The Ever Thicker Mattress and Your Quilts

If you’re a quiltmaker, at some point you’ll probably make a quilt to fit a bed. If you’re lucky, you’ll know exactly which bed and can plan accordingly. We’re often asked what size of quilt will fit a certain size of bed, and the answer is always, “It depends.”

13363 pattern img The Ever Thicker Mattress and Your Quilts

Jasmine Star from Jan/Feb '11

We patterned Jasmine Star, above, as a 107″ x 107″ king. It’s a very large quilt. However…

I got a new queen-size mattress last week. I’d heard that mattresses were thicker, taller and deeper these days, but I wasn’t really prepared for how much thicker, taller and deeper. I decided to measure the new mattress because I’m thinking it needs a quilt.

bed1 The Ever Thicker Mattress and Your Quilts

New mattress

The box spring is 9 inches high. That part seems pretty cut and dried. The mattress is 12 inches high when measured along the side, from the cording on the bottom to the cording at the top. But if you take into account the additional “puff” on top, it’s another 2 to 3 inches for a total of about 15 inches.

To completely cover the mattress and box spring, you’d need to figure a 24 inch drop on both sides. Add that 48 inches to the standard 60 inches of width and you get a whopping 108 inches of quilt width needed for this “queen-size” project. I would actually plan for a few more inches because the top will “shrink” when it is quilted.

And think about this: that 108 inches is not enough if you want the quilt to reach the floor. For that you would need a total of 122 inches from side to side!

I was curious—I decided to visit the basement where an older mattress lives in a spare room. The old box spring is a bit less than 7 inches high, 2 inches shorter than the new version. (So much for cut and dried.)

bed2 The Ever Thicker Mattress and Your Quilts

Old mattress

The old mattress is—get ready for this—7 inches high. That’s about half the thickness of my new mattress! I would not have believed there was such a large difference if I hadn’t measured these myself.

While there’s no one answer for what size of quilt you should make, we’ve created a short article called Suggested Quilt Measurements for Standard Bed Sizes. It’s a place to begin, but my experience demonstrates that you really must have a good look at the bed you’ll be dressing, tape measure in hand.

This exercise has made me aware of how drastically mattresses have changed over the years. I’ll use this information the next time I create a bed quilt, and maybe you can, too!

About Diane Harris

I'm Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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17 Responses to The Ever Thicker Mattress and Your Quilts

  1. Old Dog says:

    Encountered these issues when my wife bought a new, thick mattress and box springs. When I put them on her tester bed, the result was a bed surface 42″ off the ground. It towered over the bedside end tables, and the light from reading lamps on the tables was shaded by the mattress. My solution was to ditch the box springs and substitute a sheet of 5/8″ plywood. Simple math: get rid of two 7 1/2″ old fashioned mattresses, substitute one new 15″ mattress, there’s no difference. With these new thick mattresses, who needs box springs, anyway?

  2. Commonly I would not read post for websites, having said that i prefer to say that this kind of write-up incredibly pressured everyone to consider as well as accomplish that! The creating preference is surprised everyone. Appreciate it, really terrific write-up.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    I don’t quilt, and I want to buy a quilt set for my queen size mattress that is 15″tall with a 2″ topper and a low-profile 5″ box springs (12″ from top of box springs to the floor). That’s 29″ from top to floor! I can’t find a quilt or bedspread that fits. I am thinking about changing the 2″ topper to a 4″ memory foam topper from Brookstone for more comfort because of my bad back.

    I can buy a full size dust ruffle to shorten the distance to the floor, I think, finding the oversize quilt is the problem. A king size quilt doesn’t have the right dimensions for it either. This is a tremendously heavy 100% latex mattress that doesn’t need to be flipped (as if I could even do this!). I don’t know how I’d lift it to get the dust ruffle on.

    Does anyone know a store or person near Orange County, California that can help me with a quilt or bedspread? I am tired of only having sheets and blankets on my bed.

    Thank you, everyone.

    Elisabeth

  4. You recognize therefore considerably in relation to this subject, made me in my opinion consider it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women are not fascinated unless it is something to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. Always deal with it up!

  5. Angelina says:

    Thank you for this information.I found a wide range of mattresses on very cheap prices at http://www.dreambedroom.co.uk/compare_mattresses.html

  6. Pingback: King Size Quilts: Three Buying Tips

  7. Laura Wilson says:

    What a great article Diane – I have shared it with all three quilting bees I am in via email. Thanks for the information.

    I have always made my quilts larger than normal for whichever bed I was making them for (full, queen, or king). I did this so they would hang BELOW the top of the mattress, and I use a dust ruffle to hide the box springs.

    We too learned of the low profile box springs when we purchased our new mattress & box springs for our king size bed. And as others have posted, even at that it takes talent to retire each night! lol

    I don’t really understand how purchasing a store bought plain bedspread and using on top of the box springs solves the matter of needing to make our quilts larger to fit the thicker mattresses as you have posted Diane. Unless you plan to purchase the newer/larger size bedspread and place it on top of your mattress, allowing it to hang below the box spring – and then display your quilt (whatever size) on top of that. That would definitely work. I believe this is your plan, right?

