Determining the Size of your Quilt

Ohio star quilt on a platform bed Photo credit:

Okay, so you’ve decided to make a quilt for yourself. Now the question is, what size should you make it? You need to decide this before you do anything else, because the size you choose will affect how much fabric you buy, how much getting it quilted will cost, how long it will take to make, etc. There are standard sizes for quilts, but the truth is that it always comes down to personal preference.

In the quilt pictured to the right, you can see that there is a moderate drape (10″ – 12″ maybe?), and it works well here due to the platform-style bed with drawers that need to be accessed, as well as the lack of a footboard.

Some issues you should consider are:

  • Do you have a standard size mattress?
  • Do you have a pillow top or extra thick mattress? Do you use a feather bed or mattress topper that adds to the thickness of your mattress?
  • How much do you like your quilt to hang over the side of your bed?
  • Do want your quilt to be long enough to cover your pillows, or do you tuck it under your pillows?
  • Do you have a down comforter or duvet that puffs up and might affect the drape of your quilt?
  • Do you use a bedskirt?
  • Do you have a box spring?
  • Do you have a footboard?
  • Do you like to fold back the top of your quilt, to show a peek at the backing fabric?
  • What is your quilt design? Is it best suited to a square shape, or can you scale it to a rectangle? If you can change it into a rectangle, what does the ratio need to be of length to width in order to make the pattern work ideally?
  • What kind of bed do you have? If it’s a platform bed, do you want to tuck the edges under the mattress, or do you want it to skim the floor?
  • Do you have any other special considerations? For example, the length of my bed frame with the footboard is just slightly larger than the length of my mattress, which means that it is very tight and I can barely tuck the end of my quilt in. For me, this means that a quilt that is too long is a problem for me, because there’s no room for bulk at the end of my bed.

All of this assumes that you are creating the quilt to fit your bed. If the quilt is for someone else, or it’s not meant for your bed — a lap quilt, for example — then your best bet is to make a standard size. I tend to prefer the smaller recommended sizes. If you have a quilt or coverlet that works well for your bed, you could always measure that, too. Once you’ve determined your ideal size quilt, it’s time to design your quilt.

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