Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The "How Much Fabric?" Series: Jackets

A beautiful color catches your eye... You reach out and touch - the texture is to die for! You MUST have that fabric! But, how much should you buy?

Obviously, the ideal situation is if you have the perfect pattern in your hand - it will tell you exactly how much you need. But sometimes life isn't perfect and gorgeous fabric comes into our lives before we have a pattern picked out. ;)
Well, if you think the fabric will make the perfect jacket, maybe this table will help. Just like with my previous skirt and pants tables, I collected jacket patterns and entered the required fabric amounts into a spreadsheet, broken down by fabric width and jacket size, and calculated the following table of minimun, maximum and average fabric requirements.
Approximately 140 patterns went into the values for 45 inch width fabric, and about 160 patterns went into the 60 inch width numbers. I included patterns from Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, Burda, Neue Mode, New Look, some BWOF magazines (3 issues from 2009), Brown Paper Bag Patterns & Hot Patterns. (If a pattern was labeled "Vest" or "Coat" I did NOT include it.)

I whited out the minimum and maximum values for sizes 6, 18 & 20, because the extreme patterns that I found didn't come in those sizes, and so I felt that those values weren't accurate.
To help make these columns more concrete, here are some images representing the patterns requesting the minimum, maximum and average amounts of fabric:
The pattern in my table requiring the minimum amount of fabric is this Butterick pattern, view E- the (blue) version in the lower right-hand corner. (Personally, I wouldn't exactly call it a jacket, but hey, what did you expect for half a yard?)

The pattern requiring the maximum amount of fabric is this New Look pattern, the long sleeved, full length jacket.

And here are a few more examples of patterns that called for the average amount of fabric:
Both views A & B of this Neue Mode pattern call for the average amount of fabric listed in the table:

Similarly, all four versions of this Simplicity jacket can be made with the average amount of fabric listed in the table:

I was a bit surprised to find that this Simplicity loose jacket could also be made with the average amount of fabric:

All three views of this fitted Neue Mode jacket pattern are also "average":

Finally, this retro pattern (the long sleeved version) can be made with the average amount of fabric:
Of course, even with a table like this, you still need to have a rough idea of the type of jacket you might make, and you still need to estimate the amount of fabric to buy. I like the table because I feel like using it helps me start my estimating from a solid foundation.
Remember that an "average" is a number that approximates the middle value - that means that there are a lot of patterns just above it, as well as a lot of patterns just under it. So if you think you are going to make an average jacket, you should buy a little bit more than the average number listed in the table above.
How much should you add? It doesn't have to be a lot for jackets.
  • If you add 1/4 yard (.25 meters) to the average value for your size, you'll have enough fabric to make (on average) 74% of the patterns that went into this table.
  • If you add 3/8 yard (.35 meters) to the average value for your size, you'll have enough fabric to make (on average) 81% of the patterns that went into this table.
  • If you add 1/2 yard (.45 meters) to the average value for your size, you'll have enough fabric to make (on average) 87% of the patterns that went into this table.
Do you think these tables are useful? I have updated all of my tables with even more patterns and had them printed onto small, plastic cards - perfect for slipping into your purse and accompanying you on all of your fabric shopping trips! You can order a set of 5 sturdy cards (covering dresses, tops, jackets, pants and skirts) here for just $14.95 - both US and metric versions are available - or get the eBook version on your smart phone or tablet for just $7.00!  

You can learn more about them here:  


Christine said...

I love the new addition to the series regarding how much extra fabric you should add! These tables are just great in general, Gwen!

BConky said...

I love the tables. What a great idea. I'm a numbers person so just love averages and statistics. Now I want to go home and do that with my patterns. Fun. I'm bigger than your averages but could use these for my daughters. Thanks.

gwensews said...

These are great! Thank you for putting all the work into thee tables. It takes a scientific/mathematical mind to do this. Mine is neither!

Anne said...

Thank you for creating such an awesome sewing resource!

Linked on Craft Gossip Sewing:


Anonymous said...

Amazing information, thank you for sharing! Although it has been a while since you've posted this can you tell me how much extra fabric is required for velvet? ie: fabric that can only be used in one direction? or these number apply to this as well? (fyi it would be for a blazer such as Neue Mode)

Anonymous said...

Is the fabric requirement in your chart for meters (as is sold here in Canada) or yards?

Gwen said...

The top table that measures width in inches, provides length in yards. The bottom table, that measures width in centimeters, provides length in meters. I hope this helps.