Fabric Measurements Guide

how much is a yard of fabric

Whether you’re buying fabrics for interior design or clothing, it’s extremely important to get your measurements right. Buying too much fabric can be ok, but buying too little can turn your fabric purchase into a total waste.  I’ve put together a small guide based on my experience as well as some resources found online.

The fabric measurements basics

Fabric is usually measured by the yard.

How much is a yard of fabric? Your quick conversion is:

1 yard = 3 feet = about 90 cm 

This means that when you buy a yard of fabric you’re getting 1 yard x the width of the fabric (usually measured in inches).

The most common widths of fabrics are 36″, 45″, 54″, 60″, 72″, and 118″.

Be sure you know what the usuable widths are as some fabrics have borders. Usable widths are usually 1-2 inches less than the full width, though in some cases the entire width is usable.

You can also estimate a yard of fabric by holding one end of the fabric to your chin while fully extending your other arm which should hold the other end of the fabric.




How much fabric do you need for uplholstery?

It’s always better to be on the safe side when purchasing fabric for upholstery. If you don’t buy enough fabric, you can’t cover your furniture. If you buy too much, then at least you can use the excess fabric for pillows or something creative.

Generally speaking, you need:

  • 1-1 1/2  yards to cover the cushion of a chair
  • 6-8 yards for a small to medium sized sofa
  • Up to 13 yards for a large sofa
  • Throw pillows usually don’t need more than a yard each and often less

Here are some directions for sewing throw pillows.

The following seems to be a very popular chart I’ve seen at many retail shops, though I’ve never tested its accuracy.


How much fabric do you need for drapery & window treatments?

Measuring for drapery can be a lot more complicated since there are many styles and customizations that can be applied.

For simple curtains though, all you need to know are the dimensions of the window you want to cover and how much you want to gather or bunch the drapes.

The number of panels (cut pieces of fabric) that you need depend on the width of the window and the width of the fabric. If for example, your window is 50 inches wide, then you would want to buy fabric that is 75 – 100 inches wide or you can sew narrower fabric together as panels to achieve the width. This way you will have enough fabric to gather or bunch the drapes.

How to measure how much fabric you needs if your window that’s 50 inches wide x 40 inches long:

  • If you choose 54 inch wide fabric (a very common width):
    • 2 panels of fabric sewn together will give you drapes that are 108 inches wide and gather nicely
    • Each panel will need to be 50 inches long (about 1.5 yards) to cover the length of the window + 10 inches for hemming
    • The total amount of fabric you’ll need is 3 yards (1.5 yards/panel)
Simple Curtains photo: Posh Living LLC

Simple Curtains that gather nicely photo: Posh Living LLC

How to measure fabric for clothing

Measuring for clothing isn’t simple either since we all come in various shapes and sizes.

Generally speaking, it takes about 1.5 yards of fabric for a skirt or blouse, 3-6 yards for a 2 piece suit, and about 4-6 yards for a dress.

Other Stuff

Handbags take about 1/2 yard of fabric

Handbags take about 1/2 yard of fabric

Handbags usually need no more than half a yard of fabric, larger canvas bags shouldn’t need more than 3/4 of a yard.

Duvets need between 5-10 yards depending on the size of the bed, bed pillows need 1-1.5 yards.

Scarves need very little yardage, as 1 yard can make a few scarves.

Car interiors can take up to 15 yards.

Online Resources

eBay Fabric Guide

Upholstery Chart

Measurement Links

featured image by incurable_hippie

by BuyandCreate.com

13 thoughts on “Fabric Measurements Guide

  1. Barbara Wade says:

    I need to cover some dining room chairs which will require 25″ x25″ for each chair. There are 4 chairs to be done, How much fabric will I need if it is 54″-60″ wide? Thanks , Barbara

  2. debra merrill says:

    I am making reversable tablecloths and the measurements are 60″ x”64 and 60″ x 76″. I am trying to figure out how much flannel I need for the inside . The flannel is usually 45″. How much do I need in yard measurements? ie…2 yds …3/4 yd ect. Thanks Debra

  3. budlee says:

    Hi Debra, If the flannel is 45″ wide, you’ll need 2 panels.
    For 64″ it’s 2 panels @ 64″ (just under 2 yards) each. For 76″ it’s 2 panels @ 76″ (about 2.25 yards) each

  4. Evette says:

    I want to cover and ottoman that 36″ x 36″ x 10″. Can you tell me how much material I would need? Thank you.

  5. Buy and Create says:

    Hi Evette,

    It depends on the width of the fabric, but 2 yards should be enough for most standard fabric widths

  6. Kim jutte says:

    I have old curtains that are 44inches wide by 84 inches in lenght. How much material will I need for 2 curtains this size?

  7. Tasha says:

    If I’m using fabric in my garden (burlap as a weed barrier) and I’m trying to fit a garden bed that is 3’x8′ how manynyards of fabric would I need (fabric is 40″ wide) thanks in advance- these calculations are confusing me lol

  8. Buy and Create says:

    Hi Kim,
    The amount of fabric you need for curtains depends on the width of the fabric you choose. If you choose fabric that’s 60 inch wide or more, you’ll need 2 pieces of fabric about 7.5 yard long each, for a total of 15 yards.

  9. Buy and Create says:

    Hi Tasha,
    Since the width of the fabric is 40″ (just over 3 feet), you’ll need to get a piece that’s about 8 feet long. So this means that you’ll need 1 piece of fabric that’s 3 yards long (9 feet).

  10. Kelley says:


    I am getting ready to cover one of the walls in my bedroom as an accent wall with fabric. The fabric width is 45in.
    The wall is 94 in tall and 153 in wide. how much fabric do you think i should buy? Also, any other tidbits of info to make this easier would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  11. Pam says:

    I want to know how much material would I need to buy for a ceramic goose dress that’s 18×50 & I also need extra material for the arms?

  12. admin says:

    Hi Pam,

    It depends on the fabric width & pattern. If you use 60″ wide solid fabric, 2-3 yards would a safe bet

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