Measuring and Cutting Fabric (6 Simple Steps)

Are you in a fabric store, completely overwhelmed by the thought of measuring and cutting fabric for your upholstery project? I’ve been there, trust me. But don’t worry; I’m here to help.

Quick Summary: Here are the six steps to master the art of measuring and cutting fabric with ease.

  • Step 1: Use a tape measure to record your furniture’s height, width, and depth.
  • Step 2: Select a fabric that’s durable and suitable for upholstery.
  • Step 3: Understand the fabric’s grain to prevent stretching or fraying during cutting.
  • Step 4: Gather essential tools like fabric scissors, pins, markers, and a tape measure.
  • Step 5: Lay the fabric flat, pin it, and cut along the marked grain lines.
  • Step 6: Inspect the cut pieces, ensuring they fit the furniture, and adjust as needed.

This article will dive deep into how to measure and cut fabric for upholstery properly. We’ll cover everything from the tools needed to measuring your furniture and making that first cut.

Tools and Materials Needed

Alright, folks! Let’s get down to business. It’s time to discuss the tools and materials needed to measure and cut fabric for your upholstery projects.

🧵 Fabric. Sounds obvious, right? But bear with me. You’ve got to choose the right fabric for the job. And that means considering factors like durability, color, pattern, and texture.

📏 Tape Measure. This is the key to getting your measurements right. You’ll use it to measure your furniture and determine your desired fabric. And remember, it’s always better to overestimate a bit. You can always cut off excess fabric, but you can’t add more once it’s cut!

✂️ Fabric Scissors or a Rotary Cutter. These are your best friends when it comes to cutting. These tools will help you cut your fabric cleanly and accurately. And trust me, nothing ruins a project faster than a bad cut!

📍 Pins and a Fabric Marker. You’ll use these to mark and secure your fabric before cutting. This way, you won’t have to worry about the fabric slipping or your lines getting crooked.

🛠️ Sewing Machine. Once you’ve cut your fabric, you’ll need to sew it onto your furniture. And while it’s possible to do this by hand, a sewing machine will make the job quicker and easier.

Steps to Measure and Cut Fabric for Upholstery

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, remember this golden rule: Always measure twice, cut once. Got it? Great, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it!

Step 1: Measure your Fabric

  • First off, take your tape measure and start measuring your furniture. Don’t forget to include the height, width, and depth. Now, you might be wondering why this is necessary.

  • You’ll need these dimensions to determine the fabric for your upholstery project. The larger the furniture, the more fabric you’ll need.

Step 2: Get your Fabric

  • Make sure it’s the right fabric for your project. You can’t just slap any ol’ fabric on your furniture and call it a day. It has to be the right kind! The one that can withstand daily wear and tear still looks fabulous!

Step 3: Understand Fabric Grain and Direction

  • Let’s move on to the fabric grain and direction. It’s a biggie! You’ve got to understand this bit to create durable and visually appealing upholstery pieces.
  • The grain refers to the direction in which the fabric threads run. So, when marking your fabric for cutting, make sure you’re marking it according to the fabric grain. This will ensure your fabric doesn’t stretch out of shape or fray at the edges.

Step 4: Gather All Necessary Tools and Materials

  • Last but not least, gather all your tools and materials needed for the job. You’ll need fabric scissors, pins, a fabric marker, and a tape measure.
  • Having all your tools ready before you start will make your job much easier.

Step 5: Cut your Fabric

  • Lay out the fabric on a flat, clean surface.
  • Pin the fabric in place to prevent it from shifting.

  • Follow the markings you made, ensuring you’re cutting along the grain.

Step 6: Final Check

  • Inspect the cut pieces for any inconsistencies or errors.
  • Ensure all pieces align properly with the furniture sections they’re intended for.
  • Make any necessary adjustments or trims before proceeding with the upholstery.

And there you have it! When measuring and cutting fabric for your upholstery project, you must follow these steps. Remember to measure twice, cut once, and you’re ready.

Cutting Techniques for Precision

Alright, folks, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of precision cutting.

Tip 1: Using Fabric Scissors

  • These aren’t your everyday kitchen scissors, no sir! Fabric scissors are specifically designed to make clean, precise cuts in fabric.
  • These aren’t your everyday kitchen scissors, no sir! Fabric scissors are specifically designed to make clean, precise cuts in fabric.
  • It’s essential to keep them sharp and to use them only for fabric to maintain their cutting edge.
  • Hold your fabric scissors at a right angle to the fabric. This ensures a clean, straight cut.

Tip 2: Laying Fabric Properly

  • First off, you’ll want to lay your fabric on a flat surface. This ensures accurate measurements and cuts.
  • Make sure it’s smooth and wrinkle-free. This is crucial for accurate cutting.

Tip 3: Aligning and Tracing Patterns

  • Align your pattern or cutting guide on the fabric. This will provide a guide for precise cutting.
  • Use your fabric marker to trace around the pattern or guide.

Tip 4: Cutting Thicker Fabrics or Multiple Layers

  • Consider using a rotary cutter if you’re working with thicker fabric or multiple layers. These handy tools make quick work of even the toughest fabrics.
  • Just use a cutting mat underneath to protect your work surface.

Tip 5: Continuous Cutting

  • Achieves a smooth edge without imperfections.
  • It’s also important to cut in long, continuous strokes. Short, choppy cuts can lead to jagged edges; we don’t want that.

Common Challenges

A group of people and a man showing how to thread a fabric

Let’s face it: we all face a few hiccups when working with fabric. That’s part of the fun.

🌀 Fabric Distortion. You see, fabric tends to stretch or shrink when working with it. Especially if it’s not properly marked or pinned. So, always pin your fabric securely and follow the grain and direction marks you’ve made.

