Quilters who create their own patchwork designs often run into difficulties trying to determine how much fabric is needed for their projects. Several different geometric shapes in various fabric colors may be included in one design, making yardage calculations quite a challenge. Free, online quilt calculators greatly simplify the process. Furthermore, the calculators often automatically include the quarter-inch seam allowance that quilters typically use to sew patchwork pieces. If quilters do not have access to an online calculator, if they are, at a quilting retreat, for example, some simple math should help in determining the yardage needed. Additionally, it is always helpful to enlist the help of an experienced quilter, who is sure to be able to help with yardage requirements. Invariably, there will be extra material left at the end of any project. That is no bad thing, since quilters can add it to their "stash" of fabrics for future projects.
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A king-size quilt measures about 100 inches long and 92 inches wide. To begin calculating the fabric yardage needed for this large quilt, count the number of each shape in the same color in the patchwork design. Enter the results into an online quilt calculator to estimate how many yards of fabric will be needed for each shape based on the fabric width. For example, by choosing the shape "square" and plugging in 12 inches for the size of the squares in a quilt calculator, it was quickly revealed that approximately one and a half yards of 44-inch wide fabric would be needed to create those squares.
Queen-size quilts often measure 84 inches by 92 inches. A quilt calculator also will help determine how much fabric would be needed to make a quilt of this size that includes equilateral triangles. Since all sides of such triangles are the same length, simply enter the number of inches that one side measures to determine fabric yardage.
Lengths for both the long and short sides of a rectangle would need to be entered into a quilt calculator to determine the fabric yardage for a full-size quilt with standard measurements of 78 inches by 88 inches. For instance, 35 rectangles measuring 4 inches by 2 inches could be cut from a half yard of 44-inch wide fabric.
Figuring out fabric yardage for regular hexagons included in a 63-inch by 88-inch twin-size quilt can also be simplified with a quilt calculator. Since all sides of a six-sided regular hexagon are the same length, the measurement of one side is all that is needed to determine yardage with the calculator. Ten hexagons measuring 6 inches on all sides could be cut from one yard of 44-inch wide fabric.
Patchwork with irregular shapes is often used to create pictures on 42-inch by 52-inch baby quilts or 60-inch by 72-inch lap quilts. To determine fabric yardage, divide the total number of shapes that you plug into a quilt calculator by the number of irregular shapes that can fit into a single square. Round the resulting number up to a whole number if necessary.
A quilt's backing is often made up of one or two large pieces of fabric, and the yardage largely depends on the size of the finished patchwork design. Approximately four inches should be added to the length and width of the backing fabric for small quilts, and eight inches should be added for large quilts. Patchwork tends to shrink when it's quilted, and the additional inches will accommodate for the shrinkage.