Miniature Quilts - Beauty in Small Packages!
If you have never made a miniature quilt, why not try one for a change of pace? They are made in the same way as regular sized quilts, but on a smaller scale. While most mini quilts tend to be made into wall hangings, they can also serve as a doll blanket (some people make really tiny scale ones for dollhouses), lap quilts or small throws to match your household furnishings.
I took the photo of the miniature quilt shown to the left when I visited a quilt museum in Washington state a few years back. It is 8 1/2 inches square with pieced, appliqued and embroidery elements. The main background area is pieced, the baskets are appliqued and the flowers were added in silk ribbon embroidery. The details were incredible...I wonder how long it took the quilter to make.
What are Miniature Quilts?
There are different approaches to making small quilts. You can use a reduced number of standard sized blocks to make a smaller lap size quilt or even enlarge a block to make a wall-hanging from a single block.
Other mini quilts are made like traditionally sized quilts but with the block components being substantially smaller in scale. For example, a standard nine-patch block would be made using three inch squares to make a block that finishes up at nine inches square. A miniature nine-patch might be made using one inch blocks with a finished block being 3 inches square. In some cases, the blocks are so reduced in size that the entire miniature quilt may end up being smaller than the original block.
What is important is the finished overall size of the quilt - if a quilt is smaller than 24 inches on a side, it is generally classified as a miniature quilt, but quilt shows and competitions will have specific rules regarding block size and finished overall size. If you are planning to enter a quilt competition, be sure to read the rules carefully to make sure you are following the guidelines so that you don't spend a lot of time working on a project only to have it not be eligible for the competition.
If you are interested in making miniature quilts to enter in quilt shows, the American Quilter's Society has specific rules governing the qualities of mini quilts. They must be no larger than 24" in both width and length with all aspects of the quilt being reduced in scale. This means that the piecing and imagery are scaled down in relation to the size of the quilt.
The quilt shown here is made using the Double Wedding Ring pattern (this link takes you to directions for making a standard sized quilt in this pattern). This miniature quilt is 8 by 9 1/2 inches (the regular quilt pattern finishes up at 69 1/2" x 84 3/4").
As you can imagine, making mini quilts takes patience and attention to detail because they must be precisely assembled. Below, I have some tips to make small scale piecing easier.
Helpful Tips for Making Miniature Quilts
Mini Quilts Require a Focus on Accuracy
Accuracy is key. While accuracy is also important in standard quilt making, it is absolutely critical when making miniature quilts. Your quilt units must be cut exactly to the correct size and you must be able to sew a consistent 1/4" seam. When you are dealing with units that are less than one inch wide, any variation on the 1/4" seam will cause problems with accuracy and matching seams later. Certain block components, such as half triangle sets, can be made deliberately larger and then trimmed down which can save some time on the assembly process. Before starting to sew, take a look at your quilt patterns and decide if this assembly technique would work with your pattern.
When it comes to matching seams, it is important to pin carefully prior to stitching. Be sure to use quilting pins which are thinner, longer, and sharper than regular pins. Time spent pinning accurately will save time ripping out seams later. One trick that I use frequently when trying to perfectly match seams is to insert a pin straight up and down through the points that am I trying to match and leave the pin standing up. If you angle the pin to one side or the other, the seams will slip slightly, so it works best if the pin is completely vertical. With the seams matching, you can then pin on either side of the vertical pin and then sew the quilt units together.
The quilt in the photo is a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt made in greatly reduced scale. The individual hexagons are 1/2" making the whole flower 1 1/2" wide.
Whip Up Mini Quilts: Patterns and How-to for 26 Contemporary Small Quilts (Hardcover) - A New Miniature Quilt Book from the Creative Minds at WhipUp.net!
Make Miniature Quilt Piecing Easier with a 1/4 Inch Presser Foot
A 1/4 inch foot is one of my favorite tools for quilting. This sewing machine presser foot can make quilt piecing easier, especially miniature quilts, because it has quarter-inch markings on three sides of the foot to ensure accuracy.
Judging when to pivot can sometimes be difficult, but because the 1/4 inch markings are shown on numerous sides, it is easier to tell when to pivot.
Another helpful feature is the small center hole which prevents fabric from being dragged down into the feed dogs.
Lastly, on the right edge of the foot, there is a blade that holds the edge of the fabric seam at just the right distance.
1/4 Inch Quilting Sewing Machine Presser Foot with Edge Guide
Seaming Help for Miniature Quilts
Tips for Making Miniature Quilting Easier!
