How to Measure Quilt Backing

Toby Lischko
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Duration:   6  mins

A quilt is composed of three layers: a patchwork quilt top, batting, and quilt backing. How do you determine the yardage required to create a quilt back? Sometimes, patterns will suggest yardage, but what if you modify the size of the finished quilt? Some local quilt shops will help you figure out the backing needed. Ultimately, most of us want to learn the “formula” or trick to measuring for quilt backing. In this video, your instructor Toby Lischko will demonstrate the process and work through some simple examples to assist you in learning the process.

Since quilts can be created in endless sizes, there isn’t a chart for quick reference in determining yardage for quilt backings. Toby shows you how to measure for quilt backing the width and length of a project. Drawing a diagram makes the process a bit easier to visualize. Recording the measurements and then determining the method of quilting used is part of the process: hand quilting, domestic machine quilting, or longarm quilting. The hand and domestic machine quilting methods require only a 3” additional perimeter over the patchwork quilt top. When selecting longarm quilting, most professional quilters will need a 4–5 inch perimeter in many quilt tops for quilt backing. This extra perimeter allows the large machine a more straightforward pathway across the quilt sandwich. It minimizes the possibility of error or placing the needle too close to quilt claps or leader strips.

Toby calculates yardage based on the standard 42” usable fabric width for quilt backing. This considers any seams that may need to be created to join strips in a backing that uses multiple strips joined to cover either the width or length of the quilt.

Please follow the links here if you want additional instructional videos on calculating quilt backing or creating reversible quilts.

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