Mini quilts offer a great way to feature your favorite quilting patterns without committing to a full-sized project! In general, quilters may consider mini quilts to include: art quilts, quilted pillow covers, mug rugs, pot holders, doll quilts or even small crib quilts.
For the purposes of quilt shows, mini quilts may require a more clear-cut definition. The American Quilter’s Society defines mini quilts as no larger than 24” in both width and length, with all aspects of the quilt reduced in scale. This means the patchwork is often very tiny—as small as 1-inch squares and fine details embellished with decorative thread.
Mini quilts range widely in style, but what ties them all together is their darling, miniature size. If you desired to make a mini quilt, here are 10 inspiring ideas to get you sketching! These patterns range from beginner-friendly to advanced and use a variety of techniques, from basic patchwork and appliqué and paper piecing.
This adorable Umbrella Mini Quilt features intricate, paper-pieced blocks that were reduced to just 4” from the original 8” block pattern. Quiet Play created the patchwork umbrellas from bright fabrics, which adds a pop of color to each grey-sashed block. With vertical and diagonal straight-line quilting to represent rain, the quilt is based on the designer’s original pattern.
If making an entire quilt of Dresden Plates doesn’t interest you, making a mini quilt from the pattern might be a good compromise! Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced shares her Lifesavers Mini Quilt, which she created for the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild’s EZ Dresden Challenge. The mini is quilted with wavy lines and bound in fabric to match the background.
Amy Smart blogs about her Color Me Retro Mini Quilt at her blog, Diary of a Quilter. She created a mini quilt pattern for the Art Gallery Fabrics blog which is perfect for beginners since it features simple patchwork and a step-by-step tutorial. The rectangles are pieced together in a pinwheel shape and the mini is finished with straight-line quilting. The bright and cheery colors of Amy’s quilt make it a natural fit for the kitchen.
Speaking of the kitchen, this mini quilt doubles as a message board! Designed by Pauline Francis for Moda Bake Shop, the Charmed Message Board is a functional mini is made with fabric squares as well as a cut of chalk cloth, so you can write a shopping list right on the quilt and erase it later on. The quilt features embroidery and patchwork pockets for stashing notes, coupons and mail, as well as some tiny clothespins for hanging items.
Amy Lou Who shares a mini quilt that has another function—it doubles as an elegant throw pillow cover. Her New York Beauty Pillow Cover is made from four paper-pieced quilt blocks. Amy added a border and quilt binding around the cover, which she lightly quilted on each side of the seams. If you generally steer clear of mini quilts in favor of projects that are more functional, you might consider making a quilted pillow cover to liven up your home decor.
Mini quilts can pop up anywhere, like the side of this purse by Mesmerize. What started out as a mug rug became the side panel of the Birdie Mini Quilt Market Tote. Appliqué and echo quilting are featured in this project, which is bound like a regular mini quilt and stitched to the side of the tote bag. A beginning quilter, Mesmerize recommends, “Don’t throw away your first free motion quilting efforts if they aren’t as good as you would like. Find a place to use them where they won’t be closely scrutinized.” What great advice!
For a hint of whimsical applique in your project, consider using some of the techniques in this Happy Trees Mini Quilt by Jacey, who blogs at Jaceycraft. Mini quilts offer a great workspace for appliqué, since the smaller space allows you to easily turn a project and zigzag stitch around smaller pieces. The lower commitment project allows you to try out all kinds of techniques without fear of fabric waste. This mini quilt would make a great holiday gift or table runner for your own home.
For another take on a nature-inspired mini, check out the Confetti Trees Mini Quilt by quilter Julees Thread. She was inspired to make this quilt, a sample for a class she was teaching, by quilter Noriko Endo’s work. This is the ideal appliqué project to use up scraps of fabric. Just don’t cut them too small, or you’ll end up with dust. Batiks were used to provide a variety of shades of one fabric color. The mini quilt is finished with free-motion quilting and lots of pins to hold the appliqué in place.
The Orbit Mini Quilt by Shruti of the blog 13 Woodhouse Road was inspired by Jennifer Sampou’s design in the book We Love Color, compiled by Susanne Woods. Shruti scaled down the larger quilt pattern into a 16” square mini quilt using variegated thread and dense quilting. Using solid colored fabrics from her stash, she appliquéd a colorful, pieced circle on top of the neutral background. If you are stuck on ideas for your mini quilt, seek inspiration in a larger quilt and scale down the block size or the overall design.
Megan Bohr of Canoe Ridge Creations loves mini quilts so much, she created a pattern series devoted to them! The Starburst Mini Quilt is her first quilt, pieced from bright solid fabrics and quilted with straight lines. The Fresh Mini Quilt Club includes a printable mini quilt pattern with color diagrams and step-by-step instructions each month for six months. Although the club started in March of this year, participants can sign up at any time. Club members have created versions of this pattern using many different fabric and color combinations for this virtual quilt along.
You might also enjoy our post on quilting flowers, offering tips and tutorials for using free motion quilting to create beautiful floral patterns.