One of my favorite quilts to make is a lap quilt. Perfect for chilly nights in front of the TV, they are a quick and easy project. Especially for beginner quilters. But, how big should they be? Is everyone’s lap the same size? Is there a complete guide to lap quilt sizes?
A lap quilt is a small quilt designed to fit over the lap and lower body. Traditionally lap quilts are larger than baby quilts but smaller than throw quilts. Originally they would have been square and about 45×45 inches. Modern versions of lap quilts can come in various styles, shapes, and sizes.
In this complete guide to lap quilt sizes, we’ll look at what lap quilts are and how they are used. We’ll show you how to make one and how much fabric you’ll need. Read on to find out more in our complete guide to lap quilt sizes.
- What Is a Lap Quilt?
- What Size Is a Lap Quilt?
- Lap Quilt Size Chart
- What Is the Standard Size of a Lap Quilt?
- Wheelchair Lap Blanket Size
- Lap Quilt vs Throw Quilt: What’s the Difference?
- How to Make a Lap Quilt
- How Many Squares Make a Lap Quilt?
- How Much Fabric Does a Lap Quilt Take?
- Can You Use Fat Quarters to Make a Lap Quilt?
- What Is the Best Size for a Lap Quilt?
What Is a Lap Quilt?
A lap quilt is a quilted blanket for covering the lap and lower legs when you’re sitting down. As it can get cold when you sit still for long periods, a lap quilt will stop your lower body from getting too chilly.
Lap quilts are associated with seniors and wheelchair users. This is because these two groups of people are less active and more likely to get colder quicker. Lap quilts come in different shapes, sizes, and styles and can be used by anyone.
Whether you’re relaxing in front of the TV or sitting on bleachers or benches watching a ball game, a lap quilt is just what you need to keep you warm and cozy. They are great for rides in horse-drawn open carriages too! You can use a lap quilt for the same reasons you would use a blanket.
What Size Is a Lap Quilt?
When it comes to size, a lap quilt is designed to be big enough to fit over one person’s lap. As a comparison, throw quilts and bed quilts tend to be bigger and can cover two people. The actual size depends on the main use of the lap quilt.
It can be confusing when thinking about the sizes of various quilt options. To make the task of identifying a lap quilt from a crib quilt easier, we’ve put together a handy quilt size chart.
Contained within the chart are the average dimensions for each different type of quilt. We’ve also included a brief description to explain their different functions.
Hopefully, seeing the size variations side by side should help you visualize each quilt type. So you will be able to tell at a glance what kind of quilt you are looking at.
|Type of Quilt||Purpose||Inches||Centimeters|
|Baby Quilt||Suitable for newborns or small babies and small cribs||30x40||76x101|
|Crib Quilt||Suitable size for larger babies and bigger cots or cribs||36x52||91x132|
|Lap Quilt||Suitable for use in chairs to cover one person’s lap and legs||45x45||114x114|
|Throw Quilt||Suitable for throwing over a couch and covering more than one person||50x65||127x165|
|Twin Quilt||Suitable for twin beds and use as a throw quilt||70x90||178x229|
|Double Quilt||Suitable for double beds and use as a large throw quilt||85x108||216x274|
|Queen Quilt||Suitable for a queen-sized bed or as a large throw quilt||90x108||229x274|
|King Quilt||Suitable for a king-sized bed or extra large throw quilt||110x108||279x274|
Lap Quilt Size Chart
As previously mentioned, lap quilts can come in all shapes and sizes. The size you go for depends on the purpose you have in mind for your quilt.
In this next chart, we’ve put together a few of the more popular sizes for a lap quilt. We’ve also included examples of how each size can be used. This is a guideline to make your lap quilt bigger or smaller depending on your individual needs.
