Miniature Quilts

The American Quilt Society defines a miniature quilt as one that is no more than twenty four inches in width and length and in which all the aspects are reduced in scale. A small quilt is not a miniature. Blocks that are for instance, six inches square, though small, couldn’t be used for a miniature quilt, since a set three by three would produce a quilt that’s not in scale because a large quilt would use more than a nine block set.

Miniature quilts have become popular for a number of different reasons. They require a small investment of both brown minimaterials and time. They use less fabric and can be finished in less time. They are decorative pieces that can be framed and displayed as wall art. They can also be used as doll-house accessories or displayed on a doll bed. They provide a sense of accomplishment, since all the steps required to design and complete a large quilt or wallhanging are involved, yet they can be finished in one quilting session. There is plenty of literature and web pages for inspiration and patterns.

New cutting and piecing techniques can be applied to making miniature quilts, making them fairly easy to sew. Any quilt pattern that can be made in a large size can be translated into a miniature quilt. The most important thing to remember when planning a miniature is scale. A miniature quilt is not a quilt block with borders, but a quilt with all the components of their large counterpart, just scaled down. It is helpful to understand the concept of scale. If a large quilt block is twelve inches, and you want to work in a 1:12 scale, the block needs to be sized down to an inch. Therefore, all the elements in the quilt top need to be scaled as well, as lattices, borders and binding. Other scales used to make miniature quilts are ½ and ¼. In these cases, the size of the actual large quilt would be divided in half or a quarter.

Rethinking techniques, batting and fabric

A miniature quilt will have very small pieces, since blocks are small as well. Small print fabric and solids will work best for this type of quilts. A large print will get “lost”, even when used in a border that might only be one or two inches wide.
Another important consideration is batting. Regular batting, even low loft might render a quilt that is too puffy. March 2006 001Sometimes batting can be divided into layers to reduce the loft, or instead of cotton batting, flannel can be used as wadding. Some quilters prefer not to use any batting at all and just quilt the top and backing with a layer of muslin or another fabric between, to avoid thread shadowing.
Piecing or appliqueing small blocks can be challenging, but not impossible. Whenever possible, paper piecing can be used to piece blocks or parts of blocks for accuracy. Appliqué can be fused and details can be embroidered onto fabric (such as vines and small leaves in floral appliqué blocks). Sometimes appliqué can be used instead of piecing, as in the case of blocks with curved pieces like a Drunkards’ Path. It would be easier to appliqué the convex piece to a base square than to try to sew a curved seam when the block is very small. Preparing round pieces for a miniature appliqué project might become easier by using a very small metal washer as a base to baste around the fabric circle and using the washer to hold the circular shape while pressing with a hot iron.
Another point to remember is to, as much as possible, grade the seams in the blocks to make the blocks less stiff and easier to quilt if quilting by hand. Grade seams as you go, if you are machine piecing or when the block or the quilt top is finished if you are appliqueing or hand piecing. Seams can be trimmed down to 1/8 inch, since miniature quilts are made to be displayed and won’t require much, if any laundering.

Simple patterns, such as a Nine Patch or Log Cabin and other one-patch block patterns are good and suitable choices for travelbug1.0a first mini quilt. An easy patchwork pattern will give you a feel for working in scale and, just as when picking a pattern for a first attempt at patchwork in large quilts, fewer pieces in a block make it for an easier experience for a beginner. Another good option is Grandmother’s Flower Garden, using paper hexagons. Small quarter or half inch hexagons can be basted onto paper easily enough and whip-stitched together fast.
Even when it comes to quilting the top’s surface, less complicated quilting designs are the best choice, since there will be little space and lots of seams to contend with. Straight lines, clamshell designs, any simple, uncomplicated design is best for this type of quilt.



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