Friday, 26 May 2017

Un-squaring Square Quilts

My Beloved's Vineyard (at least I think that's what I'll call it)
I don't like square quilts. Well, actually I don't like square BED quilts, because, after all, the only bed that is more or less square is the king size bed. And most of us don't have one of those. So it's fine to make a square quilt for a king size bed. Square is also fine for a throw quilt. Most of my throw quilts are square. But if you get any bigger than 70", it's really no longer a "throw-sized" quilt then, is it? Just what is an 80" square quilt considered? That's pretty large for a throw, but it certainly wouldn't fit any standard-sized mattress. Here's a table on mattress sizes from The Mattress & Sleep Company


Width x Length
Crib28 x 51"71.1 x 129.5 cm
Half Queen30 x 79 ½"76.2 x 202 cm
Twin/Single38 x 74 ½"96.5 x 189 cm
Twin/Single Extra Long (XL)38 x 79 ½"96.5 x 202 cmAlso known as "Twin Long"
Double/Full53 x 74 ½"134.5 x 189 cmAlso known as "Standard"
Queen RV60 x 74 ½"152.5 x 189 cmCommon in recreational vehicles
Queen60 x 79 ½"152.5 x 202 cm
California King (Western King)172 x 84"183 x 213 cm
King (Eastern King)76 x 79 ½"193 x 202 cmStandard Canadian & American King
Super King285 ½ x 84 ½"217 x 215 cm
Nearly all mattress sizes are rounded up. For example a Twin bed in real-world dimensions is usually 38 x 74" or a Double is 53 x 74". Queen and King are almost always 79 inches long. Most mattresses today are still primarily hand made, which will always lead to variances. Foam mattresses tend to adhere to sizing guidelines more accurately than spring mattresses.
So an 80" square quilt would offer lots of overhang on the sides of a twin bed, a reasonable amount on the sides of a double bed, but insufficient on the ends of either bed. And what about a 90" square quilt - that is definitely not throw-sized! Again, it would have a good overhang on the sides of a queen-sized mattress, but not much on the ends. While I know that a lot of quilt patterns work better with a square design, I just prefer them to actually fit the bed they're made for. A guideline for standard quilt sizes can be found here. Mine tend to fall into the "commercial coverlet" size in this chart, which allows for a generous overhang on all 4 sides. Since most mattresses are now at least 12" deep. my personal preference is to make bed quilts with 15" overhang on all sides. That gives the recipient the option to tuck the quilt in at the bottom and/or tuck it under and over the pillows at the head. 
Double size quilt with generous overhang and pillow tuck
Having said all that, I do find it frustrating when there's a quilt I want to make, but I end up having to figure out how to "un-square" it - how to make it a more appropriate size for a bed. I had to do that with this swoon quilt. It actually called for 9 blocks, for a 90" square quilt. It's from the Craftsy Pre-Cut Piecing Made Simple Class. (Use of this link to purchase the class will give me a commission). I am making this one for my sister, Judy, for her 65th birthday, which was nearly 3 years ago. 😁 And she has a queen-sized bed. 
I think this block is awesome, and I really appreciate all of the work Camille Roskelly into designing and making it "user-friendly," but I didn't want a 90" square quilt. Judy may be short, but her bed isn't, so I didn't want her quilt to be either. Fortunately, I had purchased 2 packs of 12 fat quarters - each block requires 2 different fat quarters - so I had enough to make 12 blocks. I had to play around a little with my math, and ended up with a quilt top approximately 90 x 111". I had to add an extra border on the sides, using up some of the HSTs I made from the flying geese trimmings. 
Swoon quilt on my queen-size bed: generous overhang on 3 sides, plus a pillow tuck on the head end.

This is a large (24") and rather labour-intensive block. On the 6th block, I more-or-less kept track of my time. Not including cutting time, it took me 2 hours. And likely it took me much longer for the first block or two. And the actual cutting is the more labour-intensive part. It's not simple, straightforward cuts. And if your fat quarters are not perfect, you might end up without enough fabric for the Fabric 1 cuts. It's a very tight fit. Fortunately for me, I had 2 fat quarters of each fabric - one I would use as Fabric 1 in one block and the other as Fabric 2 in another block. The Fabric 2 cuts did not require the entire fat quarter, so I was able to take the necessary Fabric 1 cuts from the second fat quarter for at least a couple of the blocks where I ran short. Otherwise, I would have been very frustrated. I ended up cutting all of my fat quarters out together to make sure I had enough of each. 
If you plan on making this quilt, unless you want a scrappy look, I recommend that you use yardage instead of fat quarters. I think it will make the cutting much more efficient and you won't end up running short. 
By the time I finish this quilt, I guestimate it will have taken me at least 50 hours. Even at Alberta's current minimum wage of $12.20/hour, that would be $610 for labour alone. And I think I'm worth more than minimum wage! 
By the way, I'm entering this quilt top in the 2017 Pantone Quilt Challenge. So head on over to No Hats in the House or Bryan House Quilts to check out the entries. 
Here you get to see some of my apple blossoms, along with the quilt.