The chart only covers regular-shaped lap quilts. For irregular shapes or circles, you may find your lap quilt will have different dimensions to the ones listed.
|Lap Quilt Size||Purpose||Inches||Centimeters|
|Small||Wheelchairs||Width range 30-36|
Length range 40-48
|Width range 76-91
Length range 101-122
|Medium||Average people||Width range 33-50|
Length range 45-60
|Width range 84-127
Length range 114-152
|Large||Tall people||Width range 40-54|
Length range 45-72
|Width range 101-137
Length range 114-183
What Is the Standard Size of a Lap Quilt?
A standard lap quilt is usually a 45-inch by 45-inch square. This is considered to be the traditional shape and size. However, lap quilts don’t have to be square, nor do they have to be small. They can be any size and shaped like a triangle if you want them to be.
Wheelchair lap quilts, for instance, tend to be on the smaller side. Measuring about 36 inches x 45 inches, they are designed to fit a wheelchair but stay out of the way of the wheels.
Lap quilts for taller people can be 45 inches by 60 inches. In this situation, the extra length is needed to ensure full coverage of the legs.
A lap quilt can vary in size from 40 – 50 inches wide and 45 – 72 inches in length. It does depend on the recipient of the quilt and the purpose for which it is being made.
Wheelchair Lap Blanket Size
A wheelchair lap blanket needs to cover the user’s lap and legs. It can get very chilly sitting in a wheelchair, especially in wintery weather. The lap blanket also has to fit the wheelchair. Because of this, wheelchair lap blankets tend to be smaller than standard lap blankets or quilts.
The ideal size for wheelchair blankets is around 30 inches x 48 inches. As with other lap quilts, the actual dimensions will depend on the size of the person and the width of the chair.
It will also depend on the style of the lap quilt. Not all wheelchair blankets are square. Some are designed specifically for the recipient and customized to their likes and personality. It’s not unusual to see lap quilts shaped as Minions from Despicable Me, or maybe a dog. Or maybe even a quilt shaped like a cat.
Lap Quilt vs Throw Quilt: What’s the Difference?
There isn’t much of a difference between lap quilts and throw quilts. The terms are interchangeable as both quilt styles tend to be used for the same thing. As many lap quilts are nearly the same size as throw quilts, either one can be used to cover laps and legs. Or as a throw for a couch.
It’s usually the quilt maker that calls them either lap or throw quilts. They choose between the two based on their preferred intention for the quilt. The thing is, once you give a quilt to the person you made it for, they’ll use it for whatever purpose suits them best.
While the maker may have imagined the quilt as a throw, the recipient may prefer to use it as a lap quilt. This is why there is so much bewilderment over whether it’s a lap or throw quilt. To add further to the confusion, the user might only refer to it as a quilt.
The truth of the matter is, technically, the only difference between a throw and a lap quilt is the size. So let’s take a look at each one in detail.
A throw quilt is traditionally larger than a lap quilt. They are designed to be thrown over couches and can cover more than one person. Due to their size, a throw quilt can also be used as an extra cover for a twin bed, albeit without any overhang at the sides.
The average size for a throw quilt is around 54 inches x 64 inches. Although, this isn’t set in stone. Just like lap quilts, throw quilts can be any size you like. Their size can range from 50 inches wide up to 65 inches in length and every combination in between.
There’s no stopping there either. If you want to, you can make a throw quilt the same size as a quilt for a king-size bed. That’s a whopping 110 inches by 108 inches of throw quilt to snuggle up under on the couch.
Due to their name, lap quilts are associated with laps and covering the lower body. Because of this, they are considered to be smaller than throw quilts. To a certain extent, this is true. Lap quilts are designed to cover the lap of one person. They are also intended for use in a chair.
As their main purpose is to cover a person while sitting, lap quilts have an addition you may not find on a throw quilt. Some of them have large pockets on the front. This is for a book, TV remote, or to store your glasses. Lap quilts are designed to keep a sitting person comfortable and warm. With everything, they need in easy reach.
