October 15, 2007
I get lots of customers into my quilt shop (Long Meadow Farms Quilts in Newport, Vermont) who just love quilts, but don’t have a clue as to how to purchase one. So I’ve become pretty adept at explaining the ins and outs of sizing up a quilt for a particular bed.
Not all beds are created equal…it’s true that all twin bed mattresses are 39 inches wide, and all double bed mattresses are 54 inches wide, and all queen bed mattresses are 60 inches wide, and a standard king bed mattress is 76 to 78 inches wide and a california king bed mattress is 72 inches wide, so at face value it seems like choosing a bed quilt should be pretty straight forward, right???
In the old days, all mattresses were approximately 9 inches high, and so were the box springs, so that all together you have about an 18 inch drop on each side of the bed to cover with your quilt or with your quilt and a dust ruffle of some sort over the box spring. Nowadays, mattresses and box springs are anywhere from 11 inches to 17 inches high each, or any sort of combination thereof depending on what type or brand of bed that you have. What does that mean to a purchaser of a Quilt?
It means, that if a particular quilt that you are interested in says it is a “Queen” size, say, just as a for-instance, then does that mean that it is at least 60 inches by 80 inches so that it will sit squarely on top of your mattress with no overlap at all, or does that mean that it is 80 inches by 90 inches so that you’ll have a mere 10 inch overlap on each side and the bottom end, and you have to get pillow shams to cover your pillows or leave them exposed, or just what does that “Queen Size” tag mean?
My advice to any and all customers that are seriously looking into the purchase of a handmade quilt, whether it be hand quilted, machine quilted, or even the bargain basement imported type, is to measure, measure, measure your own bed first.
Start from where you want the quilt to come down to on the side of your bed and measure up the side, across the flat top of the bed and back down the other side until you reach about where you would like your quilt to come. If you want it to look like a blanket and use shams for your pillows, then measure from the head of the bed across the flat part of it down to the foot of the bed and down to where you would like your quilt to come. If you want it to look like a bedspread, then include the coverage it would have to make going over your pillows too! Then, take those written down measurements to the store and start looking for a quilt for your bed. That way, you can estimate in your imagination just where any particular quilt will come down to, just from the measurements listed on the tag of the quilt.
Just remember that you might just end up purchasing a “Full” size quilt to cover your twin bed like a bedspread or you might end up getting a “Queen” size quilt to cover your California King like a blanket.
If you wanted a Queen quilt to cover, say, 90 inches by 94 inches, and you find one that says it is 100 inches by 100 inches, then you will know that it will be 5 inches longer on each of the two sides and 6 inches longer at the bottom of it on your bed, so you can visualize this to see if that is within an acceptable range for the look that you are going for. You will also know that if the tag on said quilt says that it is 80 inches by 90 inches, you can tell right off the bat that it is definitely NOT going to work, as it is too small. And, if for some reason there is NO tag on the quilt, run, not walk away from it unless someone is right there with a tape measure to help you out, because calling something a “Queen” size does not necessarily make it so. And be particular wary of anything that says it is “Twin/Full” or “Full/Queen” or “Queen/King” because you should know that something has to be either “twin” “full” or “queen” or “king” and can’t possibly be both due to the differences in the sizes of the mattresses!!!
Once you’re armed with your measurement, you can go merrily on your way to purchasing a new handmade quilt with confidence that you will know what you are getting when you purchase it, rather than getting a mind boggling surprise later on when you get home and open up your newly purchased jewel for your bed!