Quilting Blog

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.

White Quilt with Bold and Patterned Blocks

Here are the simple calculations you'll need to make:


Figuring yardage for borders involves just a couple of simple steps.

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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".)

Step 3:

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.


Quilts Stacked on Chair


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".

Step 1:

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).

Step 2:

Sew the two 57" long pieces together along the 57" side.

Step 3:

Trim the length to 67" after sewing this seam.

Quilts Rolled up on Bed

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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.

Patterned Quilt Bindings Rolled

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.

Do you have any tips for calculating borders, backs and bindings?



Thanks for immensely practical directions – very useful and clearly informative!

Christina in Cleveland

Wonderful formulas. I read something yesterday about making sure the seams in the binding don’t fall on corners. I think I need to do some extra test fitting to make sure I don’t end up with a mitered binding seam landing on the corner of the quilt. Yikes! lol


I think you miscalculated. If you want 5 inch borders, should the strip be 5 1/2 inches wide, to account for seams?


Alys is correct.. 5.5″ border strips should be cut for 5″ borders.. otherwise you’ll end up with 4.5″ borders (taking out 1/4″ for the seam on the quilt and the seam for the binding).

My tip is to forget calculating by yourself and get a FabriCalc. 🙂

Joni Gaida

It would have been more helpful to have pictures or examples of the explanations instead of the pretty pictures of the quilts for someone like me that does better with visual aids.


thank you fot this post.
Note: in “Borders, step 1”, you write “measure your completed quilt center”. It is often advised to measure the quilt center across the middle and not along the actual sides (the sides are more likely to get a bit warped duting the construction process).


And if you’re making a round tablecloth quilt, measure across the center of the round (this is the diameter) and multiply this times 3.66 (pi) and you will have how much trip or binding you need for your round.

Christina in Cleveland

Oh very helpful, thank you Susan!!!


Great post. Thank you.

BTW – I’d really love to see more tips & tutorials to help with precision sewing. E.G. why do we need to use a square 2 7/8 when cutting a HST vs 2 1/2, when sewing to a 2 1/2 strip. Silly question for some, but a frequently asked question by others. Quilt Math and Precision Sewing tips are topics that many need help with. And, I think you have the skills and Craftsy has the power to help! Might even make for a great new Craftsy class!!!!



Very helpful info. Easy site to get to.



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.

I’m sorry but the “enough bigger” verbiage is incorrect and throws me off. I find this instruction confusing and the math is off as well. Try out sewveryeasy on Laura Coia’s sewing channel.on you tube. Easy, clear and correct.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a reply