One of the most frustrating things about making a quilt is running out of fabric before you’re done. Once you’ve chosen the quilt size you want to make and have checked the dimensions, the next step is calculating how much fabric you need. In this guide, we look at some common quilt sizes and the amounts of fabric needed for all of the pieces.
The first step is to pick out what size quilt you want to make. Once you do that, you need to make sure that the dimensions work—for instance, if you have a bed that sits high off the floor, you will need a longer quilt. But first, start with the standard dimensions. Here are the dimensions for several different sizes of quilts.
A lap quilt can have many purposes. It’s a great size for a baby’s crib quilt, for hanging on the wall, or, my favorite, for putting over your lap when you’re cold.
There will come a time when you will have to calculate how much fabric you need to purchase for a quilt project. One quilt block may have many pattern pieces that fit together to make the 12-inch square. The following strategy will help you calculate the amount you need for each pattern piece in a quilt block. If you are creating a quilt that repeats one type of block, you will have many similar pattern pieces (for example, when making a Double Nine Patch lap quilt). It has four 4-inch squares of the dominant color and four 4-inch squares of the accent color. Let’s figure out how much fabric you will need of each color.A Double Nine Patch lap quilt.
Now that we know the fabric yardage you need to buy for a specific pattern piece or template of your quilt, let me show you how these amounts can be put together. There are ways that you lay out your patterns, dovetailing them with borders and lattices to save fabric. I try to use every scrap of my material. It is difficult to estimate the exact amount of fabric for a sampler quilt, because each patch is different. The following table gives you an educated guesstimate for fabric yardage. Backing and batting are not included, but your pattern likely will give you this information.
|Fabric Guesstimates to Purchase for Entire Project|
|Quilt Size||Color||What Is Included||Fabric Yardage*|
|Blenders||Blocks (two fabrics)||½ each|
|Blocks and corner squares (one fabric)||¾|
|Twin||Dominant||Blocks, lattice, border B||4|
|Contrast||Blocks, border A||3½|
|Blenders||Blocks (two fabrics)||¾ each|
|Blocks and corner squares (one fabric)||1|
|Full||Dominant||Blocks, lattice, border B||4 ½|
|Contrast||Blocks, border A||3 ¾|
|Blenders||Blocks (two to four fabrics)||¾ each|
|Blocks and corner squares (one fabric)||1|
|Queen||Dominant||Blocks, lattice, border B||5|
|Contrast||Blocks, border A||4|
|Blenders||Blocks (two fabrics)||1|
|Blocks and corner squares (one fabric)||1⅝|
|King||Dominant||Blocks, lattice, border B||5½|
|Contrast||Blocks, border A||4½|
|Blenders||Blocks (two fabrics)||1¼ each|
|Blocks and corner squares (one fabric)||1¾|
*Remember, these are estimates—not everybody cuts wisely.
Sometimes it’s necessary to know the amount of fabric to purchase for a specific part of your quilt. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back to the store and buy a different fabric for a lattice or border because the one that I purchased wasn’t quite right. Occasionally some quilters wait to see how the patches look before choosing the border fabric. If that happens to you, I’ve calculated how much fabric you’ll need for each section of your quilt. So get out your pad and pencil and let’s see what you’ll need.
To use this table, locate the section of the quilt that you need to purchase fabric for, perhaps it’s the lattice. Then look for the quilt size you are making, let’s say full size, and determine the yardage you should buy.
In your quilt, you may have several blender fabrics. One blender fabric should include all the colors of your color scheme. Others will be of different values of the dominant and accent colors. You can have as many blenders as you want; I’ve suggested the minimum.
|Yardage for a Specific Part of a Quilt|
|Part||Quilt Size||Number Needed and Size||Yardage|
|Lattice||Lap||17 (3” × 12”)||¾|
|Twin||38 (3” × 12”)||1½|
|Full||38 (4” × 12”)||2|
|Queen||58 (3” × 12”)||2¼|
|King||71 (4” × 12”)||2¾|
|Corner Squares||Lap||12 (3” × 3”)||¼|
|Twin||24 (3” × 3”)||½|
|Full||24 (4” × 4”)||⅝|
|Queen||35 (3” × 3”)||⅝|
|King||42 (4” × 4”)||¾|
|Background Fabric||Lap||6 blocks||1|
|Blenders||Lap||2 or 3 fabrics||½ to ¾ of each|
|Twin||3 fabrics||¾ to 1 of each|
|Full||3 to 5 fabrics||¾ to 1 of each|
|Queen||3 to 5 fabrics||1 of each|
|King||3 to 5 fabrics||1½ of each|
Now that you’ve decided on your project, done the arithmetic, and calculated the amount you need to purchase, it’s time for the fun part—picking out the fabric. Next stop—the fabric store! Have fun, and happy quilting!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quilting Basics by Laura Ehrlich