Thursday, September 1, 2011

Figuring Out Yardage for Quilt Backings

Today I am going to attempt to help you figure out how to cut and buy the correct amount of fabric for the back of your quilt. This will be featured in the tool section as Backing Chart for quick reference in the future.

This chart assumes your fabric is 42 inches wide. You will have to make adjustments if your fabric is a different width. This first section will feature five different options for piecing the backing depending on how big your quilt is for the optimal use of fabric. I did do the drawings below, but someone else figured out the math, and I am not sure who to give the credit to, as someone gave me these numbers.

These options will give you a piece big enough to back your quilt, but you will have to trim in most cases after putting the quilt sandwich together:

OPTION A: No piecing. Just cut to size.

OPTIONS B AND C: Cut the backing fabric in half crosswise (selvage to selvage), removing the selvage first and then sewing the two pieces together lengthwise on the long edges.

OPTIONS D AND E: With this option you cut your fabric in thirds crosswise again, (selvage to selvage). Sew the three pieces together lengthwise along the long edges.


28" x 28"         A                                      1
28" x 40"         A                                      1
34" x 44"         A                                      1 1/4
40" x 52"         A                                      1 1/2
42" x 56"         A                                      1 3/4

48" x 54"         B                                      3
48" x 60"         B                                      3
52" x 52"         B                                      3
56" x 68"         B                                      3 1/4
58" x 62"         B                                      3 1/2
60" x 72"         B                                      3 1/2
60" x 80"         B                                      3 1/2

62" x 86"         C                                      5
62" x 92"         C                                      5 1/4
66" x 105"       C                                      6
69" x 96"         C                                      5 1/2
76" x 110"       C                                      6 1/4

86" x 105"       D                                      7 1/4
86" x 115"       D                                      7 1/4
90" x 110"       D                                      7 3/4
96" x 110"       D                                      8
100" x 111"     D                                      8 1/2
106" x 116"     D                                      9

112" x 110"     E                                      9 1/4

124" x 116"     D                                      10 1/2

Another method to cut a backing is diagonally. This was first developed by John Flynn of the Flynn Frame Company while trying to help his sister. She had a piece of fabric which wasn’t quite long enough to cut in half and sew back together with a vertical seam to get a quilt back. Her idea was to cut the fabric into two big triangles along the diagonal, offset the triangles along the diagonal cut to get the width she needed and then sew them back together. John, having an engineering background had a formula to help her. John’s method for diagonally piecing a quilt back from one piece of fabric is the most efficient way to make the back whenever the width of the quilt back is one and a half times, or less, than the width of the fabric you plan to use. For example, if the width of your back fabric is 44”, use John’s method whenever the width you want your back to be is 66” or less. If you are using fabric that is 60” wide, use John’s method whenever you want your quilt back to be 90” or less. This is explained at his site very well

This formula is mathmatically complicated for my mind to grasp, but someone has taken his formula and made a tutorial and calculator to help you. You will find this calculator and tutorials on different variations of the diagonal cut backing at:

I hope this was helpful to you.  I have a printable document in the tool section for you to take along to the quilt shop here.

Piecefully yours,


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