The first step in the planning process is to determine the desired finished size.
For a wall hanging, base the width and length on the space you have available for hanging the finished project. If you have a special quilt rack or hanger in mind, measure its width so your finished quilt will fit.
When making a throw, keep in mind who will be using it. Are they tall adults or small children? Will they want to lay it over their laps or wrap up in it? Your usage conclusions should provide you with the optimum finished size.
For bed-size quilts, see the resrources below. For greater accuracy, you may wish to measure the bed you have in mind for the quilt you are making since mattress heights vary. You need to consider whether or not you want the quilt to fold under, then over the bed pillows and how far down on the bed you want it to hang (comforter, coverlet, or bedspread length).
Measuring a Bed to Determine Quilt Size
Follow these instructions to measure a bed and determine the finished size of your quilt. (See images for visual details on how to measure.) When measuring, have the blankets, sheets, and pillows on the bed that will be used with the quilt. "Drop" is the part of the quilt that extends over the edge of the mattress. "Tuck" is the part of the quilt that folds under the pillows should you want your quilt to cover them. It can be shallow (10") or deep (20"). Note: The amount of quilting done and the type of batting used can result in a 3%–5% loss in the overall size of the quilt. Washing and/or drying the finished quilt can also cause shrinkage, so plan accordingly.
Measure the mattress width and add twice the drop length. For a comforter-size finished project, measure from the top of the mattress to slightly past its lower edge to figure the drop length. For a coverlet, measure from the top of the mattress to slightly past the bottom of the bed rail. For a bedspread, measure from the top of the mattress to just above the floor.
If you want the quilt to cover your pillows, measure the mattress length, then add one drop length plus 10" to 20" for the pillow tuck. The exact amount to add will depend on the size and fullness of your pillows and the depth of your tuck. If you do not want your quilt to go over your pillows, measure the mattress length and add one drop length.
Standard Bed and Batting Sizes
All measurements are width x length. Please note, the Batting Sizes refer to commercially available, precut batts.
Mattress Size: 23x46"
Batting Size: 45x60"
Mattress Size: 39x75"
Batting Size: 72x90"
Double (or Full):
Mattress Size: 54x75"
Batting Size: 81x96"
Mattress Size: 60x80"
Batting Size: 90x108"
Mattress Size: 76x80"
Batting Size: 120x120"
Mattress Size: 72x84"
Batting Size: 120x120"
Adjusting Quilt Size
If you know what size quilt you’d like to make, but following a particular pattern will result in a smaller or larger quilt than you want, there are several changes you can make. Keep in mind that when you are altering some parts of a quilt, you may also be changing the proportions of the elements in relationship to one another. Sketch your ideas on graph paper first to see how the changes will affect the finished size and appearance of your quilt.
Sometimes you may not have the right number of blocks to complete a quilt center. If the quilt top will be too large because there are too many blocks, try rearranging the block layout. Or, eliminate blocks by changing the number of blocks in a row or the number of rows.
If removing blocks makes the quilt top too small, regain some of the inches by adding sashing between rows. If reducing the number of blocks is not an option, consider using narrower sashing.
If the quilt top will be too small because you don’t have enough blocks, make more blocks, or add setting squares to spread out the blocks you have. Add or increase the width of the sashing between blocks, or try a diagonal (on point) block layout.
If you’re still in the planning stages, consider changing the finished size of the blocks.
If you decide to alter the finished size by adjusting the border, consider not only reducing or enlarging the border width, but also creating an additional border. Again, keep the proportion of the borders to the finished quilt in mind.