Thursday, May 28, 2009

Do you sleep under the quilts you make?

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?


paula, the quilter said...

I make LARGE quilts. I am currently working on one that is 120x120. Yes, that large. I also alternate a large quilt with a smaller item just to be able to say I got something done.

momtofatdogs said...

I like to make large QUEEN size quilts. MY standard size is 90 X 100. That fits our bed nicely & covers both of us, even if one turns over. I deliberately buy more fabric than any pattern calls for, just to make it better. How is a 80 X 80 "queen size" quilt supposed to fit a REAL bed anyway??? I have noticed the exact same thing in the magazines too!


Suzan said...

True confession time - I have made a couple of twin sized and one queen size bed quilts. The rest are all either throws just under the size of a twin or wall quilts. I have several wall quilts that are large - about 60x60 and the rest range from about 48" square all the way down to a little one that is maybe 12x24. I have yet to make a quilt for my own bed. I know that is pathetic! I have it cut and partially pieced but something else will catch my eye and off I go!

The Calico Cat said...

Most of the time, I quit when the quilt tells me it is done. My poor long armer has had to trim a top down to fit her machine, so I generally make 'em big! My husband is a 6 footer, so they can't be short, even if they are meant for the couch.

With the baby, I have started to make smaller quilts, but it is so hard for me to limit the number of fabrics/blocks!

Luckily I have recently decided that it is time to start in on the twin sized quilts! (I'll make those long, because he appears to be working on being a tall guy too.)

Elaine Adair said...

Huh - when a blogger asked, "What's on YOUR bed?" I decided to make several nice queen quilts, and have managed 2 recent quilts. But storing them out of season is indeed an issue.

Many/most of the times, I'll just start a quilt with no plan in mind, and see where it takes me. Frequently they end up (as the Calico Quilter says, "When it's done") often about 60 x 80, not too big, but great for naps, not too small. Where they end up? who knows? In my closet.

Morah said...

Yes I sleep under my quilts! But I also go in spurts to make laps, table runners ect. Right now I'm in a crafty sewing mood as opposed to bed sized. However, bedsized quilts are definately in my future!