How to Calculate Yardage for Quilt Borders

Calculating yardage for quilt borders is a task that requires careful attention and precision. Whether you are a novice quilter or an experienced artisan, understanding the accurate yardage is crucial to completing your quilting project successfully. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore step-by-step methods, useful tips, and the most common mistakes to avoid. Let’s delve right into it.

Essential Tools and Materials

Before we get into the calculations, ensure you have the following items:

  • Tape Measure: For accurate measurements.
  • Calculator: For easy calculations.
  • Notepad and Pen: To jot down measurements and calculations.
  • Quilting Fabric: Chosen fabric for the quilt borders.

Understanding Quilt Dimensions

Firstly, let’s understand the dimensions of your quilt. Measure the length and width of your quilt top in inches. Make sure to measure it in two or three different spots to get an average size if the measurements vary.

  • Quilt Length: ___ inches
  • Quilt Width: ___ inches

Border Width: Deciding the Ideal Size

The border width typically varies between 2 to 12 inches. A smaller border will give your quilt a frame, while a wider one can significantly change its dimensions. Make your choice depending on the look you’re aiming for.

Single Border: How to Calculate Yardage

For a single border, the calculation formula is as follows:

  • Total Border Length: Quilt Length + Quilt Width x 2
  • Total Yardage Needed: Total Border Length x Border Width / 36

For example, if your quilt is 60 inches long and 40 inches wide with a 4-inch border, the calculation will be:

  • Total Border Length: (60 + 40) x 2 = 200 inches
  • Total Yardage Needed: (200 x 4) / 36 = 22.22 yards

Multiple Borders: An Advanced Approach

If you’re planning on adding multiple borders, you’ll need to make additional calculations:

  1. First Border: Calculate as above.
  2. Additional Borders: Add the first border’s width to the quilt dimensions before calculating the next one.

This ensures each subsequent border accommodates the width of the previous borders.

Consider Fabric Width

Standard fabric widths are 42-44 inches, but they can vary. Make sure to account for fabric width when determining how much material you’ll need.

Corners and Seam Allowances

Never forget to account for corners and seam allowances in your calculations. An extra half yard could save you a last-minute trip to the fabric store.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Inaccurate Measurements: Always double-check your numbers.
  2. Ignoring Seam Allowances: These are crucial for the final output.
  3. Forgetting about Shrinkage: Pre-wash your fabric to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Pro Tips

  • Buy Extra: Always purchase a little extra to accommodate mistakes.
  • Quality over Quantity: Quality fabric makes a difference in the end product.
  • Border Variations: Experiment with scalloped or pieced borders for a unique look.


Calculating yardage for quilt borders is not just about numbers; it’s an art that combines math and creativity. Armed with this guide, you’re well-equipped to tackle any quilting project that comes your way. Remember, precision and attention to detail are your best allies in this craft.


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