How big is a yard of fabric

When I visited a US fabric store (it was in New York) for the first time (I was coming from Canada) I was really surprised to find out that they sell fabric by the yard, not by the meter. So I was staring at the fabric trying to figure out – how big is a yard of fabric? I asked the seller and she told me – “oh, it’s 36 inches”. Well, it really didn’t help because I had no idea about inches also. I was used to meters and centimeters. And I couldn’t even Google it then – there was no Google. 

By now I am used to it but I know it would be helpful to have a conversion chart so anybody who is looking for answers can Google it and find the solution immediately.

It’s also good to know that in fabric stores (for the purpose of measuring) they divide the yard by binary method into two, four, eight and sometimes sixteen parts. 

When I was buying fabric in fabric discount stores (we had a big one in New Jersey) they usually had precut pieces and it was like 2 ⅜ yard for example, and it was important to me to know how much it is in meters or centimeters (that’s what I am used to). So below you can find a fabric yardage conversion chart.

I look at this chart quite often even if I am now used to the US imperial system. Why? Because in fabric stores they sell fabric by the yard and its fractions. But my tape measures (I have maybe 5 of them) don’t have any yards on them, they have inches. So if I measure at home that I need 54 inches for my sewing project I will need to convert this number to yards – how many yards do I need? I have no idea without looking at this chart. And I see that 54 inches is 1 ½ yards – perfect, I know now how much fabric to buy to this project.

Let me continue this small guide a little further and share some other useful tips on dimensions of a yard of fabric based on my experience. 

The yard of fabric is measured from the bolt lengthwise, along the selvage edge, and fabric in the bolt is usually folded in half lengthwise, selvage to selvage. But not all fabric is sold from a bolt – many fabric stores have fabric in rolls and fabric is not folded. 

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I will receive a commission if you order a product through one of my links. I only recommend products I believe in and use myself. 

Take a look at this gorgeous ORGANIC cotton fabric

Cloud 9 Fabrics Organic Field & Sky Lush Mimosa Cotton Sateen Green/White Fabric by the Yard

$14.98  in stock
2 new from $14.98
Free shipping
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Designed by Yao Cheng for Cloud9 Fabrics his certified 100% organic cotton print fabric meets the GOTS certification; only low impact organic dyes were used in this product. This lightweight (almost 6 oz. /square yard) fabric is truly versatile and is perfect for quilts craft projects shirts blouses and dresses. Colors include green and white.
  • 100% Organic Cotton
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Machine Wash Gentle/Tumble Dry Low

Cloud 9 Organic Tout Petit Interlock Knit Polka Dot Fabric by The Yard, Green

$16.76
$16.69  in stock
1 new from $16.69
Free shipping
Get more info
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Fabric Type: 100% Cotton
  • Import Designation: Made in the USA or Imported
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine Wash/Tumble Dry Low
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.

Cloud 9 Fabrics Organic Wild Queen of Beasts Multi Ivory Fabric by the Yard

 out of stock

Free shipping
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Designed by Leah Duncan for Cloud 9 Fabrics this 100% Certified Organic Cotton fabric is perfect for apparel quilting and home decor accents. Colors cream blue orange yellow and pink.
  • 100% Organic Cotton
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Machine wash cold with like colors, gentle cycle, only non-chlorine bleach when needed, tumble dry low, remove promptly, warm iron if needed.

Cloud 9 Fabrics Organic Wild Teamwork Black/Multi Fabric by the Yard

 out of stock

Free shipping
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Designed by Cloud9 Fabrics this cotton print fabric is perfect for quilting apparel and home decor accents. Colors include beige black purple yellow orange pink and green.
  • 100% Organic Cotton
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Machine wash cold with like colors, gentle cycle, only non-chlorine bleach when needed, tumble dry low, remove promptly, warm iron if needed.

