Piecing the Backing

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated November 12, 2018

This quilt backing tutorial includes calculators to determine the backing yardage based on the following:

  1. a usable fabric width of 40″,
  2. 4″ of extra backing on all sides of the quilt top for a total of 8″ wider and 8″ longer than the quilt top,
  3. width is the measurement of the short edges of the quilt top and is the top and bottom,
  4. length is the measurement of the long edges of the quilt top and are the sides,
  5. the fabric is either directional or non-directional and
  6. you are using one fabric for the entire backing.

First we discuss directional fabric. This is a directional fabric from the Superheroes In Disguise Collection from Moda Fabrics.


directional quilt backing fabric
This is a non-directional fabric because the butterflies and leaves are tossed around and not printed in the same direction. I believe this fabric is from the Pinata Collection by Timeless Treasures.

non-directional quilt backing fabric

For more information on fabric, check out the article, Fabric Terms: Width of Fabric, Selvage, Directional Fabric.

Using Directional Quilt Backing Fabric

Use this section to determine yardage for a directional fabric. To piece a backing with directional fabric, the seam is stitched along the selvage and the selvages are cut off. This creates a vertical seam(s) running from top to bottom. To find the amount of fabric needed, measure the width of the quilt top and choose the calculator in the column below that corresponds to your measurement.

Quilt Width up to 32″

One Panel

Quilt Width 33″ to 72″
Two Panels

Quilt Width 73″ to 112″
Three Panels

For even more understanding, here is a short video showing how to keep track of the directions as you piece the quilt backing. This video was uploaded to YouTube by Heavenly Stitches on March 1, 2017.

Non-Directional Fabric

If you are using non-directional fabric you have the opportunity to use a little less fabric by making the seams horizontal.

  • For quilts having a width of up to 32″, you will use one panel. Use the same calculator as that shown for directional fabric.
  • For quilts having widths over 32″, you will use two or three panels. Use the calculators below.

Measure the length of the quilt top and choose the calculator below that corresponds to that measurement.

Quilt Length 33″ to 72″

Two Panels **

Quilt Length 73″ to 112″

Three Panels

** The video below shows a fast way to piece a 2-Panel, non-directional backing without cutting the fabric first.


The takeaway for quilt backings made from one fabric:

  1. First determine if the fabric is directional or non-directional.
  2. Measure the quilt top.
  3. Using the measurements, find the calculator for either directional or non-directional fabric.

Disclaimer: We have taken great care to ensure that the information included here is accurate and presented in good faith, but no warranty is provided or results guaranteed. Having no control over the choices of materials or procedures used, neither the author nor QuiltNotes LLC shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by the information contained herein. You should always double check the measurements before cutting the fabric. Placing the quit top along the backing fabric and visually checking the length is a good way to satisfy yourself that the backing will fit.

For more project tutorials and videos:

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