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How Big Is a Yard of Fabric and How to Measure It?

Taking measurements is an essential part of sewing. To be able to successfully execute a sewing project, you need to determine the correct fabric yardage needed for your creation. But you shouldn’t go shopping for materials if you don’t know precisely how much fabric you need to buy. Being accurate is crucial here because running out of materials can be such a bummer, while ending up with excess fabric can make your project more expensive than it needs to be. Both newbies and experienced seamstresses/seamsters must know how big a yard of fabric really is as fabric stores sell their products by the yard and its fractions.

How Big Is a Yard of Fabric, Really?

The actual size of a yard of fabric is 3 feet, which equals the length of a yardstick. If you live in a country that uses the metric system, you might want to remember that a yard translates into 0.9144 meters or 91.44 centimeters. In case you want to work with these units, but math isn’t your strong suit or you simply don’t want to spend time on converting yards to meters, consider using a reliable online converter or yardage conversion charts.

How Many Inches in a Yard of Fabric?

If you enjoy working on intricate sewing projects, chances are you often need small pieces of fabric. Knowing how many inches a single yard contains will help you make accurate calculations about the amount of fabric you need for each and every one of your project’s parts.

As some of you may remember from their elementary school arithmetic classes, there are 36 inches in a yard. This number doesn’t depend on the way you measure a yard or the type of measuring tool you use.

Unfortunately, not many fabric shops sell their materials in fractions of a yard, which means you’ll often have to purchase 2 or more yards of the materials you’ve picked for your projects. You may come across a salesperson willing to cut the fabric to the size you need, but I advise you not to hold your breath.

How Many Inches in ¾ Yard of Fabric?

Since a yard of fabric consists of 36 inches, ¾ of a yard equals 27 inches [(3 x 36) / 4 = 27]. If your measurements are in meters and centimeters, you should know that ¾ of a yard is the equivalent of 68.58 centimeters [(3 x 91.44) / 4 = 68.58]. Again, buying fractions of a yard of fabric can be an extremely difficult task as most fabric stores offer their products in whole yards only. This means you’ll probably need to do a bit more cutting when working on small sewing projects or projects that include many small details.

How Long Is a Yard of Fabric?

A linear yard of fabric is always 36 inches long. The width, on the other hand, depends on the roll of fabric in question. Nowadays, most fabrics available on the market are from 33 to 44 inches wide. This is an extremely important piece of information because not all sewing projects require the same fabric width. Keep this in mind when you go shopping for your next project as many salespeople measure only the fabric length.

How Many (Square) Feet in a Yard of Fabric?

As I mentioned above, one yard consists of 3 feet. However, this is just the linear measurement. If you want to calculate the square footage of the material you’ll work with, you have to bring the fabric width into the equation, too. To determine the fabric’s square feet, multiply its length in feet by its width in feet. So, for example, if you decide to buy a yard of fabric that’s 36 inches wide, you’ll have 9 square feet of fabric to use.

Length = 1 yard = 3 feet

Width = 36 inches = 3 feet

Square feet = Length (in feet) x Width (in feet) = 3 x 3 = 9

If you choose a wider fabric, let’s say a 60-inch wide one, you’ll have 15 square feet of material to work with.

Length = 1 yard = 3 feet

Width = 60 inches = 5 feet

Square feet = Length (in feet) x Width (in feet) = 3 x 5 = 15

This is a really simple formula, so you shouldn’t have a hard time making the necessary calculations.

How to Measure a Yard of Fabric?

It’s really simple—just measure the length of the material you want to buy, but first unroll it from the bolt (the item that holds the fabric together). The fabric should be 3 feet or 36 inches long regardless of its width. If you want to use the metric system, you should measure a little less than 92 centimeters. The easiest method, of course, is using a yardstick.

If you want to test the accuracy of your measurement, try stretching out your arms in both directions and see if the fabric will go from one hand to the other. If you are taller than most people, the fabric might cover only one of your hands. Some folks like to compare one yard of fabric to a dog blanket, but this can be a bit confusing as these coverings come in various sizes.

How to Cut a Yard of Fabric?

There are a few simple steps you need to follow. Firstly, wash the fabric and leave it slightly damp to make cutting easier. Washing the material will also get all the shrinkage out. Then, cut off the selvage, i.e. the edge on either side of the fabric that prevents it from unraveling. Next, square up the material and draw a line to get an even and clean cut. Finally, sharpen your scissors and begin cutting.

What Can a Yard of Fabric Be Used For?

A single yard of material can make a wide variety of useful items. From messenger bags, cloth wallets, and aprons, to pillowcases, napkins, and letter-holding hangers, one yard of fabric can help you hone your sewing skills and have lots of fun. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even sew clothes, socks, and blankets for your baby/kid from a yard of fabric.

Since the pandemic is still part of our everyday lives, you might be curious about the number of face masks a single yard of fabric can make. As you’ve probably already guessed, it depends on the user’s face dimensions and the width of the material. For instance, if you want to sew double layer masks that measure 9 by 6 inches and you opt for a 60-inch wide fabric, you may be able to make up to 20 masks (you’ll need 2 pieces of fabric per mask).

How to Calculate the Fabric Yardage Needed for a Project?

To determine the necessary amount of material for your sewing project, you need to take into consideration several important factors. First, if your creation has a seam, you’ll need extra fabric. Calculate the seam allowance, double the number, and add it to the length and width of the material you’ve decided on.

Planning to sew pants, skirts, dresses, or other garments that need to be hemmed? Then you need to calculate the hem as well, otherwise the final results might be disappointing (i.e. you’ll end up with an embarrassingly short piece of clothing).

Things get a bit complicated when the width of your design doesn’t fit the width of the material you want to work with. If the former is larger than the latter, you’ll have to sew a few pieces of fabric together. To determine the number of pieces you need to join together, you need to divide the width of your project by the width of the fabric. Then, multiply the result by the fabric length you need. Lastly, divide the product by 36 to find out how many yards of fabric you need.

Final Words

Okay, I know this information can be a bit too much to take in, especially if you’ve just started your sewing journey. However, knowing how big a yard of fabric actually is and learning how to calculate fabric yardage plays a huge role in executing your sewing projects successfully. This knowledge will save you both time and money as you won’t have to pause your needlework and pay the fabric store another visit when you run out of material. If you feel overwhelmed and want to give up, remind yourself that practice makes perfect!

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