Cloud 9 Fabrics Organic Wild Maru Black Fabric by the Yard

$12.40  in stock
2 new from $11.99
Free shipping
Get more info
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Designed by Leah Duncan for Cloud 9 Fabrics this 100% Certified Organic Cotton fabric is perfect for apparel quilting and home decor accents. Colors include black beige yellow red greenand pink.
  • 100% Organic Cotton
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Machine wash cold with like colors, gentle cycle, only non-chlorine bleach when needed, tumble dry low, remove promptly, warm iron if needed.

Birds and The Bees - Birch Organic Fabrics -Premium Cotton Fabric

$14.95  in stock
1 new from $14.95
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • 100% Cotton

Telio Organic Stretch Cotton Jersey Busy Bee Fabric, Pink, Fabric By The Yard

$12.22
$12.14  in stock
2 new from $11.59
Free shipping
Get more info
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as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Show Mother Earth some love with this 100% GOTS certified organic cotton knit fabric! It is made from cotton that was not farmed the conventional way. No pesticides were used to produce the crops which means the end product is cotton fabric that is totally toxin free. This fabric has a beautiful drape and the extreme softness of this fabric makes it feel heavenly against the skin! It has 30% stretch across the grain which means it moves when you move so it is ultra...
  • 95% Organic Cotton/5% Lycra
  • 61'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 61'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 61'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Hang/Wash 30 degrees/Do Not Bleach/Iron Low

Telio Organic Stretch Cotton Jersey Busy Bee Fabric, Baby Blue, Fabric By The Yard

$12.22  in stock
2 new from $11.59
Free shipping
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Show Mother Earth some love with this 100% GOTS certified organic cotton knit fabric! It is made from cotton that was not farmed the conventional way. No pesticides were used to produce the crops which means the end product is cotton fabric that is totally toxin free. This fabric has a beautiful drape and the extreme softness of this fabric makes it feel heavenly against the skin! It has 30% stretch across the grain which means it moves when you move so it is ultra...
  • 95% Organic Cotton/5% Lycra
  • 61'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 61'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 61'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Hang/Wash 30 degrees/Do Not Bleach/Iron Low

Birch Organic Fabrics" Organic Basics Birch Dot, Black

$19.23
$13.50  in stock
1 new from $13.50
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Fabric Type: 100% Cotton
  • Import Designation: Made in the USA or Imported
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine Wash Cold/Tumble Dry Low
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.

Birch Organic Fabrics Birch Organic Mod Basics 3 Wink Orange Fabric by The Yard

$18.13  in stock
1 new from $18.13
Free shipping
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Fabric Type: 100% Cotton
  • Import Designation: Made in the USA or Imported
  • Fabric care instructions: Machine Wash/Tumble Dry Low
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.

Birch Organic Fabrics Birch Organic Tree Fort Cream Ivory, Fabric by the Yard

 out of stock
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of November 18, 2019 4:42 pm

Features

  • Designed by Teagan White for Birch Organic Fabric this GOTS certified organic cotton print fabric is perfect for quilting apparel and home décor accents. Colors include ivory green aqua mustard tan sienna teal peach and brown.
  • 100% Cotton
  • 44'' wide. Fabric is sold by the yard and cut to order. For example, order of 1 yard (Qty=1) is 44'' x 36''. Order of 3 yards (Qty=3) is 44'' x 108''.
  • Washing Instructions: Machine Wash Cold/ Tumble Dry Low

But not all yards of fabric are equal

When you buy fabric in yards they don’t measure the width of the fabric but you have to consider this question also – how wide is a yard of fabric? Because when you are buying one yard of fabric you are getting a piece with this dimensions: 1 yard x the width of the fabric. It’s important for your sewing project but for the store it doesn’t matter how wide the fabric is – they count only the length of the fabric in yards. 

The width of fabric is usually measured in inches (in US) and most common widths are 44/45 inches and 60 inches. The width varies by the type of fabric. Quilting cotton is almost always 44/45” wide, apparel fabric is most often between 44” and 60” and home decor fabric is usually 54”.

When you buy fabric you can find the width of the bolt (or the roll) on a label. And usually you will need much more 44” wide fabric for a project than if the fabric is 60” wide. It makes sense, right? It’s much easier to arrange a pattern on a wider fabric and the remnants are going to be smaller for a wider fabric also because you have a greater ability to move pieces around.

