Directions for Making Lap Quilts

patchwork image by gajatz from

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Batting
  • Backing material
  • Edge binding (bias binding or wide ribbon)
  • Cotton sewing thread

Lap quilts are perfect for chilly winter nights, with the added bonus of looking decorative and stylish when draped over the back of the sofa during the day. Smaller than traditional bed quilts, lap quilts are relatively quick and easy to make. They make ideal projects for beginners to patchwork who may find the size and scale of larger more complex quilts a little overwhelming.

Decide on the size and complexity of the quilt. Beginners will find it easier to use larger squares as the quilt will grow faster and it is easier to line up the rows. More experienced sewers may like smaller squares. 5-inch squares are a good size for a simple lap quilt. Squares measuring 3.5 inches give a more complex-looking pattern. Both are effective.

Cut 96 squares measuring 5 inches to make a lap quilt that measures 60 by 40 inches. This gives a quilt big enough to cover an adult lying down on the sofa. To make a larger or smaller quilt you can adjust the number of squares accordingly. Mix and match colors and patterns. Cutting up old shirts, blouses, skirts or sheets is a good way to reuse fabric.

Lay the squares out on a large surface and play around with pattern and color until you are happy. Gather up the squares into piles, keeping each row in a separate pile ready for sewing.

Sew the squares together to form the rows, keeping the patterned, or printed, sides of the fabric together so that no squares are inside out. When all the individual rows are sewn, join the rows together to complete the front side of the lap quilt. Pinning the rows together before sewing will help to keep the seams lined up with each other.

Lay the lap quilt, right side down, on a flat surface, and place the batting material on top of this. Place the backing material on top of the batting, this time right side up. Pin all the layers together, placing some pins in the middle of the quilt to prevent the layers from moving during sewing.

Pin the binding all the way around the edge of the lap quilt so that it envelopes all three layers.

Sew the binding onto the lap quilt either by machine or by hand with an ordinary sewing needle and cotton thread. With the sewing machine, use either a straight stitch or a zigzag stitch for a more decorative finish. If sewing by hand, use either a small running stitch or a backstitch.


  • Knots tied into the center of some of the squares not only looks decorative but helps to hold the layers of material together through repeated use. With a sewing needle and either yarn or cotton thread, sew through all layers of the quilt leaving two tails on the top side. Tie the tails into a knot to hold in place.


About the Author

Deborah Jones started her freelance writing career in 1990. Her work has appeared in The Writer's Forum, "Reader's Digest" and numerous D.C. Thomson magazines. Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a postgraduate certificate in education, both from the University of Derby.

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