How Much Fabric Do I Need?

Getting started on a new fabric project is always exciting, but if you constantly ask, "How much fabric do I need?" you are not alone. This guide will get you started understanding the different factors for choosing what kind and how much fabric to buy. 

Different Projects Require Different Amounts

The amount of fabric you need varies significantly depending on your project. The type and amount of material required differ from cl[othing to upholstery to home decor.

Furniture will require a heavy, durable fabric. A blouse needs lightweight material. The roll or bolt of fabric will vary depending on the style or type of fabric. Clothing fabric comes on smaller rolls that average 30 to 60 inches in width. Larger projects, such as curtains, will have you examining rolls more than 100 inches wide. As for width, the wider the fabric, the less you should need for your project. 

How to Measure for Yardage

Measuring yardage requires the total dimensions by length and width. When calculating measurements and buying fabric, remember (1) three feet is equal to one yard, and (2) allow for additional fabric for gathering or smocking, as well as seam allowances, hemming, or edging. 

If you are making multiples, you can calculate fabric yardage with the following method: 

  1. Fabric width is divided by the width of one item. This is the number of pieces that will fit into the width of the fabric. Round down to the nearest whole number.
  2. Divide the total number of pieces you intend to make by the number of pieces that fit into the width of the fabric. This is the number of rows you need for your project. 
  3. Multiply the number of rows you need by the length of one piece. This is the total project in inches. 
  4. Divide the total project in inches by 36 inches (1 yard). This is the total yardage of fabric you need. Round up to the next whole number. 

Choosing a Fabric

Fabric shopping is fun because there are various colors, patterns, materials, and sizes. These factors are essential to determine how much fabric you will need.


If possible, the 54-inch wide fabric is ideal because it tends to produce the least cutting waste and many yardage estimates assume a 54-inch width. 


Solid fabrics are easier to work with, but when you consider a patterned fabric, you need to match it at the seams for consistency. You will need to account for extra yardage when choosing patterned fabric, especially if you want to welt. 


Repeating patterns also require extra yardage. This is especially important if you want to center part of a pattern, which requires cutting excess fabric. Typically, the farther spaced the pattern, the larger percentage of fabric increase you will need. 

If You Run Out of Fabric

Do not skimp on fabric. It's always best to err on caution and purchase too much. Even if you return to the store to find matching fabric, the dye colors could be different, and your project would be slightly mismatched.

If you are running short on fabric, you may be able to cheat. For instance, if you're reupholstering, the material underneath a chair cushion that is not seen can be made of a different fabric, perhaps in a coordinating color. However, it's better to purchase a little extra and have enough for another project than to scrap your current one. 

Need Inspiration for New Projects?

If you are looking for project ideas, we have you covered. Sewing Sewcial is a unique Shop Hop that will have you creating fantastic queen-sized quilts. If you're looking for unlimited sewing time and a getaway with like-minded creatives, the Retreat with Inspired to Sew is an exciting opportunity to hone your skills and learn from the best. 

From Fabrics to Sewing Machines, Visit Inspired to Sew in Cedar Rapids, IA

Inspired to Sew in Cedar Rapids always looks for new and innovative ways to inspire your creativity and love for sewing. If you have questions about projects or measuring yardage, contact us today. Our experienced staff is eager to help you foster your creativity and bring your new ideas to life.


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