HOW TO FIGURE YARDAGE FOR A QUILT

It happens regularly: a quilter sees one of my patterns and wants to make the quilt in a different size. She writes to me asking that I figure the yardage for her to make a quilt that measures  x” by  x”. This is what I generally send as a reply.

#1. Most quilt fabric is 42″ to 44″ wide. For figuring purposes, you can count on 40″ usable width after shrinkage and cutting off selvages.

#2. Take each shape of each color in your quilt design and determine how many patches are needed.

Example: Each block needs four 2-1/2″ red squares.

There are 20 blocks. 4 x 20 = 80.

Divide the width of the fabric, 40″, by the cut size of the square, 2.5″,  to get the number of squares that can be cut from one strip 2.5″ wide.

40″/2.5 = 16 squares per row.

Divide the total number of squares needed by the number that can be cut from one strip 2.5″ wide, to get the number of rows of squares needed.

80/16 = 5 rows.

Multiply the number of rows by the size of the square to get the number of inches of fabric needed.

5 x 2.5″ = 12.5″

( If you need other shapes from the same fabric, go through the same process and add the inches together.)

To allow for shrinkage, multiply the number of running inches needed by 106%.

12.5″ x 106% = 13.25″

This is almost 3/8 yard (3/8 yard = 13.5″). So 3/8 yard should be enough fabric for eighty 2-1/2″ squares. If you don’t mind having a little extra, buy ½ yard.

#3. Repeat the above for each shape and fabric in your quilt plan. I know it’s a pain, but if you feel the need to buy just the right amount, then all that figuring is what is needed.

This is also why I do not figure yardage for individuals’ quilts — it just takes a long time and there are a lot of variables … and you’re better off knowing how to do it yourself.

(OR you can make scrap quilts and just collect a whole bunch of reds and when you run out of one print, start cutting from another.)

It is, however useful to get a ball park amount of yardage for a quilt. One method I use is to take the amount of yardage needed for the backing of the quilt and multiply it by 1-1/2 to get an approximate amount for the quilt top. So if you need 6 yards for the backing, you’d need somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 yards (plus) for the top. This is good information in case you go through all the calculating and come up with a total of, say, 25 yards. 25 yards is nowhere near the 9 yard ballpark figure, so you treat that as a clue that something went wrong with your figuring. If your calculations gave you a total needed of10-1/2 yards, I would consider that in the “ball park” and have confidence to buy that amount.

And then there’s the old saying: “If a fabric is worth buying, it’s worth having.” So buy a little more that you need to build up your stash.

 

Inches to Yards Chart

This will help you convert your calculations to yardage amounts.

 

4-1/2” = 1/8 yard

9” = ¼ yard

13-1/2” = 3/8 yard

18” = ½ yard

22-1/2” = 5/8 yard

27” = ¾ yard

31-1/2” = 7/8 yard

36” = 1 yard

40-1/2” = 1-1/8” yards

45” = 1-1/4 yards

49-1/2” = 1-3/8 yards

54” = 1-1/2 yards

58-1/2” = 1-5/8 yards

63” = 1-3/4 yards

67-1/2” = 1-7/8 yards

72” = 2 yards

Making Scrappy Feather Squares

Today I’m BETA testing my new Bias Square-Plus ruler. What better way to put a ruler through its paces than to cut the pieces for a new Feathered Star block! I’m making a large Feathered Star in red and white. I wanted it to have scrappy feather squares. To get maximum variety of prints and still use the Bias-Strip Piecing technique, I cut 8-1/2″ (the size of the new ruler– how easy is that?) beginning squares from 7 different light reds and 7 different dark reds.

BSP squares

I cut them all into 2″-wide bias strips. Choosing one strip pair from each combination, I stitched the strips together (these are just the longest strip pairs -there are a LOT more strips). Every seam line gives a different fabric combination. Fun.

For further information on Bias-Strip Piecing, see the step-by-step directions in the Winter Star Tutorial.

Scrappy Bias Strips

My block has 2 different sizes of feather squares: 1-5/8″ and 1-9/16″. One is only 1/16″ larger than the other. To keep the sizes separate, I cut all the larger squares first and put them in a marked plastic bag for safe keeping.

Scrappy Bias Squares

Next are the 1-9/16″ squares, which also have a plastic bag.

