Tips & Tricks: Estimating Yardage

Estimating Yardage | Grainline Studio

We get a lot of questions along the lines of “I have the ___ pattern and I want to do a contrast ___. Do you know how much yardage that will take?” I love that people are thinking outside the box and going to town with their ideas but unfortunately it can take us a little bit to get back to these questions. When I figure out the yardage for each pattern, I calculate it based on the complete configurations on the pattern envelope, not on a piece by piece basis. This means I don’t have this info stored anywhere. Occasionally I can produce a reasonable guess, but most of the time we have to take the pattern out and measure the pieces since you guys do like to get creative. Since it’s such a popular question, and would also be useful for any pattern variations you might dream up that could change the yardage, I thought a little mini tutorial on how to estimate might be useful!

Please note that you will need to actually have the pattern in your possession to estimate using this method.

Estimating Yardage | Grainline Studio

First separate out the pattern pieces you’d like to estimate the yardage for. I’ll be using the Driftless Cardigan as an example. Lets say we want to do a contrast lower portion, so we’ll pull the pieces that would be affected.

Estimating Yardage | Grainline Studio

Lay two rulers or measuring tapes out on a table to create a squared L – these become the stand in for the fabric you haven’t ordered yet. Using the bottom ruler as the fold, lay out your pieces making sure to keep everything on grain.

Estimating Yardage | Grainline Studio

Once everything is laid out, take a quick measure to make sure that you haven’t surpassed the max width of your fabric folded. We’re measuring for 54″ fabric here so you want to make sure the width of your layout doesn’t exceed the 27″ width of the folded fabric. You may also want to subtract an inch from your width to account for selvage. So that means if you’re ordering 45″ wide fabric you’ll want to stay within 21.5″ and if you’re ordering 54″ wide fabric, stay within 26″ of the folded edge.

Once you’re sure your layout fits width wise and that everything is on grain, take the measurement from the lower ruler, this is how much fabric you’ll need to order. Ours is 25″ in the above example so we’d need to purchase 3/4 of a yard.

If you have the fabric you’d like to use already and are just wondering if you have enough you can use this method, but instead of laying out rulers you can just lay out your fabric and arrange the pieces on top of it.

I hope this helps with yardage estimation, now let those variations flow!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This entry was posted in Tips & Tricks. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Tips & Tricks: Estimating Yardage

  1. Just wondering, why do your pattern pieces have holes?

  2. Fran Giacobbe says:

    I like the idea of the 2 rulers. Feeling a bit “dumb” that I never thought of it myself! Generally, I would place the pattern pieces on fabric and use that as a reference, just as you mentioned. I think the 2 ruler idea is faster!

  3. Liliana says:

    Using the rulers is a great idea, I only ever measured everything afterwards… one more tip – make sure your pattern includes seam allowances, otherwise place your pieces with enough space in between!

  4. mz kat says:

    This seems like such an obvious answer to such a common problem! Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Amanda Howard says:

    You shouldn’t need to take anything off to allow for the selvage as fabric widths are quoted as useable. The overall width of a 45 inch fabric will be more with the selvages.

  6. Kristen says:

    Don’t forget to allow for shrinkage depending on your fabric! Some fabrics shrink SO much and it would kill me to be short an inch or two because of shrinkage.

  7. Chris says:

    My cutting table is 30″ wide by 2 yards long. Often, I can just lay out pattern pieces on it and get a pretty good idea of how much fabric I’ll need. (plus, allowing a little for shrinkage.)

  8. Becca says:

    I’m still very new to sewing, this might have just changed my world. It really is so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of this! Thank you!!!

Leave a Reply