Quilts come in all shapes and sizes. As far as quilts are concerned, there is no “right” size. Some are square, some rectangular, and some of mine have accidentally become rhombus in shape. This post includes a clear quilt sizes chart to visually show standard quilt sizes as well as standard quilt batting.
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 shape. 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 from 4" - 8". If you have access to the bed you wish to cover, give it a quick measure so you don’t have to guess. When taking these measurements, remember to add length for the quilt to hang off the edges of the mattress.
Once you have the size of the bed + how much overhang you like figured out, 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 baste and quilt it yourself, a couple of 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, a 4" overhang for both batting and backing on each side is the standard requirement. If you are new to using a longarm 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.
Above is the Nordic Triangles quilt pattern. You can purchase the pattern here!
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"
90" 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, “America!” (I was 12, so give me a break.) “Yeah, but where did they originally come from?” was the follow-up question.
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 comparatively America isn'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 bother her. 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.
Above is the Stars Hollow quilt. Get the pattern here!
What is a Patchwork Quilt?
Let’s define a patchwork quilt – quilt tops that are composed of separate blocks or elements sewn together. While some of these pieces were the result of making economic use of scrap fabric, complex patchwork quilts are generally the result of an abundance in the availability of fabric.
Once textile mills began manufacturing in the United States, fabric no longer needed to be shipped from overseas. Most of the earliest American quilts were wholecloth quilts, but as fabric became more affordable and more widely available here, patchwork quilts grew in popularity.
Quiltmakers broadened their designs from simple scraps to geometric patterns created through a series of blocks. While some traditional quilt blocks first appear in quilts made in Europe, the booming US quilt economy gave 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 for early American colonists. 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.
Above is the Perennial quilt. Get the pattern here!
Check Out My Favorite Sewing Notions!
- How to Choose the Right Quilt Batting
- The Best Sewing Table
- The Best Quality Thread: Part 1 and Part 2
- 5 Best Cutting Mats for Quilters
- Best Rotary Cutter
- The 4 Best Quilting Rulers
- The Best Iron for Sewing
- The World's Best Sewing Scissors
- Your Guide to Finding the Best Thimble
- Best Pins for Quilting
- The Best Quilt Marking Tools
- Fusible Batting Tape: Why You Need It and How to Use It.
- 8 Things You Never Knew About a Tailor's Clapper
- 5 Types & Sizes of Hand Quilting Needles
- Must-Have Quilting Tools
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 asymmetry.
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 borders. 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 1930s 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.
Below is a modern quilt using reproduction 1930s fabric. You can get this pattern in the book Treasures from the '30s: Cheerful Quilts with Vintage Appeal by Nancy Mahoney.
Gee's Bend: A Rich Quilting Heritage
One example of traditional blocks transforming into 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 community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The quilting tradition in Gee's Bend dates back to the 19th century when the community was the site of a cotton plantation.
As the Souls Grown Deep Foundation writes, "The residents of Gee’s Bend, Alabama are direct descendants of the enslaved people who worked the cotton plantation established in 1816 by Joseph Gee. After the Civil War, their ancestors remained on the plantation working as sharecroppers. In the 1930s the price of cotton fell and the community faced ruin."
However, quiltmaking flourished. And today, Gee's Bend quilts are collected by museums and quilt enthusiasts alike. Their quilts are even available on Etsy! You can also go on a Gee's Bend quilting retreat to learn directly from this group of master quilters. Click here to see a gallery of over 120 Gee's Bend quilts!
Gee's Bend images courtesy of the Library of Congress.