Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Make a Quilt for Beginners Part 1: Size and Fabric

I made my first quilt last year and I got so frustrated at the lack of information out there being all tied together in one neat post. All I wanted was to learn how to make a quilt from start to finish but everything I found was little snippets here and there. I wanted one blog post or tutorial with pictures that showed me from A-Z how to make a quilt. I found a lot of websites that described how to accomplish this task but I am a visual learner and I need pictures or videos. I turned to Youtube for the majority of the information I needed and some friends that quilt. I decided today that I am going to make my second quilt and I will update my blog as I make the quilt. I will then make one neat blog post with all the information in it that will show you how to make a quilt from A-Z.

Size-So you've decided to make a quilt. So what next? Well you'll need to decide what size quilt you want to make. I am going to make a quilt for a queen size bed. You might be asking yourself how big is that? There are a number of ways to decide how big to make the quilt and a lot of it will be based on your preference. I look at the standard mattress sizes and go from there.

Crib Mattress Size: 28" x 52"
Twin Mattress Size (Single): 39" x 75"
Full Mattress Size (Double): 54" x 75"
Long Twin Mattress Size: 36" x 80"

  • Most beds in college dorms have long twin mattresses
Queen Mattress Size: 60" x 80"
King Mattress: 76" x 80"
California King Mattress Size: 72" x 84"
Since I want a queen size quilt I'll use the 60x80 size but I want the quilt to drop down the sides of the mattress I need to add more length to it. The amount you add will depend on how thick your mattress is and how far you want it to drop. These days mattresses are a lot thicker and people tend to purchase pillow top mattresses which can be up to 16 inches deep. I don't have a specific mattress in mind but I want to make sure that my quilt will fit any queen size bed I put it on. Another thing to keep in mind is if there is a box spring on the bed in question. I personally use dust ruffles since they look nice, they cover the box spring, and they hide things you might want to store under the bed. Therefore I am not concerned about the box spring. Another thing you might want to consider is how big you want your quilt blocks to be. I have decided to make my blocks 10 inches (with the seam allowance they will be 10.5 x 10.5, I'll explain this more later). I'm going to do a simple block quilt since this is the easiest to attempt for a beginner. Here's my first quilt which was also a block quilt:

Since I want my quilt to be about the size of a standard queen size quilt (like the ones they sell at the store), I'm going to make mine larger than 86x93 (see this website). My blocks will be 10x10 so I will need my quilt to be 90x100 (excluding the borders) for that size block to make it easy. Here is a graphical representation:

Right now I am not concerned with the borders since I have decided that the borders will make up any extra length I will need. I'll cover this later. Piecing the blocks together is the longest process in making the quilt.

Fabric- So now that I have decided on a rough quilt size and know how big the blocks will be I can decide what Fabric I want to use and then decide from there how much I need to buy of each fabric. These are the fabrics I have chosen:

I used 's design wall to come up with the different fabrics I wanted (just select the fabric you want and there is a red button that says "Add to Design Wall". A window will pop up with your fabric swatch, continue to add more so you can see if you like how they look together). The easiest way to get coordinating fabric is by selecting fabrics from the same/similar line. All mine but 2 are Amy Butler's Midwest Modern. The other 2 are from Amy Butler's other line Lotus which has mostly been discontinued but you can usually find people selling fabric on Etsy. That's where I got the print in the second photo. My favorite designers so far are Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Michael Miller, and Robert Kaufman. is one of my favorite places to purchase fabric online because they always have great discounts (I saved 20% on the fabric for my quilt), free shipping on orders of $35+ (easy to do if you like to sew and are making a quilt!), they even cut the fabric a little bit bigger than what you request, and the shipping is always fast.

How do I know how much of each fabric to buy? According to the number and size of my blocks I need a total of 90 blocks. I have chosen 18 different prints so I can use each one 5 times (90/18=5). Since all my blocks will be 10 inches I will need 1 yard of each fabric. 1 yard=36 inches. According to the website I purchased my fabric from all the fabric is 45 inches wide. Which means 1 yard of fabric will measure 36x45. I should be able to cut at least five 10x10 blocks (including the seam allowance so 10.5x10.5) out of that fabric (definitely more if I mess up or need it for other projects). I was only able to purchase my fabric by the 1/2 yard. Since a 1/2 yard measures 18 inches across x45 I would not be able to get more than 4 blocks out of it so I went with the 1 yard. I can also use the extra fabric for future projects or to make matching pillowcases.

I just purchased all my fabric today. Now I have to wait for it all to arrive in the mail so I can start the next steps in the process. Stay tuned for Part 2!


  1. I'm so happy you posted this!! I've been thinking of trying to make a quilt for a while but there is really no solid info anywhere thank you!! I'll let you know how it goes! :)

  2. Your welcome! I know how frustrating it can be to not have all the info in one place. Hope this helps!

  3. I'll one up you. I have wanted to make a quilt for forever. However, I know my limitations, so I'll pay one of you to make a quilt when you figure out how. :) See, isn't it a perfect scheme??

  4. LOL Chrystina! I've already made one and this will be my second one. :D If you want to buy the fabric and all that I can make you one this summer ;)

  5. Interesting post. I Have Been wondering about this issue, so thanks for posting. Pretty cool post.It 's really very nice and Useful post.Thanks
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