Cushions add decorative accents to the decor.

How to Estimate Yardage for Cushions

by Linda Erlam

Whether you plan to make the cushions yourself, or plan to have them custom-made, knowing how to calculate the yardage requirement can prevent costly mistakes. It can ensure that you get the best value for your dollar by avoiding wasteful overpurchasing. If you are using expensive or special-ordered fabric, it is important to have enough fabric from one piece, as dye lots may differ, and that could result in having to order an entire new piece. If you are buying the fabric from a retailer, there may not be any left on the bolt if you must return for more.

Nonprint Fabric

Measure the cushion. Measure the width of decorative cushions that sit on a sofa or bed, such as toss cushions, as the measurement from left to right as the cushion sits upright. Measure the length as the measurement from the top to bottom. The measurements of cushions, pillows, bedding and windows are always written as “width by length,” which ensures the correct orientation of the item, and for cushions indicates the placement of the bottom zipper and how the fabric pattern appears. For example, a cushion "24 by 15 inches" describes a rectangular cushion with a long edge of 24 inches sitting parallel to the sofa surface. Typically the cushion closure is along this seam.

Add 1 1/2 inches to each of the width and length for the fabric cut measurement. For example, for a cushion 24 by 15 inches, the cut fabric measurements are 25 1/2 by 16 1/2 inches.

Measure the fabric width. This is the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage.

Divide the fabric width by the required cut width. For example, if the cut width required is 25 1/2 inches, and the fabric is 54 inches wide, each width of fabric is wide enough for two cushion pieces. The length of the piece is equal to a multiple of the length needed for each cushion. One piece of fabric 54 inches wide and 16 1/2 inches long produces two cushion pieces. If you need more cushion pieces, multiply the number of sets by the cut length. For example, if you need eight cushion pieces, multiply the cut length of 16 1/2 by 4 and divide by 36 for the number of yards of fabric. In this example, 4 times 16 1/2 equals 66 inches, divided by 36 equals 1 7/8 yards, rounded up to 2 yards, if you prefer.

Printed Fabric

Measure the width of the fabric.

Measure from one edge of a pattern print to the next repetition of the pattern across the fabric width. This is the horizontal repeat.

Divide the width of the pattern repeat by the cut width required. Round the figure up if the result is more than 1 for the number of horizontal repeats each cushion piece requires. For example, if the fabric repeat is 26 inches wide, the cut fabric width is 25 1/2 inches, and working on 54-inch-wide fabric, each width shows two full patterns. If, however, the fabric repeat is 26 and the cut width required is 28, for example, you need two repeats per cushion. In this example, fabric with a width of 54 inches and two repeats across that width will produce only one cushion piece.

Measure from the top of one pattern to the top of the next pattern along the length of the fabric. Divide this pattern repeat measurement by the required cut length and round the figure up if it is greater than 1. For example, if the pattern repeat is 27 inches and the required cut length is 16 1/2 inches, each repeat will provide one cushion piece. Following the example, each 54-inch width of fabric, 27 inches long, will provide two cushion pieces 26 1/2 inches wide and 16 1/2 inches long with enough fabric to match the pattern on each cushion. However, if the repeat is 27 inches and the cut length is 30, for example, you would require two repeats, or 54 inches, per length of fabric to match the pattern on multiple cushions.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure
  • Calculator


  • The pattern on drapery fabric is printed parallel to the selvage; the pattern on upholstery fabric is printed perpendicular to the selvage.

About the Author

Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images