If you have trouble feeding your mini quilt pieces into the sewing machine in a straight and even manner like I do (it seems as though my machine sometimes likes to eat my fabric), there are a couple of tricks that you can use to make this easier. The first trick is to start stitching on a piece of scrap material and then sew onto your quilt pieces - sometimes the initial stitches will tangle a little then smooth out. By doing this, the tangled stitches will be on the scrap fabric rather than your quilt pieces. Another helpful tip is to use a straight stitch feed plate (this is the one with a small hole rather than a slot). This can help prevent the fabric from being pushed down into the feed dogs and jamming the machine.
When you press the seams on your quilt blocks, take care that you do not let the iron distort the seams nor press the fabric out of shape. This is an especially important consideration when using pieces that have edges cut on the bias such as triangles, because bias edges easily stretch off grain which can cause the block to ripple.
The blocks in the mini quilt shown here are only 1" wide. The sides of the quilt are embellished with beautiful silk ribbon embroidery. The curved edges make it look more elegant.
Cutting Fabric for Mini Quilts
Since accuracy is key when making miniature quilts, it is important that your fabric shapes are cut accurately. The easiest way to ensure this is to use a self-healing cutting mat with a rotary cutter and clear ruler. A rotary cutter is a hand-held cutting implement that uses a circular rolling blade that allows you to make long, crisp cuts through multiple layers of fabric.
This rotary cutting set includes everything you need to start making miniature quilts. The 18 x 24" self healing cutting mat is double-sided for more versatility.
A 6 x 24" clear acrylic ruler enables you to clearly see where you are cutting. A quarter inch seam allowance is highlighted for easier viewing and the geometric grid allows for accurate shape cutting.
The rotary cutter uses a 45 mm rolling circular blade that will accurately cut through multiple layers of fabric. These blades are very sharp, so be sure to always replace the cover. I took a quilting class one time, and the instructor kept a jar at the front and if she caught us with an open cutter, we had to put a quarter in the jar.
Small Scale Quilting = High Visibility
With Miniature Quilts, Small Errors Can Look Huge
When you reduce the scale of quilt blocks, it has the effect of magnifying their features. Any error, however minute, will be much more apparent than in its larger counterpart. Also, people are generally intrigued by miniature items and tend to want to take a closer look at them - I know I do, and they will tend to notice any flaws in the piecing and seaming.
Another option for precise small scale piecing is to use the foundation piecing method. Foundation piecing enables the quilter to create complex blocks with a high degree of accuracy because the foundation paper or fabric stabilizes the fabric. Also, the stitching lines shown on the foundation allow for greater sewing accuracy rather than having to depend on a precise 1/4 inch seam.
Mini-Mosaic Quilts: 30+ Block Designs • 14 Projects • Easy Piecing Technique
Mini Quilt Video Demonstration - Miniature Rail Fence Quilt Pattern
Learn how to make a miniature quilt using the rail fence pattern by watching this easy-to-follow video tutorial. You will learn how to cut, lay out, and piece a rail fence quilt pattern.
Mini Quilts on Exhibit
If you are interested in seeing miniature quilts close up, here are some places where you can see them on exhibit. Maybe you can incorporate one or more of these on your next trip! For those who don't have any upcoming travel plans, I have included a few online galleries as well.
- Flickr: ART & MINI QUILTS
A group pool of artistic mini quilts. Tons of inspiration!
- Miniature Masterpieces by Pat Kuhns
Artist Pat Kuhns is nationally known for her award-winning miniature quilts. This collection of miniature bed quilts are intricate and delicate with many tiny pieces and stitches.
- Kate Adams Fine Miniature Quilts - Gallery
Using antique fabrics and early patterns and designs, Kate Adams creates quilts that are truly reflective of the Art of Traditional American Quilt Making.
- Collections | Quilt Museum and Gallery, York
An online gallery of the mini quilts in the Quilt Museum and Gallery in York, UK.
- Art Quilts in Miniature
Click on thumbnail to see full quilt.
- Gallery - George and Virginia Siciliano
Amazingly detailed mini quilts!
- The Quilt Index
An online quilt gallery with a search feature - search for "miniature" and an extensive list will pop up.
- Winterthur Digital Collections : Miniature Quilts
The Winterthur Museum has a small collection of historical miniature quilts in their online digital archive available for viewing.
- Quilting Gallery Blog - Vote Now: Miniature Quilts (voting is over)
A gallery of 30 miniature quilts that participated in a contest in 2010. Voting is over, but it still provides inspiration!
