Estimating Yardage

One of my readers asked:

how do you estimate how much you use on a scrappy project? Using big pieces for backings or borders wouldnt be bad, but what about little pieces, say like triangles or squares you would cut out of a FQ? Are you giving it a good ole guess?

If I’m using a pattern, I just add up all the yardage it requires and that’s the figure I plug into my spread sheet.

If I’m not using a pattern, I just figure it out. It only takes a minute or two. Say I’m using a block that uses 9 – 3″ finished half square triangles and my quilt needs 12 blocks. That means I’m using 108 half square triangles (9 x 12) which means I’m using 54 – 4″ squares of one color and 54 – 4″ squares of another color which means I’m using a total of 108 – 4″ squares. I figure I can get 10 – 4″ squares per strip so this means I need 11 – 4″ strips or 44″ of fabric.

My figures may not be exact but they’re pretty darned close . . because I’m kinda goofy and have to know exactly what I’m doing. I rarely start cutting before I have written out my directions — step by step.

Hope this helps.


  1. 1

    Erin says

    you are one of those people who can figure things out real fast..not like me..I call Yvonne..hehehe

  2. 2

    Kim says

    I just buy twice as much as I think I might need. Then if I have leftovers, I’ll buy more so I’ll then have enough for another quilt. And usually by then, I can get it at a really good sale price–unless I can’t find it anywhere at all because the fabric’s 10 years old. But then rarely do I have an intended use for what I buy–maybe a vague sort of brainstorm, but not a concrete, down on paper (or pattern in hand) sort of idea. And that’s how stashes grow!

  3. 3

    Mary says

    Since so many of my quilts are scrappy it doesn’t really matter how much fabric I need because I always pull more from the shelves than I need BUT when I need to specific yardage I use the fabric calculator. I used to do it by writing it out but this is much easier for me!