How much fabric is necessary for armchair, chair and sofa?

80 cm fabric for dining chairs

I did not plan to write yet again about  finding the right fabric, or how to calculate the amount of fabric that is necessary to do an upholstery job. But today, when I finally went to buy our, I almost made a mistake.

For the sofa, I was convinced that we need 4 meter and just made the guy cut the fabric. For the silk fabric of the armchair, I also asked for 4 meter. Then however, just before the salesman started cutting, I made him stop. I asked him, what he thinks I would need for an armchair. His prompt answer was "6 meter".

While I was searching for a photo on my phone to show him our armchair, he was taking out some charts to show to me.

chart that indicates the right amount of meter for fabric needed for upholstery of all different kind of chairs, armchairs and sofas (.80 = 80 cm, 1 = 1m, 2.5 = 2.5 m ... / 1 inch = 2.45 cm / 1 yard = 91.44 cm)

I was totally impressed, once again, how well they are prepared and trained to serve the customers. He looked at the photos of my armchair. Actually, I only had looked at one - the one with the leftovers of the upholstery - a front picture - and never thought of the back. Now, I was looking at the second picture, where the wooden frame of the armchair was totally stripped off all upholstery. I realized I need fabric for the back too!

The salesmen looked with me through the charts and we agreed that probably 4.5 meter would be enough, but to be safe I bought 5 meter (the silk fabric is 100 cm wide only).

The calculation of fabric needed is the same as for tiles needed in a bathroom or kitchen. Almost. Because you need to take into consideration the width of the fabric you have chosen. If you need for one dining chair e.g. 70cm x 70 cm of fabric and the fabric is at least 140 cm wide, you get two chairs out of  70cm length. And you need only 2.10m for 6 chairs. Is the fabric less wide, you can get just one chair out of 70 cm length, and would need 1.40m for two chairs or 4.20m for 6 chairs. So I took 80 cm times our dining chairs.

A wider fabric might be more expensive, but if you need less fabric, you might end up cheaper.

You need more fabric than it seems when:
  • you choose a fabric with a bold pattern. You probably want the pattern in the middle for an aesthetic symmetric look. The excess fabric on the sides often is waste. 
  • you have chosen stripes. You have to determine in which way the stripes should run before calculating. The entire fabric cannot be used as it would require to change direction.
  • you want piping for your cushions
  • you want the seat covers of your dining chair removable for dry cleaning

For the excess fabric you can find new usage: small cocktail cushions for another sofa to repeat the pattern in the room, patchwork floor cushions, blankets, or funny tents over kids bed and the garden.

Finally, it is a good idea to get your fabrics weighted in case you need to take them by plane. My shopping prey today weighs 4.7 kg, already 1/4 of a 20 kg suitcase (allowance in Alitalia national economy class).

This is what I have learned so far. I am not an expert. If you have any other tips let us know!

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