Just how much fabric do you need? This is the question that any person who is seriously considering an upholstery project will inevitably face. There is a simple answer which is to use an upholstery chart, or to email a great company like WalkerFabrics.com and ask. Considering that we actually work with the fabrics we sell, and love sharing our expertise, we can usually estimate pretty close. However there is only so much that one can do via a picture, and there are so many variables that it is good to know how to figure out how much fabric you need for yourself.
So, the long and short of this article is this, take out a piece of paper and literally draw out each piece on paper as if it was your entire role of fabric. I will expand upon this thought, and give you some examples, but the biggest step you can take is just draw out each piece. Your drawing doesn't need to be “to scale.” Just a sloppy doodle with plenty of measurement notes will do just fine. This can keep you from making a costly mistake of ordering too much or too little fabric.
so lets start by considering which direction the fabric runs. Standard position, or UTR (up the role) is the pattern running “up toward the roll.” Fabrics which patterns up position is from edge to edge is known as “railroad.” Think of it like this, standard is best for something long and thin, like a drape, railroad would be better for something extra wide, like a large sofa, where you would not want to put seems in the long pieces like the outside back.
In this article we will measure for a fabric running standard. We will use the wing back chair from the picture above as an example. Use the same process for anything you might be trying to cover. I like to measure in the same order which I will cut and assemble. This takes a little prior knowledge, but keeps me from forgetting which pieces I have measured. As long as you measure and draw every single piece, than the order doesn't matter. However measuring in the upholstering order makes the most sense.
1. Measure the apron
2. Measure the seat deck
1. Start along the front under the cushion. This piece is known as the apron. You will see the seam near the front, that marks the apron. 2. From that same seam toward the back of the chair is the decking. Measure each piece from front to back and from side to side and then draw them on your paper, making notes of their size. This does not need to be to scale, but it is a needed step, so you can see what pieces will work side by side.
3. Measure the inside arms
Next... the arms. In our example we have a sock fit arm. So we measure the rounded front inserts, from top to bottom, and from left to right and we draw that on our paper. We then do the same thing with the larger arm piece, again front to back and top to bottom.
4. inside back and wings
Now measure for the inside wings and the inside back. The same process. Measure up and down as well as left to right and draw those pieces on to your paper. Be sure to make notes of the measurements. It does not need to be perfect, but a reference to what can be cut from where.
5. Measure the outside arms, wings and back
We Now move to the outside of the chair. This will start with the outside wings, and then the outside arms. Measure from top to bottom and then from left to right for both these pieces, and draw them. Depending on the size of each piece, you might be able to fit two pieces side by side, but if two pieces wont go side to side, then just move up to the next place on your paper. This will represent how you have to cut. Once you have measured for the outside wings and arms, you will need to measure for the outside back following the same process.
Your almost there. You still need to measure for the cushion. Measure from front to back and from left to right. Do this for the top and the bottom. Then measure the boxing, and the zipper boxing.
Lastly measure the welt cording. This means anywhere you see cord, measure how long it is. Now take that number and divide it by the width of your fabric roll. Most rolls are about 54” so we will use that for our example. Lets say you measure 540” of welt cording. So divide 540” by 54”. 540/54=10. This means you need 10 strips for cording. Thus you will need 10 2” strips the full width of the fabric, or 20” of fabric. So draw that on your picture as well.
Now that you have all your pieces drawn out, add up the length and then divide this number by 36. Lets assume you measure 360” of fabric, so you will divide that by 36. 360/36 = 10. So you need 10 yards of fabric to complete your chair.
I hope this helps you consider how much fabric you will need for your next project.