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Lets yarn about yards

Lets yarn about yards

Here in Australia we work in the metric system for everything.  Its easy - I mean what is not to like about a system that is divisable by 10, 100 and 1000?

Its not easy when it comes to patchwork though.  There was a push in the 1990's in Australia to convert quilters to metric block measurements, with special mats and rulers because we purchase lenghts of fabrics in metres.  But lets face it - the math got awfully complicated.  I don't think there were many of us who were surprised that metric quilting never really took off.

I'm not that bad at quilt math and will confidently sit with a notebook to work out how much yardage I need to buy for my projects. (Yes, I know, I just used the 'y' word).  As a rule of thumb, I work out how many width of fabric (WOF) cuts I needed in inches and then convert this to meters.  

Now I know there are a lot of great measurement conversion apps out there but my fall back methods to date have been pretty basic:

  1. Grab my extra long quilter's tape measure, find the total length in inches and flip it over to see the metric equivalent; or
  2. Just ask Siri on my iPhone

I've been busy over the last few weeks doing the costings for several quilt kits as well as writing up a pattern which will be appearing in a few months time (I know - exciting right?). Inches to metres is one thing, but the fractions of a yard which appear on the materials lists of many patterns were doing my head in.  After asking Siri "How many meters are in 5/8ths of a yard"  for the third time, I started to jot a few common lengths down in the back of my note book.  

As my notes grew I decided to share them with you all here. If you're not familiar with the metric system  the below will also help you to work backwards and understand our metric cuts better as well.

Here's a few tables I've pulled together and hope you find handy.

Fractions of Yards Inches Metric  Metric cuts (rounded up)
1/8 yard 4.5" 11.5 cm 15cm
1/4 yard 9" 23 cm 25 cm 
1/3 yard 12" 30.5 cm 35 cm
1/2 yard 18" 46 cm 50cm 
5/8 yard 22.5" 57 cm 60 cm
2/3 yard 24" 61cm  65cm
3/4 yard 27" 69 cm 70cm 
7/8 yard 31.5" 77.5 cm 80 cm
1 yard 36" 91.5 cm 95 cm


For quilters used to working in yards, the table below provides the dimensions of our metric cuts in the store.  Our cuts are sold in multiples of 25cm, and we usually cut this across the WOF, though you can ask us to send you Fat Quarters by leaving a comment at the checkout.

 Metric cut Inches
25cm WOF or  (FQ) 10" WOF or (20" x 21")
50 cm 20"
75 cm  30"
1 m  40"


Metric FQs are cut as a 20" WOF strip which is then cross cut in half.  With standard width quilting cottons, metric FQs therefore measure roughly 20" x 21", which is slightly larger than factory-cut or imperial FQs which are  18" x 21".

Because of the extra couple of inches, metric FQs yield more standard patchwork shapes than imperial FQs.  In the table below I have outlined the number of squares in different sizes that are able to be cut from both sizes so that you can use this when working out how much to buy for your own projects.

Square size

Imperial FQ yield

Metric FQ yield

2 inch

90 squares

100 squares

2.5 inch

56 squares

56 squares

3 inch

42 squares

42 squares

3.5 inch

30 squares

30 squares

4 inch

20 squares

25 squares

4.5 inch

16 squares

16 squares

5 inch

15 squares

16 squares

5.5 inch

12 squares

12 squares

6 inch

9 squares

9 squares

6.5 inch

6 squares

6 squares

10 inch

2. squares

4 squares



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Hanna Snelling Berg - January 2, 2021

This was very useful, I am a quilter, I always wondered (coming from a metric education) why everything is in yards and inches even the measurement tools.
Thank you for sharing Hanna

Sally - September 26, 2019

I use the Units Plus app – it’s great and converts both ways and all kinds of units (and free).

Unit Converter FREE – Best Units & Currency app by Alan Mrvica

Siobhan Jones - June 18, 2019

Thank you so so much! I’m in Australia too.

Not a quilter but starting to make lots of clothes and found it surprisingly hard to find an app to do these fraction of yard conversions (admittedly I was in a hurry in spotlight and trying to figure it out at the cutting counter!)

Thanks again. Saving this immediately. :)

Jude - November 18, 2018

Wendy , that’s brilliant. Thank you for the Math, it’s be extremely helpful . Especially to a novice quilter .. arhhh still so mipuch to learn.
Hugely appreciated x

Sharon - February 12, 2017

Thanks for doing the hard work for us, as a newbie to quilting and sewing, that makes my life so much the easier. Awesome website by the way and love your selection of fabrics!!

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