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Ask Alex: How Much Backing Fabric?

Alex Anderson solves the riddle of how much backing fabric to buy.

One question Alex Anderson hears fairly often is how much fabric is needed for the backing of a project that is not a standard measurement? Is there a formula that is used? Here's Alex's solution:

Add four inches all the way around the edges of the finished quilt, to allow for shrinkage. If the width of the quilt is less than 40 inches (standard width of a bolt of fabric is 44 inches) it’s as simple as measuring the length of the quilt. Cut the fabric to the length of the quilt plus four inches.

If the quilt top is larger in any direction than 40 inches, you'll have to piece together two or three lengths of fabric for the quilt backing. Piece the width of the quilt if possible. Measure the width of the quilt top and divide by 40 (that gives you four inches extra for shrinkage). That will tell you how many pieces you will need to use. Then, measure the length of the top to determine how much yardage is needed. Multiply the width number times the length and that is your total.

Example:
Quilt top measures 75" X 90"

For the width you will need 75 / 40 = 1.875 round up to two widths.
For the length you will need 90 inches.
2 x 90 = 180 or five yards

Use scraps from your stash for a pieced backing as a frugal alternative. Use a light backing for a light top to avoid fabric bleeding.

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