Calculate By The Yard

Outdoor Fabric by the Yard:
Calculate It Right the First Time

Calculating Fabric by the Yard is
Easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

Step 1

Measure, measure, measure.

Have you ever heard the craftsman’s law “Measure twice, cut once?” That’s great advice, but we’ll take it one step further: “Measure twice, buy once.” Always measure your project and measure your fabric. Don’t just eyeball it. A bolt of fabric that is too short can be a waste of valuable time and resources. A good measuring tape is your best weapon here. (Pro tip: We’ll cover how to get the correct measurements for common projects a little later.)

Step 2

Layout makes a big difference.

The amount of fabric you’ll need will depend on how you lay out your pattern pieces. Wholesale outdoor fabric intended for upholstery generally comes on bolts that are 45 inches (114.3 cm) wide, which is helpful to know. With some graph paper, you can experiment with different pattern piece layouts to see how much you can fit into each yard.

Step 3

More is always better.

You don’t want to grossly overbuy, but do err on the generous side. Once you’ve made all your calculations, think about adding another half yard (.5 m) on top of your final number. It won’t break the bank, but it could save your bacon. If it turns out that you don’t need it for your original project, there are lots of great ways to use up half a yard of fabric, such as a pair of throw pillows, some placemats, or even a tote bag! With so many options, you don’t have to worry about any excess fabric going to waste. When you’ve really gotten the DIY bug, having a little extra fabric to add to your “stash” is a good thing.

Reupholstering Furniture

Replacing the fabric on your favorite outdoor furniture gives it a new lease on life.

There is such a wide variety of furniture on the market that it’s impossible to give you hard and fast rules for estimating outdoor patio fabric by the yard, but we give you some of the most important measurements you’ll need. Our reupholstering how-to guide will walk you through the process.

Cushions and Pillows

Throw pillows and cushions come in all shapes and sizes, let's create yours.

The most common sizes are an 18” x 18” (46 x 46 cm) square and a 12” x 18” (30 x 46 cm) lumbar pillow. Remember, when you’re making a cushion cover, you’re going to need to double that, plus room for thickness, plus a seam allowance. Add it all together, and you’ll know how much fabric you’ll need for each cushion. 

Sling Chair Replacement

Catchy headline.

Most chair sling projects fall into the 1 ½ to 2 yards (1.4 to 1.8 m) per chair range. However, once again, sling chairs vary so much in size and style that you’ll have to measure yourself to discover the right amount of fabric to buy. Explore our sling chair replacement guide to find out how to measure your existing chairs for their new slings.

Curtains and Drapes

Catchy headline.

Like those trusty square throw pillows, outdoor curtains are a great beginner’s project, and calculating yardage for these is easy. Phifer’s in-depth curtain how-to guide explains everything you need to know about calculating material by the yard for drapes.


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