How Big a Yard of Fabric is & 6 Helpful Photo Comparisons

A yard of fabric is 36″, 3 feet, 0.9144 meters, or 91.44cm. It looks like a yardstick, or about double your shoulder width. A “yard of fabric” only describes the length, not the width. Fabric widths often vary from 43″ (1.09m) to 60″ (1.5m). Fabric stores won’t cut the width, they only measure and cut the length.

Below, I’ve included:

  • Photos of fabric compared to a 5ft 8″ person. Specifically, 1 yard, 2 yards, 1/2 yard, 1/4 yard, and 1/8 yard.
  • Photos of a yard of fabric in different widths.
  • A conversion chart between yards, inches, feet, meters, and centimeters.
  • Formulas to convert yards into different metrics by yourself, and vice versa.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to measure a yard of fabric.
  • How much a yard of fabric generally costs.
  • Sewing project ideas for 1 yard of fabric.

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What does 1 yard of fabric look like?

I held a yard of fabric behind a 5ft 8″ (173cm), XS mannequin. It’s about double her shoulder width.

Remember, the ‘1 yard’ measurement is only describing the length. It has nothing to do with the fabric’s width, which can vary a lot. My fabric in the photo below is 1 yard in length and 60″ (1.5m) wide.

1 yard of black fabric held behind a mannequin

1 yard of fabric can be different widths

Here are 2 fabrics that are sold as 1 yard, but the widths are different. The cream fabric is 67″ (1.7m) wide. The black patterned fabric underneath is 60″ (1.5m) wide.

2 fabric widths compared to each other

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Is a yard of fabric a square yard?

If the fabric width is the same as the length (36″ / 0.9m), then it’s called a square yard. More often a yard of fabric is rectangle-shaped. This is because the width is normally bigger than the length.


What does 2 yards of fabric look like?

2 yards of fabric is the same as 72″, 6 feet, 1.8288 meters (rounded down to 1.8m), and 182.88cm.

I held 2 yards of fabric behind a 5ft 8″ (173cm), XS mannequin. It’s about 4 times her shoulder width.

2 yards of fabric held against a mannequin

Remember, the ‘2 yard’ measurement is only describing the length. It has nothing to do with the fabric’s width, which can vary a lot. My fabric in the photo is 2 yards long and 60″ (1.5m) wide.


How big is a half yard of fabric?

Half a yard of fabric is the same as 18″, 1.5 feet, 0.4572 meters (rounded up to 0.46m), and 45.72cm.

I held half a yard of fabric next to a 5ft 8″ (173cm), XS mannequin. It’s about the same as her shoulder width.

half a yard of fabric held next to a mannequin

Remember, the ‘half yard’ measurement is only describing the length. It has nothing to do with the fabric’s width, which can vary a lot. My fabric in the photo is half a yard long and 67″ (1.7m) wide.


How big is a quarter yard of fabric?

A quarter yard of fabric is the same as 9″, 0.75 feet, 0.2286 meters (rounded up to 0.23m), and 22.86cm.

I held a quarter yard of fabric next to a 5ft 8″ (173cm), XS mannequin. It’s about half her shoulder width.

a quarter yard of fabric held next to a mannequin

Remember, the ‘quarter yard’ measurement is only describing the length. It has nothing to do with the fabric’s width, which can vary a lot. My fabric in the photo is 1/4 of a yard in length and 67″ (1.7m) wide.

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How big is an eighth of a yard of fabric?

An eighth of a yard of fabric is the same as 4.5″, 0.375 feet, 0.1143 meters (rounded down to 0.11m), and 11.43cm.

I held 1/8th of a yard of fabric next to a 5ft 8″ (173cm), XS mannequin. Here’s what it looks like.

If you open your hand slightly, it’s about that size.

an eighth of a yard of fabric held next to a mannequin

Remember, the ‘1/8th of a yard’ measurement is only describing the length. It has nothing to do with the fabric’s width, which can vary a lot. My fabric in the photo is 1/8th of a yard in length and 67″ (1.7m) wide.


