How to make a king-size quilt quicker: 4 strategies

The KING-SIZE quilt. If there’s one thing all quilters can agree on about king-size quilts, it’s this:

They’re big.

Cabin Flowers quilt
“Cabin Flowers” from
English Paper Piecingby Vicki Bellino

No way of getting around it, is there?

But does big have to equal overwhelming, unmanageable, or impossible? No way! In fact, getting to the finish line for a king-size quilt is just like completing any quilt: it’s all about how you plot the journey.

With an efficient plan and a straightforward pattern to focus on, you’ll find that making a king-size quilt can not only be a smooth, streamlined experience; it can be fun and rewarding. And the reward is an especially good one: a great-big-gorgeous quilt to grace the bed!

King-size quilt dimensions? It’s best to measure. King mattress sizes start at about 76″ x 80″ (around 72″ x 84″ for a California king), but that’s just taking the surface area of the mattress into account. If you want your quilt to have a drop on the sides or bottom, measure the distance from the top edge of the mattress to the point of the drop you want and add inches accordingly.

Learn how the four designers below simplified their king-size quilts. Let their beautiful designs inspire you to start a king-size quilt of your own.

 Strategy #1: BIG blocks

Building Blocks quilt
“Building Blocks” from Think Big by Amy Ellis

With pretty 18″ blocks like those shown in “Building Blocks,” speed is guaranteed. Combine large-scale prints with lots of dots in this colorful design—you’ll need to sew only 30 blocks to king-size it. Amy even includes charts for using the same block to make a pillow, baby quilt, throw, and quilts in twin, queen, and king sizes.

See all 10 big-block designs in Think Big >

Strategy #2: Large, showy prints

Sand Dollars quilt
“Sand Dollars” from Bloom Creek Quilts by Vicki Bellino

Sand Dollars quiltIf you’ve never made a king-size quilt before, this may be the one to breeze through first. Machine appliqué or fuse 38 “sand dollar” circles for the center of this seashore-inspired quilt. Then add rounds of big, beautiful borders that show off two coordinating large-scale prints. See the entire quilt at right—no pieced blocks or points to match!

See all 14 projects in Bloom Creek Quilts >

Strategy #3: Easy repeat blocks

Vintage Memories quilt
“Vintage Memories” from Bed and Breakfast Quilts by Mimi Dietrich

Setting Four Patch blocks and squares on point brings lively movement to this deceptively simple quilt. Repeat blocks are easy to chain piece, so you can spend more time playing with color and pattern. Follow Mimi’s lead and go retro with reproduction fabrics in shades of indigo blue, Turkey red, cheddar gold, and double pink—or see where your stash leads you.

See more king-size beauties in Bed and Breakfast Quilts >

Strategy #4: Strips, strips, strips!

Quilts from All about Strips
Clockwise from top left: “Candy Bar Lane,” “Kindred Spirit,” “Good Fortune,” and “Garden Mews” from
All about Strips by Susan Guzman

Starting with strips speeds up the creation of most any quilt. Notice that the quilts above don’t have any triangles. Those large square and rectangle shapes are perfect for showing off a fabric collection you’ve been saving for something truly special. Imagine your precious collection easily stripped and pieced into a king-size bed quilt—talk about oohs and aahs!

See all 15 generously sized quilts in All about Strips >

Scrap Quilts Fit for a QueenKing-size quilts, scrappy style

Prefer a scrappy bed quilt? Create 10 gorgeous bed quilts with scrap master Sally Schneider. Each pattern in Scrap Quilts Fit for a Queen comes with instructions for making it in multiple sizes, from lap to king. Let your scraps shine with Sally’s three strategies for making scrappy blocks, including her liberating “brown-bag” method.

What’s your king-size quilt count? Tell us in the comments!

45 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Zero so far. The largest I have done is queen sized, but then, I’m working with just a little sewing machine and quilt all my own, so….it’s hard to work a large quilt through the throat on mine. (and, none of us has a king size bed, so……) Maybe one day!

    The Reader on February 25, 2015
  • I have personally made about 8 king-size quilts from start to finish, including quilting on my longarm. I have also quilted, bound, and labeled about 20 king-size quilts for other people. They are huge, heavy, and cumbersome b to handle, but some of the most impressive quilts I have worked with, were king-size.