What do you think of miniature quilts? Beautiful or crazymaking?
Dursun on February 17, 2015:
My great-grandmother made me promise (on her death bed, so no guilt there) to finsih her quilts for her, and this flower pattern was the first one I did. I was too scared to cut any of her pieces in half and I was too lazy to create new blooms, so I didn't have a flat edge, but I finsihed it in a sort of scallop. I'd be interested in knowing how you are gonna do your edges .since (moan) there is another box of blooms in a box upstairs.
Jenny on February 16, 2015:
Your article was excenlelt and erudite.
centralplexus on March 06, 2013:
Simply adorable. In large quilts small mistakes can easily be overlooked but in such a scale a mistake would stand out. But I think that's the beauty in them, knowing that it takes extra patience and skill to make them. Great lens, well done!
cutethings on January 28, 2013:
They are beautiful.
anonymous on November 27, 2012:
Some lovely ideas, great lens!
mlt89 on September 30, 2012:
Beautiful! Great list of patterns :)
hntrssthmpsn on September 27, 2012:
Gosh, I think these miniature quilts look beautiful AND crazymaking! I can definitely see where a small error would really stand out on such a tiny project, but they're just too cute not to try!
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on May 23, 2012:
mary-humphrey on May 19, 2012:
great lens lots of great tips
agoofyidea on March 07, 2012:
Small quilts are my favorite size to make. They don't take forever and I can work with the fabric much easier. Beautiful designs.
anonymous on March 05, 2012:
wow those quilts looks amazing_________________________watch new movies online
flycatcherrr on February 22, 2012:
Both beautiful *and* crazymaking, I'd say! Have to love almost anything miniature, and some of these are lovely indeed.
anonymous on February 17, 2012:
My Mom used to make the prettiest quilts for kids, I still all of them she made for mine. I have made a few, but nothing as ornate as the ones you have pictured. Very nicely done!
Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on February 15, 2012:
This would be crazymaking for me! Wow, love them but you would have to love quilting in the small to tackle these!!
Lorri123 on February 03, 2012:
I love sewing. I used to make quilts and stuffed toys for my kids when they were small. I took time to do the applique' children's designs. It was really enjoyable. My kids are grown now and we still have all the hand-made things from their childhood. Very nice lense !
jcamdenbow on February 03, 2012:
These are really beautiful. I really need to get back into quilting. You have inspired me to get out my materials and start quilting.
nelsonkana on January 31, 2012:
You got a beautiful collection here. Nice
whodiesinthenew on January 30, 2012:
I love few of these quilts! They are awesome!
Rebeljohn on January 29, 2012:
Great job on your lens. It makes me think back when i was a child watching my grandmother make them . I still have a few she made that got passed down to me
gemjane on January 28, 2012:
These are beautiful, clever, and cute! Takes a lot of patience, but what fun it would be shopping for the fabrics!
EvergreenArticles on January 28, 2012:
These are amazing quilt designs. I find quilts a bit itchy however, but it's great bed decoration to compliment your drapes and interior design. When I was about 7 years old, my brothers and I took our 3rd grade quilts and hung them on the walls. Each quilt had a different story. While not too pleasing on the eyes, it did show our character (which I guess isn't too pleasing? haha). Great lens!
casquid on January 23, 2012:
I love quilting. Have you ever seen the Underground Railroad Quilts? They tell stories of the paths taken from the South, traveled safely to get runaway Slaves to Canada (in the 1800's).Of course, these quilts were created much later. They are included in exhibits across the country. If you are interested, ask for your local Museum to have the exhibit stopped in your town.
DebMartin on January 23, 2012:
These are beautiful. Makes me want to learn to sew. almost ;-). Nice lens.
josephpowell519 on January 23, 2012:
I really enjoyed this lens, very informative and interesting.I've given this page a like!
Frankie Kangas from California on January 21, 2012:
An excellent lens and what a great idea for the beginner to be able to create a mini-quilt. I love this idea. Blessings and bear hugs, Frankster
nelsonkana on January 21, 2012:
Nice lens here. Am taking a tour of top lenses. This is one of them. I like it.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on January 20, 2012:
I love these miniature quilts! I'd love to have a wall full of them to display, in fact. Beautiful and great information! Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!
NC Shepherd on January 20, 2012:
Beautiful quilts! I've been so busy on Squidoo that I've neglected my little quilts lately. If I work with 1/2" pieces, I strip piece or use foundations. Otherwise, I'd hand piece...I don't need the aggravation of trying to machine piece something that small!
dellgirl on January 19, 2012:
This is a great lens, you have shared lots of helpful information. Congratulations on making featured lenses on Popular Pages and LOTD. Fantastic!