    The new mattresses today are thicker, period – thus our quilts must be made larger. All the sheets I have purchased (deep pocket) are in sets and yes the top sheet is also larger and made to fit the new mattresses – I therefore don’t understand Karen’s concern for the top sheet.

    And lastly – the long arm machines manufactured today have table to accomodate large quilts. One of my long arm quilters has no problem quilting my 120 X 120 size quilt tops – and she does an awesome job here in deep south Texas!

  8. Pingback: The Ever Thicker Mattress and Your Quilts | Quilty Pleasures Blog | Quilts

  9. Karen says:

    Diane had a great idea about buying a store bought coverlet or bedspread for the boxspring. I hadn’t thought of that. But what really irks me is this….you can buy fitted sheets to fit the depth of the mattress, but you CAN’T buy the sheets that are larger, a blanket that is larger or a bedspread that is larger to fit past the mattress!! Are the manufacturers insane? My top sheet barely comes up under our armpits!! Same with the blanket. I have to pull the bedspread over to the “public’ side of the room to cover the bare spot that is left because of the lack of coverage. Another question I have about making a quilt, is that I can make one large enough to cover the mattress (which is king size), but I won’t be able to find anyone with a longarm that can quilt the extra large size!! Their machines are limited to how wide they can go!!

  10. DONNA ENDRESEN says:

    I too figured this out last year when I made the big move to Alaska for my retirement. I got a new bed, but had bought the Matress/Boxspring 3 yrs ealier when in Southern CA on Active Duty with the military. I bought a new bed, which is what really made a big difference. Yes, my mattress and Boxspring are like described, but, I my new bed is a pedestall bed, which makes it very high, and I have to climb up into it. From the top of the mattress to the floor, is a 31 inch drop. When I ordered my new Down comforterand cover last fall, I automatically ordered a King size, and it barely comes to the top of the pedestal, and this is a queen sized bed!

    My old bed, which is in the guest room now, is a normal queen sized mattress and box spring, being 7.5 inches each.

    The first Bed sized quilt I made, was 40 years ago, and it was for my bed when I first got married, and it was a double sixed Long Boy, meaning it was double width x queen sixed length, because my husband was very tall. SO, of course theonly way to get a quilt to fit it was to make it myself, which I gladly did, ro stay warm in the winter and to have a nice cover for the bed!

    So yes, bed sizes have changed a lot over the years!

    Respectfully submitted,

    Donna L. Endresen
    LTC (RET), MS, USA

  11. Diane Brown says:

    I finally have a solution for making quilts for my queen-sized bed . . . I’m getting a plain-colored store-bought bedspread/coverlet to fully cover the box spring, and then I can make my quilts slightly smaller to layer on top of that. I’d much rather make an 80-85 square inch quilt than a 100-110 inch one!

  12. Alice Lawson says:

    You’re definitely right about springs and mattresses being thicker. I just got a new set of springs and mattress and it’s hard for me to crawl up in bed. I feel like a little kid. I stand on my tip toes, give myself a little boost and up I flop!

  13. Linda says:

    Thank you for this information Diane. I run into the size issue all the time, especially since I like to make quilts using old fashion patterns. The bed sizes of today are definitely not the sizes from years ago. It is very helpful that quilt magazines are offering instructions on making different sizes from what is pictured.

  14. Diane Harris says:

    That’s great information, Vicki. I’ve not heard of the low-profile box springs. Thank you for sharing!

  15. VickiT says:

    And then even more than what you’ve seen is that some have what’s called a ‘low profile’ box spring too. When we bought our new mattress a few years ago we measured the one we had just paid for and then when we got back home measured exactly how high that would be on our bed frame. Our bed frame isn’t a normal one as we bought one from a waterbed store that was going out of business. My husband built supports within that frame to use this for a regular bed, not waterbed. The reason we did this is to have all those awesome drawers that many times were built into the frame for a waterbed. That also means our frame is higher than a normal one.

    Imagine the surprised face I had when hubby stood there holding that tape measure from the top of our frame to where the top of our mattress would be. I would have needed a ladder to get into bed. LOL The woman at the store was the one that tipped me off to these low profile box springs. I’d never heard of them before then. Well, once we saw the new mattress and ‘regular’ box spring was going to make our bed be a little higher than my waist we promptly called her back saying YES CHANGE our order to that low profile box spring.

    Anyway, the low profile box spring is only 4 inches high so that is even another factor into figuring since box springs aren’t all the same any longer either. And even with that lower box spring I have to get on my tippy toes and hop up into bed. LOL

  16. paul li says:

    Your two mattress looks too thick.
    mattress foundation

  17. I have this problem with my new one, way too high for a queen, so I go with king and add a border to cover the sides. Makes it hard when making a quilt and takes a lot longer;)

    Debbie

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