Fabric measurements – Best answer to “How much fabric do I need”-

When making clothes for yourself it is convenient to know how much fabric to buy. Here is some information about fabric measure and yardage

Calculate Fabric yardage for clothes 

If you are mathematically challenged like me, you will need to have an idea about what it takes to sew clothes. This post is aimed at guesstimating the fabric yardage for some of the clothes you sew.

If you are buying your sewing patterns to make your clothes you will not have to read this post, unless you forgot to read the pattern instructions before going shopping for fabric. If you are drafting your dressmaking patterns yourself you will need to calculate how much fabric you need to complete the garment.

One very important thing before going about to buy fabric is to get the measurements of the body right. Check out this tutorial to measure the body right  (this is a must for dressmaking) and learn how to read the tape measure.

how to read a tape measure

Some general facts about fabric – Fabric is usually measured by yards or meters. One yard is around 3 feet, which is about 90 cms.

One meter equals 1.09 yards or 39.4 inches. The width of the fabric  (checkout the different types of fabric available ) is usually 35-36 inch, 44-45 inch, 54 inch and 58-60 inch, 72 inch. Fabric with width around 110 inches are also available but not so commonly found in stores ( atleast where I shop).

Pant/trouser materials are available mostly in 58-60 inch width. Dressmaking fabrics are usually 36 inch or 44 inch

10 millimeter = 1 centimeter

100 centimeter = 1 meter

1 inch = 2.54 centi meter

39.3 inch = 1 meter

1 yard = .91 meters.

You can learn more about this and the formulas you can use to convert the metric system of measurement to the imperial system and to convert the imperial system to metric in this post “Dimensions of a yard of fabric“.

Checkout this post on some tips for buying fabric; 20 questions to ask about fabric quality

For tops and dresses with panels, and when sewing with one way prints or fabric with naps or cutting fabric on the bias, or matching prints/ patterns these guesstimates will not apply. 

Fabric with pattern repeats

fabric design layouts

Making clothes with printed/patterned fabric requires more yardage when matching the prints exactly. When making clothes with plain fabric with lining
fabric quantities will be the same for lining and main fabric. But with patterned fabric, there may be a drop pattern and you have to join them correctly so you may need more of the patterned fabric than the plain fabric.

Here are some tips for cutting and sewing printed fabric. You may need extra yardage if you want particular prints in a particular direction on your garment. For this, making paper patterns and then calculating the yardage is the way to go. I have read that when sewing with checks you may need to buy atleast 25% extra, so that they match in seams.

Some general guidelines on the fabric yardage are as follows.

fabric yardage

How much Fabric do I need for —?

How many yards / meters of fabric to make  Men’s Jacket ?

For an average man, you need about 2 meters (2.18 yards) to make a Blazer/Jacket. For a longer jacket you need about 2.75 meters (3 yards) of 45 inch wide fabric 

How many yards/meters of fabric to make  pants

For most of the pants you need twice the length + 1/4 meters extra

For men’s pants /trousers the yardage needed is as follows ( as confirmed  by a tailor who sews men’s clothes):

If you have 58 inch wide fabric you can make pants with 1.30 meters. For an extra tall man, you may need to buy 1.40 meters. If you have single width fabric you will need to buy 2 meters and 30 cms for an average sized man

If the person you are making the pants for has a potbelly this has to be considered extra – 1/3 of the hip round has to be extra

Related post: 15 terms related to pant fitting you need to know.

How much fabric is needed for making formal shirts  ?

Full sleeved shirts

If you have 36 inch wide fabric , you will need 2.40 meters to sew formal shirts

If you have 58 inch wide fabric you can make the shirt with 1.60 meters of cloth

Half sleeved shirts

If you have 36 inch wide fabric , you will need 2.20 meters to sew formal half sleeved shirts

If you have 58 inch wide fabric you can make the shirt with 1.40 -1.50 meters of cloth

Related post: 20 different types of shirts7 best fabrics to make shirts.