    —Dianna on February 25, 2015
  • I have made 2 for myself and have quilted at least 5 for others. I find the finishing and quilting starts to get too dragged out. I swore off making another one for myself until I saw some of the designs in the featured books. Maybe I could make ONE more "do-able".

    —Colleen on February 25, 2015
  • I am working on my third king size quilt. My first choice is to use repeating blocks. King size quilts are a challenge when it cones to the quilting of them. I like to ‘make it myself’ and choose to rent time on a longarm quilting machine. The only problem i have encountered is that the machine only holds 100″ horizontally. So I try to choose the design to accomodate adding and quilting the side borders to be added after I long arm quilt the center using my sewing machine at home.

    Cheryl Zehms on February 25, 2015
  • Wow – are you kidding? I’ve only made one baby quilt and a few quilted postcards! A king quilt is on my to do list after I’ve had more experience. These are breathtaking!

    —Tanya on February 25, 2015
  • A "Turning Twenty"pattern by Tricia Cribbs is a way to make a fast large quilt. Just recently made 100″ square of various music themed fabric using 25 fat quarters +borders and it took one day of sewing. The cut out is simple & layout is random. Her pattern calls for 20 fat quarters but it is very easily adapted by adding more fat quarters. This works very well for donation quilts made by a group of sewers using a color scheme or topic theme and everyone can sew a couple of blocks then lay them out & take turns in sewing rows together. It goes even faster when several are working on it.

    Dorothy Dishman on February 25, 2015
  • I have made two King size quilts in my lifetime. And one only took about a week and the other a year! The first was more in line with the squares idea spoken about, but the second was set on point. Wow! And a bazillion pieces to boot! I think a bigger pattern next time might be the answer! Or get a smaller bed ;0>

    —Adeline on February 25, 2015
  • I have not made a king size, but I have one in that I’m working on when I have time.

    —Jenelle Boxberger on February 25, 2015
  • I’ve made 5 king quilts. Whenever I see a pattern, I automatically figure out how to make it into a king version because king quilts simply look gorgeous on a big bed.

    —Fran on February 25, 2015
  • I have pieced 2 king and king plus quilts. The first was my first quilt and was a tee shirt quilt with alternating info blocks, all blocks were 16 inches. Second one was a quilt designed and offered free by e-quilter that was selected by my daughter-in-law. It had 3 borders and was backed with a jelly-roll quilt. We first had to add borders and then take some of them off…it was the king plus. Both were machine quilted by a friend as I only have a regular machine. I really enjoyed both quilts as they were labors of love for 2 of my favorite people. Seems my quilts grow and have a life of their own.

    —Becky on February 25, 2015
  • I have only done one for a gift. Couldn’t wait to get it done. I used a pattern with very big blocks so it went pretty fast.

    —Debbie on February 25, 2015
  • I have probably made 40 king sized quilts including a Burgoynne Surrounded of black background and scrappy batiks (using 1.5″ squares for the nine patches!)

    Barbara Winkler on February 25, 2015
  • Never, because I’m intimidated by the size. I do need one; wish the Sand Dollar was a kit.

    —Bunny Ryan on February 25, 2015
  • I have made 14-15 king size quilts, all just using my very basic sewing machine,
    Husquerna Lily. I make a big quilt in sections, usually seven or eight parts, which I finish one at the time. Free-motion-quilting each ready-made part, before I sew them together and makes the framing. Not easy, – much hard work, but I manage. My quilts are beautiful, and I find it very satisfying being able to do this only by help of my old sewing machine!

    —Eva Nygaard on February 25, 2015
  • I have only made one king sized quilt and swore that would be all.
    But seeing all of the beautiful patterns I’m beginning to think I may make one more! I love the Cabin Flowers so much.

    —Bonnie Burrough on February 25, 2015
  • I have made two paper-pieced king quilts. They were made of six inch squares in Civil War reproduction fabric. My only disappointment is that they are too big for me to quilt myself, so I must have them quilted.

    —Kathy Biciocchi on February 25, 2015
  • Great article.

    baby constipation on February 25, 2015
  • Don’t know how many king sized quilts I’ve made over the years, but have just completed a top and have it ready to quilt. Having a frame for my quilt machine that accommodates 120″ is a definite plus. It’s tight but can be done. Our king quilts have to be made wider than they are long. Not all king beds are not equal. Such a huge variance in sizes.

