Am I Short of Fabric? An Easy Estimator’s Guide

Many sewing patterns are, shall we say, a bit generous when it comes to yardage requirements. I guess they figure “better safe than sorry.” It really stinks when you’re just a tiny bit short with fabric for a project.

Guess what? I am a tiny bit short of fabric for Vogue 1312.

V1312 – the gray dress shows more detail

For my size (16), the dress calls for a monstrous 4.5 yards of 60-inch wide, lightweight fabric in denim, gabardine or linen. Ever tote 4.5 yards of ANY lightweight fabric on your bod? Didn’t think so, unless you’re a time traveler.


The runner-up in the “Miss Bossy Monthly Stitch April Challenge,” McCall’s 7350, was starting to look pretty sweet, with its measly 3-yard requirement.

But then I remembered an oddball in my stash. While recently visiting my favorite vintage shop, English Building Market, I came across a length of charcoal gray mystery fabric. It has a slight sheen to it and feels like a lawn or batiste, not too stiff or too drapey. I bought the lot – 4+ yards – for $20, figuring it would be good for linings or muslins at least. After a trip in my washing machine and clothes dryer, it measures 4 yards, 10 inches, and 44 inches wide.  A burn test hints that it’s a poly-cotton blend.

Would it work?

Yes, with an inconsequential modification.

A lot of sewing patterns provide yardage requirements and cutting layouts for 45-inch and 60-inch fabrics. That’s nice, since you can often save money and reduce waste buying wider fabric. Also, sometimes the fabric you want to use is 54 inches, so it’s good to know your options. I seldom see patterns that really require 60-inch wide fabric. (The “Joker” shirt from Oki Style is a notable exception.)

The broad and pleated “Joker” blouse back needs every bit of 60-inch wide fabric

Vogue 1312 also has oddly pleated shapes, so I took the pattern envelope at its word when it  specified only 60-inch wide fabric. Well joke’s on me, because 45 inches works just fine. Behold:


Makes it with a couple of inches to spare!

The dress skirt is basically a bunch of draped or pleated rectangles, cut on the fold. Four rectangles are cut on the straight grain, and one is cut on the crossgrain. I estimated them all to fit neatly on my yardage, marking each one with chalk to be sure. (I don’t bother pressing the fabric or pattern pieces but rather rough-cut at the fabric estimation stage.) It’s an easy task when the pieces are literally rectangles – no fabric waste there!

The bodice was a different story. The pattern calls for a self-lined bodice, and I am about 7 inches short of making that happen. If I cut the front on the fold, piece the back together, and use a different lining fabric, however, I can just make it.


Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

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