How many yards/meters of fabric to make Flared gowns

A very flared gown ( wedding gowns, long prom dresses etc) need about 6 meters. ( and about 5.5 meters extra fabric for lining). Add half meter extra if you want long sleeves. This will give you a flared circular skirt to the gown.

If you want the yoke/bodice from a separate fabric buy 1.5 meters for the bodice and sleeves and 5 meters for the skirt portion alone

Learn more about designing and making wedding dresses here.

How many yards / meters of fabric to make tops 

T shirts are usually of lengths ranging from 25 inches for a small size to 29 inches for extra large size. I double the length and then add 1/4 meters extra. 1 1/4 meters of 60 inch knit fabric will make a 24 inch long t-shirt.

For a knee length tunic with half sleeve I usually buy 2 meters of cloth ( 2 1/4 yards).

How many yards / meters of fabric to make simple straight dresses

A line dress – twice the length of the dress + 1/4 meter ( with just enough flare that is in the fabric). Sleeves, collars and other embellishments should be considered extra.

Tunics & tops, kurti – twice the length of the dress + 1/4 meter

The measurement for dresses are considered like this

2 Bodice length + 2 Skirt length (from waist) + Hem and seam allowance + sleeves + hem and seam allowance. This usually works out to be about 3 meters for a long floor length dress, if using a 45 inch wide fabric. 

Princess line dress with flare – twice the length of the dress + 1/2 meter / 3/4 meter

Dress with gathers – Twice the length + 1 meter extra

Dress with circle skirt- 3-4 meters

sleeveless vest – 1 meter ; A drapey jacket like this one 2 meters

For sleeves longer than elbow, 3/4 meter – 1 meter extra for the sleeves. If you are drafting a ragalan sleeve consider the length from the shoulder.Checkout the pattern for a raglan sleeve top or the raglan sleeve pattern and plan accordingly

How many yards / meters of fabric to make skirts

The fabric needed for sewing skirts largely depends on the flare and then on the width of the fabric you have at hand. A 44 inch wide fabric may fit both the front and back panel of a straight skirt in a single length but a  pleated skirt will not

You can make a long gathered skirt for a small child for about 2 meters

For making a long pleated/ gathered  skirt an adult will need about 3 meters. A medium length pleated skirt can be made in about 2 1/8 meters

For a full flared skirt ( Umbrella skirt ) with a big flare you need about 4.5 meters of 42 inch wide fabric. In 3.5 meters you can sew flared skirt but with less flare

You can make wrap skirts like this one with about 2.25 meters .

How much fabric is needed to make a circle skirt 

If you are sewing a half circle skirt the minimum width of the fabric should be equal to –  the waist round divided by 3.14 plus the height you need for the skirt + 2-3 inches. Take  this measurement as X. The length of the fabric needed is the X measurement multiplied by 2

For eg if my waist round is 30  Divide this by 3.14 and I will get 9.5 . Add 32 inch which is the height I would like to have for the skirt, plus 2 inch for seam allowance and hem. So 44 inch is the width I should have to cut the circle skirt (this is the X). The length of the fabric would be 44 inch * 2 = 88 inch, which is 2.25 meters. 

For a gathered skirt the yardage will depend on the fullness you need – Usually doubling the waist measurement will give you enough fullness for the skirt. So if your waist round is 30  inches if you have got 60 inch wide fabric you will need only single length ; for more than that you will have to join fabric

How much fabric is needed to sew a full flared skirt ?

About 3 – 3 1/4 meters for the skirt and the same for lining. Even with this yardage, a big flared full skirt will need fabric joints to get that full flare from ordinary dressmaking fabrics. You can check out the tutorial for making a full skirt for the fabric. 

reversible full skirt pattern

Straight skirts can be sewn in 1.25 yards of fabric if you get a 60 inch wide cloth. As I said depends on the width of the fabric

How much fabric is needed for making Sari blouses?

This is usually 92 cms  


 32″ * 82 ” ; 45 inch * 67 inch ;  Scarves can be made in many sizes; You can even piece small fabric scraps to make the scarf.