Conversion chart for fabric measurements

Converting yards into other measurements

Yard
(fraction)
Yard
(decimal)
InchFeet / FootMeterCm
1/80.1254.50.3750.114311.43
1/40.2590.750.228622.86
1/20.5181.50.457245.72
113630.914491.44
1 1/81.12540.53.3751.0287102.87
1 1/41.25453.751.143114.3
1 1/21.5544.51.3716137.16
227261.8288182.88
Source: Google’s conversion calculator

Converting meters into yards

Meter
(fraction)
Meter
(decimal)
CmYard
(decimal)
1/40.25250.273403
1/20.5500.546807
111001.09361
1 1/41.251251.36702
1 1/21.51501.64042
222002.18723
Source: Google’s conversion calculator

How to turn yards into meters (calculation)

Divide the number by 1.094. This gives you an approximate result. Then round the result up or down to the nearest 1 decimal place.

For example, 3 yards divided by 1.094 is 2.74223034735 meters. A store can’t cut fabric this precisely. When rounded to 1 decimal place, it becomes 2.7 meters. You can order fabric in 0.1m increments from stores like Minerva.

If the fabric store doesn’t let you do this, you’ll need to round the number to 0 decimal places. So 2.7m will be rounded up to 3m.

Be careful when you’re rounding down. If you round down too much, you might not have enough fabric for your project. For example, if your sewing pattern requires 2.4m of fabric, don’t round this down to 2m or you’ll be 0.4m short of fabric!

Source: this formula is from Google’s conversion calculator.

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How to turn meters into yards (calculation)

Multiply the number by 1.094. This gives you an approximate result. Then round the result up or down to the nearest 1 decimal place.

For example, 3 meters multiplied by 1.094 is 3.282 yards. A store can’t cut fabric this precisely. When rounded to 1 decimal place, it becomes 3.3 yards.

If your fabric store doesn’t let you order less than a yard, you’ll need to round the number to 0 decimal places. So 3.3 yards will be about 3 yards, but I don’t recommend doing this. If you need 3.3 yards for a specific project, you don’t want to lose 0.3 yards. So round up instead to 4 yards.

Source: this formula is from Google’s conversion calculator.

How to turn yards into cm (calculation)

Multiply the number by 91.44. Then round the result up or down to the nearest 1 decimal place.

Be careful when you’re rounding down. If you round down too much, you might not have enough fabric for your project.

Source: this formula is from Google’s conversion calculator.

How to turn yards into feet (calculation)

Multiply the number by 3. Then round the result up or down to the nearest 1 decimal place.

Be careful when you’re rounding down. If you round down too much, you might not have enough fabric for your project.

Source: this formula is from Google’s conversion calculator.

How to turn yards into inches (calculation)

Multiply the number by 36. Then round the result up or down to the nearest 1 decimal place.

Be careful when you’re rounding down. If you round down too much, you might not have enough fabric for your project.

Source: this formula is from Google’s conversion calculator.

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How to convert inches into yards of fabric (calculation)

Divide the number by 36. Then round the result up or down to the nearest 1 decimal place.

For example, 10″ divided by 36 is 0.27777777777 yards. A store can’t cut fabric this precisely. When you round it to 1 decimal place it becomes 0.3 yards. You can now tell the fabric store how much you want in yards.

Be careful when you’re rounding down. If you round down too much, you might not have enough fabric for your project.

Source: this formula is from Google’s conversion calculator.

Maths help: should you round a number up or down when fabric planning?

All the calculations mentioned above recommend rounding your results to 1 decimal place. Normally, if the number is above 5, you round up. If it’s below 5, you round down.

If you need a specific amount of fabric for a project, I DON’T recommend rounding down. You don’t want to start cutting into a fabric and then realize you don’t have enough! It’s always best to round up and buy a little extra. The risk of fabric shrinkage is another reason to buy more.

How to round numbers to 1 decimal place

Here’s an exercise to help you with rounding. If you want to round 1.46 to 1 decimal place, here’s what to do.

Note: 1 decimal place means you only want 1 number after the dot.

