How to Calculate Trims & Binding Yardage


Calculating trim and binding yardage is a common process for most crafters who are working without patterns. If your project has a pattern, the pattern should include the yardage of trims and bindings. There are two aspects to calculating yardage, the first is the length of any particular binding or trim, the second depends on if you are making bias tape or piping and also need to calculate fabric yardage to make the trims.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing tape measure
  • Color marker
  • Graph paper
  • Straight edge
  • Place your paper or muslin pattern on the work table. If you have been working on a project that started without a pattern, you should have developed a pattern during the creation of the project to allow you to replicate it later.

  • Mark the seams or edges where trim or binding will be attached. Use different color markers for each change of trim and create a legend to show which is which. You can even staple samples of each trim to the legend to keep things clear.

  • Measure along the seams and edges. Do one color at a time and create a column of numbers for each color. If your pattern is a half pattern, you will need to double your numbers for the second half. Add up your columns and add 12 inches for problems or waste to each total.

  • Measure the actual piece that will be trimmed such as when working with upholstery. If you are removing the old fabric to use as a pattern, you can mark the existing fabric when you have counted it to keep from counting the same piece twice.

  • Calculate the width of your fabric if you are also making the bias tape, piping or welting for your project. Transfer your width to 1/4-inch graph paper and mark off a square. Example: if you fabric is 45-inches wide, draw a square that is 45-inches wide and long.

  • Cut out the graph paper square with scissors. Fold the graph paper on the diagonal to form a triangle shape. Measure away from the fold. If you are making bias tape you will need 1-inch strips of fabric for 1/4-inch bias double-fold binding tape. If you need 1/2-inch bias tape you will need 2-inch wide strips of fabric. If you are making piping you will need 1 1/2-inches plus the diameter of the cord. Mark your strip width measurements on the paper.

  • Draw lines parallel with your fold (the fold is the bias) to the corner. Square off the ends of each strip. Measure the length of each strip and add up your lengths for the amount of strips you can obtain from half of the fabric. Double your total for the length of strips from your square of fabric. This will tell you how many yards of fabric you need to make the binding you need for your project totals.

Tips & Warnings

  • This calculation is easier to do with the graph paper in your hand where you can see the strips and understand joining them to make one long strip of binding.

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