Easy Quilting Measurements Explained
Have you ever wondered why quilt shops sell long
strips of fabric in 2 1/2 inch widths (jelly rolls)? Or how about the
package of 4 1/2 inch quilt squares sold at quilt shop?
4 1/2 inch sized quilt squares are referred to as
"quilter's squares." This is the size of quilt squares that most
experienced quilters purchase. Here is why. When you sew quilt
squares together or into projects, you lose 1/4 inch from all the outside edges
in the seam. Hence when a 4 1/2 inch quilt square is put into a
project, it becomes 4 inches.
Some people refer to 4 1/2 inch
quilt squares as "having the seam allowance built in."
When you sew together a couple 2 1/2 inch wide
strips of fabric, you end up with a strip that is 4 1/2 inches wide. This strip
can then be cut into 4 1/4 inch squares.
This makes measurements, and calculating the size
of patches and quilts easier. Unfortunately selling 4 inch quilt squares
became popular on ebay in the 1990's and continues to this day. You can do
a lot of things with these squares, but they don't have the versatility and ease
of 4 1/2 inch squares.
Quilter's measurements also can make the size of
quilt blocks similar. Quilt blocks are usually made with grids. See
Patches and Grids. The most common grid is the 9-patch.
Depending on whether you use 2 1/2, 3 1/2, or 4 1/2 inch grids (or squares),
your block will be 6x6, 9x9 or 12x12 inches in size. It is easier to
figure the math when you can just discount the 1/2 inch because it is going in
the seam allowance.
Grid are further divided in more complex quilt
blocks. Again, it is easier to do the math when you start with a
measurement that already has the seam allowance in it. For instance, if
you are breaking up a 4-inch grid into 4 strips of different fabrics, you would
cut all the strips 1 1/2 inches. When sewn together, they measure 4 1/2
Many quilters like to experiment with making new
blocks and then they set them aside. When you make your blocks with
quilter's measurements, they are easy to work into a project with other similar
sized blocks at a later time.
If you like to organize leftover bits of fabric,
you can cut some of it into strips of 1 1/2, or 2 1/2 inches. These are great to
have ready to go when you just want to sit at the sewing machine and sew making