Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

One of the best parts about quiltmaking is finally putting those quilts to use, especially a nice big, cozy, bed quilt. But the sheer size required for adequately covering a queen or king size bed can be daunting, and it can be intimidating to take on what you know will be a lot of work. But it is so worth it—so, so satisfying to snuggle in and go to sleep under a quilt that you’ve made (the more difficult it was during construction, the better the reward!). If you’re a quilter who has not made a big quilt for your own bed, all of us at McCall’s Quilting would encourage you to at least try it once. Below are a few resources to help you get started.

If you want to get a big quilt on the bed fast, a good idea is to use big blocks. They don’t have to be complicated or have a lot of patches, and once you know the basics of quilt math, you can enlarge just about any block to whatever size you want. A few years ago on the Quilters Newsletter blog, I wrote about enlarging square and rectangular patches in Double Without Trouble, then a bit more about enlarging patches with diagonal seams in Diagonal Double Without Trouble. That information is just as relevant today, so it’s a good place to start learning the basics of re-sizing quilt blocks.

What made a good blog post series turned into a short video! The same ideas are covered in this video from QNNTV, Resizing Quilt Blocks. There’s also an on-demand webinar that you can learn from at your leisure, How to Resize Quilt Blocks with Debra Finan. So however you prefer to absorb information, there are plenty of great options for you to learn about this super-useful concept (and no excuses!).

But, say you don’t really want to do any math. There are lots of great patterns for big bed quilts already ! Lots! Here are just a few of the ones I like personally, all available as digital patterns. Digital patterns are great since you can just download them and start sewing right away. Like Aubergine, for example, is 93″ square.

aubergine Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

Aubergine, designed by Denise Schwartz

Romance is 94″ square.

romance Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

Romance, designed by Kathy Bauer

White Nights is 94″ x 105″.

whitenights Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

White Nights, designed by Rachel Hayes

Set in Stone is one I made and quilted on my home sewing machine, so I know it can be done! It finishes at a nice 100″ square.

setinstone Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

Set In Stone, designed by Gigi Khalsa

And our own Carolyn Beam made Scarlet Sparkle, which measures a whopping 114 3/4″ square!

scarletsparkle Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

Scarlet Sparkle, designed by Carolyn Beam

Kits are another great option for taking a bit of the work out of a big bed quilt. We have more available at Quilt & Sew Shop than I can write about here, but I thought I’d highlight at least one great option—a Double Wedding Ring Quilt that looks right out of the 1930s. The quilt finishes at 92″ x 105″. What makes this kit great is that all the patches are already cut out! You just get to sew them all together! There’s even a video to guide you along the process.

30SDWR Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

1930s Double Wedding Ring, designed by Diane Ide

But there are even more options for bed quilts! We often offer what we call alternate size charts with some patterns we publish. They provide the yardage and number of blocks required to make crib, throw, queen or king size versions of the same pattern, like Nightscape by Eileen Fowler or Wizard’s Chess by Nancy Allen. They are available for free download under the Bonuses tab at the McCalls Quilting website.

It’s helpful to have a general idea for what size quilt your bed will require. Here’s a handy chart; keep in mind that a few inches more or less will probably be fine, but more is usually better!

chart600px Workshop Wednesday: Big Bed Quilts

Mattress and Quilt Size Chart

So once you’ve chosen a pattern and got your quilt top cut and sewn, then it’s got to be quilted. Though some may think it’s impossible, you definitely can quilt a big bed quilt on your home machine. I’ve done it myself a number of times, and yes, it does take a long time, and yes, it can be difficult or frustrating during the process. Manipulating the three layers and moving it around under the small sewing machine arm can be tricky, but its achievable! McCalls Quilting has a list of 10 Tips for Better Machine Quilting if you decide to give it a shot.

If you decide you’d prefer to quilt by check, we’ve also got a free, downloadable pdf for Partnering with Your Long-Arm Quilter for optimal success. Time is one resource that none of us have enough of, so having a professional finish your quilt tops is a perfectly good way to get a quilt done and on the bed.

So, a big bed quilt of your very own is not just possible, but imminent? I hope? We get lots of photos from quilters who have successfully made our patterns, both small and large and in between, and we’d love to see a photo of you (and a helper, because big) holding up a nice big queen size or king size bed quilt you’ve made with a McCalls Quilting or Quick Quilts pattern. Thank you in advance, and Happy Quilting!

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