BSP-red and white

The new Bias Square-Plus ruler is 1/2″ larger than the old 8″ Bias Square from Martingale, has dashed lines for the 1/8″ dimensions, and markings at the edges and down the bias line for 1/16ths. The original Bias Square rulers were designed in the 1980s by Nancy J. Martin for That Patchwork Place, but went out of print last year. Nancy and I developed the bias-strip piecing technique together, and I LOVED the 8″ Bias Square. It was (and is) one of my favorite rulers for cutting squares. I couldn’t stand the thought of not having it available anymore. To get rights to the design and the Bias Square name, Nancy obtained permission from Martingale (formerly That Patchwork Place) and granted it to me. One has to be careful of copyrights. It will be the fifth ruler produced by my small company, Feathered Star Productions, and will be available later this Spring (2016). The changes made to the design make it even more useful.

 

Drafting Baby Blocks

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My friend, Loretta, is teaching a sampler class. The subject of this week’s lesson is Stars and Baby Blocks made with 60 degree diamonds. For years, my go-to person for 60 degree diamonds and triangle designs has been Sara Nephew. If you google her, you’ll see all sorts of rulers, books and quilt designs using hexagons and related shapes.

A great aid for designing with these shapes is Isometric Graph Paper. Again, a quick Google search will show you sites where this triangular grid paper can be printed. It can also be found in some stores. In Eugene, I would look at an art supply store or the University of Oregon book store.Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 1.47.16 PM

You can draft a hexagon with regular graph paper. The graph paper I use has 8 squares to the inch and has a heavy line at the 1″ increments. You can draft this on unlined paper as well.

  1. Choose a dimension for the finished side of the 60 degree diamond. I chose 2″ and using that setting on my compass, drew a circle with a 2″ radius. Then I drew a midline through the circle dividing it in half. It helped that when I drew the circle, the compass point was placed at the intersection of the heavy lines.

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2. Now, I need to locate 6 points on the circle that are the same distance apart. Using the compass again with the same 2″ setting, put the compass point where the midline intersects the circle and make a mark on the circle.

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Now, move the point of the compass to the mark you just made, and repeat the process to make another mark. Continue until you have 6 points located on the circle (2 are created with the midline and the other 4 are made with compass markings).

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3. Connect the 6 points as shown to draw a hexagon with 2″ finished sides.

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4. Connect every other point on the circle with the center, to make three 60 degree diamonds with 2″ finished sides. (I can also see a set of equilateral triangles.)

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5. To make a template, color in one of the diamonds and add a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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Have Fun!

Finished Quilt Block Sizes

One question I get over and over from beginning quilters is about finished quilt block sizes. I’ve gotten the question twice in the last few weeks, went searching, and found what I had written about it in an old newsletter.

In my patterns I label the design blocks with the FINISHED SIZE. The finished size is the measurement of the square after it has been sewn to other blocks or setting pieces. A 9″ block means that the finished size of the block will be 9″ when sewn into the quilt top.

The FINISHED SIZE of a design block does not include seam allowances. What confuses some quilters is that after piecing a block, the measurement raw edge to raw edge does include the seam allowance and will therefore be 1/2″ larger than the finished dimension stated in the pattern.

When you have pieced the block, before it is sewn to other pieces, it will measure 9-1/2″ edge to edge. This is the way it should be, and under no circumstances should you trim the seam allowances away to make the block the finished size.

Finished3

Sometimes, the hardest thing is to know when you don’t understand something. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve charged ahead with a project thinking that I understood what I was supposed to do, when really I had some major misconceptions.SO:

• Read a pattern thoroughly before you begin. Ask questions. The only thing dumb about questions is if you don’t ask them.

• When templates are provided with a pattern that also gives rotary cutting instructions, CHECK your first cut pieces against the template shapes printed with the pattern. Make sure they match ……. BEFORE you cut up all your fabric!

• Always MAKE A SAMPLE BLOCK of a new pattern — again, BEFORE you cut up all your fabric! Make sure the cutting and piecing instructions are correct, that you understand them, and have the skills to make the block.

• And one of the best things you’ll ever do in your quilting life is to take a good beginning class from a competent instructor.

TIP: If you always make your sample blocks (and class projects, for that matter) from the same group of fabrics, eventually, you’ll have enough blocks for a great sampler quilt.