I've been noticing an interesting thing about patterns in my quilt magazines. Fewer and fewer of them are actually bed size. I was thinking about this while machine sewing bindings today. The binding process has gotten away from me and I'm trying to catch up this weekend, so I'm doing the machine part today. Three down, four to go. Two queen size, one full size, one crib, one lap quilt, two wall quilts. In the past, the whole pile would have been queen size quilts, because I felt that if it was worth making, it was worth making large enough to sleep under. That was before the closet exploded from overload.
So now I do make smaller quilts, but I still produce bed-size designs - and by bed-size, I mean large enough for me, my husband and the cat. It's amazing how much the addition of that twelve pound cat changes things.
But, I digress. I pulled out four recent quilt magazines that I like and tallied up the quilt designs which were obviously not table mats or crib quilts - my criterion was to toss any quilt narrower than a width of fabric out of the count. Then I tallied the size distributions. If a quilt was larger than the top of a queen size mattress, 60 x 80, I begrudgingly considered it a bed size quilt although it would hardly be adequate for the average two adults, never mind any companion animal presences.
The results? 21 small quilts, 14 bed quilts. And the bed quilts were often pretty small - 81 x 89, 74 x 92, 65 x 91, 76 x 88, 73 x 82. Why so small? What are these quilts used for? Are they used at all?
My paternal grandmother pieced quilt tops, although she was not a domestic sort of person. I guess it was just a way to pass the time. During her life, I think she hired the hand quilting done. She left a drawer of quilt tops which Mom sent to a lady named Mrs. Abshire to machine quilt around 1960. These were the quilts the family slept under, although "under" might be an overstatement. She made her bed quilts barely bigger than the top of a full size bed. Mom always marveled at the size of the quilts since neither my grandmother or grandfather were short or narrow people.
But many old quilts are small. Perhaps it was because of the scarcity of fabric, or the lack of time, or just because many people in the past were smaller than we are now. But that doesn't explain why new designs are 55 inches square or 60 inches square or 54 x 62 inches. These are obviously never intended to grace a bed. Are they all for wall hangings? To drape over couch backs? To cover up while watching TV?
The practical person inside me wants them to be at least big enough to use on a full size bed. I've never been the art quilt type. Quilts were the perfect merging of beauty and function, and without the function intrinsically lost in their worth. I still make some wall quilts, but the word quilt conjures up a patchwork bed covering.
So, do you make your quilts large enough to sleep under? Do you make small quilts? What are your criteria for a quilt?