Measure Twice: Formulas for Borders, Backs and Bindings
Being able to calculate yardages for quilting borders, backs and bindings allows you to more effectively use the fabrics you have on hand for your projects as well as let you decide on amounts to purchase when you find those fabrics you absolutely love.
Most quilt patterns provide yardage needed for borders, backing and binding, however, when sewing your own projects, you’ll need to do a little math to determine the yardages you should purchase to complete your quilt top.
Here are the simple calculations you’ll need to make:
Figuring yardage for borders involves just a couple of simple steps.
First, measure your completed quilt center. The left and right borders will be cut the length of the quilt center. For left and right borders for a 40″ x 50″ quilt center, you’ll need two pieces of fabric that are your desired border width by 50″ long.
If you are adding 5″ borders, cut three strips of fabric 5″ x width of fabric. Piece with a diagonal seam and then cut two pieces 50″ long.
After adding these borders, measure the width of your quilt to determine the top and border length. (In this example, the quilt center will now measure 49″ x 50″.)
Next, you’ll add your top and bottom borders. Again cut three strips 5″ x width of fabric, piece with a diagonal seam, and cut two pieces measuring 49″ long.
After sewing these top and bottom border strips, your quilt will measure 49″ x 59″. In total, you used six strips 5″ x width of fabric. Since your strips were 5″ wide, you used a total of 30″ of fabric, or 7/8 yard. With your borders added, you now have the measurements you’ll need to figure yardage for your backing and binding.
For backings, you’ll need to remember to add 4” to each side measurement of your completed quilt top so your backing is enough bigger than your quilt to easily allow for quilting.
For the quilt used in the example above, the backing should be 57″ x 67″.
To get this, cut two pieces of fabric 57″ long by the width of fabric to piece the back ( 57″ + 57″ = 114″ or 3 1/4 yards of fabric will give you the needed fabric).
Sew the two 57″ long pieces together along the 57″ side.
Trim the length to 67″ after sewing this seam.
For bindings made from width of fabric strips, first add the measurements of all four sides of your quilt. Then add 12” for seams, corners and finishing.
After you have your total measurement, divide by 42” to determine the number of strips you’ll need.
For example, if you have a finished 50” x 60” lap quilt, you’ll add 50+50+60+60+12 and end up with 232 total inches of required binding. Six strips of fabric (6 x 2 1/2″ = 15″ or 1/2 yard) will give you approximately 252 inches of sewn binding, leaving you with a small amount of leftover binding.
Note: For scrappy bindings, remember that because you are using so many seam allowances to join smaller strips of fabric, you will need quite a bit extra. For diagonally pieced scrappy bindings, count on at least 4” of each strip being taken up in the seams. So if you are using 10” strips for your scrappy binding, only about 6” of each strip will count toward your finished length of binding.
Now that October is here, we’re getting excited for Halloween! Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for a roundup of fun Halloween quilt projects!
For lots of tips on borders, backings, and bindings, try the Craftsy course Pre-Cut Piecing Made Simple with Camille Roskelley.