Giveaway: “How Much Fabric?” Reference Card Set by Gwynhug


We recently posted about Gwen (After the Dress)‘s “How Much Fabric?” series. If you missed it, here’s the idea: Gwen has been compiling data from thousands of sewing patterns to create reference charts so that garment sewists can buy the right amount of fabric when they don’t a particular pattern in mind. She’s covered dresses, skirts, jackets, pants, and her latest installment — hooray! — is tops.

example card

Example card from the How Much Fabric? set.

Of course you can download the charts for free on her blog, but Gwen has also had the entire series of women’s clothing charts printed onto sturdy plastic credit-card size cards and bound with a keyring for an easy and durable reference to carry around with you wherever you go. For these cards, even more pattern data was analyzed, and put through statistical analysis to ensure the averages were stable. Plus, illustrations represent examples of minimum, maximum and average clothes in each category.

The “How Much Fabric?” card sets are for sale on her new website, Gwynhug, for $14.95 + shipping. There is an American version with measurements in inches and yards (covering sizes 6-22), and a metric version (covering sizes 32-48). These would make fantastic gifts for the sewist in your life.

Gwen is offering up one free set to a lucky winner today. Just leave a comment with your answer to the question, “How do you decide how much fabric to buy when you don’t have a particular pattern in hand?” This giveaway is open worldwide and will end next Wednesday, September 23, around 9am Central U.S. time. Good luck and thanks for playing!


  1. Alice S says:

    1 yd. And I usually wish I had bought more.

  2. Susan says:

    What a clever idea! I kinda guesstimate how many square inches I am, then translate that into yardage, adding in an extra half yard to allow for pattern placement. If I have too much, which is usually the case, it matters not because I’m a quilter and it all goes to stash. If I don’t have enough then I have to get creative and create some part of the garment with a solid color banding for the bottom of the pants leg, or sleeve, or placket. It all works out.

  3. Mary Claire says:

    If I really like it I buy 2 so I can atleast make a skirt from it or maybe a simple top- if I buy too much more than that without a true purpose then it seems to just sit there waiting to be used.

  4. Roxanne says:

    I usually guesstimate how much fabric I need if I do not
    have a pattern–based on prior experience, if the article of clothing needs to be cut on the bias, if extra is needed for matching, etc.
    Then I add 3/4 yard.
    Because I also quilt, having extra is nice. I often use the extra fabric for colored striping on the quilt back.
    Thank you for hte giveaway.

  5. egater says:

    I usualy have some idea how much I need and take little extra to be sure

  6. Rene' says:

    Usually 1-2 yds. I figure that should cover just about anything. Any extra I figure I can use to make a craft or put in a quilt. That said, my husband thinks I have too much fabric. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. julie says:

    2 yards if it´s for me, to make a shirt – 1 yard if it´s more whimsical for quilting

  8. My standard is pretty much 2 yards for anything. I figure 2 yards will get me somewhere with most things.

  9. Pat Hogan says:

    Generally I have to pass up good buys. This looks great for shopping.

  10. roisin says:

    I always just buy three yards or metres – i am usually buying fabric on impulse, because i love something about it, and not because i have anything in mind to make with it. i figure three yards will cover just about anything i could think of to make at a later date!

  11. Sara says:

    What a great idea Gwyn! I gotta say, how much I buy is really determined by how much it costs – if it’s so lovely but expensive, I buy just a bit – like a yard or even less to use as accent, but if it’s less expensive, I go for 2 yards. I rarely buy more than 2 yards unless I know what I’m going to use it for.

  12. beth says:

    I look at a pattern I think will give me a good idea – if I’m at a place with patterns, too. Or I just buy MORE than I know I’ll need! Love this idea!

  13. Sarah says:

    Usually I buy 2 – that’ll make a skirt or maybe a top for me, and almost anything for my daughter. Unless it’s something amazing and/or expensive, in which case I’ll get what I can and figure it out what to do about it later!

  14. Jennifer W. says:

    If I don’t have anything in mind, I adjust what I buy based on how much I love the fabric. If I really love the fabric, I buy 2 yards. If I love the fabric, 1 yard, and if I like the fabric a lot I buy 1/2 yard. Quite technical, isn’t it???