A popular size for a lap quilt is a 45-inch x 45-inch square. This will cover most laps and lower bodies. However, people come in different sizes and have different opinions on how large a quilt should be. Some prefer their quilts to be longer or wider. Others prefer their quilts to be smaller, so they take up less room when not in use.
Because of this, lap quilt sizes can cover a range of dimensions from a tiny 30-inch width to a huge length of 72 inches. Which puts lap quilts in the same size category as some throw quilts.
At the end of the day, whether you call it a lap quilt or a throw quilt is up to you. Both are equally good at doing both jobs. The rule of thumb is if it’s smaller, it’s most likely a lap quilt. But it doesn’t matter. Call it a lap or throw quilt. It makes no difference to the cozy feeling of warmth you’ll get from it.
How to Make a Lap Quilt
The first step in making your own lap quilt is to find a pattern. Particularly if you are a beginner, a pattern will tell you how much fabric you will need. It will also let you know the finished project’s overall size.
You can find patterns online for free or you can purchase them from quilting stores. There are also quilting magazines with beginner-friendly and more advanced projects to follow.
Alternatively, you can follow our step-by-step guide to creating a basic lap quilt from rows of squares. You can purchase pre-cut squares called Charm Packs for this. A Charm Pack is a set of at least 42 individual 5-inch squares.
The LadyBird Charm Pack from Moda Fabrics would make a bright and cheerful quilt. But you can choose your own color combinations for this project and make the quilt as big or as small as you like.
You will need:
- 2 x Charm Packs
- Backing fabric
- 2-inch wide double fold bias binding
Decide how big you want your lap quilt. For example, for a lap quilt measuring 45 inches x 45 inches, you’ll need to use 81 squares measuring 5 inches x 5 inches. The math for this is simple. We know the square is 5 inches, so we divide the preferred width of 45 inches by 5. This gives us 9 squares.
Dividing the length of 45 inches by 5 also gives 9 squares. Multiply 9 x 9 to get the total number of squares you will need.
Sew 9 squares together in a row using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowance on the back to go towards your darker fabrics. This will stop the seam allowance from showing through on the front. Repeat this step until you have 9 rows of 9 squares.
Sew the rows together to make a large square. Again, use a 1/4 inch seam allowance and press the seams towards the darker fabrics. You should now have a completed quilt top. Please note, the seam allowance will have shortened the length and width of the Charm Pack squares slightly. So your quilt will be slightly smaller than 45 inches x 45 inches.
Cut your backing fabric and batting at least two inches larger than the size of your quilt top. This will give you an overhang on all sides. Using safety pins, start at the center of your quilt top and pin the three layers together. Smooth out the layers as you pin, so the quilt sandwich stays flat. Use a safety pin every couple of inches all over the quilt.
Quilt the sandwich. You can do this in any way you like, from stitching along the previous seam lines, known as stitching in the ditch, or by using decorative stitches. Whatever way you quilt it, always start in the middle and work your way out. This helps keep the bulk moving out towards the edges of the quilt.
Once you are happy the quilting is finished, you’re ready to bind the edges. Trim off the excess batting and backing fabric and bind the edges of the quilt with the bias binding.
How Many Squares Make a Lap Quilt?
The number of squares in a lap quilt depends on the size of the quilt you are making. It also depends on the size of the squares you are using.
For instance, if you are using 10-inch squares, you’ll need less of them to make a 45-inch x 45-inch lap quilt. You’ll be looking at using a minimum of 4 squares per row. This lap quilt is a square, so its length would also need 4 squares.
Using 10-inch squares means you would need to multiply 4 x 4, meaning you would need 16 squares. Remember to cut your squares at least half an inch bigger than you need to allow for seams.
A quilt block known as the 9 Patch is a larger square made up of 9 smaller squares. For this example, let’s assume the overall block is a 12-inch square. The 9 Patch pattern is 3 rows of 3 squares. To make a 12-inch block, the smaller squares inside it need to measure 4 inches.
