Quilts That Fit. The Industry Needs An Adjustment

9 years ago

Last week I bought a new mattress for one of our beds.  While the mattress and box springs had seen better times (I had purchased them in 1978!), they - and new bedding - were the only things I had seriously considered replacing in the room.  Until the new items were in the room, and the summer quilt was replaced upon the bed. 

The quilt is coming up short.

Old Quilt, New Mattress

I've been quilting since the early 1980s, starting out with cheater panels that I would hand quilt for my procreating pals.  I graduated to hand piecing bed quilts, cutting templates out of cereal boxes and whip stitching the pieces together.  (Yes, I had a sewing machine.  It scared me! Give me a break!)  If I wasn't working 60 hours a week, or attending night school, I could piece a bed sized quilt in about 6 weeks, and quilt it in about another 6 months.

As I became more obsessed with quilting and conquered my fear of the machine sufficiently to purchase my own long-arm, I made 2 quilts for each imaginable size of bed for our house: twin, full, queen and even a generic king, using industry-based recommendations for size and industry-sized batting for each quilt. I was confident that I could dress our beds for the future. I finished this task about 9 years ago.

In the mid-80s, two major changes to quilting occurred:

#1.  The rotary cutter and mat appeared, speeding up the cutting and piecing process and increasing accuracy.  New designs and techniques flourished for the next decade while quilting exploded as a hobby. Can I get an "A-men" on this!!

#2.  More people decided to purchase queen and king sized beds, making the "standard" designs used up to that time difficult. For several years the "what to do with older quilts that don't fit the bed" discussion flowed.  Some people suggested taking quilts apart and adding extra borders, others suggested quilting a flange to add size, then sewing this to the quilt. I don't think a great solution was ever found.

About 10 years ago, mattress manufacturers started making these "extra deep" mattresses which have become the standard in the US. I'll whisper this quietly to anyone who's made a bed-sized quilt: it's not going to fit the beds of the present and future.  Let that "what to do with quilts that don't fit" argument start up again.

I know you're wondering is it really that big a deal?  Can't people just put a dust ruffle over the box springs and let it be? 

Let's look at that solution.  Using my own quilt and bed:

This is a close-up of the side of the bed. The quilt is 3-4" shy from the top of the dust ruffle, and maybe 5-6" shy of where it should hit on the side of the bed. That means this quilt should be (5" x 2 sides) 8-10" wider. Standard size for a full sized quilt is about 84" wide by 90" long.

I blogged this on A Stitch in Time hoping someone would pick up the conversation and help me out.  I got a bit of "food of thought".. and a little "you should write more about this.." but alas, no solutions.  So I twittered a quilt teacher, quiltcetera, to see what she thought.  She blogged the issue tooCheryl discussed how she's adapted 3 queen sized wedding quilts that are too small for her deeper queen sized bed:

She lays the quilt at an angle to display the work and hide the fact that it doesn't fit the bed.
Quilt on angle
or she folds the quilt in half and uses it to drape along the foot of the mattress.  (yeah, pillows would soften this look a lot):
wrong size solution #2

Either way, they have no problem sleeping under the quilts, but we are still perplexed.

A check of publishers shows that, while they recommend measuring your mattress to determine the correct finished size, the general finished size they are all recommending are based on the old industry standards (in inches):

twin: 72x86
Full:  84x90
Queen: 96x96
King:102 x102 up to 120x120

So fine, when we are making a quilt for our own beds, we can measure the mattress before we begin.  But this won't help when making quilts for raffles, donations or gifts.  How do we subtly ask a newly-engaged "so what is the drop on your mattress?"  My opinion is that publishers, batting suppliers, and other quilt professionals need to come up with new standards.  Something more akin to:

Twin (let's address that tricky college dorm extra-long twin at the same time): 82x96
Full:  106X110
Queen: 110x110
King: 120x120

With all this flipping, angling and folding, I've decided instead to grab a queen sized quilt off another bed.  To my eye, it is too long when placed on the mattress with a dust ruffle, but I think it will work just fine plain:
Full Mattress, Queen Quilt

Debra Roby blogs her creative life at A Stitch in Time and her mundane life at Deb's Daily Distractions .

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