yardage for upholstery

by | Jul 9, 2016 | All Things Home, Sewing, Tutorials, upholstery | 20 comments

When I share upholstery projects here on the blog, I’m often asked about yardage, so I thought I would share how many yards of fabric you need for certain upholstery projects.

Before I give those estimates, I’ll say that there are ways you can save on yardage.  Every detail added means more fabric.  Piping, pleating, tufting, and ruffles all add yardage, so you can cut those out if you’re on a tighter budget or tuft and pleat everything if you scored a huge bolt of fabric!

You can also save yardage through little cheats, like using a complimentary, but less expensive for the back side of a piece, like I did with the tufted sofa.  And, even though it’s not the “proper way”, you can cut fabric to cover custom piping straight instead of on the bias.  It is definitely better to cut it on the bias, but it does waste a lot of fabric, so I wanted to present it as an option.

In addition to your primary fabric, you need fabric for the decking (what goes under the cushions).  You don’t want to use nice fabric for that!  I usually use a canvas or cotton duck fabric.


You generally need 15-22 yards – the lower end if there aren’t any cushions or tufts and the higher end if there are six cushions and/or lots of tufts, like a chesterfield.



A chair with an exposed wood frame and a single cushion requires about 6 yards and a club chair with a seat cushion, back cushion, and rolled arms will need about 12.


And arm chair without any cushions only needs about two yards.



If you’re just venturing into the world of upholstery, this is definitely the best project to start with.  It’s very much akin to wrapping a present and it only requires about 1/2 yard for each seat.



I would suggest about 8 yards for a wing chair.  I honestly prefer to slipcover those, though, because of all of the tack strips!  I just avoid them when I can.


A simple ottoman, like the one pictured above, needs about two yards.  For a larger, tufted ottoman, five yards would be in order.


When you’re selecting fabric for upholstery, the weight of it really does matter.  If the fabric is too thin and delicate, it might tear as you’re pulling it tight and then it won’t stand up to the stretch that happens when people sit on it.

I know that upholstering with drop cloths was and still is popular.  I’ve even done it in the past.  But, I would strongly suggest using those for slipcovers and opting for a sturdier fabric for upholstery.  There are a lot of cost-saving options out there, if you are patient.  I’ve bought a few bolts of beautiful heavy-weight linen at a flea market for $5/yard.  I’ve also found some nice deals online, at yard sales, thrift stores, and in the sale bins at fabric stores.  Just look around, be patient, and keep an open mind.

I have two new upholstery projects coming up and I’ll share the details as those unfold…

Until then, you can check out my upholstery posts HERE.


  1. Karin

    There is my beautiful slipcovered wingback chair from Luckett’s. I was on a mission for that chair as it reminds me of pieces which were in my dad’s house. I asked a friend to join me on the 4 hour drive down from NJ and now it sits in my den overlooking my back garden. I just love it! Thank you for your beautiful work and for the gracious way you share of yourself and encourage others. Can’t wait for Luckett’s next year. Wonder what my mission will be then. 🙂

    • marian

      Oh, I’m so glad you like it! I loved how that chair turned out. 🙂

  2. Mary Crozier

    Thank you so much for this information. I purchased 3 hemp sheets from you-wonder what the yardage is on those collectively. I’ve been debating what to use them for, but am happy to have them in my possession!!!!

    • marian

      Those are about 2-2.5 yards per sheet.

  3. Debbie Delosreyes

    Oh how i hope you make another tuffed couch:) hubby loved it too.

  4. Sherry Stuifbergen

    Hi, I have posted several times and it never gets up on the blog…I am asking how many hemp sheets that you sell do you need to do an arm chair?

  5. AnnW

    Upholstering with drop cloths. “I’ve even done it in the past.” Are you kidding me? You Invented It! I’m surprised Home Depot didn’t come out with a Miss Mustard Seed line of drop cloths. Now that’s an idea, especially if they are different colors. Great post.MMS!

  6. Suzen

    All these ads are so annoying. Love your blog but you are losing me!

    • marian

      What kind of device are you viewing my blog on? Phone, tablet or laptop/desktop? That will help me to know what you’re seeing….

    • Sandi

      Suzen – just install ADBlock – it’s free and you’ll NEVER have ads pop up again – anywhere – it’s wonderful to not be visually bombarded and sites load on your computer much faster…

  7. Linda

    I slipcovered a chair years ago using a drop cloth and your original video. Now I have a guide when I go shopping for better fabric. Thanks again MMS!

  8. Naomi S.

    Thanks for the handy information on yardage, Marian. Does the yardage needed change significantly depending on the width of the fabric you are using?

  9. Karen from 4848Farmhouse.com

    An added note when choosing how much yardage is needed for a project – pattern can significantly add to the yardage if a pattern needs to be matched. Make sure to keep that in mind when making yardage estimates.

  10. marylisa noyes

    Thanks for the guidelines. Very helpful.

  11. Ej

    iPad ads still appearing between each paragraph. Have stopped visiting your post as often as before. Too annoying.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      Okay, thank for letting me know. Yes, the iPad view is having some issues at the moment, since it’s a hybrid between the mobile version and the desktop, so you’re seeing ads on the sidebar and inside the post. If you read it on a phone, you just have the ads inside the post and if you’re on a desktop/laptop, you just have the sidebar ads. I am in the process of moving to a new blog design and rearranging some things with the ads, so that won’t be the case on iPads any longer.

      Anyway, I just wanted to let you know it’s temporary, so you may want to check back in a few weeks! 🙂

  12. Karen

    Thanks for the info, I also was getting frustrated with all of the ads on my iPad.

    • marian

      Sorry about that! Yes, it will be getting fixed, soon. 🙂

  13. Heather Anne

    Such a timely guide! Thak you! I am looking at two beautiful old wing chairs in my sewing room that need some love ASAP – they are ORANGE velvet and really quite comfy … but I picked them up to reupholster … $30 for the pair. Sourcing some nice heavy weight linen or hemp in my budget has been a problem though. I’ve been guessing 7 yards for each of them, so it is good to know that I am on track there. I’ve looked through past posts to see if you mention fabric suppliers online, but is seems as though most of you hemp and linen sources are no longer selling the fabrics you reccommended. Do you have a current favorite online source for an upholsterer on a budget?

  14. Angela

    I in desperate need of assistants, I have been over my head with doing two antique tuft back upholstered chairs with using drop cloth fabric. I’ve referred to your site numerous times for handy tips and but I having the hardest time getting my drop cloth fabric to work with my button size ( which I have to use size 24). I am getting super discouraged with this project. I wanted to ask for tips and some advice as to what the best tools are and if I need to switch my fabric out for the buttons? Which if you a good fabric option advice for this process would be beneficial too!! thank you for all your help and awesome tips!!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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