One yard of fabric is easily made into infinity scarves (Checkout the post with 20 ways to make infinity scarves). A length of about 65-70 inches is a good one for most women.

A normal Indian Dupatta / shawl ( which is an oversized scarf) is about 32-37 inches wide and 90 inches in length.

Very skinny scarves with width around 5-8 inches are also around. A bandana is a square fabric piece starting from 18 inches to an oversized one at 27 inches. Checkout the post on making a bandana.

For more details checkout the post on scarf sizes 

scarf sizes

Easy reading of the measurements

To convert inches to millimeters multiply by 25.4
inches to centimeters -multiply by 2.54
inches to meters -. multiply by .0254
yards to centimeters – multiply by 91.44
yards to meters – multiply by .9144

A ready reckoner for your conversion from yard to meter.  

fabric yardage - ready reckoner converting yard to cm and inches


Calculate Fabric yardage for Bed covering & pillows

To make a bed spread for a bed you will have to measure

  • the width & length of the top of the mattress,
  • the drop from the top of the mattress to the floor or where you want the bed spread to drop
  • Pillow tuck (If you tuck the pillow with the bedspread this also – 15″ for a twin and double bed a& 20″ for queen and king) 

Calculate the bed spread dimensions as follows
Width = Width of the top of the mattress + drop  * 2 
Length = You should add the length of the top of the mattress, then add the pillow tuck and also the drop

You can make pillowcases up to 20 inch * 40 inch from about 1.15 meters of fabric ( about 1 1/4 yards)

Checkout the post on different Bedsheet sizes for more details on this.

bed cover sizes

Related posts 

free sewing patterns


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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

16 thoughts on “Fabric measurements – Best answer to “How much fabric do I need”-”

  1. I am very interested in sewing my own tops, skirts, shorts at my age now. So I started learning by attending classes. I found that learning online is very rewarding too. Thanks for your write out on how much fabric to buy. Keep writing!

  2. Ma’am , very nice article . How much fabric I would need to make follow gharara . My length of pants is 38 inches and waist is 34 inches hips circumference is38 inches and waist to knee length is 19 inches and 19 inches from knee to ankle . I would like to make pleated gathers at knee ( goat area) with 3 inches deep pleat .
    How much fabric I would need and what yardage or meterage of fabric would be required.I have fabric which is 110 cm wide .
    Kind regards ,

    • Generally You take double the length of the pants plus extra for the casing and the hem. In your case you need to take extra for the seams at the knees as well. If you want a lot of fullness at the knees, take one meter extra to the above measure.

  3. Hello! I have a copy of a crochet leaflet for a replica of Queen Victoria’s 1840 Wedding Gown in crochet. I would like to have the gown made in bridal satin fabric in a light pink color. How would go about drafting an off-the-shoulder bodice pattern with a drop waist & a circular skirt with a lace bottom? I can send a picture of the leaflet, if that will help.

  4. Would you please help me with: if I need 1.5 metres of 150cm of fabric to make a garment – how much would I need if I had 110cm wide fabric?

    Thank you so much

  5. Hi good morning I didn’t see anything about tracksuiting like how to measure and how much material to buy because I always have a shotage of material When I buy my material I want to buy more accurately so that I don’t have to go and buy again and also not to much so that I don’t waist a lot of money for buying unnecessary material
    Thank you

  6. thanks a lot for the easy and understanding tutorial but if possible can you provide underwear,panties size, and how much fabric we need for one panty .that would be really helpful for me thank you .much love

  7. I appreciate this effort, but as for me, I am not a tailor, and you used some terms which made me confused and I had to just scroll down here to drop my comment about it, I think the types of garments you were trying to talk about, you should show us a picture so that we can understand the kind of garment you are talking about.

  8. Thanks you alot for the easy to understand tutorials.
    U would like to request on a tutorial to make a simple men ‘s shirt or ladies button blouse with collar.Also more tutorials on ladies coats.
    Thank you

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