quilts...I'm all over the place. I do like to make BIG bed sized quilts the best- my house is heated with wood heat and sometimes the fire goes out during the night!

  4. I'm with you, start cutting and sewing now, worry about how big it will be later! Usually if I'm planning a large quilt, I get bored of it before it's finished, so it never gets finished. It's probably better to finish a smaller quilt and have it be whatever size it wants to be when it is "done". :)

  5. I like a quilt to have a decent drape over each edge of the bed so that you're not fighting for blankets in the middle of the night so mine tend to be on the larger size. And then there are times that I just get carried away making the blocks, like my latest one (Candied Hexagons) and head into King territory. This one is 90" x 107"!

  6. Mostly I make baby quilts and if possible I try not to make them wider than 42" so a width of backing fabric will suffice. As I have been trying to use up some odd sizes of leftover fabrics ai have pieced some quilt backings recently but it adds so much time to making the quilt. I have also made a couple of single bed sized quilts and some quilts for the Siblings Together Charity which have to be at least 50" square. Mine have all ended up much longer than that for precisely the same reason as your quilts are various finished sizes. However, I do find the larger quilts a challenge to sandwich with batting and backing. Crawling around on the floor and trying to eliminate wrinkles is very hard work!

    1. Hi Linda, Yes I agree with you, making a baby quilt to fit the wof is something I tend to do these days too. And as for basting on the floor... well, sadly it’s certainly trickier now I’m older!

      My daughter really loves a quilt that goes down over the sides of the bed and over the bottom too... and I have made them that big for all their beds now! But it does take a lot of time, fabric, etc. And for her king sized bed I had to send the quilt out to be quilted, so that was quite an expense. Luckily it was just in time for her b’day preezzie!

      It’s interesting reading all the comments, quilts certainly come in all shapes & sizes! And now that I’m really thinking about it all, I guess the reason I don’t make very big quilts all the time is that there are too many tempting patterns/ideas that I want to try out :)

      Thanx for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.

  7. Like you my quilts just end up at the size they end up. If they get too big they get hard to manage on my design wall, basting and quilting so I usually stop at about 80inches. It's fun to see lots of your wonderful quilts.

    1. Hi Rachael, I hadn’t really given it all too much thought until now, and my daughter’s husband has said “no more quilts” so I’m not too sure why she was worried about it either really!
      I see there’s certainly quite a lovely variety in personal preference, and I think your 80” is plenty big enough!
      Glad you enjoyed my little eclectic mix of quilts!

      Thanx for taking the time to add your thoughts into this discussion.

  8. Thanks for linking up with Oh Scrap! It is great to read everyone's comment-especially the one about getting bored. That would be me with the big ones :)

  9. I don't have a set size in mind most of the time I make a quilt, although if I know it's for a kiddies bed then I do make a single size. I think my large quilt days are a thing of the past, too hard on the body all the basting and quilting on my domestic machine. Throw size quilts, wall quilts now on the agenda!

  10. I don't think much about size as I go along, though I do always aim for something functional, so my smallest would be about 60" square. Otherwise I let the quilt do its own thing. Maybe all a quilt has to say it 'come and sit under me and get warm'.

  11. I almost never make a quilt with a purpose or for someone, only charity quilts for kids which are mostly 48" x 60". The quilt sizes depend on how long I love to work on any particular quilt. The husband and I both find quilts on the bed too heavy. We are used to sleep under down filled duvets. That’s why I often end up with throw size quilts. I’ve made some lovely quilts that should be put on the wall, but no walls here to hang quilts on. Maybe it’s time I find myself a new hobby... ;-) I’m the kind of quilter that makes quilts because I love to play with colours, fabrics, prints and patterns and I’ve grown to love the slow ones that are made by hand.

  12. Forget to say I love the photo’s of your quilts, such pretty ones!

  13. Interesting post and comments Linda. And lovely to see your line up of quilt photos too! Up until now I've just tended to make quilts to whatever size they end up without any thought as to where they end up... but trying to set up beds for guests recently, I realised I didn't have many that actually fitted a bed properly!! So I may put a little more thought into the finished end use in future!

  14. For me, quilt size is dictated by the reason for making the quilt. My baby quilts are on the small side since Powers That Be are telling moms no fluffy blankets or quilts are allowed in the cribs due to the chance an infant could smother. So when making a baby quilt, I keep it around 54" square or smaller, thinking about the size that can be tucked around a baby in a stroller or in a car seat, and later, the right size to be dragged around after them Linus-style, or used as a cape, or whatever. The next size up is a throw size for curling up on the couch to watch TV. This is also a good gift size, both because it makes up faster than a bed quilt, but also because it is easier to make a good guess as to what someone will use as a throw on their family room sofa than it is to guess what someone will want to use on their bed. I only make bed size quilts (Twin, Queen or King) if it is specifically for someone's bed. And in that case, I measure the actual bed to make sure the quilt will cover the mattress properly since "standard quilt sizes" are for pretty thin standard mattresses, not the deep pillow top mattresses on many of today's beds.

  15. I think I just make it up as I go. WOF is great for baby ones to use of stashed away backings. For non baby ones, I like to be able to tuck them over my feet while lying about watching tv, etc. I don't 'get' quilt minis at all.

  16. It's great to see so many of your beautiful quilts in one post! For me, a quilt should be large enough that someone can wrap themselves in it and stay warm. Lap size is usually enough for that. I've made bigger and smaller quilts, but lap size in many various proportions is what I come back to over and over again.

  17. Thanks for adding to this discussion, Linda, and for sending people to my blog. (A few have come but not many, and not many comments, either, but that's okay.) I can see how strongly individual preferences -- and purposes, too -- figure in to quilt sizes, proportions, symmetry, etc.
    --Nancy. (ndmessier @,

  18. Since my sewing space is so tiny, I try to stick with baby/toddler sized quilts. That way I can piece and quilt them by myself. When I make a gift quilt for an adult, they aren't much bigger, really just a small lap quilt. As a gift, they are intended to show my affection and to be decorative. I figure most of my friends and family can buy their own king or queen sized bedding!


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