There’s more than one way to construct a quilt, and thus more than one way to cut fabric. It’s virtually impossible to know every possible technique one might use, and to anticipate problems that may come up along the way. You may find you need more or less fabric depending on how you cut out your pattern or whether you are using a special combination sewing-cutting method which has you trim fabric after sewing.

Please remember that EQ’s fabric calculations are estimates. Many factors can influence the final yardage you need. Fabric shrinkage, miscuts due to reading a pattern incorrectly, or a slipping ruler can all lead to fabric shortage. Buying a bit more fabric than required may increase the cost but will leave you with scraps for a future quilt. What quilter doesn’t like that?

The Yardage Calculator for Pieced Blocks

  • EQ adds the seam allowance size to each patch.
  • For patches that can be rotary cut, it places the patches in rectangular strips as you would for rotary cutting.
  • For patches that cannot be rotary cut, it places an imaginary rectangle around each patch.
  • The yardage calculator places these rectangles on fabric of the selected width. Each time a row is filled with rectangles, it begins a new row counting the entire strip as required yardage. In some cases, there can be waste at the end of a strip.

A Note about Triangles

  • The yardage calculator treats a triangle as a half-square triangle if the two shorter edges of the triangle are horizontal and vertical, respectively.
  • The yardage calculator treats a triangle as quarter-square if its long edge (hypotenuse) is either vertical or horizontal in the quilt.
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For horizontal quilts with pieced blocks where most patches can be rotary cut, the result is a very “tight” estimate of the yardage required. The triangles in this sample are treated as half-square triangles by the yardage calculator. The two shorter edges of the triangles are horizontal and vertical.
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When we use this same block in an on-point layout, the results are a bit more generous. The long edges of the triangles (hypotenuse) are now vertical and horizontal because the blocks have been tipped on-point. As a result, the yardage calculator treats these triangles as quarter-square triangles in the calculations making the estimate larger. In reality, you will be able to cut these triangles more efficiently than EQ’s estimate.

Pieced Blocks That Are Not Rotary Cuttable

EQ8 does not give rotary cutting for every shape. Kites are an example. If the pieced block has many patches that EQ8 does not rotary cut, then the yardage is likely to be a generous overestimate. This is because placing each patch in an imaginary rectangle does not account for the “packing” that’s possible when you’re looking at a specific situation.

The Yardage Calculator for Applique Blocks

  • EQ adds the seam allowance size to each patch.
  • EQ places an imaginary rectangle around each patch.
  • The yardage calculator places these rectangles on fabric of the selected width. Each time a row is filled with rectangles, it begins a new row counting the entire strip as required yardage. In most cases, there will be waste in each row, depending on the size of each rectangle.
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​You will find the estimates for applique to be a generous overestimate.

The Yardage Calculator for Borders and Long Strips

For borders and strip layouts that have rectangles that are longer than the fabric width, EQ8 will treat them as if they will be pieced. This also applies to the mitered borders. Here’s how it calculates: If the length of a strip is longer than the width of fabric (as chosen in the dialog), then EQ8 will divide the width of the fabric in half (i.e. 42 usable inches divided by 2 equals 21 inches) and calculate how many “half-widths” (21-inch strips) it will take to complete one strip. For example, if your layout requires 4 border strips of 52.5 inches by 2.5 inches, then it would calculate 3 21-inch strips per side.

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Since it calculates 3 strips, that means 2 rows (2.5 + 2.5) so 5 inches of fabric. The second row has extra unused fabric. The calculator would use this same method for the other 3 sides of the quilt (3 x 5 = 15) and conclude 20 inches of fabric is needed to cut the borders. This would round to 5/8 of a yard. In reality, this could be cut in 3/8 yard so this example creates ample overage.

If the sample quilt needed 80 inch strips, the calculator would still conclude 5/8 yard, but there would be much less waste.

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One way to help improve the estimates, is to color the borders with a contrasting color. This will separate the border yardage from the calculations for the center of the quilt. This will allow you to do the math on the long strips yourself.

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