THE formula for calculating the necessary yardage for binding your quilt

Welcome back! I’ve got a super week lined up for you with one of our favorite things to do – putting the binding on a quilt!

I used to hate putting on a binding. I know that others love it because it means the quilt is almost complete, but it used to be such a hassle. If I were to calculate the inches (that could easily add up to miles?) of binding that I’ve put on, well after a while, it just doesn’t seem all that bad.

Of course, it helps to know how to put the binding on correctly so it looks nice and it helps to have great tools. This week, I’m using the Husqvarna Viking EPIC 980Q to assist with the binding.

Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q

Now before you brush me off and say you know everything there is to know about binding, I’ve been experimenting this week and I’ve discovered a couple of great tips that’ll make the process a bit easier and dare I say more exciting?

When I learned to quilt, I was taught that the quilt is not finished until the binding is stitched down by hand. Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve moved forward from that thought process.

I now put my bindings on completely by sewing machine. The biggest reason is time. I don’t have the time to hand stitch all the bindings down. Secondly, I think the binding is much more secure when it’s stitched down on both sides with the sewing machine so this technique is perfect for quilts that will be loved or washed a lot. The biggest issue is how to make the binding look nice. I think you’ll like what I’m going to show you.

If it’s important to you that your bindings be hand stitched, there are tips for you this week as well. The process is the same up to a certain point and I’ll be sure to let you know when that is.

Everything you ever wanted to know about binding

I’d like to say that I’m covering everything you ever wanted to know about binding but were afraid to ask, but there just isn’t time and space to cover everything this week. I’m going to cover a couple more binding methods in a future week, but for the moment, there’s lots of information here to keep you busy.

If you’d like to learn about a particular binding technique and I don’t cover it this week, please leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to add it to the list when I cover more binding techniques in the future.

Today, I’m covering straight of grain (crosswise) binding strips. Tomorrow, I’ll be exploring bias binding.

I get asked this question a lot, so I’m going to start by showing you how easy it is to calculate the amount of fabric required and the number of strips needed for the binding for any size quilt.

How to calculate the yardage necessary for binding


Determine the perimeter of the quilt by adding together two times the length and two times the width of the quilt. Add 10” to this number. i.e. – you’re working with a quilt that is 60″ x 72”. Take 2 x 72″ (the sides), + 2 x 60″ (the width) and add 10″ for ease.

That’s a total of 274″ of binding that’s required. I like to cut my binding strips 2½” wide. If you prefer to cut your binding strips wider or narrower than you’ll use that width when you do the next step. I’m going to touch on this topic a bit later, but I like the width on the front and back of the quilt that I get when using 2½” binding strips. Anything narrower and the binding is too narrow for my liking. It’s a personal choice.


Divide the number of inches of required binding by 40. To make the math easier to do in my head, I use 40″ as the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage. This will determine the number of strips needed. Our quilt requires 274″ of binding so divide that by 40 and you need 7 strips of binding.


Multiply the number of strips (7) by the width of the strip (2½”) and you need 17½” of fabric. If you work in yards, divide that number by 36 to get a ½ yard and if you work in meters, divide that number by 39 to get .45 meter. You may want to bump those quantities up slightly in the event you have a ‘mis-cut’.

And as easy as that, you now know how to calculate the fabric requirements for the binding of any sized quilt, as well as the number of binding strips needed.

Prepping the binding

Now that we’ve carefully cut the number of strips required, it’s time to join the strips.

I like to be consistent in how I join the strips. You’ll see why when we sew the binding to the quilt. It’s good practice to be consistent in how you work with anything. I use this same method to join sashing, borders and any other long pieces that need to be joined up to a width of about 6″.

Step 1 Lay one strip of binding fabric face up with one end of it falling off the front of the cutting table.

Step 2 Lay a second strip of binding fabric (with rights sides together) with the end falling to the left on the cutting table. Note the overlap of the ends and note that the selvages have NOT been removed.

Joining two strips of binding fabric

Step 3 Place a square ruler (or any ruler with a 45° line) as shown below. The 45° line will be parallel to the face-up strip of binding and the edge of the ruler will run from one intersection to another on a 45° angle. Leaving those selvages on to create an overlap makes it a lot easier to see where the beginning and end of your seam should be.

Using a square ruler to help join the binding strips

Step 4 Use a pencil to draw a line from intersection to intersection along the edge of the ruler.

Draw the seam line using a pencil

Step 5 Use two pins to secure the strips.

Pin to secure the strips

Step 6 Repeat this process until all the binding strips are pinned in place. I let the binding pool on the floor in front of my cutting table as I join subsequent binding strips.

Let the binding strips pool on the floor as you join the rest of the strips

Step 7 Sew the seams. You want your seams to start and finish right at the intersections. These seams can be chain pieced.

Chain sewing the seams to join the binding strips

Step 8 Cut away the excess (which includes those selvages) leaving ¼” seam allowance.

Cut away the excess leaving ¼” seam allowance

Step 9 Press the binding. Press the diagonal seams open. This will help to distribute the fabric thicknesses when attaching the binding to the quilt. Press the binding in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.