    —Cindy on February 25, 2015
  • I’m working on my 6th king size quilt. I’ve only started making quilts 3yrs. ago. Three of them were a block a month kits. And the others are from patterns I got online.
    I have a friend of mine long arm them. But I do everything else myself. One day I hope to machine quilt my own quilts.

    Linda on February 25, 2015
  • I am working on my sixth king sized quilt for my sons wedding in June. I don’t mind the piecing but I tend to procrastinate on the quilting; just because logistically it is more difficult to do. I have several family members with king sized beds.

    —Jeni on February 25, 2015
  • I made a king-sized quilt after making only a couple of smaller quilts. I wanted one for my bed that would hang down to the floor and hide the covers that keep us warm. It was a Giant Dahlia which is appliqued in the center of the quilt. Then I chose a couple of borders to add interest to it and quilted it on my home sewing machine. I started in the middle and moved to the edges and it wasn’t that hard. I just patiently kept going and got it done. Then I bound it a put it on the bed. I think it is prettier than some of the quilts and comforters that are available in stores.

    —wanda on February 25, 2015
  • Two King size. Love the blue and brown first quilt.

    —Linda Christianson on February 25, 2015
  • Making a king size top is not a problem, it’s quilting one! I’ve finished six, including four for soldiers. When I made one for my nephew in the Army, he requested that I make one for each of his "guys". When I asked how many guys there were and he said twelve, I said no, just one for him. Twelve? Ugh!

    —JoAnne T. on February 25, 2015
  • Zero. I have made lots of queen sized though. Now that I have a sewing machine with a deeper throat, it’s much easier to quilt them too! And I love my stitch regulator too! Makes it much more enjoyable.

    —Sara on February 25, 2015
  • I’ve made about 4 King size quilts. Here in Queensland, Australia, you don’t so much want extra warmth as extra coverage during the (so called) winter. I usually add a few extra blocks to get the side drop that ensures a good twist and turn during dream-time without loss of quilt coverage 😀

    My first was an English Paper Pieced stars and hexagon quilt that I put on my bed every winter. It has three borders and the first one was hand appliqued because I couldn’t bear the idea of cutting off any of my EPP edges! There are only three lines of machine stitching: attaching the second border to the first, the third to the second and the binding. I love it to bits!

    —Kayt Deans on February 25, 2015
  • Never made a king size because those I’ve given only needed queen or smaller (and I use a sewing machine for quilting the layers!)

    —Marty on February 25, 2015
  • I have pieced 8 king size quilts, had them professionally quilted then I bound them. The second quilt I made was a king size quilt for my daughter. I have only been quilting for 8 years and average 10 quilts a year.

    —Connie on February 25, 2015
  • six with number 7 in the works …. whooo hooooo …lol…

    —Tonie Peterson on February 25, 2015
  • Have not made a King-size Quilt…yet! lol Made a Queen tho…but a friend quilted it…I haven’t done FMQ stuff yet…

    —Lori Morton on February 25, 2015
  • I have only done 2. The first was about 3 years ago and had my mom help me get it finished off. This last one i did for my youngest sister and her husband for their wedding gift! They got married last june but due to a lot going on i did not even draw it out until aug and cut it out the end of oct. I pieced it in dec then quilted it in jan binding was done the first week of feb and she got it on the 5th of feb this year. The reason it took so long is because i do everything by hand, i do not use or even have a machine! If i would have sat down and worked on it 8hrs a day everyday i could have had it done in about 2 months but since i have other things going on i work on my hand piecing and quilting at night watching tv! I usually do lap quilts but i decided to do this for them. The only issue i had was using a hoop to quilt instead of a frame but a king size is so big my wheelchair would not be able to get around the frame in any room so the hoop had to work! I think though i will probably stick to my lap and baby quilts from now on until i find exactly what i want for our kingsize bed (that could take a while )LOL!!!!

    —Jody Keller on February 25, 2015
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    —Rita s on February 26, 2015
  • I have not made a king sized quilt yet. I do want to since our bed is a king. I definitely knew I wanted long drops on all sides too because I don’t like seeing a nicely made bed with a pretty quilt and then be able to see the box spring. Of course, that means an even larger quilt and a lot more work so this book is definitely one I need to check out.

    —VickiT on February 26, 2015
  • I made one, but I would add quilt-as-you-go as another strategy.

