Finding how much fabric you need is the first step to a successful sewing project. But, sometimes, one project may mention yards, and another may use inches, centimeters, or meters—all these different numbers can be quite overwhelming.
So, how do you calculate the measurements of a yard of fabric? How do you convert inches, centimeters, and meets to feet and yards, and vice versa? How do you know many yards of fabric you need?
In this article, I cover everything you need to know about how big a yard of fabric is and how to calculate this figure.
So, let’s get started!
How Big Is A Yard of Fabric?
Most fabric retailers sell their fabrics by the yard. Even though some projects call for X by Y inches of certain fabric, you will have to convert these metric figures to yards for the retailer to cut the amount you need for your project.
Before we get into how big a yard of fabric is, it is important to note that in the world of fabrics, a yard refers to the length of the fabric.
So, how big is a yard of fabric? When the US Customary System, also known as the Imperial System, replaced the ancient system, the international community agreed to set the length of one yard to 3 feet or 3 inches. In the ancient system, one (human) foot was equal to 12 inches.
So, when you have a project and want to know how many yards of fabric you need, your starting premise should be that one yard of fabric is equivalent to 3 feet or 12 inches.
In addition to the fabric’s length, which is the number of yards, you will also need to consider the fabric’s width. Knowing the number of yards (length) and the width is the most accurate way to determine the amount of material your project needs.
What Are The Different Width of Fabric?
When calculating the measurement of a yard of fabric, things can get complicated when you also have to consider the width.
While the standard measurement of a yard of fabric is one yard=3feet=12 inches, there is no standard measurement for fabric width. This is because different materials come in different widths.
In case you are wondering why manufacturers cannot all produce materials of the same width, whether lace, cotton, denim, or linen. Well, materials have different widths to ensure efficiency and avoid wastage.
The width of any given material will depend on its uses. Widths can vary from as little as 34 inches for small pieces of clothing to as wide as 118 inches for seamless bed sheets and curtains.
So, for example, if a project requires 100 inches of denim fabric, you will need to use the project patterns to determine how wide of fabric you need. The standard width size for denim is about 62 inches. You will need to buy two yards of the 62-inch denim to complete the project requiring 100 inches; 24 inches will be left over, which you can use later.
So, the width of the fabric is not set in stone. Different materials have width sizes, but the standard yard measurement is 1 yard is equal to 3 feet or 12 inches. Before setting out to buy fabric, measure the width of the patterns to determine how much material you really need to complete the project without running short.
How to Convert Yards Into Inches, Meters, and Centimeters
The USA, Myanmar, and Liberia are the remaining countries using the Imperial measurement system. All other countries use the metric system, which is easier, more accurate, and takes the fuss out of calculating the measurement of a yard of fabric.
Now that you know how big a yard of fabric is, you can easily calculate how many inches are in a yard of fabric and how many meters and centimeters make a yard of fabric.
As mentioned, a yard of fabric is equivalent to 3 feet. We also know that 1 foot is equal to 12 inches. To calculate a yard of fabric in inches, simply multiply 3 feet by 12 inches to get 36 inches.
Therefore, 1 yard of fabric is equivalent to 36 inches long.
With that in mind, how many meters and centimeters are in a yard of fabric? This is a great question simply because some projects do not mention measurements in yards, only referring to centimeters or meters.
But remember that many retailers sell their fabrics by the yard. For this reason, it helps to know how to calculate the measurements of a yard of fabric in centimeters and meters.
First, let’s determine how many yards there are in a meter. According to the metric system, one yard is equivalent to 0.9144 meters. If a project requires 3 yards, it means you need 3×0.9144 meters of materials, equal to 2.74 meters long.
We know that one meter is equivalent to 100 centimeters. To calculate how long a yard of fabric is in centimeters, convert the equivalent of 1 yard in meters to centimeters.
In this case, since one yard is equal to 0.9144 meters, and 1 meter is equal to 100 centimeters, you can cause the formula: 0.9144mx100cm to calculate how many centimeters there are in a yard of fabric. Therefore 1 yard of fabric is equal to 91.44cm.
Tips To Buy The Amount of Yard You Need
Here are a few hacks to keep in mind to ensure that you get value for money on fabrics:
To buy enough materials, include extra features such as pockets, seams, and hems. These can improve the aesthetics, but they can also take up more fabric, so plan accordingly.
Always check the selvage before cutting the material. The selvage is the woven side of the fabric and is a reference point when cutting.
Not navigating the selvage can ruin a project, especially since this part of the fabric has tiny little holes. Always cut out the selvage before sewing to ensure the pattern pieces fit perfectly onto the fabric.
Be prepared to buy slightly more fabric for any project, not just for the patterned or mix-and-match projects. More material gives you peace of mind and greater creative freedom to make the most use of the material and come up with exquisite designs.
How Many Yards of Fabric Do I Need For A Project?
A lot goes into determining how many yards of fabric you need for a project. This is also known as fabric yardage. Nothing can derail your project more than not having enough yardage.
Remember, before going out to shop for fabric, you must determine the width of the material you need for the project. The yard measurements are standard but the width measurements vary from material to material.
To get started, measure the width of your widest pattern piece to determine the width of material that will be enough to fit all the pattern pieces. For example, if the widest piece is 15 inches wide and all the pieces fit in 4 rows, you will need material measuring at least 60 inches wide to fit all the project pieces.
Most projects will tell you the number of yards you need. But, if you are working on your own projects with no point of reference, you will need to calculate the fabric length needed to complete the project.
To calculate the required material length, measure the tallest pattern piece and multiply this figure by the number of columns in which all pieces will fit horizontally. For example, if the tallest piece is 10 inches tall and all the pieces fit in 3 rows, you will need fabric that is 30 inches in length. Although this amount is slightly shorter than a yard, your best bet is to buy the whole yard. In any case, most retailers sell fabrics in full yards and avoid cutting fractions of a yard to minimize wastage.
You should be careful with projects involving patterns because these can take up more material than anticipated. But there is a simple way to calculate how much fabric you need.
First, measure the pattern pieces and add this amount to the final amount you have determined you will need. For example, if the pattern piece is 5 inches long and 7 inches wide, add these figures to arrive at 12 inches.
Next, multiply the 12 inches by the number of rows the patterned pieces will occupy. Say the pattern pieces take up two rows; when you multiply this by 12 inches, the result is 24 inches. In this case, 24 inches is the amount you need for the matching material needed for a pattern project.
Summary: How Do You Calculate The Measurements of A Yard of Fabric?
Knowing how much fabric you need for a project starts with learning how to calculate the measurements of a yard of fabric. Always consider the length and width of the material when working on projects from scratch. I hope this guide helps you accurately calculate the measurements of a yard of fabric so you can know how much fabric you need for your projects. Happy sewing!