  15. Doris says:

    If it’s for a quilt, one yard. For clothing at least 2.5 yards if I don’t know what it will be. But, when I have this nifty set, I will no longer need to “guess”!


  16. Jessica says:

    How much I buy usually depends on how much the fabric costs, how much I love it, and what I think I’ll be making out of it. In general I buy more than I think I need since I can always find a use for any leftover fabric!

  17. Stefanie says:

    I will buy 2 yards. Then if it doesnt work out I still have a great fabric that I can do something else with. I do have a pile of 2 yards cut though, since my intentions are always good, the sewing though normally doesnt get done!

  18. Phoebe says:

    Those cards are so cool. I usually buy 2 yards if I think I will make a skirt or a top, and 3 yards for a dress.

  19. Joyce says:

    What a great idea!

    When I don’t have a project in mind, I usually buy 2-3 yards. That’s usually enough for any of my usual projects.

  20. Rachel says:

    These cards are fantastic! Usually when I buy fabric I have some kind of idea in mind of what I’m going to make with it. If I’ve got clothing in mind, I wrap it around myself to decide roughly how much I need, and then I add on an extra 50% to leave room for mistakes. Or I will just eyeball it. I usually end up getting 1.5-3 yards of fabric. The thing is, I’ve never used a pattern before, but I’ve been dying too. I bought a whole load of vintage patterns from a girl who was cleaning out her grandmother’s house, and I’ve been itching to use them. What’s preventing me is something of a fabric connundrum; when I’ve been in the fabric store lately, I’ve been working on other projects and I think about buying fabric to make a dress or skirt, but I never know how much to buy because I haven’t decided which pattern to try first! These cards would be so helpful. They are going on my wishlist for sure.

  21. Nova says:

    I’d probably just go with a couple metres to start.

  22. Phyllis says:

    Looks like a great, handy idea! I most often purchase 2 or 3 yards if it’s for clothing, and a yard each of fun fabrics for quilting. And, if it’s on sale, even more, as it’s not fun to run out of material in the midst of a project!

  23. Sue Goodin says:

    Well first of all what a wonderful idea. Now to answer your question:
    “How do you decide how much fabric to buy when you don’t have a particular pattern in hand?”
    Usually wrong. Most of the time I underestimate what is needed. Once in a while I overbuy and that’s why my room looks the way it does.
    I usually take a tape measure of the fabric and hold it in front of me or against something I think is close to the size I would need. And then add a little more. Usually it’s not quite enough.
    Thank you for the giveaway. Congrats to the winner of a great gift.

  24. Leigh says:

    I am horrible at guessing how much fabric I’ll need, so I typically get 3 yards of something if I ABSOLUTELY LOVE it, so I’m absolutely sure I have enough when I need it. I know – I’m so terrible! And my hubby hates the 3 yard piles of fabric that grow around the house…

  25. Steph says:

    Oh, those are about the most useful thing I’ve ever seen!

    My mom, my sister, and I all sew, and we have a roster of favorite patterns that we come back to over and over. We can remember that it takes X yards for the wrap skirt, Y for an A-line, or Z for the 50′s-style dress. Even if we wind up not using that exact pattern, we usually have enough to make something in the style we originally wanted the fabric for.

    Sometimes it backfires, though – you buy 6 yards of something and get it home and realize that it’s all wrong for that dress, or you come upon a great pattern post-purchase but you’re 2 yards short.

  26. Jemellia says:

    I have just started buying 2-3 yds of a fabric, if it is a garment for my 2 yr old, I am safe.

  27. sewbloom says:

    1/4 yd for therapy, single garment-3 yds, ensemble-5 yds, quilting 1 yd of each fabric

  28. Ellen says:

    I usually by one yard if I have no other purpose in mind, that’s the current default amount for most patterns for my daughter. If I love LOVE it, or it’s on sale, I will buy more like 3-4 so that there is enough for a variety of reasons. Clearly I need some guidance!

  29. krishna says:

    I usually end up getting fat quarters and remnants – i’m not much of a patter user since i use the fabric for making book covers!