    —Bro AJK on February 27, 2015
  • I have made at least 10 king size quilts but quilted none. I usually send my biggest quilts out to be quilted by a long arm quilter as I find getting the quilt to move under the machine to be the biggest hurdle. I have started another king and am quilting as I go which seems to be a better option for my machine and I. I would also like to try a machine embroidered quilt but I haven’t decided whether to make a big quilt or a smaller one.

    —Ginger on February 27, 2015
  • What fun, you’ve included 2 of my favorite authors, sally Schneider and Mimi Dietrich. I’ve made only 1 king quilt, when my son and his wife bought a California King to replace their water bed, but I’ve made numerous queen quilts and quilted them myself, first on a standard Bernina, then on a longer-throat Janome. The longer throat makes all the difference in quilting large quilts!

    —Glenna Denman on February 27, 2015
  • I’m not sure but about a dozen I guess. As I’m a longarm quilter the size doesn’t daunt me but it can sometimes be difficult to choose a block or design for such a big quilt especially if the recipient wants something modern. Love the log cabin colours but ‘Think Big’ is wonderfully colourful.

    Deborah on February 27, 2015
  • I made one for my son and his bride. I used the T block arranged so that more T’s were formed by juxtaposing sides. 100 blocks and multiple borders made it 108″ square. And I hand quilted it as well!
    The second was appliqued tulips that I comissioned for my mother. Someone made the central 16 blocks, I put them together with sashing, made the appliqued border, marked it, and sent it to the senior center to be hand quilted. Then I trimmed it and added the binding and a label.
    Both were a labor of love. Mom and Dad are enjoying their new quilt at age 89.

    —Linda Towers on March 1, 2015
  • I’ve never made a king size quilt. But I love the big block queen size quilt. I can definitely see making it in those gorgeous summery colors.

    —Michele Fetter on March 5, 2015
  • I am very new to quilting (I’m a knitter and crocet-er) 😉
    I pieced the top of a quilt I designed when I was 20 something (20 something years ago). I look back at how headstrong I was to make my own design I had zero quilting skills and as I look at the quilt top now, no clue on what a seam allowance is. I’ve finished the top last week and took measurements, it’s an off sized king. So I bought boarder fabric and backing, and there was a great sale on batting. So now I plan on conquering this mountain too. I just cringe when I think about how uneven the quilt is and fear that my mess up my final result. I’m looking forward to quilting it on my machine though… fun!!

    Natasha on July 31, 2015
  • Since our bed is king size and the guest bed a queen, all the quilts I make are king or queen size. Unless it’s
    for a gift. I can’t even guess how many of each. I’m very fortunate in that I make the tops and my husband quilts them on the long arm machine. He’s very talented and can do any pattern or whatever my brain comes up with.
    I love making the tops but don’t care for the quilting process.

    —Nancy Souders on October 2, 2015
  • My favorite quilt of hers that I use on these cold Pennsylvania reminds me of her – I can still see her in her dress fabrics used in the quilt.

    quilting tees on October 29, 2015
  • Hi,
    I am a beginner quilter with a great mentor that walked me through my first queen size signature quilt which I presented to my daughter and her husband as their wedding gift. It did involve my buying a better quality sewing machine that allowed me to quilt on it so is why now I am ready to try another. I absolutely love the "sand dollar quilt" and wish that is was in a kit just like another person mentioned on here. Is there any chance of that happening? Love all the suggestions and feedback.

    Hi Char, congratulations on your first queen-size quilt, how lovely! We aren’t aware of a kit for the Sand Dollar quilt, but you could contact author Vicki Bellino to be sure – her website is Thanks for your question! –Jenny

    —Char on January 29, 2016
  • Call me crazy but I want to make a strip quilt bedspread for my split King size bed. This will be my first try at anything like this. Not sure how much material to buy. I just saw an ad for JoAnn’s that has some colors of fabric that I live. If I choose just 3 colors how would I go about doing that in strips and machine quiliting down and then across?

    —Donna Hill on February 20, 2016
  • I made one king size quilt that now resides at my sister’s house. When I finished it, I was tired of the fabric and colors. So I gave it to her. It was a batik quilt in lime green and blues and it turned out really nice. She loves it! I need one for my bed. I would love the Browns and blues in the English paper piecing! In fact, I purchased the book just for that quilt!

    —Danette Roundy on February 23, 2016
  • I havent done a single quilt in my life, I am afraid of a baby quilt but a king sized one would be either a dream come true or a nightmare.

    —Yad on May 3, 2016

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