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Learn How to Calculate Yardage to Make a Quilt


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A Few Steps Before You Figure Quilt Yardage
how to calculate quilt yardage

Make a sketch of your quilt plan -- I used finished sizes.

© Janet Wickell

I receive lots of emails from quilters who ask me how to calculate yardage for quilts. Unfortunately, time restraints prevent me from determining fabric requirements for individual patterns designed by quilters. But there's good news... figuring our how much fabric you need to make a quilt is easy once you understand the basics. I hope this step-by-step tutorial will help you calculate yardage for that next quilting project.

If you already know your quilt design and block size, skip forward to page 2 or beyond. If not, start below.

Choose a Quilt Design Before You Worry About Yardage

You'll need to make some decisions before you can calculate how much fabric is needed for a quilt:

  • How large must the quilt be to drape correctly on the bed or to use as you've planned?
  • If you need help with quilt size, refer to my chart of standard mattress sizes.
  • Decide how much of the quilt top will be made up of quilt blocks, and how much of its size will be taken up by borders and/or sashing. Make a rough sketch on paper or use computer software to draw the quilt.

Choose a Block Size

What quilt block size will you use? How many blocks will it take across and down to fill the space required for the quilt? For instance, for a quilt that measures about 60" x 80", six 10" blocks across and eight 10" blocks vertically will fill the space -- 6 X 8 = 48 blocks.

Be sure to add fabric for borders if you plan to use them, and decide if borders will be cut along the fabric's straight grain or crosswise grain.

Will blocks be straight set or placed on-point? Multiply the block's finished size by 1.41 to determine the width an on-point block will occupy in the quilt.

Will you use plain setting triangles for on-point quilts? You can piece partial-blocks to use as setting components, but if you don't you'll need two types of triangles to fill in those edges (and the triangles are cut differently). See Setting Triangle Basics for cutting instructions.

Decimal to Fraction Conversions

A conversion chart is handy for yardage calculations.
  • .0625 = 1/16
  • .125 = 1/8
  • .1875 = 3/16
  • .25 = 1/4
  • .3125 = 5/16
  • .333 = 1/3 yard
  • .375 = 3/8
  • .4375 = 7/16
  • .5 = 1/2
  • .5625 = 9/16
  • .625 = 5/8
  • .666 = 2/3
  • .6875 = 11/16
  • .75 = 3/4
  • .8125 = 13/16
  • .875 = 7/8

  • .9375 = 15/16


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