Friday, November 2, 2012

Calculating Fabric Requirements for a Rag Quilt

"How much fabric do I need to make a rag quilt?" 
I get asked that question a lot, so here's your answer!

You will need the following information:
1.    What size of squares are you going to cut?
2.    How many different fabrics are you going to use?
3.    How large do you want the quilt to be?
4.    How wide is your fabric?

For our example, here are our answers:
1.  What size of squares are you going to cut? 6-inch 
      (This is a pretty standard size. If you use bigger squares, the project will be easier 
      and go faster.)
How many different fabrics are you going to use? three fabrics
How large do you want the quilt to be? 35” x 40”
4.  How wide is your fabric? 43”

Now for the calculation!

Step 1: How many squares will you need?
Due to seam allowances, the finished quilt will have squares that are one inch smaller than what you cut. For example, since we are cutting 6-inch squares, the finished quilt will show 5-inch squares. The additional one inch is in the fringe.
Our finished quilt is 35” x 40”. That means it will have 7 squares in each row, and it will have 8 rows.
Figuring out the number of squares needed for your quilt.
There are 56 squares total (7*8=56). However, we also need the same number of squares for the back of the quilt. So our total number of squares is 56*2=112.
(Note: if you are using batting as the middle layer in your quilt, you will need to cut 56 squares of batting. Make them 5" squares so they won't show in the fringe.)

Step 2: How many squares of each print will you need?
Draw a picture of your quilt and label where you will use each fabric. I chose a very simple design for this example, but you be as creative as you want. Then count up the number of squares for each print. Don’t forget to multiply by 2 for the back of the quilt.
Calculating the number of squares needed for each fabric used.
 Step 3: How much fabric will you need?
Now you need to figure out how many squares you can get out of the width of your fabric.
Our fabric is 43” wide, and we are cutting 6” squares. That means we can cut 7 squares out of the width of fabric.
In other words, for every 6” cut of our fabric, we can get 7 squares. 
We need 38 squares of each print, so we need seven 6” strips of each of our fabrics. That is 42” of each of the three fabrics.

There you have it!

Do you have additional rag quilt questions? Leave a comment!


  1. I've never made a rag quilt, but that one is so cute it makes me want to do one. I can follow the above for the number and amount of fabric, but now what happens. How much seam allowance, how do you get the fringe? Please help.

    Sue -

    1. Sue - To answer your specific questions...I use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Once your squares are all sewn together (with all of the raw edges facing up), you clip the raw edges about every 1/2 inch. Then you wash the quilt to make the fringe.
      There is a decent rag quilt tutorial here:
      I am going to do a full rag quilt tutorial in the near future. I don't have it ready to go quite yet. Stay tuned!

    2. i want to make a queen size rag quilt, how much fabric will that take?

    3. Margaret, you will need to decide how big your squares will be, how many fabrics you will use, and how big the quilt needs to be. Then you can plug in those numbers to figure out the amount of fabric needed.

  2. Awesome thinking on making a chart for the amount of fabric needed!! Never would have thought to do something like that!! :) I just always buy fabric's a yard or more at a time as I make a lot of the rag quilts to donate to the local NICU where my daughter stayed. You can check us out!!

  3. If I use your instructions of 3 prints and 6 inch squares and other measurement, how many yards of each fabric would I need? Thanks!

  4. Thank you! I have looked at several tutorials for rag quilts and not one person ever said how much fabric you will need. This is so very helpful.


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