How To Measure Fabric for Upholstery

When your old couch or sofa needs to be re-upholstered, it’s important that you measure the chair first before you rip off the old fabric. Getting the right measurement is crucial so you can re-do the chair properly without running out of fabric midway through the project.

Don’t be intimidated about measuring the fabric. You can easily do it if you have a measuring tape, a piece of paper and pen and a bit of patience. Here’s how to measure fabric for upholstery.

  • Make a drawing or list the portion you are measuring on the paper. Make a rough sketch of the chair on a piece of paper. Don’t worry about the details. The point is to get so you can label the different pieces of sections of the chair such as the back of the chair, the armrests and the seat. Be sure to draw or make a space to write down and draw the front and back of the chair.
  • Measure the chair in sections. Measuring a chair is just like getting the measurements of a person. You measure different parts first then add all the measurements together to determine the total amount of fabric you need. It’s the same thing with a chair you need to upholster. You need the measure the front of the chair, the arms, the seat, gusset and sides of the chair.
  • Measure the widest parts always. When you bring the tape measure to your chair, place it on the widest or thickest part always. For example, if you are upholstering a wingback chair, measure the top part of the chair rather than starting from the middle of the back. This way, you can be sure to have ample fabric for the entire chair.
  • Start with the height. When you measure the chair, get the height. You need to measure the chair from where the existing fabric ends to where it starts. Again, make sure to get the highest point. When measuring the height, you also need to get the thickness of the seat.
  • Measure the width. You will also need to measure the width of the chair. As you go around the chair, be sure to write down the measurement you have acquired. Write it down in inches since you can always convert the measurements to yards later on. When you get the thickness of the seat, multiply the number by four since there are four sides. When you get the measurements for the arms, multiply it by two since there are two armrests.
  • Convert the inches to yards. When you have the length and width of one section, multiply it by each other to get the square inch area of the space. You now have the measurements in square inches. Do this for all sections of the chair and add up the figure. To convert to yards, divide the total amount by 36. If you’re not sure about your conversions, you can bring in your raw measurements to the fabric store and have the assistant help you with the tallying and conversions.

Now that you know how much fabric you need, you can go out and select the pattern and fabric that you desire. Since you’re changing the upholstery of the fabric, why not breathe new life to your old couch by changing the pattern and color as well? You’d be surprised what a dramatic difference a new pattern makes on an old couch.


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