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How Much Fabric Do I Need? (Sewing Guide)

Find fabric yardage charts for all the projects you want to sew!

Updated October 14, 2020
How Much Fabric Do I Need Sewing Guide

How Much Fabric Do I Need For...?

One of the best pieces of advice I have learned is: Measure Twice, Cut Once." I believe and follow that guideline for most of the sewing and other DIY's I create, and it has saved me money and grief. When I can predetermine the finished size of a project, I can calculate how much material I need to buy.

Whatever project I plan, I usually buy just a little extra of any materials or ingredients only in case. Before heading out to your favorite fabric store, prepare yourself with some knowledge to spend less, and have more time to sew.

With this sewing guide, How Much Fabric Do I Need?, read through my tips for sewing success! I will go over what you need to know when preparing a new sewing project, explain measurements, and provide downloadable fabric yardage charts to help, including how much fabric you may need for shirts, pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, and more for adults and children.

Also, how much fabric you need for home decor and accessories. Find charts explaining the amount of fabric needed for cushions, ironing board covers, aprons, and more.

There's also information on how to do the math and calculate for yourself to determine the fabric needed for any sewing pattern or project you are planning to use and create.
 

What You Need To Know Before Buying Fabric

1. First, let's talk about how fabrics manufactured in different widths, which usually range around 45" (115cm) to 60" (150cm), there are exceptions when it comes to specialty fabrics or from where the material originates. In this article, the focus is on the 45" (115cm) to 60" (150cm) range.

2. Fabric is measured and sold in meters in most countries or yards in the US by length.

1yd = 0.9144m
1 yd= 36 inches
1m = 100cm, 1 000mm

3. Fabrics come in a variety of materials and fibers from all-natural to human-made and blends and in different weights, textures, directions, or naps. Other fabrics have a thickness and pile to consider (such as faux furs). Knowing as much about the properties of that pretty material before you buy and cut it will save you many heartaches.

Some fabrics will shrink in the wash, other materials should only be Dry Cleaned, and there are outdoor fabrics to consider. When it comes to sewing, there are no limits, whether it is garment sewing for babies to adults, home decor from upholstering to making curtains, crafts, and toy making. Play it safe, when in doubt buy extra!

What Will you Make?

Fashion or home decor, quilting, or crafting? Know before you go!

1. How to take accurate measurements:

Measuring your own body or that chair you want to upholster gives you a clear picture of how much surface you need to cover and how much fabric you should buy.

Learn more by visiting our guide: What Size Am I? & Other Sizing Woes Solved

Image shows chart with woman and lines showing where to take measurements.

2. Calculate how much fabric you will need. 

When fabric shopping using a commercial pattern, the information on the back of the envelope gives you all the information you need.

 [insert a picture of a store-bought pattern]

However, if you have chosen to create and draft your pattern, you will need to do some math. P.S. I don't like to do the math!

How Much Fabric Do I Need? Do the MATH!

1. To count the amount of fabric needed for garment sewing, I check the material's width. I also consider if there is a nap or a printed pattern.

2. Then, I count how many widths of the fabric I will need for all the project pieces.

For example, if I am making a pair of pajama bottoms with a drawstring waistband, I would need to calculate the two legs (front and back and add on the waistband plus fabric for the hem and seams), I will be cutting four pieces.

3. Always round up to the next whole number. Then count the total desired length and multiply by the number of widths.

Fabric Math Chart

Fabric Yardage Chart PDFs to Download

To help you out, I've created some cheat sheets to guide you when fabric shopping!

Use these charts to help you plan your sewing projects and make wise purchases—the information provided includes average sizes.
 

What Can You Make With One Yard or Meter of Fabric?

Depending on the type of and width of fabric, many projects are possible from only one yard or meter of fabric. 

For example, many upholstery fabrics measure 54 inches or about 137cm in width, which can allow for making three cushions measuring 12' by 12" (30cm x 30cm).

Other popular sewing projects to make with one yard or meter:

Tote bags
Masks ( make 12 to 15 masks with just one yard or meter)
Baby Blankets (for each layer, will depend on fabric)
Misses short skirt (small-medium)
Sleeveless Top
Little Girl's Dress

How Much Fabric is Needed for Popular Sewing Projects?

Find this article and everything else shared during National Sewing Month this year by checking out our main National Sewing Month 2020 page here.

How do you plan your sewing projects?
Let us know in the comment section!

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