But there are other fabric widths also and it depends on the loom technology that was used for fabric manufacturing. The width can also be 12, 16, 24, 30, 36 ,38, 42, 48, 54, 58, 59, 70, 72, 108, 120 inches. For example, lace fabric can be narrower, and cotton for bedding can be wide enough to cover a bed without seams.  

You have to consider also that not all fabric width may be usable – sometimes you just can’t use 1-2 inches from the width because you always have to cut selvages for a project and sometimes fabric has some kind of border.  

And again – not all yards of fabric are equal. Is your yard of fabric the same as mine? 

You can buy one yard of fabric but when you come home you may notice that you actually have less than a yard for a project when you measure more accurately. Why? Because when they cut fabric in a store they may not cut it straight and you may get a slanted piece with a bevel of a few inches. It happens more often with stretchy fabric because it may get stretched in the bolt or on the roll. So it’s good to buy a few inches more for a project just in case they didn’t cut it straight. 

If you would like to read more about how to cut fabric straight check out my tutorial “How to cut fabric perfectly straight“. 

Also, in fabric stores they know that they can make a mistake cutting fabric so sometimes they will give you 1-2 inches more than a yard. This is true mostly for smaller fabric stores not big chains. 

Let’s compare now different cuts of one yard of fabric from different stores. 

Also, you have to consider preshrinking fabric for your sewing projects. If you buy one yard of fabric and the piece is 1 yard (which is 36 inches) x 44 inches for example, you may end up with a smaller piece after you prewash it because some fabrics shrink (not all though).

For example, I had a very nice piece of china silk  (you can find my article on different types of silk fabric here) and after I prewashed it (I made lining for my jacket from it) it shrank from 2 yards – I lost almost 6 inches in the wash (I only measured the length, I didn’t measure the width, but I guess it shrank in the width also). Well, it was good that I prewashed it. 

I found some very interesting facts about the US Imperial System. For example, in England they measured fabric by the yard and inches already in 15 century!  Wikipedia says thatIn a law of 1439 (18 Henry VI. Cap. 16.) the sale of cloth by the “yard and handful” was abolished, and the “yard and inch” instituted”. And it was almost 500 years ago.  

And now I would like to show you what you can do with one yard of fabric

It may be not enough for a big project but from one yard (especially if it’s 60” wide) you can make a top, a blouse with short sleeves, a hat, underwear, a pencil skirt, shorts, scarf, kids clothes, an apron, a pillowcase, etc. 

Look what I made from no more than a yard of fabric.

Easy sewing projects: DIY shorts without a commercial pattern

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to make 2 pairs of shorts. And you can find how to make matching pajama tops in another tutorial.
For a long time I feared sewing shorts and pants because they never fitted right. I tried different patterns, starting with Burda and finishing with McCalls and Vogue. Even if the pattern was close to my measurements in hips and waist the pants were not good in a crotch area. So I didn’t make any pants. But at some point I decided to draft my own high waisted shorts pattern because I was really tired of those low-cut shorts that won’t stay up without a belt and kept dropping off my hips. And the shorts pattern I made was really simple, it didn’t even have side seams and zipper closure, I could even draw it right on the fabric without a paper pattern.
To my surprise the first shorts I made with this simple pattern fitted me perfectly.

Here is every little detail on how to sew a hat for beginners

This is a YouTube sewing tutorial on DIY hat. Learn how to sew a hat out of fabric; make a DIY hat pattern; see the hat making process. I like to wear hats. In Florida where I live it is a must to protect my head against the strong sun. I can’t stay in the sun without a hat, period. To me, a good hat is like a pair of blue jeans – a necessary thing in my wardrobe. But hats are also essential fashion accessories.

DIY silk pillowcase for a better and healthier sleep

DIY pillowcase is so easy task! Pillowcases don’t have sleeves, collars, facing, interfacing, darts, and curved lines, etc. Here is a tutorial to show you how easy it is to sew your own pure silk pillowcase. I would like to challenge and inspire you – sew something out of the ordinary.

