1 yard = 3 feet = 36 inches
For the rest of the world on the metric system, convert to inches before starting. The easiest way to do this is to google “cm to inches” and enter the centimeters into the conversion calculator.
First, you need to know what the total dimensions are in inches. This includes any extra you need to sew, apply, or finish the fabric.
- If you’re making something that needs a seam allowance, like pillows, you need to add the seam allowance times 2 to the width and length.
- If you’re making canvas wall art, you need to know the size of the canvas plus how much extra is needed to wrap around the back and staple.
- If you’re making something that needs to be hemmed, you need to know how much extra you need for the hems.
The other thing you need to know is how wide your desired fabric is.
Move onto the next steps according to if your total dimensions will fit into the width of the fabric or not.
If you just need one piece of fabric and it fits into the width of your fabric, you probably don’t even need to be reading this, but we’ll explain just in case!
Take the total length you need and divide by 36 to calculate how many yards you need. Most of our fabric is sold in full yard increments, so round up to the nearest yard.
If you need multiple pieces that are the same size, like for pillows, napkins, dining room chair upholstery, etc., start with your fabric width and divide by the width of one of the pieces you need.
Round down to the nearest whole number. This is how many pieces fit into the width.
Next take the total number of pieces and divide by this number to figure out how many rows you will need.
Finally take the length of a single piece and multiply that by the number of rows. Divide by 36 and round up to the nearest whole number.
If your fabric is solid or not directional, you can try flipping the width and length to see that needs fewer yards. In the example, once rounded up, it is also 3 yards.
If you need multiple sizes, it helps to draw it out.
When the width of the piece is wider than the width of the fabric, you’ll need to sew or join pieces together.
These calculations work for many projects, including fabric wallpaper and other wall coverings, tablecloths, bedding, ground and floor coverings, awnings, banners, backdrops, headboards, and panels.
Start with your desired total width and divide by the width of the fabric. Round up to the next whole number. This is how many widths of fabric you need.
Then take the total desired length and multiply by the number of widths you just calculated.
Divide by 36 and round up to the next whole number. This is the total yardage you need.
If you need multiple pieces that are the same size, before dividing by 36, multiply by the number you need, then divide by 36 and round up.
Or if they’re different sizes, add them up before dividing by 36.
If you have a patterned fabric and want to match up the design, before dividing by 36, add one vertical repeat per every extra width of fabric.
For example, if you need 3 widths of fabric to get the correct total width, add 2 times the vertical repeat to the total length before dividing by 36.
If the length is less than the vertical repeat, just use the vertical repeat as the length and you don’t have to add extra before converting to yards.
You can find the repeats in the details section on the product page for our fabrics. Most of the time you don’t have to worry about the horizontal repeat because the pattern will divide evenly into the width of the fabric. This means the pattern will match up at the selvages with a slight overlap so no fabric is wasted.
Some projects, like duvets, tablecloth, and headboards, look best if you have the full width piece in the middle and the remainder on the sides. This looks more professional than having a seam right down the middle.
To find out how to sew patterned fabric together, look at How To Make a Duvet Cover.
These instructions are good for rectangular pieces and can be used with other shapes if you measure the dimensions at the largest width and length. Some projects can be too complicated and you may have to estimate. It’s better to end up with too much than to come up short!