Calculating Yardage Usage

Please don’t anyone stress about yardage usage for the stashbusting.  In order for any of us to stick with stashbusting, it’s going to have to be fun and not tedious.  Don’t get caught up in the numbers but my hope is that we all find that using the stash is fun and challenging and that by the end of 2009, we will all have learned to be a better user of what we have . . not that we can’t or shouldn’t go to the quilt shop when we need something but that we will get in the habit of using what we have first.

I do like to track my usage and try to be as accurate as possible but I’m not stressing over whether I have my numbers right down to the inches.

Here are some methods to use to keep up with your usage:

  1. If you’re using a pattern, it will have the yardage requirements and that should be the most accurate method.
  2. If you’re flying by the seat of your pants, make yourself a little chart . . do it on the computer if you’d like and print them out as you use them.  Keep a spiral notebook by your cutting table.  Use Post-It Notes (and use lots of them . . like tons of them, and use 3M tape and sponges and bandaids and all the 3M products you can find!)  And, don’t forget that Vince works for 3M but hey . . the Post-It Notes are great for the sewing room and when you cut yourself with the little sharp scissors (like I did last night), a Nexcare bandage is the perfect solution.  OK . . back to fabric calculations.  Here’s a little chart something like what you could use.  It doesn’t have to be fancy . . scribbles on a piece of paper will work.
  3. Weight – This is probably the least accurate method because not all fabrics weigh the same.  Some of the Moda and Blank fabrics (I’m sure others but those are some I’ve recently used) are a heavier weight than even the Moda Marbles.  Weigh yourself and put that figure on your blog.  Not really!  Weigh yourself, then pick up a bundle of fabric and weigh it and subtract the two.  Or, weigh a plastic bucket, cut out all your pieces and put them in the bucket.  Then weigh the bucket again and subtract the two.  You’ll need a reference so measure out 5 yards of fabric, weigh them, divide that number by 5 and you’ll have a “guestimate” as to how much 1 yard of fabric should weight.
  4. If you’re working off a few large pieces of fabric, get out all the fabric you plan to use.  Measure it.  Pin a piece of paper to each piece with the amount of yardage on that piece.  After using what you need, re-measure the fabrics and subtract from what you started with.
  5. The best way to do it is to use Electric Quilt!  For whatever quilt you plan to make, you either have a pattern in front of you or you have a design in your head.  The pattern will have yardage but you still may want to tweak the pattern a bit so sketching it out in EQ is never a waste of time.  If you’re making something too difficult to sketch out in exact detail, get as close as you can.  The yardage requirements in some of the older EQ versions weren’t so accurate but I find EQ6 to be very accurate.  It will not be perfect because there are several ways to do things and each way may use a different amount of fabric.  But EQ’s measurements are close enough for me to use if I’m not writing out a pattern.  And, if I’m making a top that’s real scrappy, color it in using just a few fabrics in order to get your yardage amounts and then do whatever you want with the actual top.

Here’s the top I’m working on (that you’ve already seen).

Here’s the yardage calculations straight from EQ:

Though I used a bunch of different ecru, blue and red prints, they’re all shown as the same for the purpose of yardage calculations.  For this quilt, I will say that I’ve used 5-3/8 plus I will make the binding when I finish the top and I know that for a top that is 60″ x 78″, I will use a bit over 8 binding strips, so I will cut 9 (probably  8 and pieces left over from the border) .  9 x 2-1/2″ is 22.5″ or 5/8 yard.  5/8 plus the 5-3/8 yard for the top means I will put down having used 6 yards for this top.  When I quilt it, I will add in the backing at that time, but not the binding since I make it when I finish the top.

Make sense?  I hope it takes you a fraction of the time to figure out you yardage as it did for me to type this post (and for you to read it!).  Please find yourself an easy tracking method and spend your time sewing . . not calculating, ok?


  1. 1


    Good methods of calc’g what we’re using. But no way am I going to weigh myself and then hold fabric and get on that blasted scale a second time! 🙂 🙂 🙁 🙁