How Many Quilt Blocks Do I Need For...

...the no math way! ~ Don't you just LOVE cheat sheets?!!

This post contains affiliate links for which I receive compensation.


"How many quilt blocks do I need to make a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ size quilt?" is perhaps the most frequently asked question submitted by readers of this website.

We're going to make it simple for you. Choose a size. Then download and print the answer. The math's already done!

To use these cheat sheets effectively, you need to know the basics:

  • Is my mattress the standard size?
  • What is the depth of my mattress?
  • Do the drops listed cover my mattress the way I want them to?

If you answer yes to all, please continue.

On this page you'll find cheat sheets for seven standard mattress sizes along with instructions how to read the charts.

Let's get started.


Chart Basics: Straight Sets


At this time, the cheat sheets are for blocks set edge-to-edge in straight rows and columns.

Each bed size has its own 3-page cheat sheet, labelled at the top with the name and standard mattress dimensions.

Dimensions and required blocks are computed for three different  types:

  • A coverlet, short 13” drop on three sides, no pillow tuck
  • A coverlet, 16” drop on three sides, with a pillow tuck
  • A bedspread with a 21” drop on three sides, with a pillow tuck

The Finished Block Size is in the far-left column. This is the finished size of the blocks you are making.

The lines highlighted in blue (or gray if you printed in black and white) indicate how many blocks you need of a specific finished size.

The un-highlighted row directly beneath contains the actual dimensions using that layout and number of blocks—not including binding.


How the results are calculated

You could use a calculator to determine how many quilt blocks you need

All the numbers and dimensions in our "How Many Quilt Blocks" cheat sheets could be computed right on your calculator...

...probably even your phone.

But isn't it nice, when you've got a wild hair and it's 11:35pm, not to have to drag out the old calculator and do some math?

That's what I thought!


Here' what the numbers mean

How many quilt blocks you need for each row and column in your patchwork is calculated as the quilt dimension (the number at the top of the column) divided by the Finished Block Size.

For a twin size, 65" wide, made with 4” blocks the math is:

65 ÷ 4 = 16.25

Since we only make whole blocks and want our patchwork to be at least 65” wide, we round up to 17 blocks (red arrow below).

Repeat for the length of 88" or 88 ÷ 4 = 22—no rounding needed because the numbers divided evenly.

Circled in purple below is the Total Number of Blocks you'll need for a Twin, 13" drop made with 4" finished blocks. The math is:

17 blocks x 22 blocks = 374 blocks

Using the 'How many quilt blocks' chartsThe is the first page from the Twin/Single download. The arrows point to the examples in the above paragraphs.

Underneath those blue(gray) highlighted rows are the resulting  dimensions.

These are calculated by multiplying the # of blocks in the previous blue line by the corresponding Finished Block Size.

EXAMPLE: If the Finished Block Size is 1-1/2” and the blue highlighted numbers are ‘44 x 59’, the calculations are:

44 x 1 ½” = 66” (blue arrow above)

59 x 1 ½” = 88 ½” (green arrow above)

The patchwork measures 66” x 88-1/2” before binding

Again, you can do these calculations on your calculator, but it sure is nice to have the work done for you or as a quick double-check, isn't it!


Using the "How many quilt blocks" cheat sheets


EXAMPLE: Assume you want to make a twin with 6” blocks set in straight rows and columns with no sashing. You’ve decided that a 16” drop best fits your bed.

These are the steps to follow.

  • On the ‘Twin/Single’ chart, locate 6” under the Finished Block Size column.
  • Follow the blue line across to the right until you are under ‘Coverlet (16” drop) (red arrows below). You'll need a 12 x 17 layout or a total of 204 blocks (green arrow below).
  • Move down one line. The dimensions for a 12 x 17 layout are 72” x 102” --just a wee bit bigger than a store-bought coverlet (71” x 101”).
Finding how many quilt blocks you need


What the cheat sheets CAN'T take into consideration


Shrinkage.

That means shrinkage from washing your patchwork—and if it’s a bed quilt at some point it will get washed. Cotton batting and fabric can both shrink, especially if they’re not pretreated.

It also means shrinkage from quilting. Heavily quilted quilts tend to pull in and get smaller as more stitching is added.

Some prewash their fabric but not their batting and vice versa. Some fabrics (higher thread count, in particular, like batiks) don’t shrinkage as much as cotton quilting fabric.

[Learn more about prewashing here and here.]


What this means for you, the Quiltmaker


If the size you’ve chosen just barely covers the mattress, and covering the mattress is important to you, consider adding a block to each row or column for insurance.

In our example, instead of 12 x 17 blocks, you'd use 13 x 18 blocks, measuring 78” x 108” with a total of 234 blocks.

Another option is to add an outer border, sashing or possibly wider binding.

The final option is to do the calculations yourself. Use this worksheet, “Worksheet for Calculating Bed Quilt Sizes“ as a guide. 


Download and/or Print the "How many quilt blocks?" charts


Download the charts just below

All the charts in this group are for:

  • Straight set quilts with their blocks set edge-to-edge, no sashing (there are plans to add charts for blocks set on-point in the next month or two)
  • Binding is not included in the finished sizes
  • All the charts should be printed in Landscape orientation, the instructions should be printed in Portrait
  • There is room to 3-hole punch the pages to keep them handy in your quilting notebook.

Click any one or some or all of the links below to print the chart(s) of your choice. The standard mattress size is in parentheses.

If you haven't already, you may want to go to Standard Quilt Sizes and print that chart for your files, too! It contains sizes for pre-packaged batts.

Do you find these 'How Many Quilt Blocks?' cheat sheets helpful? Please let me know in the FB comments below.

Thank you!

Julie



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