Updated on September 6, 2022 by Sarina
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.
- Calculate Fabric yardage for clothes
- How much Fabric do I need for —?
- How many yards / meters of fabric to make Men’s Jacket ?
- How many yards/meters of fabric to make pants
- How much fabric is needed for making formal shirts ?
- Full sleeved shirts
- Half sleeved shirts
- How many yards/meters of fabric to make Flared gowns
- How many yards / meters of fabric to make tops
- How many yards / meters of fabric to make simple straight dresses
- How many yards / meters of fabric to make skirts
- How much fabric is needed to make a circle skirt
- How much fabric is needed to sew a full flared skirt ?
- How much fabric is needed for making Sari blouses?
- Easy reading of the measurements
- Calculate Fabric yardage for Bed covering & pillows
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.
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“.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
- How to take body measurements for sewing ?
- How to buy fabric – 10 types of popular dressmaking fabrics.