I am often asked how to calculate yardage for a quilt. My quilt is 85″ square, the fabric is 42″ wide. Two widths of fabric measuring 42″wide (2×42″= 84′) This will not be quite enough width, so I will need 3 widths of fabric to cover the width of my quilt. This will be very generous, but I can cut some off when I mount it onto my longarm machine. It will also give me an area to practice quilting designs and to check thread tension and colors.
To calculate length, I add 10″ to the length of my quilt and then multiply by the 3 widths that I need… 85″+10″= 95″X 3=285″. Then I add 10″ for shrinkage and squaring ends after washing. (Yes, I do wash all my fabrics– you can see why by reading this free tutorial– To Wash or Not to Wash). So back to the length–
285″+10″= 295″ needed in length. To convert these inches into yards, divide 295″ by 36″ =8.19 or 8 1/4 yard. I will wash (actually, rinse to get out the sizing and excess dye), dry (on low in the dryer) and press this fabric.
Which backing would you choose???
Above, you will notice 3 photos. The center one includes some of the thread colors that I will use on the quilt top and the other two are backings that I have purchased. I could not decide which one I liked best so I purchased both at a great sale price that I could not resist. Both have black backgrounds covered with colors of the threads that I will use, so when I change thread colors they will blend in with the backing. The backing was much easier to calculate. At 108″ wide, I had enough to cover the 85″ width of my quilt with no piecing involved. To calculate the length needed, I added 20″ to my 85″ long quilt top. I always add more with these wide backings to allow for washing shrinkage and these 108″ wide fabrics tend to skew when washed and need more allowance for squaring the cut ends. 85″ + 20″ = 105″ divided by 36″ (to convert to yards)= 2.9 rounded up to =3 yards.
Whew.. got all that? The lesson is – if you are at all unsure of how much you need for yardage – always round way up and get extra- Murphy’s law of quilting fabric – if you don’t buy it now, it won’t be there when you go back to the store for more!!
So I invite you to follow along on my journey and maybe even join me by making your own quilt alongside me…
And vote for your favorite backing!