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Determining Fabric Yardage

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BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR PURCHASES, take time to check and recheck the total yardage figures required for each material. These figures include a margin of safety that will ensure you'll have enough material to complete the project. It's always possible that the same pattern or dye lot won't be available later if you need more material.

Use a long steel tape measure to make your measurements. Mark the dimensions on paper -- you'll need to use the figures to make the yardage calculations and to determine cutting lines. As you measure, keep in mind that each wall is to be covered with a separate fabric cover.

Width Measurement

  • Separately measure the width (in inches) of each wall you're planning to cover, unless you'll be working around an outside corner; in that case you'll use one fabric cover, starting it at one wall edge, wrapping it around the corner, and continuing to the far edge of the wall.
  • To find the number of fabric panels required for one wall, divide the width of the wall by the usable width of the fabric, taking into account the amount of fabric taken up in seams (plan 1/2-inch seam allowances). If you are using sheets, use the width of the sheet. If your calculations result in a fraction, add a whole panel. This extra fabric width will give you some leeway to match the pattern at corners.

Height Measurement

  • Measure the height (in inches) of the same wall from the ceiling line (or lower edge of the ceiling molding) to the top of the baseboard. Take this measurement in several places to check for variations; use the largest figure. Before choosing sheets, be sure your wall is no higher than the length of the sheet.
  • Add 6 inches to the height measurement as insurance against errors. If the fabric has a pattern repeat, add the repeat length to the height measurement to allow for matching the pattern at the seams. Your final figure is the working height of the wall.

Total Fabric Yardage

  • Multiply the working height figure by the number of fabric panels needed for the wall; divide this figure by 36 to convert to the number of yards of fabric required for the wall you've measured.
  • Repeat the calculations for each wall you're covering. Add together the yardage for all the walls to determine total required. Add extra yardage if you plan to finish the walls with double welt (instructions for measuring for trim follow).

Determining Batting Yardage

To pad the walls, use 3/4-inch bonded polyester batting. Available 48, 54, or 96 inches wide, batting can be purchased by the yard in large fabric stores or those specializing in home decorating fabrics, or by mail from sewing notions catalogs.

  • To compute the amount of batting you'll need, measure (in inches) the exact height and width of the area to be covered; do not add extra inches.
  • Total the width measurements of the walls and divide by the width of the batting to determine how many strips of batting you need; round up to the next whole number. Multiply this figure by the height of the wall, and divide by 36 to convert to the number of yards of batting required.
  • Dimensions of large openings, such as sliding doors and picture windows, can be subtracted from your yardage figure, since batting can be pieced around openings.

Measuring for Trim

A double welt made of the same fabric as that on the wall or of a complementary fabric is the traditional finish. Or you can use heavy grosgrain ribbon (glue will show through lightweight ribbon), braid, or gimp in the same or contrasting color. Molding that's stained, painted, or wrapped with fabric also makes an attractive trim.

  • Plan to use a continuous strip of trim (unless you're using molding) for the perimeter of the area to be covered. To determine how much trim you'll need, track in your mind a course that starts at an inconspicuous lower corner, travels completely around the upholstered area at floor level, goes up the wall at the starting corner, and travels around the top edge.
  • Measure this distance and round up to the next half-yard to provide a margin of safety. Also measure around the edges of all unconnected openings, such as windows, that must be trimmed. Add all measurements together to determine the total yardage of finished welting or trim. If you do not know how to calculate the amount of fabric needed to make the determined amount of welting, ask your fabric vendor to assist you.