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. Nicole G says:

    It depends on what I might make. Usually I make quilts so I stick with 1/2 meter or 1 meter if I really like the fabric.

  2. javede says:

    I go by “3 meters of fabric is enough for almost any project I can imagine”…I have lots of left-over ;-)

  3. Anna says:

    I look at how pretty the fabric is. I check my wallet. And then I usually round up…

  4. Jenni says:

    What a genius idea! I usually purchase 1/2 – 1 yard just to make sure there’s enough for almost any quilting or sewing project (the only clothes made around here are for a baby). But, if I really like the fabric, I may buy 2 – 3 yards. Which is why my sewing room is a mess! :-)

  5. Jacqui says:

    Guess? And not very well usually :P Although I tend to err on the side of too much, except when I really really want to make a particular pattern and the I won’t have enough. I suppose I’d tend to buy 2 metres for a top or a skirt, wouldn’t have a clue on pants of dresses. For crafty projects I’d buy half a metre if I like the fabric, a metre if I love it, and 2 metres if I can’t live without it. Would love something like these cards, it’d take the agonising guess-work out all this!

  6. Nicole says:

    It usually depends on the fabric, but if it’s something I really love I usually end up getting 2-3 yards because that’s usually enough to make a dress or any other type of garment I’m wanting to make.

  7. Melissa H. says:

    I usually try to remember what I used in previous patterns that are similar, then maybe by a bit more.

  8. Andrea says:

    What a fabulous idea those cards are!
    I usually guess and add another 1/4 metre, just to be sure. I’ve just started quilting, so I’m happy to have left overs.

  9. skippingdaisies says:

    I usually by 2 meters of fabric, unless i really believe that it just has to be made into a dress then its more. Fabric will always be used up in other projects if there is leftovers-especially now my daughter has started to raid my stash!! These are a great idea, what a time saver.

  10. MzTallulah says:

    The cards are a genius idea! I’m a relatively new sewist, and I usually buy 1/2 a meter or 1 meter if it’s a particularly good buy, since I’m mainly still in the small project / patchwork stage. If I ever graduate to garments, I’ll have to start buying more!

  11. Nancy C. in Utah says:

    I will usually try to think of how much fabric I used on something similar that I have made in the past and buy tha much, plus a little extra of each fabric I choose. It keeps my stash growing dont’cha know!!! Good luck everyone!!!

  12. Melissa says:

    Typically I just buy half a yard. Most of the things I make are small, so half a yard is enough. If I *love* a print after I have half a yard and want to make something bigger, I buy more! I have to say though, my system doesn’t work out when I suddenly decide to love very OOP fabrics and want more…

  13. mommymae says:

    i don’t buy. i figure out what i need & go back. i don’t trust myself.

  14. becca says:

    If I can swing it, 3 yards – since I like to make more than one of something. Sometimes I just buy 1/2 yards of busier, interesting prints to keep on hand for use as contrast. That plan has kept my sewing room well-stocked. (cough, cough)

  15. Chantile says:

    My mom has been sewing for years–I just bring her with me, because she’s awesome and can guess really well! :)

  16. Melanie Bonn says:

    2 yards. usually too much.

  17. Shannon says:

    What great little, useful cards! :) Thanks for the giveaway! Like other commenters, I try to remember how much yardage I used for something similar and then maybe get a little bit more just in case. I usually buy 1.5 – 2 yards if I’m guessing for a top and 2 1/2 – 3 yards for something longer or fuller (dress/long dress). Thanks again!

  18. marielle says:

    Unfortunately I have no system for guessing. I just buy 3-4 yards of any fabric I intend to use for me vs. the kids. Saves me the heartache later on LOL.

  19. georgia says:

    I do A LOT of calculations in my head. Which is hard when you have kids with you…

  20. almamater says:

    I usually go with two yards. What an awesome idea! Would love a set for children’s patterns…

  21. I really love this series she did (thank you for talking about it earlier), it’s very interesting and useful. I’d love to win one of those card sets!
    I generaly try to go the safe way and buy too much fabric… ^^; Which is usually between two and three. One year ago I had no idea how much I could need, so I browsed my japanese sewing books to get ideas. From that I discovered that you don’t do much with only one meter. If I’m not exactly sure of what I want to do, but it might be a skirt or dress, I get three meters, just to be safe (although I got 5 meters of a really cheap fabric once). Problem is now I have this idea of making 50′s garments, and they need more than that (fabrics in Japan aren’t very wide, more like 110cm or 90cm)… ^^;
    Thanks to both of you for this giveaway!

  22. regina says:

    i am horrible at guessing and usually go over but 2 yards is my average (for me) 1 yd for kiddos. :)
    awesome giveaway!