Coreena Jolene on January 19, 2012:
Wonderful lens. I have never seen a miniature quilt but have worked on full size quilts. I can't imagine handling and piecing those tiny quilt pieces. What a talent you have.
Julia Morais on January 19, 2012:
Great tips. Wish I were good at making quilts though.
norma-holt on January 19, 2012:
Beautiful lens and magnificent sewing examples. I am trying to make my first quilt but have all but given up.. Congrats on LOTD. *Blessed* and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012 and also on Squidoo LOTD Lenses 2
anonymous on January 19, 2012:
I love quilts, & enjoying this lens! The miniatures are gorgeous! But it would drive me crazy to have to be so precise with cloth & in miniature. The most I can manage are regular-sized crazy quilts, very crazy! I'm better with a brush. Thanks for sharing this, tho, so nice for true quilt-makers. Best wishes.
Jennifer_Glennon on January 19, 2012:
I have always wanted to try quilting. These is an excellent lens. Thank you for sharing.
fugeecat lm on January 19, 2012:
I think they are gorgeous.
cleanyoucar on January 19, 2012:
These quilts look really nice. Thanks for sharing
BuddyBink on January 19, 2012:
These are beautiful and I would think make you crazy after a while. They really are beautiful though. Thanks
jadehorseshoe on January 19, 2012:
NightMagic on January 19, 2012:
Not only have I never made a quilt in years, I have never made a mini quilt. Thanks for all the tips like using a quilting needle and pinning vertically.
chefdave12118 on January 19, 2012:
I never realized how much work and what an artistic skill it takes until I swa my Anut working on and selling her quilts. She makes a great living selling her quilts. I'm emailing her this link.... great lens :) Android Fan Network>
hirephp lm on January 19, 2012:
cong for the this lens of the day
jimmyworldstar on January 19, 2012:
I think miniature quilts are better for babies, it's too much of an issue to stitch them all together to make a big quilt.
anonymous on January 19, 2012:
JimmyBlaze420 on January 19, 2012:
Wow what a wonderful Lens!!
Rhidawn on January 19, 2012:
Great lens and grats to you on LOTD!
Erin Hardison from Memphis, TN on January 19, 2012:
They're gorgeous, but I don't have the focus for. Sewing on a larger scale is much easier for me. All the more reason for me to admire these. Congrats on LOTD!
justholidays on January 19, 2012:
Since I'm two lefthanded, I wouldn't be able to make such cute mini-quilts but I'd love to, though. Thanks for sharing your passions with us!
blue22d on January 19, 2012:
Very nice quilting. I have posted your lens over at Facebook on a friends site who does quilting as well.
poutine on January 19, 2012:
They are beautiful....Congrats on your lens of the day.
LDWorld on January 19, 2012:
Congrats on LOTD!!
anonymous on January 19, 2012:
Congratulations on LOTD, this is a beautiful lens :) I took a class years ago and made a quilt, even quilted it all by hand, but that was the one and only. It was a lot of work, but worth it, I think miniature quilts would be a lot easier. *Angel Blessed
marsha32 on January 19, 2012:
They are beautiful. A lot of these look like a lot of small tedious work.
June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on January 19, 2012:
Beautiful quilts. I do not sew, but I so admire the work done by those who do.
kathysart on January 19, 2012:
Fabulous! Quilting is HUGE in Hawaii where I recently moved from. I am always amazed at the great art that is done with them. Blessings for this lens, it is splendid!
qbessi on January 19, 2012:
Ann Hinds from So Cal on January 19, 2012:
Quilts of any size are great. I haven't tried a mini-quilt so this is inspirational.
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on January 19, 2012:
I am returning to congratulate you on LotD and to sprinkle a blessing over a lens I have always appreciated. Kudos to you on this achievement. Very nicely done!
writerkath on January 19, 2012:
These are so beautiful! I could see a little girl wanting them for her dolls. :) But, for me, I'd be aching to have a large enough one for my bed. Absolutely gorgeous, and says a lot about your patience! Blessed. :) Kath
Linda Jo Martin from Post Falls, Idaho, USA on January 19, 2012:
They are lovely!
bmthour on January 19, 2012:
I love home made quilts, and these are gorgeous!