DIY Halloween crafts : how to sew a pillow for Halloween decor

This is a sewing tutorial on DIY Halloween crafts – how to sew an interesting pillow for Halloween decor from 100% silk fabric. Instead of boring and monotonous square and round cushions I decided to make a pillow with  a completely unexpected appearance. A modern decorative pillow is more than just a bedding – it can be an exquisite addition to the interior and shows the ability of the owners to create a unique style and comfort in the house.

DIY mesh bag / video sewing tutorial / in the hoop projects

YouTube sewing tutorial on making DIY mesh bag for washing delicates, underwear and socks. This is in the hoop embroidery tutorial. Of course, you can buy a mesh laundry bag in a dollar store just for one dollar.  But when you actually USE it you notice the zipper doesn’t work anymore because it’s broken, or the stitches come apart everywhere! So after disposing of many store-bought bags, I thought enough is enough and decided to make a good quality laundry bag that I can use not once but many times.

How to make a tailor’s ham

Tailor’s ham is a kind of a small pillow used for pressing seams and hems during garment construction. It’s very convenient tool for pressing darts, pleats, princess seams, sleeves seams, etc. Here is a step-by-step tutorial how you can make it for all your sewing needs.

DIY pajama tops without a pattern

I couldn’t resist sewing these pajamas made with fun natural fabrics in exciting colors.
I guess you have already seen my tutorial for the pajama bottoms.
Now let’s make pajama tops.
These patterns are suitable for any kind of knits and also for lightweight and medium weight woven fabric with some kind of stretch in it.
For one pajamas I used 100% cotton double gauze fabric and 100% raw knit silk and for other pajamas I used 100% cotton knit fabric (very lightweight and almost see-through) and 100% silk chiffon for the back. For embellishments I used also silk chiffon fabric and elastic trims.

DIY fabric headbands: step-by-step tutorial

Headbands are cute hair accessories and often are not only practical but also fashionable. I found a few reasons for wearing (and sewing) headbands. They can absorb sweat and keep it from reaching the eyes when you are running or exercising. They also can keep unruly hair out of your face.

Halloween sewing projects: DIY off-shoulder top

In this YouTube sewing tutorial I will show you how to make a Halloween sewing project, an off-shoulder top with an open back and an appligue. The top is made from knit fabric so I used my serger to sew side and shoulder seams. The seams are strong and stretchable which is really important for knits. I made the top WITHOUT a pattern, and I am showing how to draft the pattern right on the fabric. Very easy sewing project. 

DIY sleep mask from 100% silk fabric

This is an easy step-by-step sewing tutorial on DIY sleep mask.The project is quite simple even for a complete beginner. Free pattern PDF. Stores provide a wide range of sleep masks – from simple and plain to embellished and sophisticated. But practically all of them (at least those that I saw) made from polyester. So why not to make a nice sleep mask from 100% silk fabric especially that is not difficult? You will get the mask exactly as you want it, it can be customized easily to your face if at first it doesn’t fit well and at the same time you will improve your sewing skills and will be better prepared to next more complicated sewing projects.The mask will be in contact with the skin on your face and must be made of a natural soft material. And what is better for the mask than pure silk?

How to cover a box with fabric and create a perfect storage for any space

In this tutorial I will show you how to cover a box with fabric and make a very useful and pretty fabric storage bin.

Zipper pouch tutorial

Learn to sew a lined zippered pouch without dented corners. Check our YouTube video. Free PDF pattern of the pouch is available for download. This is my first attempt to make a zippered pouch with lining. And I honestly thought that this is the easiest thing ever to sew, it’s such a little thing, right?  But I was mistaken. The lined zippered pouch turned out to be quite a complex thing to make. Yes, you can make it in 30 min if you don’t mind the funky dented corners at the top of the pouch.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you need it and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration! 

Ready to take the next step in your sewing journey? Check out more step-by-step tutorials from my blog and don’t forget to share on Facebook or Twitter! 

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