CALCULATING QUILT FABRIC

When I began quilting I kept buying fat quarters:  it was like an addiction.  Every time I went near a fabric shop I would pick up a few fat quarters – sometimes because I felt I needed some more fabric of a particular colour ‘just in case’, but very often because I adored the fabric pattern or colour and knew that I just had to have some of that fabric.

Nowadays I try to keep myself under control and buy fewer fabrics – but since I usually buy a few few yards at a time I don’t think that I am spending any less.

Anyway, the point is:  how much fabric do you need for a particular project?  As far as possible, I always try and cut strips across the width of the fabric and then cut the squares, triangles or whatever from the strip.




Fabric for the beginner quilt

Shoofly quilt block

Shoofly quilt block

For this beginner quilt I am going to use 4.1/2″ squares to make up the shoofly pattern.  This will give me a nine patch quilt block 12″ square.  In quilting terms the squares made of two triangles still count as one patch so this is a nine patch quilt block.

Each block will need the following:

blue fabric:  four squares 4.1/2″ by 4.1/2″, two squares 4.7/8″ by 4.7/8″

cream fabric:  one square 4.1/2″ by 4.1/2″, two squares 4.7/8″ by 4.7/8″

The squares that will be cut into triangles have to be larger to compensate for the seam down the middle joining the triangles.

How to calculate the fabric quantity

The quilt size that we are aiming for is 60″ by 60″, so we will need twenty five quilt blocks:  five rows and five columns.  That means we need one hundred blue 4.1/2″ squares, fifty blue 4.7/8″ squares, twenty five cream 4.1/2″ squares and fifty cream 4.7/8″ squares.

If you cut a 4.1/2″ strip across the width of the fabric, you create a strip 4.1/2″ wide by 42″ long.  This can be cut into nine squares.  That means you need twelve strips of blue ( one hundred squares divided by nine squares per strip), and six strips of cream (fifty squares divided by nine squares per strip).

A strip 4.7/8″ wide cut across the width of the fabric gives a strip 4.7/8″ by 42″ which can be cut into eight squares.  so you will need seven strips of blue (fifty squares divided by eight squares per strip) and the same again in cream.

Total requirement for blue fabric:

six strips 4.1/2″ wide equals 54″ of fabric (1.1/2 yards)

seven strips 4.7/8″ wide equals 34.1/8″ (slightly under one yard)

Add these together and you need to buy 2.1/2 yards of blue fabric.

Total requirement for cream fabric:

six strips 4.1/2″ wide equals 27″ of fabric (3/4 yard)

seven strips 4.7/8″ wide equals 34.1/8″ (slightly under one yard)

Add these together and you need to buy 1.3/4 yards of cream fabric.

You may or may not wish to work this all out each time you plan a project, but at least you now know how to arrive at the figure for how much fabric to buy.  It’s often easier to buy two or three yards of fabric and add any leftovers to your fabric stash.  The calculations shown above are for the patchwork quilt top only – border, binding and backing are not included.  this is partly because I often only decide on these once the quilt top has been sewn together.

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