Lap quilts are very popular these days. They are usually made from cotton or wool fabrics and they are often sewn together using a zigzag stitch. The size of the finished quilt depends on how large you want the lap quilt to be.
Lap quilts come in all shapes and sizes, and the size of your quilt depends on what you want to use it for. If you plan to make a lap quilt for yourself then you can choose any size that you like.
However, if you need to make a lap quilting gift for someone else then you will have to consider their size preferences.
If you’re considering making a lap quilt but aren’t sure how big it should be or even where to start with making one, then you’re in luck – this article has all the answers you need!
In this handy guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about lap quilt sizes, as well as how to make your own lap quilt!
What Is A Lap Quilt?
First things first – what exactly is a lap quilt? Well, as you might be able to guess by the name, they are a smaller version of a full-size quilt that is placed on the lap.
They are typically used for someone sitting down, whether in a chair or in a wheelchair. Their smaller size isn’t the only thing that separates them from a regular quilt, however.
They also tend to be more lightweight than a standard quilt, which means that they won’t weigh much at all.
While anyone can enjoy the comfort and warmth of a lap quilt, they are most frequently used by seniors who spend a lot of time sitting down, or for people in wheelchairs that want a bit of extra warmth and protection from the elements.
Their size and relative lightness make them ideal for wheelchair users in particular, as a full-sized quilt would be too large and bulky to comfortably use in a wheelchair.
A Guide To Lap Quilt Sizes
As mentioned previously, there isn’t a single specific size you need to aim for when making your lap quilt. While there are some more standardized sizes for lap quilts, making your own at home means that you don’t really have to worry about the specific size and gives you the freedom to make your lap quilt whatever size suits you best.
Full-sized quilts are typically around 60″ long and 36″ wide, and are made up of many squares arranged into the shape of the quilt.
Lap quilts, however, are a fair bit smaller to make them better suited to being placed on the lap. This means that they are generally between 2/3 and 3/4 of the size of a regular quilt.
Of course, the full size of the quilt is completely up to you, but for a reasonably sized lap quilt you should aim to make it around 42-48″ long and 30-36″ wide.
Chairs (and more specifically wheelchairs) are usually around 25″ wide and 36″ tall – for a lap quilt, a good general rule is to add around 10″ to each dimension of the chair to figure out your quilt size.
The size of the squares doesn’t need to change from a full-sized quilt (which means if you’ve made a quilt before and still have some squares of material, you can reuse these here), but feel free to adjust the size of them and make the squares smaller to fit with the smaller quilt.
Most quilt squares tend to be either 5″x5″ or 6″x6″; the 5″x5″ squares will work fine here, although depending on the final measurements you want your quilt to be it might be an idea to make them smaller (e.g. a 36″x48″ quilt will divide nicely into 4″x4″ squares).
How To Make A Lap Quilt
So now you know what a lap quilt is and the sizes they can come in, it’s time for you to make your own! I’ve made this step-by-step guide to take you through each part of the process, so you can make a lap quilt in no time.
Step 1: Materials
You’ll need a few materials to get started, including fabric, batting, and thread. The exact fabrics you choose will depend entirely on how you plan to finish your quilt; we’ll talk about those later. For now, just focus on getting the basics covered.
This is where you’re going to start. There are lots of different types of fabric available, ranging from pre-cut fabric sheets to fully customizable designs.
If you’re planning on using a pre-made design, then you’ll probably want to buy a full sheet of fabric rather than cut individual pieces.
Batting is basically a thin layer of insulating material which helps keep the warmth inside the quilt while keeping the cold outside.
It also helps prevent the quilt from becoming too hot when it’s used as a blanket. This will be the middle layer of your quilt.
Needle And Thread/Sewing Machine
Which method you use will come down to you, but there are certain benefits to using either (or both). A sewing machine will make assembling the quilt far quicker and easier, while a needle and thread is better for more precise sewing and embroidering.
This is a special type of fabric that will go around the border of your quilt to seal the edges and keep it closed.
Finally, you will also need a tape measure and a pair of fabric scissors.
Step 2: Cut Your Squares
Now you need to cut your fabric into the squares you’ll be using for your quilt. The size and amount of squares you need depend on the size you want your finished quilt to be.
Remember, it’s easier to make your quilt if the dimensions are divisible by the size of the squares – for example, for a 36″x48″ lap quilt you might want to use 108 4″x4″ fabric squares.
Cut these evenly and lay them out so you can check if you’re happy with what the finished product will look like.
Step 3: Sew Your Squares Into Rows
Now it’s time to start sewing your squares together. Start off by sewing the squares into their rows – in my example, you’ll be turning them into 12 separate rows of 9 squares.
The squares won’t be flush with each other, so give around 1/4″ of seam allowance to each row.
You also need to press the seams. Press all the seams open, then fold over the top edge of one square onto itself and press again. Continue doing this until you’ve sewn all of your rows.
Step 4: Sew The Rows Together
Once you’ve sewn your rows and pressed the seams, you now need to sew all the rows together. Start at one end of the quilt and work your way across.
Don’t forget to press your seams beforehand, and be careful to make sure that they are lined up as well as possible – misaligned seams will affect the finished quilt, altering its dimensions and making it look messy.
When you’ve sewn all the rows into one piece, press the seams again. This will make sure that the quilt top lays flat and evenly on top of your batting layer. Now your quilt top is done!
Step 5: Add The Batting And Quilt It
Just having a quilt top won’t keep you that warm, so now you need to add the batting. This should go between the layers of the quilt, forming what is fondly known as a ‘quilt sandwich’.
Once you have added the batting, pin the quilt top to the backing fabric. Then turn the whole thing right side out through the back opening.
Quilt the batting and the quilt top whichever way you like. This is where you can let your creativity take hold, and you can make it as fancy or as simple as you like.
Step 6: Trim And Bind The Quilt
Now it’s time to add the finishing touches. Trim any excess fabric from the edges of the quilt to even it out, being careful not to cut through any of the seams. Then make your binding; do this by measuring the perimeter of the quilt and add 24″ for plenty of extra material.
From here, press the seams of the quilt open and start placing the binding around the outside. You might want to use some glue or pint to hold it in place temporarily as you make your way around the outside.
When you’ve lined up the binding with the edges of your quilt, stitch it in place. This will securely seal the seams of your lap quilt to prevent the batting from moving around or escaping.
Step 7: Decorate!
Your lap quilt is basically finished already and can be used as-is, but a great way to personalize your lap quilt is to decorate it. This could be through some embroidery or other embellishment, or even just something as simple as sewing your name into a corner.
If the lap quilt is going to be a gift, you can add something to make it more personal for the person you’ll be giving it to.
You can even take it a step further and convert the lap quilt into a fidget quilt, with many different decorations designed to occupy the restless hands of someone with dementia, autism, or a similar disorder. The options are endless!
Whether you decide to decorate the lap quilt, congratulations – you’ve made your very own lap quilt!
Lap quilts don’t always get the recognition they deserve, and often take a back seat to their larger counterparts.
With that said, they are a fantastic way to keep yourself warm while sitting down, and are perfect for wheelchair users, seniors, or anyone else that wants to keep themselves warm and comfortable while sitting down.
So now you know a little more about what a lap quilt is, the sizes they come in, and how to make one at home! There is no wrong way to make your lap quilt, and at the end of the day it is your preferences that matter most.
Regardless of how big you want your lap quilt to be and how you want to decorate it, this is a great craft project that I recommend everyone to try at some point in their lives.
Now all you need to do is get started on making your own! Enjoy!