For a 45 inch x 45 inch lap quilt, using 12-inch blocks, you will need 4 blocks. Each block contains 9 little squares. So that equals 36 squares per row of blocks.
The length will also need 4 blocks, which makes 16 blocks in total, all made up of 9 little squares. That’s 144 little squares needed to make up the 16 blocks.
For this particular example, you will need to trim the quilt top down slightly to match the 45 inch x 45 inch dimensions. But it’s always better to have more than you need. That way, you’ve got wiggle room for mistakes.
How Much Fabric Does a Lap Quilt Take?
Fabric requirements for lap quilts will vary depending on the size of the quilt you want to make. You also need to consider the design or pattern of the quilt. Then you need to think about whether you want to add sashing or borders to the quilt top.
Sashing is a small border, normally no bigger than an inch wide. It frames each quilt block. A border encases the whole quilt top. Usually, the border is between 2 – 3 inches wide and forms a frame between the binding and the quilt top to make the quilt design stand out. Both sashing and borders are optional, but they both add to the fabric needs if you use them.
When calculating how much fabric your lap quilt will need, don’t forget to include the batting. Batting is the soft, spongy layer that gives the quilt its warmth. It needs to be a minimum of 2 inches wider than your finished quilt top. So too does the backing fabric.
You should also allow for seam allowances for all areas where you are sewing different parts together. This means between blocks, sashing, and even between each square or triangle that makes up a block. There are many things to think about when calculating fabric needs for a lap quilt.
For this example, let’s look at a 45 x 45 inch lap quilt without sashing or borders. Using 3-inch squares, you will need to cut each one at 3.5 inches to allow for seams. A 45-inch quilt needs 15 of the 3.5-inch squares for one row. You need 15 rows to make the quilt top.
Multiply 15 x 3.5 inches to give you the length each row needs to be. It comes out at 52.5 inches. This works out at just under 1.5 yards. Most quilting fabric is between 40-45 inches wide, so round the fabric yardage up to 2 yards to be safe.
Your backing fabric and batting should measure at least 2 inches bigger than your quilt top. This allows for shrinkage as you quilt the layers together. For a lap quilt measuring 45 inches x 45 inches, your backing and batting should be at least 47 inches x 47 inches. Again, this is around a yard and a half, so round it up to 2 yards.
Whenever you are quilting, regardless of the type of quilt you are making, it’s always a good idea to overestimate your fabric needs. That way, you have ample fabric for your project.
Can You Use Fat Quarters to Make a Lap Quilt?
Yes, fat quarters are a particularly useful pre-cut size for quilts of all sizes. In fact, fat quarters were originally designed for quilting. As lap quilts are one of the smaller quilts you can make, they are a perfect size for fat quarters.
A fat quarter measures 18 inches x 22 inches, so it’s cut as a quarter of a yard, only on the generous side. They are especially suitable for lap quilts because their size allows you to purchase lots of different shades or patterns of fabric. You can get creative mixing them up at far less cost than using full yards.
Depending on the size of your lap quilt, you can use as few as 8, or as many as 12 fat quarters to make it. Better still, fat quarters come in packs of coordinating designs, as well as individually. So you can let your imagination run wild.
You’ll find fat quarters are a lot easier to work with too! As they are only slightly bigger than a quarter of a yard, they take up less space on the cutting table. Making cutting out smaller triangles and squares a lot simpler!
What Is the Best Size for a Lap Quilt?
Lap quilts can be made in a range of sizes. The best size for you is the one that suits your needs. If you are making one for a wheelchair user, consider a smaller 36-inch x 45-inch quilt so it stays out of the way of the wheels.
For relaxing in front of the TV in your favorite armchair, why not go bigger? A super cozy 45-inch x 54-inch quilt will cover your lap, your legs and keep your toes toasty too!
There is no right or wrong size when it comes to lap quilts. Whatever size you choose is the best size for you.
Has this article encouraged you to make your own lap quilt? How big will you make it? Let me know in the comments.