Have you ever bought or made what you thought was the perfect quilt, kit or pattern only to find out it is too small for the bed? I know I have… I was so disappointed. Not being one to settle for disappointment, I have found a few different ways to manage this situation.

The first step is to determine what length you really wanted? Typical quilt lengths are

  • Comforter – covers the mattress
  • Coverlet – covers the mattress and box spring, but does not touch the floor
  • Bedspread – reaches the floor

If you were planning on a coverlet or bedspread length, but the quilt is only comforter length, you are in luck. An easy decorator’s solution is to use a coordinating bedspread or dust ruffle to account for the difference.

However, most quilters have perfectionist tendencies. So the decorator’s method won’t suffice – unless of course you are short on time. So the next recommendation is to add more blocks or coordinating borders. Another more labor intensive alternative is to scale up the entire quilt pattern. Scaling up requires quite a bit of math, which is why I would recommend added rather than scaling. This is where your stash comes in handy. If you don’t have anything suitable in your stash – it is a good excuse to go fabric shopping!

How big should the quilt be? I have provided measurements for comforter sized quilts as they are my favorite. The measurements assume a 15 inch mattress, which is twice the depth of the industry standard. This extra depth takes into consideration most pillow tops. However, super deep mattresses could be up to 24 inches! That would be a challenge even for a princess with a pea! If you want a coverlet sized quilt, you will need to add twice the depth of the box spring (BS) to the quilt width (W) and the depth of the box spring to the quilt length (L). The dimensions of the coverlet sized quilt are (2 BS + W) x (BS + L). if you want a bedspread length quilt, you will also need to consider the distance from BS to Floor (F). The dimensions for the bedspread sized quilt are (2 BS + 2 F + W) x (BS + F + L).

The comforter sizes are within the normal batting sizes you can purchase. If you want to make a coverlet or bedspread size quilt, you may need additional batting. When you need a larger batting, you can butt two pieces of batting together and join them with a zigzag stitch. They shouldn’t overlap if you can help it, because it will cause an unplanned bump in the quilt. This technique can also be used for scraps of quilt batting rather than throwing them away…

Quilting should be fun, not frustrating. Using Norm Abrams’ adage, measure twice and but once. This also applies to quilting. Measure your bed (or wall space) twice and plan your quilt accordingly.