Strip Cutting – How Much Fabric Do I Need?

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated December 15, 2018

The word “patchwork” in quiltmaking is hardly used at all these days. In the “old days” quiltmakers used cardboard templates to trace shapes onto fabric. Scissors were used to cut the “patches” of fabric along the traced line. Patches were sewn to each other to make a quilt. Today we still sew patches together but we cut them in a much different way. Rotary cutters and other tools help us to quickly and accurately cut multiple patches.

This is the first part of a three part series so be sure you are subscribed to the newsletter and the YouTube channel (see the end of the article) to be notified when parts 2 and 3 are released over the next 2 weeks.

In this tutorial you learn how to determine how much fabric you need for any size patch. There are three easy steps:

  1. Find out how many patches can be cut from a single strip.
  2. Find out how many strips you need.
  3. Determine how much fabric you need.

NOTE:

  • For those who like math, the first example shows the math.
  • If you don’t like math, put a few numbers into the calculator and instantly see the results.

Assumptions

In order to understand the process, here are some assumptions we use. These will be explained later.

  1. All calculations are based on 40″ of usable fabric per strip. For more information see Quilting Fabric Terms.
  2. All numbers are the CUT sizes.
  3. Each patch will have a Width and a Length:
    • Width is always the smallest side. Use the width to find the Number of Patches per Strip.
    • Length is always the longest size. Use the length to find the Amount of Fabric.
  4. The Length is always used when cutting strips.
  5. The amount of fabric you need using this method represents the minimum amount needed You should purchase more fabric to all for shrinkage, fabric straightening and cutting errors.

THE MATH WAY

For this section I show you two examples. See how easy the steps are. If you prefer to use the NO math way, just fill in the blanks on this form – Strip Cutting Yardage and Instructions below.

Patch A

Strip cutting fabric

The width and length of Patch A are shown here. The number of Patch A needed for the project is 43.

1 – Number of Patches per Strip

Usable Fabric Width = 40″

Width of Patch = 2.5″

# of Patches per Strip = Usable Fabric Width / Width of Patch

40″ / 2-1/2″ = 16 patches

2 – Number of Strips

# of patches needed = 43

# of patches per strip = 16

Number of Strips = Total # of Patches / # of Patches per Strip

43 / 16 = 2.68 (drop the fraction and add 1) = 3 strips

3 – Amount of Fabric

Length of Patch = 2.5″

# of Strips = 3

Amount of Fabric = Length of Patch x # of Strips

2.5″ x 3 = 7.5″ of fabric

This total of 7.5″ is 7.5″ x WOF.

Patch B

strip cutting fabric

The number of Patch B needed for the project is 22.

1 – Number of Patches per Strip

Usable Fabric Width = 40″

Width of Patch = 3″

# of Patches per Strip = Usable Fabric Width / Width of Patch

40″ / 3″ = 13.33 (drop the fraction) =13 patches

2 – Number of Strips

# of patches needed = 22

#of patches per strip = 13

Number of Strips = Total # of Patches / # of Patches per Strip

22 / 13 = 1.69 (drop the fraction and add 1) = 2 strips

3 – Amount of Fabric

Length of Patch = 5.75″

# of Strips = 2

Amount of Fabric = Length of Patch x # of Strips

5.75″ x 2 = 11.5 (drop the fraction and add 1) inches of fabric = 12″

This total of 12″ is 12″ x WOF.


Bonus – Scrap It Up!

If you want to use many different fabrics for a patch, it’s easy to make it scrappy. Use the number of strips you found in 2 above. Let’s say we need a total of 23 strips of fabric and we have 9 different fabrics.

Number of Strips From Each Fabric = Number of Strips / Number of Fabrics

23 / 9 = 2.55 (drop the fraction and add 1) = 3 strips from each fabric


NO MATH WAY

Fill in the patch width and length then fill in the number of patches you need. There is a Strip Cutting Worksheet you can download and use with the calculator below. The article, Strip Cutting Worksheet, gives examples.


For more quilting calculators:

Quilting Calculators For Those Who Don’t Like Math!

Quilt Reference and Calculators

For more project tutorials and videos:

Don’t miss a thing!

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter sent every Saturday morning at 8:15 Central Time. Forward this information to your friends because I know they’ll love it and appreciate you for it.

Subscribe for updates