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Before Buying & Sewing – How Big Is a Yard of Fabric?

If you’re going to buy fabrics, you will indeed be asked the question of how many yards of fabric you want. At this time, you may wonder: How big is a yard of fabric? Fret not; before you buy and sew fabrics, just read this post, and you’ll be well-equipped with everything you need to know about a yard of fabrics. Now, start reading and figure out how big a yard of fabric is.

What Is a Yard of Fabric?

Before diving into a yard of fabric, you should know what a “yard” means as a unit. The yard is a unit of length used widely in the UK and the US. This unit is employed while measuring the length in the textile industry, sports field, etc.

Generally speaking, a yard is equivalent to 36 inches. When it comes to a yard of fabric, the measurement is used to determine the length of a fabric for cutting from the roll. So, a yard doesn’t refer to the area of a fabric; it instead measures the length of a fabric while the width of a fabric is determined.

The Detailed Yard Conversion

Of course, people use units of length differently depending on where they live. Suppose you need to become more familiar with yard conversion. In that case, you can start by remembering the most straightforward formula for converting yards to other length units when figuring out how big a yard of fabric is.

Also, you can check the chart below to figure out the usually-used yard conversion quickly:

Yardage Inches Feet Centimeters Meters
1/8th Yard 4.5 0.375 11.43 0.1143
1/4th Yard 9 0.75 22.86 0.2286
1/3rd Yard 12 1 30.48 0.3048
1/2 Yard 18 1.5 45.72 0.4572
1 Yard 36 3 91.44 0.9144
2 Yard 72 6 182.88 1.8288
3 Yard 108 9 274.32 2.7432


If you have other yard conversion needs, you can also use the following formula to calculate:

Yards = Feet ÷ 3

Yards = Meters × 1.0936

How Is Fabric Sold by the Yard?

Selling fabric by the yard is the way stores will usually do it. Some stores will even break down the yard into smaller units, such as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. After you have chosen the specific yard of fabric you want, the merchant will measure and cut the fabric you need from a bolt of fabric.

In this bolt, the fabric is usually folded in half, with the edge called “selvage”. When measuring and cutting the fabric, the reference direction is usually along the selvage, not the cut edge. The cut direction is always parallel to the cut edge and perpendicular to the selvage, as this way is more favorable for saving the fabric in comparison.

Why Does Width Important?

While asking how big a yard of fabric is, the yard here is about length. However, this is not to say that width doesn’t matter. The reason for calculating the yardage needed along the length is that different fabrics can vary in width. Standard fabrics are usually 44-60 inches wide, which means that the width of a piece of fabric is generally more than 1 yard and less than 2 yards.

For example, if you wish to buy a yard of fabric, and the merchant cut it from the width to get precisely 1 yard wide of fabric. Then, about 10-20 inches of fabric will be left over. This leftover fabric, cut into very narrow strips, is virtually unusable. In other words, the only thing left to do is to throw it away.

As the saying goes, “Little drops make an ocean”, right? These wasted inches of fabric could accumulate a fortune with no effort. Therefore, to save the usable fabric as much as possible, determine the width when purchasing and cutting fabric, and then select how many yards of fabric you want according to this fixed width.

What Can You Make with a Yard of Fabric?

To better demonstrate how big a yard of fabric is, this section provides some things you can make with a yard or even less with a yard of fabric. Even though one yard of fabric may not be enough to make an adult dress, it still has many possibilities to provide you with unexpected surprises.

  1. Infinity Scarf

Compared with the traditional scarf, the infinity scarf has no end. Its long-enough length allows you to wrap enough loops to help keep you warm in the winter. Therefore, its length can be customized entirely according to the needs of wearers and fabric length. That’s also why a yard of fabric is neither too short nor easily wasted.

  1. Fancy Durag

What is a durag? You may have yet to hear of this word exactly. However, if you follow the fashion world, you must have seen many celebrities who have worn durags to show off their unique style. It only takes about a half yard of durag to make this fashion accessory. Its length being optional, durag is ideal for utilizing the fabric wisely.

  1. Table Napkin

A table napkin not only has practical value but also always has a decorative effect on the style of the table. As a fashionable and practical table decoration, many medium and high-end restaurants will favor table napkins, especially those with good quality and expensive prices. If you were to measure how big a yard of fabric is by the number of table napkins it could make, 6 table napkins or so could make it an ideal choice.

  1. Tote Bag

One yard of fabric can make just 1-2 stylish tote bags that are becoming increasingly popular. These medium-sized bags with two parallel handles prevail among a wide range of age groups and occupational groups. Not only can tote bags serve the basic purpose of taking in your belongings, but they also give you the freedom to create your preferred patterns on the bag.

  1. Custom Bandana

One yard of fabric is far enough for a custom-designed bandana, a popular kerchief. This accessory has become popular in different cultural areas, including, but not limited to, sports, music, and more. Fans always order a similar type of bandana in bulk to support their favorite stars or teams. And you only need one yard of fabric to create more than one bandana with a particular style.

Tips on Preparing the Yard of Fabric

While considering how many yards of fabric you need to prepare, here are some tips for you to remind you of some detailed factors you could possibly ignore:

  • Possible Shrinkage: Some natural fabrics may shrink after washing and other cleaning steps, resulting in smaller yardage. Therefore, when purchasing fabrics, you need to take into account the possible size changes caused by the fabrics’ unique properties.
  • Cutting Error: You can’t guarantee that every cut you make will be perfect. A few unintentional mistakes can result in a relative amount of fabric wasted. It’ll never be too much to have more yards of fabric on hand before you start manufacturing.
  • Pattern Material: If you are manufacturing products that require additional patterns or motifs, then you need to keep in mind that these parts will also cost extra fabric.
  • Fat Quarter: Many stores will cut fat quarters of fabric. It is important to note that if you are getting fat quarters of fabric cut in different shapes, you will need to make sure that it is the right shape for the product you are manufacturing to avoid wasting the fabric.


Through this comprehensive guide on how big is a yard of fabric, you’re now well equipped with the basic concept of yardage. From the yardage conversion to the daily application, a yard of fabric could contribute to your manufacture. Among a variety of fabrics, silk is arguably the most valuable and profitable. If you’re interested in manufacturing an appreciable quantity of silk products, feel free to contact Sinosilk and enjoy the most attentive service.

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