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Quilts come in all shapes and sizes. As far as quilts are concerned, there is no “right” size. Some are square, some rectangular, some of mine have accidentally become rhombus in shape. When it comes to size, the only question you should care about is, “What do I want and what am I going to use this for?”
Before getting into too many details, take a look at this quilt sizes chart!
Just because a Crib Quilt is usually 36” x 52” does not mean that you have to make all of your Baby Quilts fit that mold. However, if you are trying to cover a mattress that is a certain size, the dimensions of your quilt will become less loosey goosey and should remain relatively standard.
These sizes are approximate and can vary 4” - 8”. If you have access to the mattress you wish to cover, give it a quick measure so you don’t have to guess. If you are measuring yourself, just remember to add length for the quilt to hang off the edges of the mattress.
Once you have measured and figured out how large your quilt will be, there are a couple more measurements left to make – batting and backing. The size of these two things depends on how you intend this quilt to be quilted.
If you will be basting and quilting it yourself, a couple extra inches overhanging for both the batting and the backing on each side is adequate. If you would like a long arm quilter to quilt it for you, 4” overhang for both batting and backing on each side is the standard requirement. If you are new to using a long arm quilter, double check with them.
If you plan to quilt it yourself, you will need to buy batting. You can either buy a large amount and cut it down to the size you need, or you can purchase pre-cut batting which comes in set standard sizes. You will notice that some of the pre-cut batting is either not large enough for proper overhang, or is cutting it really close and not going to give much wiggle room. Personally, I like to buy a large amount of batting and then cut it down to the size I need.
Below you will find a quilt size chart with king size quilt dimensions all the way to baby quilt sizes.
Pre-Cut Batting Sizes
Standard Quilt Sizes
30" x 40" (very approximate)
45" x 60"
36" x 52"
50" x 65" (very approximate)
72" x 90"
70" x 90"
Extra Long Twin (eg. dorm bunk)
70" x 95"
81" x 96"
85" x 108"
90" x 108"
90" x 108"
120" x 120"
110" x 108"
106" x 112"
A Quick Quilt History
As a young girl growing up in the US, and the Midwest in particular, I always felt a bit cheated when discussing history and heritage. The first time I was asked, “Where is your family from?” I confidently said, “Duh! America.” (I was 12, so give me a break.) “Yea, but where did they coooome from?” “uh...America?”
In that moment I realized that being “American” wasn’t a very good answer when asked about heritage – because heritage is supposed to be old...and Amrrica ain’t that old. So, being 12, I ran home and asked my mom. Sadly for me, she didn’t have a much better answer. Also to my chagrin that didn’t seem to bug her too much. Having a fairly short attention span, I eventually followed suit and got back to worrying about boys, braces and my fledgling summer tan – you know, important things.
What was that? You wanted a visual?
I thought you would enjoy that 😉
However, the idea that I had no heritage would still resurface occasionally and weigh on my little adolescent heart. It wasn’t until I was 15 and learned to quilt that I began learning about something that was truly American and also truly wonderful! Yes, yes, we here in the US weren’t the first ones to make quilts, BUT we did play a major role in popularizing patchwork quilts, and that’s quite the historical achievement in my opinion.
The above quilt is a free pattern found here!
Let’s define a patchwork quilt – quilt tops that are composed of separate blocks or elements sewn together. Originally, these pieces started simply and were the result of a functional approach to saving old scraps of discarded fabric. The evolution of the patchwork quilt began with the first settlers and continued to grow as colonization expanded in the 1800s. Quiltmakers broadened their designs from simple scraps to geometric patterns created through a series of blocks, giving this new type of quilt a distinctly American expression.
In the 100 years between 1750 and 1850 thousands of quilts were pieced, patched and sewn together. Thankfully for us, some of those quilts are still preserved today. These early quilts provide a glimpse into the history of quilting as well as a story of what life was like during the inception of the United States. The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort from 1750-1950 by Roderick Kiracofe and Mary Elizabeth Johnson is a great reference.
Much has changed in the textiles industry over the last few centuries. The fabrics we use in modern quilts have most definitely evolved, but a lot of the same quilt patterns we now see came from those early quiltmakers. When looking through early traditional quilts, you will see some similarities between now and then and begin to understand how much traditional quilting still influences the designers of today.
Early Quilts: The Medallion
Immigrants to America brought framed medallion style quiltmaking techniques with them. These quilts were popular in the late 18th century. However, quiltmakers in Europe and Britain continued to prefer making these quilts well beyond that time. Medallion quilts have made a modern resurgence – some even playing with A-symetry.
The above quilt was made by Gwen Marston. See more of her quilts in her book, Liberated Medallion Quilts.
It is a traditional medallion quilt using Civil War reproduction fabrics. In this type of quilt a central block or motif is surrounded by multiple boarders. Below is a medallion quilt I created featuring unicorns, snails, birds and a tiny little 2" princess right in the middle. Check out The Modern Medallion Workbook for beautiful modern medallion patterns!
Depression Era: A Quilting Revival
Quilting thrived during the Great Depression. Surprisingly, some of the brightest most cheerful quilts came from one of the darkest periods in American history. Quilting was an activity that allowed women to be creative and social while still making something practical for their families.
Quilts from the 1930 are very distinct and recognizable. Small chintzy patterns and delicate florals were mostly printed in pastels. Blocks typically used solid colors as background fabrics – creams, yellows, pinks and light blues.
Gee's Bend: A Rich Quilting Heritage
One example of traditional blocks transforming into clean modern design is the quilting of Gee’s Bend. These works of art were created by a group of women who lived in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The quilting tradition in Gee's Bend went back to the 19th century, when the community was the site of a cotton plantation.
Perhaps influenced in part by patterned African textiles, female slaves pieced together strips of cloth to make bedcovers. Throughout the years and into the 20th century, Gee's Bend women made quilts to keep themselves and their children warm in unheated shacks that lacked running water, telephones and electricity. This amazing tradition still lives on with more than 50 quiltmakers who currently make up the Gee’s Bend Collective.
Loretta Pettway, 1960
Synthetic Knit and Cotton Sacking Material
87" x 70"
Martha Jane Pettway, 1945
72" x 72"
Lucy T. Pettway, 1945
84" x 69"
For a more in depth look at the history of quilting, visit these sites...
Comfort and Glory: Two Centuries of American Quilts from the Briscoe Center by Katherine Jean Adams
Gee's Bend:The Architecture of the Quilt by Tinwood Books