✂️ Issue of Dull Tools. Fabric scissors or rotary cutters that aren’t sharp enough won’t give you the clean cuts you want. It’s like trying to chop a tomato with a butter knife – it’s just not going to work. So, keep your tools in tip-top shape. Regular maintenance and sharpening will do the trick.

🛍️ Choosing the Wrong Fabric. Upholstery projects require sturdy and durable material. You can’t just pick any fabric that catches your eye. It should withstand wear and tear and be easy to work with. So, take your time in selecting the perfect fabric for your project.

📏 Measuring Inaccuracies. This can throw off your whole project. It’s crucial to measure twice and cut once. Always double-check your measurements and ensure you have the right dimensions before making that first cut.

Remember, every problem has a solution. With some patience and practice, you’ll overcome these challenges in no time.

Tips & Tricks for Upholstery Success

Diving into the upholstery world can be exciting and a tad overwhelming. But you can transform any space with the right tools, techniques, and patience. Here are some top-notch tips and tricks to set you on the path to upholstery success:

  • Align Patterns Properly: When using a patterned fabric, ensure you account for extra material to align the patterns seamlessly.
  • Stretch Fabric Evenly: When attaching fabric, ensure it’s evenly stretched to prevent wrinkles or sagging. Secure it well with upholstery tacks or staples.
  • Conduct a Test Run: If using a new fabric type or unfamiliar method, practice on a scrap piece to gauge the outcome.
  • Pay Attention to Details: Consider adding features like piping or buttons for enhanced aesthetics.
  • Prioritize Safety: Handle tools, especially sharp or powered ones, with caution. Ensure the workspace is free from potential hazards.
  • Organize Workspace: Keep your tools and materials organized. A tidy workspace improves efficiency and reduces the risk of errors.
  • Learn from Mistakes: Errors can happen. Instead of getting discouraged, use them as learning opportunities.
  • Stay Consistent: Upholstery requires consistency in technique and approach for the best results. Stick to proven methods and always ensure you’re working with attention to detail.

Maintenance and Care for Your Upholstered Furniture

A man cleaning a brown leather couch

Alright, you’ve put in the hard work. Your furniture looks fantastic, but the journey doesn’t end here. Let’s talk about keeping that newly upholstered piece looking fresh and fabulous for years!

  • Regular Vacuuming: Dust and dirt can wear down your upholstery over time. Use a soft brush attachment and gently vacuum your furniture every few weeks. It’s like giving your piece a mini spa day!
  • Spot Cleaning: Accidents happen – coffee spills, kiddo’s crayons, you name it. When they do, act fast! Dab the stain gently with a clean cloth, working from outside. Avoid rubbing as it can push the stain further in.
  • Rotate Cushions: Just like rotating tires on a car, switch up your cushions regularly. This ensures even wear and helps your cushions keep their shape.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Those sun rays might feel great on a lazy afternoon but can be harsh on fabrics. Over time, direct sunlight can fade and weaken your upholstery. Consider blinds or curtains for rooms with strong sunlight.
  • Professional Cleaning: Treat your furniture to a professional clean every so often. It’s a game-changer, trust me! Depending on usage, aim for once a year or every 18 months.
  • Protective Sprays: Consider using a fabric protector. These sprays repel spills and help prevent stains. But always test in an inconspicuous spot first.
  • Keep It Dry: Moisture can be a silent enemy. If your upholstery gets wet, dry it quickly to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Mind the Pets: We love our furry friends, but their claws and fur can be tough on furniture. Consider a stylish throw or blanket for their favorite spot to lounge without causing wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I Use Any Cleaning Solution on My Upholstery?
    • Hold up! Always check the fabric care label first. Some materials have specific cleaning requirements. And remember, when in doubt, test any solution in an inconspicuous spot first.
  • Can I Steam Clean My Upholstery?
    • Steam cleaning can be effective, but not all fabrics can handle it. Check your furniture’s care instructions. If you’re giving it a go, ensure the fabric dries quickly to avoid moisture buildup.
  • Can I Store Extra Fabric for Repairs?
    • Definitely! If you have extra matching fabric, store it in a cool, dry place. It can be a lifesaver for patching up small tears or wear spots in the future.
  • Why Do My Fabrics Pile and What Can I Do?
    • Piling can occur due to wear and friction. A fabric shaver or lint remover can safely remove them, giving your upholstery a fresh look.
  • Can I Mix Different Fabrics on One Furniture Piece?
    • Why not? Mixing fabrics can add depth and character. Just ensure they complement each other and are of similar durability.
  • What If I Have Allergies? How Can I Make My Upholstery Allergy-Friendly?
    • Opt for hypoallergenic fabrics and regular cleaning. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter can also reduce allergens.




  • “The Upholstery Bible: Complete Step-by-Step Techniques for Professional Results” by Cherry Dobson
  • “Fabrics A-to-Z: The Essential Guide to Choosing and Using Fabric for Upholstery” by Dana Willard

Website Resources:

Video References:


Tilly and the Buttons

Artisan Upholstery Studio

How helpful was this article?

Were Sorry This Was Not Helpful!

Let us improve this post!

Please Tell Us How We Can Improve This Article.

About Shelly

ShellyShelly Harrison is a renowned upholstery expert and a key content contributor for ToolsWeek. With over twenty years in the upholstery industry, she has become an essential source of knowledge for furniture restoration. Shelly excels in transforming complicated techniques into accessible, step-by-step guides. Her insightful articles and tutorials are highly valued by both professional upholsterers and DIY enthusiasts.

Leave a Comment

Suck at Home Improvement? Unlock your potential!
Join 22,837 fellow home improvers for exclusive insights.

Type in your email address for the exclusive insights.

No, thank you. I do not want it.
100% free, unsubscribe anytime.