Estimating the Fabric Yardage on a Bolt

Should you ever find yourself in a fabric store wondering if there is enough of that must-have fabric left on the bolt, I have a little trick for you.  A kind lady at the cutting table taught me this trick years ago, and I use it nearly every time I go into a fabric store.

Instead of asking the cutting table gals to measure out the fabric to make sure there is enough yardage for your project, you can just count the layers of fabric wrapped around the bolt like the rings on a tree.  For a medium-heavy fabric, such as cotton and burlap, two wrapped layers equals approximately one yard.  For thinner fabrics, such as silk or lace, three wrapped layers equals approximately one yard.

Country Living

This trick only works for fabric on a rectangular bolt, such as the delicious Amy Butler fabrics shown above.  Sadly, I don’t know of a similar trick for the home decor fabrics that are displayed on bolt rolls – do you?

Filed Under: Create Your Decor

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. MMM that is a great trick, thanks ♥

  2. Great tip! I always wonder so that is a good way to guestimate! Would love to know on the decorator fabrics!

  3. Smart tip to share! I had the absolute pleasure of working in a quilt/needlework store for several years, and that’s exactly how we did it. It’s a pretty “right-on” estimate, too. No more guessing at the fabric store.

  4. Thanks so much for the tip! I was wondering how to tell just the other day. Now I know! Thanks!

  5. Great tip. My mom would always measure the fabric from her nose to her hand (extended out). She always knew that that was a yard. Funny, but it works.

    • That’s how I do it, too! Once it’s off the bolt, it’s certainly the easiest way to estimate how much you have in front of you. Love it!

  6. joanne b. says:

    ahhh. The old nose to the extended hand trick. Thanks for bringing back a sweet memory of my Mom too. I still do it today, and people (even the sales ladies at Joann’s!) look at me funny. Seems like back then life was simpler…

  7. I wish I sewed…Amy Butler fabrics are divine!

  8. Great tip , never knew.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Good tip!! I found myself guessing just last week. 😉

  10. Aww, thanks for the tip. I knew there had to be a better way to find out yardage.

  11. I learned that trick when I worked at a fabric store during high school and use it whenever I have to buy fabric!

  12. Thanks for the tip! Very helpful indeed! :)

  13. I…love…it!

    Now, err, does someone have a way of measuring how many zillions of yards of oh-I-just-love-this-and-must-have-it fabric is stored on the shelves and Rubbermaid boxes in my sewing room?

  14. That is SUCH a great idea! This is what drives me crazy about fabric stores – it is always so hard to get someone to help. Eliminating a step makes it that much easier.
    -Sanity Fair

  15. Oh my! this is extremely helpful! Thanks so much for this tip!

  16. Virginia St.Marc says:

    I took the time and energy to roll out and measure heavy cotton twill upholstery fabric and found this to be the case: the fabric on the roll measuring 6.5″ in diameter gave me a yard of fabric for every two layers on the roll. As you get closer to the cardboard you will need to increase the proportions to four layers per yard of fabric and finally to five layers. Hope this helps.

  17. Hey,
    I was wondering if you could answer my question.. Im getting married next yr and I actually went to a Linen store to find out prices to rent the table cover. To be honest its pretty expensive and Im working on a budget. We calculated about 1200.00 for 100 tables and thats only the table covers. I would like to know if you know any website that sell fabric by rolls instead of by the yard. I would like to compare priceses. Hopefu;;y you could help me out …

    Thank you for taking your time to read this email…