This month’s tip is all about

How to make sure you buy enough fabric for future projects. (Spoiler; there is no definitive answer!)


Of course a quilt shop is going to encourage you to buy more right?!!

When you have had as many desperate customers through the door as we have you will understand why we encourage this.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through a project only to realise you won’t have enough of a fabric to finish. Chances are it is a particular print that is vital to the overall design and simply replacing it will look weird or wrong. If it’s a scrappy quilt then that’s fine, you will get away with it and actually probably improve the look of the overall design. If it is not scrappy then … uh oh … you’re in trouble.


How do you prevent this?

So we are talking about 2 possible scenarios.

Scenario 1; Pre-planning

The first is when you know you are making a quilt and you are buying the fabric for it. You may have a pattern or at least an idea of what it will look like. You also know roughly what size you will be making it, maybe even who the recipient will be. This is the easiest one to calculate because you can figure out what you need, buy a little extra and go home happy.

When you are buying for a particular project it is easy enough. Use a pattern or do your calculations and always buy at least a 1/4m more if you are unsure.

Generally for narrow borders on most quilts we find a 1/2m sufficient. Another 1/2m will do the binding on all but the bigger quilts.

Jelly rolls and layer cakes are the equivalent of approx 2.5m of fabric and will make up a small single bed topper so approx 3m of fabric will make up a single bed quilt. That equates to 12 fat quarters.

Approx 4-5m or 16-20 fq’s will make up a double quilt

Approx 6-8m or 24-32 fq’s will make a larger quilt

These approximations are just that, your amounts will vary according to the pattern. Generally the more seams involved the more you will need. The more awkward shapes to be cut, or fussy cut, the more fabric you will need as some may be wasted.

If one colour or print is dominant you will need more of it.

Sashings are often an after thought but can involve quite a bit of fabric and they don’t look great if they are patched with almost matching or mismatching fabrics. Try to choose something that the quilt shop can order more of or that is always in stock. A good way to choose sashing is to pick something you will always use again, a blender, solid or background print in a neutral or handy colour that will work in future projects, buy a little extra and you won’t go wrong.

Scenario 2; Buying for a future unknown project

Ok so here’s where thinking things through a little can pay dividends when you’re unpacking your purchases, weeks, months or years down the line.

So this occurs when you are in the quilt shop or online and you spot a fabric or precut that you just love. It speaks to you and you just know you will love using it. You may have an idea of what you will make with it or you may not but you just have to have it.

The fabric will fall into one of 2 categories, it will either be easy to blend with other prints and colours and could be used in several ways in several projects or it is more of a one off feature fabric that you only want to use once but you want it to be the central focus.

Decide which one it is and then assess how much you might use. It may be the type of print that only needs a small amount to make an impact. Or maybe it will look amazing as a wholecloth piece or in a large amount with small amounts of others added.

If I am not sure of what I will use, and I absolutely LOVE it I will buy about 2m. Its a very useable amount that can be divided up among several projects or used to great effect in a quilt. Its enough that I can use a metre of it in the centre of a quilt and still have enough for a border and binding.

If I love it but its not something I will use a lot then 1/2m is enough. I will usually quickly assess if it can be easily matched to regular blenders like toscanas, colourblends or solids so when I go to use it a few months down the line then I can pick up what I need to go with it if the co-ordinates are out of stock or print.

If it is a precut, then I always get something to match, at the very least 1/2m of a bright colour or 1m of a white/cream/soft blender. The bright colour I can use as a binding and the brights can be used as a border/sashing/binding.

Permanent resident Anne says “Chances are I will make what I usually make and I normally make large quilts and use precuts with lots of borders and or sashing so I get 1m each of a few coordinates. While I don’t know what I will make specifically chances are it will be similar to what I normally make.” 

I refer to pinterest often for inspiration on quilt layouts that will make sense of the amounts of fabric that I have. There is maths involved and you don’t need to be a maths wizz to be able to plan a simple pattern. Just remember to account for minimum 1/2″ of fabric in each seam.

Please be aware that when a print is sold out is not often repeated. If you get home and think you will use more then ring the shop before it is gone. We are more than happy to take orders over the phone and we often do. We have had several customers who have come to us saying ‘I bought the last of this from you, do you have any more?’, we love their optimism! But we cannot work magic. So if in doubt get a little extra!