  23. Rafael's mum says:

    How do I estimate? You will laugh… I just guess and then double it and think that I will surely be able to use the rest for something else as i love the fabric! it comes under stash building! :-) This would be such a good idea… I could buy less of one fabric and more of a variety off… even better!

  24. Anita says:

    If I buy a fabric without a pattern handy to refer to, I rely on my memory of similar items I’ve made in the past to guide me (that is, if I have an idea of what I want to make!). Sometimes I’ll glance at a variety of patterns in the fabric store to estimate how much fabric I might need if I’m really short on cash and can only buy exactly what I need. If I don’t have any clue as to what I want to make but simply have to have the fabric, I will usually buy 3-5 yards, depending on the price of the fabric.

  25. Con says:

    I seem to buy double what I think I need…so I usually end up with 5 metres of fabric, those cards are a fantastic idea! Way to go Gwen, clever girl!

  26. Christine H. says:

    It depends on the fabric and if I think the fabric will be used on a craft or apparel project, but if I really like it I’ll get 3 yards.

  27. Kimberly G. says:

    When I don’t have a specific pattern on hand but I’ve found the perfect fabric I usually drape the fabric around myself to get a sense of how much to buy. Or, I lay it out as though I were going to cut it and just buy what looks right. I am not afraid of having leftovers! Thanks for the opportunity to play!

  28. A. says:

    How great! I read in a book once…maybe Lotta Jansdotter’s?…that if you find a fabric you love, buy three yards, and that you’ll more than likely be able to use it for a project that comes up. I stick by that rule, generally.

  29. Ange says:

    It’s a bit hit and miss for me, and I find the different widths of fabric confusing. I generally buy 2 metres when sewing for my children and make hats and bags with remnants. These cards are such a great idea and I also would love to see them for children’s clothes.

  30. Amy says:

    If I think I’ll make a skirt, I generally go with 1.5 yards. If I’m unsure, I go for 3 yards. Of course, if it is a great price I might just go for 5 yards.

  31. nada says:

    1.5 yd for skirts or tops, 3 yds for dresses. i still have no idea if this is the rt amount or not, because i’ve yet to get around to actually cutting any of it!

  32. selina says:

    What a great idea! I’m a really new sewer so I’ll just buy a yard or so and usually use it to make something for my baby.

  33. Kelly says:

    I usually buy 2 yards if I don’t have anything specific in mind…but if I really love the fabric I will buy 3-4 yards- I’ll find lots of ways to use it!

  34. Elaine C. says:

    For quilting I pick the main color and but 2 yards and usually 1 yd for other fabrics, unless it’s a scrappy quilt with lots of colors then I buy FQ or jelly rolls. I haven’t sewn clothing YET (other than costumes) and so really don’t know what amount of fabric I’d buy :) So this would helpful for me to use when I do start making jumpers and skirts.

  35. Rosemary says:

    I generally look at the pattern. If it is a top or dress for me, I add 1/2 yard to lengthen (as I am long waisted). If it is for my kids, I generally go with what is recommended.

  36. Lissa says:

    I usually buy a yard, but if it’s something I really love (and I haven’t bought too much fabric recently), I will buy 2 yards. 1 yard is something I can make for the kids or an apron, but 2 yards means it’s safe enough for me to make a skirt or something pretty for me. But having those cards would sure make it easier!

  37. Mary says:

    I usually buy at least 2 metres. Then it is enough for something for me and maybe something for my daughter as well. I’m not a big dress wearer so don’t need to worry about larger amounts that often. However if I really really like the fabric and the price is right then I might buy up 5 metres.

    Those cards are a great idea, off to have closer look.

  38. Kristie says:

    When buying fabric for a project, I usually ask one of my daughters how much we need for whatever it is I’m wanting to make. If none of us can remember, I pull out my little yardage notebook to see if I wrote it down. If that fails as well, I buy at least 2.5 yds., thinking that if if won’t work for me one of the girls can use it.

  39. Narina says:

    Depending on the width of the fabric, I usually buy twice the length for a skirt and body length plus arm length for a top. If it’s beautiful fabric, I always buy *way* to much – and use the leftovers to make cushion covers or to add to quilts.

  40. Teresa p says:

    It depends on what I’m buying it for. If it’s for a garment, I usually buy 2 or 3 yards. If it’s for quilting, 1/2 or 1 yard. Even if I don’t win, thanks for the feature on GwynHug. She as such a great blog and I’m learning so much from it!

  41. Robin D. says:

    When buying fabric for making clothing, I buy in the range of 2 yards (maybe a little more for striped/one-way fabric when pattern layout would be more limited). These cards would be so handy to use when fabric shopping!

  42. janet says:

    what a great idea! I usually buy three yards of fabric if I really really like it. but now I realize I have too much fabric to deal with.

  43. Shannon Finer says:

    I’m poor, and I sew mostly quilts, so I buy fabic in 1/2 yards and come back if I need more.