You need to look at the number after 1 decimal place. In this case, it’s 6. Is this number above or below 5? It’s above. So you cut the number off, and add 1 to the number before it (4). The new ’rounded’ number will be 1.5. So you’ve rounded 1.46 to 1.5.


How to measure 1 yard of fabric (on the floor method)

1) Open your fabric and lay it down on the floor so it’s flat

2) Find a selvage edge

Your piece of fabric will have 4 sides. 2 sides are called the selvage edges. These are the finished edges that don’t fray. They sometimes have a row of tiny dots or writing inside them. The selvage edges run along the length of the fabric.

You need to measure one of the selvage edges to find out how many yards of fabric you have.

You don’t want to measure the 2 sides that the fabric seller cut. This is the width of the fabric.

3) Start your tape measure on 1 end of the fabric’s selvage edge

Tip: use a sewing clip or weight to hold it in place.

a sewing clip holding a tape measure in place

4) Measure the selvage edge

Gently pull the tape measure across the selvage edge. Stop when there’s no more fabric. Note down the measurement where the fabric ended.

a measuring tape on top of a yard of fabric

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How to measure 1 yard of fabric (table method)

Here’s the method that fabric stores often use. It’s ideal if you don’t have much floor space.

1) Stick your tape measure onto a table (or wall)

Use blue tac or tape to temporarily stick your tape measure to the long side of a table. I recommend blue tac’ing the beginning, middle, and end so it stays in place.

white tac and a tape measure on a table

If you don’t have a table that’s long enough, tape it horizontally to an empty wall.

The end of the tape measure needs to reach at least 1 yard (36″). Then just let the rest hang off the end of the table.

a measuring tape stuck on a table

2) Find a selvage edge

Your piece of fabric will have 4 sides. 2 sides are called the selvage edges. These are the finished edges that don’t fray. They sometimes have a row of tiny dots or writing inside them. The selvage edges run along the length of the fabric.

You need to measure one of the selvage edges to find out how many yards of fabric you have.

3) Hold the start of the fabric against the start of the tape measure

Hold the fabric by one of its selvage edges.

With your left hand, place the left edge of the fabric next to 0 on the tape measure. Hold it there.

4) Pull the fabric to the 1 yard mark on the tape measure

Pull the fabric taut with your right hand until it reaches 1 yard (36″) on the tape measure. If your fabric is shorter than this, you’re done. Just make a note of the measurement where your fabric ended.

a yard of fabric being measured on a table

If your fabric is longer than 1 yard, hold the end against the 1 yard (36″) mark.

Make a mental note. So far your fabric is 1 yard long.

5) Move the ‘1 yard spot’ on your fabric back to 0

Let go of the fabric with your LEFT hand, whilst keeping your right hand firm against the table.

Use your right hand to drag the fabric from the 1 yard (36″) mark back to 0 on the tape measure.

Here’s a quick video to show you what I mean:

6) Pull the fabric to the 1 yard mark again

Life before, use your right hand to pull the fabric taut against the table until it reaches the 1 yard (36″) mark. Hold it in place.

Make a mental note. That’s 2 yards of fabric so far. Then just keep repeating this until you run out of fabric.

Your last length of fabric might be less than 1 yard. So look at the measurement where it stops. Then add that to your calculations so far.

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How to measure fabric width

1) Find a cut edge on your fabric

Your fabric will have 2 cut edges on opposite sides. Pick one of those to measure. This is the width of the fabric.

Important: don’t measure the selvage edges (explained above). They run along the length of the fabric.

2) Use a tape measure to measure the cut edge

If you have enough space, lay the fabric flat on the floor. As described above, measure one of the cut edges. If you don’t have enough space, stick your tape measure to a table or wall, and follow the steps described above.


How much does 1 yard of fabric cost?

At Joann’s, Fabric.com, and Mood Fabrics, cotton typically costs $7+ per yard. Linen costs $20+ per yard. Home decor fabrics cost $20 – $50 per yard. Stretchy knit fabrics cost $10+ per yard. Silk costs $20 – $60 per yard.


What can you sew using 1 yard of fabric?


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