Let me just start by saying that "Railroaded fabric is your friend." That is the way the fabric will be placed on your piece. If the pattern is regular or "up the roll" then you or your upholsterer will have to turn the fabric, to make the pattern face right way up. this causes more waste, and you will have to buy more yardage.
Railroading does not just apply to prints and stripes. Micro-suedes and velvets too. Any fabric that has a direction.
If you are looking at a really busy fabric and it's hard to tell, remember this rule of thumb: Flowers grow UP, and Birds don't fly on their backs. (however, I have seen fabric with grasshoppers jumping upside down)
Basically, a yard of fabric is 36 inches long, and generally 54 inches wide. You might find a few fabrics are 56" or 60" wide, but that is not the norm.
When trying to figure out how many yards of fabric someone needs, I estimate. And so will your upholsterer. ALWAYS get an extra yard.
Lets start with your average wingback chair pictured.
The inside back (the part your back actually touches) is going to take at least 1 and 1/2 yards. The fabric goes down into the seat where you can't see. Each arm will take a yard. The seat is 1 yard (1.5 if there is a loose cushion). The outside back will need 1.5, and you need to get another yard for the wings and the front bottom (rack band) and the piping (welt). So far, that's 7 yards. Since this is a stripe, you'll add 1 yard to allow for matching.
7 yards is about average for a wingback.
If this chair had a skirt, and using a striped fabric, you would need about 3 more yards to match the stripe. If it were solid, then 2 would do the job.
Some upholsterers will disagree with this yardage total, but we always over-estimate a little. Upholstering furniture is not an exact science, as you might think. I have done this enough times to know that people bring in fabric with flaws, or have used a yardage chart and the fabric they bought was the last bit on earth. Running out of fabric pretty much sucks for everyone involved.
Using you upholstery shops contributes to your local economy!
So, to recap:
- RAILROADING IS YOUR FRIEND
- BUY EXTRA IF IT'S A PRINT OR STRIPE
- AND NEVER TRUST A YARDAGE CHART.
He who has been forgiven much, loves much. That's pretty much me in a nutshell.
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