How Much Fabric Do I Need For My Upholstery Project?

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Imagine you get your hands on the perfect upholstery fabric at a discounted price. But, just when your upholstery project is about to finish, you learn that you’ve run out of the fabric.

What if your fabric supplier also runs out of the same material? Suddenly, your furniture restoration project comes to a sad halt.

You may have checked an online chart that suggested you only need 6 yards of fabric for upholstery. Now you are wondering who on earth created that chart and recommended the wrong yardage.

So, how do you avoid such unpleasant surprises especially when you don’t have an upholstery expert guiding you through the process?

First things first, you need to understand that the fabric required for an upholstery project varies depending upon the size of the furniture unit to be upholstered, upholsterer’s style of working, and the type of cloth used for the project. 

For restoring your old, regular-sized club chair, you will need around six meters of fabric. But, it is just an estimate. It is best to speak with a professional upholsterer to get it right.  

Here in this post, we will shed light on how to measure and choose the right fabric for your next upholstery project. 

Measuring Total Dimensions of Your Project

The very first thing you need to ensure is to measure total dimensions by width and length of the project.

For instance, if your project is around 36-inches, it equals approximately one yard or three feet.

This means that you need only one-yard fabric. 

You must also consider some extra fabric for hemming, seam allowances, crimping, smocking, and gathering. 

It’s okay if a bit of upholstery fabric isn’t used up in a project. But, you don’t want to run out of it.

Here’re a few standard equations that will help you calculate how much fabric is required for an upholstery project:

  • (Width of fabric/ Width of one fabric piece) = Total number of pieces needed to fit into the width
  • (Total number of pieces/Number of pieces fitting into the width) = Total number of rows required for a project
  • (Number of needed rows x Length of one piece) = Total fabric needed for the project (in inches)
  • Total project (in inches) / 36-inches = Total yardage needed

Here’s an example:

Let’s say the fabric’s width is around 80 inches. One piece of fabric requires a width of around 32 inches. The length of one piece of fabric is 60 inches. And, the length required per-piece is 28-inches. For estimating the correct yardage of this upholstery fabric, the equations described above will work like this: 

  • (80 inches/ 32 inches) = 2.5-inches (rounded to one digit).
  • (8 * 1) = 8
  • (8 * 28 inches) = 224 inches
  • (224 inches/36 inches) = 6.2 (rounded up to )
  • So, here we require six yards of fabric for an upholstery project

This calculation works for different projects, including bedding, pillows, and headboards. However, in the case of a club chair, you will typically need about six and a half meters of fabric. This way, you will have some spare fabric available for stitching.

Choosing the Fabric for Your Upholstery Project

When buying fabric for upholstery, you will come across various patterns, sizes, and materials. Did you know your choice of pattern, size, etc. also affects the amount of fabric required for an upholstery project?  


Compared to plaids, stripes, and other patterns, solid fabrics are very easy to work with. Although it is a little tricky, plaid or striped fabric won’t cause cutting-waste if it is evenly spaced.

If you wish to have a welting cord to cover the seams of the fabric, more work needs to be done. This means you will need more fabric. 

Welting is often cut diagonally to ensure it’s smooth. You may also play a little trick of cutting welting from the excess fabric. Some people even prefer solid fabric for welting. It is simpler to work on and saves your money as well. Plus, it looks great with different window treatments.


The common width size preferred for upholstery fabric in the US is 54-inches. However, for fabrics like gingham and Oxford cloth, the width can be either 60-inches or 72-inches. But, choosing a 54-inch-wide fabric will result in less cutting-waste; it is also easier to be factored in during yardage calculation.


Certain patterns on a fabric need extra yardage. For instance, a bouquet pattern with 18-inch repeat essentially means that it’s 18-inches before hitting the next similar bouquet pattern.  For keeping this pattern at the center of a chair’s seat, you need to cut off excess fabric for fitting the design accurately. 

Some patterns may have small repeats at 3-inches or less. On the other hand, other patterns may be as large as the exact 54-inches. So, how much fabric you need in this case depends on the fabric pattern.  Generally, for an 18-inch repeat take around 20% extra fabric, and for a 27-inch repeat take 40% more. 

What if you end up short on fabric? 

Never take it lightly thinking that you can get back to the store anytime and buy more fabric if needed. The next time, you may not find the exact fabric match. This is because the dye may change overnight. So, it is best to buy some extra fabric that appears the same. But if the dye is a little different, it will not be the perfect match for the rest of the fabric. 

What if you run out of fabric? Well, in that case, you can work by “cheating” at some hidden places. One way to do this is by using a false platform.

For instance, put the extra fabric that covers the seat of the chair underneath the cushion. Since this area is away from plain sight, it can be covered with a piece of different fabric.

You may also consider using stretchers or pulling strips. There are some hidden inches of the material that cover the back and arms. These areas are pulled taut onto the chair frame. The strips of an affordable material can be used in such hidden sections. 

Final Words

You don’t want to run out of the fabric in the middle of an upholstery project. The guidelines outlined can help you make an informed decision. 

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to speak with a professional upholsterer.

Author Bio: Michelle is an interior designer at Westlake Village Upholstery and Drapery with over 20 years experience in fabric and custom window treatments. She offers clients in Southern California a new experience in traditional and modern design. 
Photo by Alexander Zvir from Pexels



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