Skill Builder: How much fabric do I need? Working out border and binding requirements.

Hello lovelies!

Congratulations to all us Victorian’s who have survived yet another lockdown! I hope many of you got to catch up on some projects. I guess thats the wonderful thing about being a crafter… we are never short of things to keep us amused! Had to laugh when a good friend, also a quilter, told me she was amazed at how many people have said to her ‘gee you are so lucky you have a hobby’….. this seems very odd to me. Are there people who DON’T have hobbies??? Do they realise that literally anyone can have a hobby? Yes, its true, you too could become utterly obsessed and consumed by your passion for craft that you will let it take over your thoughts, cupboards and wallet lol.

Anyway, in this post, I thought fill you in on a patchwork shop secret…. how we calculate how much fabric you need for borders and binding in a project…. shhhh this is top secret stuff!

Graph paper, a pencil and a calculator are your new best friends!

Disclaimer: Shall I say from the outset that I failed maths at school…. there you go, now you have reduced your high expectations of me lol. Yes maths was the bain of my entire high school education. Absolutely dreaded it. Art, English, English Literature were my thing. Hmmm cooking not so much either but thats another story lol. Strangely enough though, I can do quilt maths! Go figure. Possibly because I am a visual person so I actually have something to reference it to. Anyway lets get our graph paper out and play pretend quilt maths…. lets make a mini quilt!

Centre block

Lets start with a centre block that measures 12″ x 12″. First thing to remember in this scenario is that this is the blocks finished size after its been pieced. So the centre block is actually 12.5″ x 12.5″ unfinished. You could easily get that out of a fat quarter, or a 12.5″ strip with lots left over. So if we are purchasing for the centre block, we would need to purchase a fat quarter or 40cm of fabric off the bolt (but then we will have lots leftover).

First Border

Now for our first border, lets add a pink border finishing at 2″. So this means the strips will be cut at 2.5″ as half an inch will disappear in seams. Now you will notice with the border, that I have added the vertical borders first and then the horizontal borders. The horizontal borders are longer because they have to go over the top of the side borders.

With the new border, our block now measures 16″ x 16″ finished. There are various methods to work this out but this is probably the easiest: Add the four sides using the unfinished measurements: 12.5″ + 12.5″ + 16.5″ + 16.5″ = 58″ is the total perimetre of the block. Now we could have just said 4 x 12.5″ but remember that our top and bottom border strips are longer, so that wouldnt be accurate. However, if thats easier for you, just add an extra strip for insurance.

Most patchwork fabric is between 42″ and 44″ wide from selvage to selvage and we are going to cut our 2.5″ strip across the width (selvage to selvage).

How many strips do I need? Lets assume the fabric is 42″ wide, therefore 58″ – 42″ = one full strip and 16.5″ of the next strip. Ok so basically we need 2 strips.

So how much fabric do I buy for the first border? 2 (number of strips I need) x 2.5 (width of strip) = I need to buy 5″ or 13cm off the bolt. Of course you would buy a bit extra to straighten up the edges or even enough for a spare strip incase you cut one wrong.

Second border

So now we have sewn the pink border on, our quilt measures 16.5″ square. Lets add on a green border 4″ wide finished (so strips cut 4.5″ wide). Again calculate the total using the unfinished measurements: 16.5″ + 16.5″ + 24.5″ + 24.5″ = 82″ is the total perimetre of the block. Again we could have said 4 x 16.5 but remember that our top and bottom border strips are longer, so that wouldnt be accurate. However, if thats easier for you, just add an extra strip for insurance.

How many strips do I need? 82″ – 42″ = almost 2 full strips.

How much fabric do I buy for the second border? 2 (number of strips) x 4.5 (width of strip) = I need to buy 9″ or 23cm off the bolt. Of course you would buy a bit extra to straighten up the edges or even enough for a spare strip incase you cut one wrong.

Binding

Ok now everyone knows binding is usually cut at 2.5″ strips across the width of the fabric. This time though, because the binding is made into one continuous strip, we wont need to worry about the longer measurement for the top and bottom. So lets add a red binding. Calculate the total perimetre: 4 x 24.5″ = 98″ is the total perimetre of the block.

How many strips do I need? 98 – 42 -42 = 2 full strips and 14″ of the next strip so 3 strips. Now, for binding, I always round up by a strip (so 4 strips required) because firstly you will be joining the strips on an angle and secondly you will be doing an continuous join after you’ve been all the way around. You need extra binding length to achieve this.

How much fabric do I need? 4 (number of strips I need) x 2.5″ strips (width of strip) = I need to buy 10″ or 26cm off the bolt plus a bit more to straighten up.

But wait…..

Theres an app for that!

What’s easier than having to calculate it yourself? Why just download the app! Check out Robert Kaufman’s Quilting Calc! It’s great if you find the maths all a bit too much.

Ohhhh and Sandy has just told me to give you all a special bonus…. how’s this

25% off all fabric purchased via the online shop from 9/7/21 to 20/7/21
using the code LEANNE25 at the checkout

Well thats all for this post, hope you are all getting stuck into those projects now that winter is upon us. We can put the heater on and sew sew sew! Bliss 🙂

Until next time

Regards

Leanne x