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My wife comes and asks me whether or not she has enough fabric to complete a project. She gives me a square footage of what we have on hand and then a yardage — not square yardage — called for by the instructions:

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I double check just in case, but nowhere does it state a width on the page. So then I think to myself, "there must be some standard width then, that's common or universal to textiles?", except a Google search later my conjecture is unceremoniously debunked.

Is the author going senile or is there some secret trick to converting one-dimensional units into two that only the textile industry is privy to?

  • I wouldn't be surprised if they'd missed a crucial piece of information, just as recipes sometimes do. Outdoor fabric is often about 1.5m or 5' wide, at least going by the seams in finished articles, but it's not defined – Chris H May 17 at 16:56
  • @ChrisH Its not an outdoor tent. It is an indoor play tent, any fun fabric will do. – rebusB May 21 at 15:21
  • @rebusB I didn't notice that information in the question – Chris H May 21 at 16:07
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    @ChrisH - It should have been in there instead of chasing down the link. – rebusB May 22 at 18:55
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The instructions you've posted call for "two 43" x 65" pieces of fabric." While there are a wide variation of fabric widths available, the standard US widths are (approximately) 45" and 60". As this piece easily fits into a length of 45" fabric (which is often actually closer to 43"), it stands to reason that the pattern is calling for the more common 45" width.

Therefore, you need the called-for 7 1/4 yards of 45" fabric, in an appropriate material (heavy for outdoor use, any for an indoor play tent).

Note that you could also purchase 60" fabric for this project, but you'll have more left over than if you used 45" fabric; patterns that can use either size typically won't call out the width specifically, or will give different yardages for both. Patterns calling for 60" fabric specifically will be explicit about the width, as these patterns generally include pieces that won't fit easily or at all on a 45" wide piece of fabric.

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  • How is this going to work? The fabric has to cover a rectangle that is 4' x 5'. If you assume the measurements are wrong and go with 45" you wind up with a side panel that is 53"x45", not enough material to cover the 48"x60" panel. ??? – rebusB May 21 at 15:20
  • @rebusB I'm confused where you're getting a 53" x 45" panel. The directions specify two pieces 43" x 65" (cut as a 65" length from a 45" wide fabric, which is often closer to 43"), and two pieces 10" x 65", that are then sewn together to create (subtracting for seam allowances, a piece roughly 52" x 65". – Allison C May 21 at 15:39
  • Said 52" x 65" piece is certainly sufficient to cover a 48" x 60" panel, including space for finishing the edges. Can you explain why this wouldn't work? – Allison C May 21 at 15:40
  • It calls for sewing the 43" wide to the 10" wide... that is 53", you say the measurement is wrong, not 65" but 45"... so now you have a panel that is 54" x 45". How do you get to 65" if you are using 45" wide fabric? – rebusB May 21 at 15:43
  • @rebusB I think you're confused. It calls for sewing the 43" wide to the 10" wide, yes. That's 52" wide (seam allowances). But both pieces are still 65" long, and sewing them together doesn't make it shorter, therefore, your pieces are 52" wide and 65" long. Remember that 45" is only the measurement of one side; the other side, if purchased as a full 7.25 yard piece, is ~260" long, plenty of space for multiple 65" long pieces. – Allison C May 21 at 15:45
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I just returned from the JOANN Fabrics and Crafts web site. A search of "fabric" resulted in hundreds of returns, no surprise there. What was a surprise was a "standard" width is not standard. I found material as narrow as 19" and as wide as 72". This reference is USA only, as I don't know if standards in the countries using the metric system will be different.

What you'd have to do in the case of this project is determine the narrowest bolt that will fit the widest part of your cuts. Obviously if you have a part that is only 40" in one dimension and much longer in the other, you'd be able to cut it from a 48" bolt.

If a part is unusually large, say 75 x 70, you'd have to have something at least 70 inches wide.

A tent implies rugged use, unless it's an inside play type tent. You should be able to identify "common" but not standard widths for bolts of your choice of material and do a bit of math to determine the necessary quantity.

I agree that it would have been useful to have a width reference in the instructions.

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  • The sizes in Metric countries may be different, but the range is not (much) smaller. – Willeke May 18 at 15:53
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The width of fabric is usually measured in inches (in US) and most common widths are 44/45 inches and 60 inches. The width varies by the type of fabric. Quilting cotton is almost always 44/45” wide, apparel fabric is most often between 44” and 60” and home decor fabric is usually 54”.

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Note the last bit. 54" is 43"+10"+1" for seams. Fits the instructions perfectly: (2x 43"x65", 2x 10"x65") There is nothing wrong with the directions... you just need to get 2 x 65" (the longer dimension) = 130" = 3.6 yards of home decor (54" wide) fabric.

This is an indoor play tent, so it is likely that is what they are assuming you would use. That gives you exactly the material needed to make the 4 panels.

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