Nancy Oram on January 19, 2012:
I love quilts and I love miniatures! I've been looking for this type of information for months. I want one or two for my walls. I'm ready to make one - but which design???
seedplanter on January 19, 2012:
This lens is so inspirational because the thought of making a big quilt sounds exciting but overwhelming right now. But a miniature quilt...that's something I could handle. This lens is both beautiful and instructional. Thank you!
Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on January 19, 2012:
These are absolutely beautiful and so cute. I only wish I had the patience to do this. Great lens.
bjslapidary on January 19, 2012:
Miniature quilts are like little works of art. Thanks for sharing all the different patterns. Great lens.
ohcaroline on January 19, 2012:
Wow. These are awesome. I like to work on wall hanging quilts...that's the smallest I can go. Beautiful lens. Great information. Congratulations on LOTD.
flycatcherrr on January 19, 2012:
What a beautiful way to edge into quiltmaking, and what a lovely lens! Congratulations on LOTD - well deserved!
River_Rose on January 19, 2012:
Beautiful and hard work! Great lens!
sheezie77 on January 19, 2012:
great lens! thumbs up
faye durham on January 19, 2012:
Excellent lens. Great info!
agoofyidea on January 19, 2012:
Congratulations on LOTD! I love mini quilts. I have a hard time working with yards of fabric so I tend to be more accurate when stitching mini quilts. Great lens.
myamya on January 19, 2012:
great lens! thumbs up
Gayle from McLaughlin on January 19, 2012:
Great information and absolutely beautiful article!
Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on January 19, 2012:
Congrats on LOTD, well deserved as the lens is informative with beautiful pictures of miniature quilts. I'm not a quilter, but I love your samples.
Heather Bradford from Canada on January 19, 2012:
Oh how beautiful. I have a love affair with patchwork but have never made a miniature quilt. Having said this I have an appliqu project of a farmhouse with a tree and the clothesline slung between them is empty... just waiting for me to sew a couple of little quilts in the right scale. Time to get thinking about that....
modz on January 19, 2012:
This lens looks amazing.
JennySui on January 19, 2012:
Congrats on LOTD!
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on January 19, 2012:
Great lens...congratulations on getting LOTD!
suitablelamps on January 18, 2012:
cute quilts!!! :)
Tjoedhilde on January 18, 2012:
They are cute. I would never have the patience to make anything like these quilts. but I admire those who do! :)
eblack88 lm on January 18, 2012:
Love your mini quilts! Inspiring!
kalos_eidos on November 27, 2011:
I love this lens, lots of helpful information!
anonymous on November 01, 2011:
Excellent lens! Thanks for taking the time to offer these tips!One squid thumb up vote issued for this lens!
Clover13 on September 07, 2011:
Very creative! Love the look.
agoofyidea on August 16, 2011:
Something I would like to try. Lovely lens.
Blackspaniel1 on July 23, 2011:
JJNW from USA on July 03, 2011:
I am truly in awe! Lovely mini quilts. Thanks for the very beautiful and inspiring page!
ShellB on June 03, 2011:
Miniature quilts are my favorite. I need to make one myself. Great Lens!
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 28, 2011:
These are indeed beautiful little quilts and I have had the please of viewing some. They are absolutely delightful in homemade dollhouses. Best of wishes.
sushilkin lm on April 26, 2011:
Nice work on lens. Thanks for sharing your valuable knowledge with all and come to squidoo. PRAY FOR JAPAN
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on April 07, 2011:
Wonderful! I really must get into quilting.
Wanda Fitzgerald from Central Florida on February 26, 2011:
Charming little collectibles. And much quicker to make than a full sized quilt. Blessed by the Quilting Squidoo Angel.
thready on February 21, 2011:
They are awesome (as long as they are simple and not too Dear Janeish).
joanv334 on January 24, 2011:
Thanks for sharing!
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on January 11, 2011:
This is a unique and beautiful lens featuring miniature quilts - well done! :)
KDimmick on December 25, 2010:
Blessed by an angel :)
anonymous on December 25, 2010:
Awesome lens! blessed by a Squidoo Angel on 12/25/2010. Have a wonderful Holiday!
lasertek lm on October 21, 2010:
Interesting! I do recall my mother making miniature quilts years back.
cherylsgifts2go on October 12, 2010:
I love these little quilts and, I think your lens has inspired me. I am currently working on a scrap quilt pattern. You did a super job on this lens.
ZablonMukuba on October 10, 2010:
the quilts are awesome
Dahlitsa2 on September 16, 2010:
I just love them and I consider them a form of art: FABRIC ART