Press binding seams open and press the binding in half wrong sides together

If the tension on your sewing machine is set properly, you should not see any of the stitching appear on the front of your seam even when the seam is pressed open. One of the things I love about the Epic 980Q is that I’ve never had to fuss with the tension. Even using some pretty weird thread combinations. In the picture below, you can’t see the stitches (I used gray thread) even with the seam pressed open.

The seam is pressed open, but no stitching appears on the right side of the join

Step 10 Package the binding. There are lots of gadgets or guides that you can use to wind the binding onto. In a QUILTsocial post I wrote in April 2015, I made a video that shows you how to bind strips in a figure 8 roll, very useful to see it made up! There’s also an explanation in that post as to why I like to wind my binding this way. Be sure to check it out!

Wind the binding into a figure-eight using your thumb and index finger

When I want to sew the binding on, I start with the end that is in the middle of the figure 8. I lay the binding bundle in my lap. The binding will not twist or run away on you.

I made and used many bindings over the course of this week. You’ll see various bindings used as examples.

Pull from the middle of the figure-eight to prevent twisting when sewing the binding on the quilt

What to do with leftover binding bits

TIP I keep all the bits of leftover bindings in a tin. When I’m looking for the binding for a scrap quilt, I simply pick out the appropriate colors or fabric styles and join them together to get a scrappy binding. Of course, it’s a lot easier to do this if you use the same width of binding consistently in your work.

Tin of binding bits to be used for scrappy quilt bindings

Here’s a scrappy binding that’s waiting to be sewn onto a quilt.

Scrappy binding waiting to be sewn onto a quilt

As easy as that, you’ve got your binding made!

TIP Make your binding when you finish your quilt top. Label the binding or put it in a plastic bag with the quilt top. It’s easy to inadvertently use that binding fabric for something else and then you don’t have enough fabric when you want to make the binding. It can be difficult to find another fabric that matches especially if you don’t get around to binding the quilt for a while. I also find it a lot easier to sew on the binding if the binding is made rather than having to take the time to make it and then sew it on. If you’re just not sure you have cut enough strips – then add the remainder of the fabric with the binding and quilt top. Just in case.

Making binding used to be a chore. Now I don’t even think about it. I finish the quilt top, calculate the number of strips and within minutes, the binding is made and safely stored with the quilt top.

TIP I also make the backing at the same time. Then I store the three items together – the quilt top, the binding, the backing and I’m trying to put the pattern there as well so when I make the label, I’ll have all the necessary information.

Tomorrow, I’m going to chat about bias binding, how to make it and where you would use it.

Don’t forget that perfect tension makes the job a whole lot easier and the stitches will not show from the front. Having a great sewing machine like the Husqvarna Viking Epic 980Q makes that task a whole lot easier.

In the meantime, I’m sure you have a quilt top that needs to have the binding made. Get the fabric out, calculate the number of strips and make that binding today!

Have a great day!


This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: 9 steps to making continuous bias binding

[shareaholic app=”follow_buttons” id=”23735596″]

Related posts

7 essential tips for sewing the binding on a quilt by machine

9 steps to making continuous bias binding

3 essential tips for binding a quilt, turning your corners successfully


Karon March 29, 2018 - 10:07 pm
love the series on binding - many good tips which I will try
Carolynne Gallas March 29, 2018 - 2:48 pm
This was a very helpful tutorial that I will use to add the binding to my Jeweled Tile quilt I am finishing up!
Janice March 28, 2018 - 8:28 pm
Thanks for the tip on storing leftover binding.
Janet T March 28, 2018 - 7:53 pm
Thank you for doing the math for me! I always end up with more and never know what to do with it. Now I can make just what I need!!
Linda Williamson March 28, 2018 - 8:13 am
That's a great tip on saving the extra bits for a scrappy quilt. I'm going to start doing just that. Thanks
Linda Webster March 27, 2018 - 10:52 pm
Thanks for the great tutorial!
Kathy E. March 27, 2018 - 10:31 pm
Elaine, thank you for sharing your formula for calculating fabric needed for a binding. I haven't heard that anyone used a formula, but I imagined there was at least one out there somewhere! Also, I like your figure 8 system for winding the long strip of binding....I need to use that too! Great ideas shared!
JoyceLM March 27, 2018 - 10:28 pm
Thanks for the great tips on binding. Looking forward to the other parts in the series.
Sandy Allen March 27, 2018 - 8:00 pm
Thank you for this. I was just trying to figure out how big of a piece of fabric I would need for binding for a quilt and you answered my question! I also had never seen the figure 8 way of folding binding. Very interesting!
Heartland Honey March 26, 2018 - 1:15 pm
I always buy a yard of fabric for the binding. When it's time, I do the math, cut and stitch the strips together. The remaining fabric is added to my stash! I normally cut my strips 2.5" Any extra binding that's been cut on the straight of grain is added to my 2.5" strips box to be used in a future quilt.
Add Comment