  30. Heather says:

    What a great idea this set is! I’ve been using Amy Karol’s advice for a while — unless you really love it, only buy a 1/2 yard or so, or a fat quarter, for doing small sewing projects.

    I do love sewbloom’s comments above. I may use her advice in future! :)

  31. Patty says:

    I guess at about how much I need and then I usually buy extra so I don’t run out.

  32. Sarah says:

    I tend to go with 2yds…but if I think it’d become a fabulous dress (which rarely happens!) I might buy 3 or so and hope that covers it :)

  33. Beth says:

    3 yards! Always shoot for a little extra!

  34. Korie says:

    I’m bad, most of the time I buy fabric before I even have a use in mind, so I buy 1 yard. If I have selected a pattern and forget it, I usually guesstimate it…and add a yard. That’s another reason my stash is out of control!

    I have to give props to Gwen for coming up with these. Great idea. They were mentioned last week on Craft Gossip and I tagged the post. The card set will be on my Christmas list!

    Good luck Gwen!

  35. Taya says:

    I usually buy 2-3 yards but I used to but way more than that when I started sewing and have quite the stash now because of it. I would love these cards.

  36. Peggy says:

    I’ve actually called home and made my poor husband search for the numbers for me. If he’s not been available, I’ve over bought and, of course, he hates that, too!! But what’s a girl to do when faced with the perfect fabric so far from home?? Gwen, you’re a life saver!

  37. camelama says:

    I decide by consulting a similar pattern and doing some hand-wave-y math in my head, and then just wingin’ it! I’ve made some really neat items by not knowing if they would turn out or not, and having to make changes on the fly.

  38. frog says:

    It goes something like this (for my clothes): okay, if the fabric’s this wide, and I laid out all the pieces from the pattern stash that’s in my head, how much do I think I need? But hey, the fabric is so cool, I might want a little extra for an accessory. And um, did I remember the width right? And perhaps my layout’s not so great. Then it ends up with 2 metres, please, with fingers crossed behind my back.

  39. Amber says:

    What a terrific idea! And I always just estimate high – I try to imagine the pattern laying on the fabric and then go from there.

  40. Claudia says:

    I always buy at least two yards, figuring it will serve most purposes… Thanks!

  41. Catherine says:

    What a great idea. I would love to have these. My system rarely works it seems–sometimes I just buy a fat quarter or 1/2 a yard, and I end up going back for more. Other times I buy 2-3 yards, and that fabric might sit in my stash unused.

  42. I totally guess. I mean I do my best to estimate informatively, but I’m terrible at it. I usually have way too much which is okay, but I have had too little. These would be a life saver for me!

  43. carrie says:

    Depends on how much I like it. REALLY LOVE it 2 or 3 yards. Really cute would like to have it… 1/2 or 1 yard. Oh, that’s kinda cute… 1/4 to 1/2 yard. I know, real technical.

  44. Bethany says:

    I always overbuy, afraid that I won’t have enough. And I usually end up with leftovers.

  45. I guess I mostly trust the pattern and try to apply some common sense on top of that.

  46. Kim says:

    I decide whether the fabric is for myself or the kids. I like to buy at least 1.5metres (more than 1.5yds) for myself. If it’s something for the kids then at least a metre. If I really like it and it’s on special I have to buy 2mtrs minimum. What a great invention to keep in my purse!

  47. Liz says:

    yeah, i often go for 1 or 2 yards. but then, i’m probably at the fabric depot’s outdoor sale, so i have to buy in whole yards. :)

  48. Erin Compton says:

    If I really like it I’ll get 3 yards, but generally a yard and a half is about what I’ll get for anything. I figure that will be at least enough for a skirt.

  49. Mystica says:

    I look at the pattern and add a quarter metre to the total. Not very scientific calculations I know.


  50. BrandiD says:

    I usually make skirts, so I buy two yards of most fabric. The exception is anything costing less than $3 per yard; then I buy 3 yards so I can make a dress. In 20-plus years of sewing, I have yet to make an adult-size dress but I figure there’s a first time for everything!