How Much Fabric Do I Need For a Shirt? (Long Sleeve, T-Shirt)

The amount of fabric matters. Especially if you don't want to end up with lots of leftover material that fills up your fabric storage space. Learning how to make the right calculations will help you save money as well. That is one reason why you went to making your own clothes in the first place.

How much fabric do I need for a shirt? For formal men’s shirts, you will need about 2 1/2 yards of material unless you are using a repeating pattern then you may need a bit more. For short-sleeved dress shirts, you can get away with using about 2 yards if the fabric is 36 inches wide.

To learn more about how much fabric you will need to make different shirts for men and women, just continue to read our article. It gives you the equations as well as the information you need to purchase the material you need for your shirt project.

How to Calculate Fabric Consumption for t-shirt


The basic equation is going to include, length, width, and arm sleeve size making an allowance for the armhole. Then add in for allowance and you have the amount of fabric you will need for a t-shirt.

The equation looks something like this-- (length + sleeve length + allowance) x (1.2 chest width + armhole + allowance) x 2 The key into making a t-shirt is to make sure you measure the person correctly who is going to wear the shirt.

If it is going to be you, then you may want someone else who knows how to read a tape measure right, when it comes to body figures, and can keep those measurements secret.

Also, make sure to add in about 10 to 20% just in case a mistake in measuring or cutting took place. It is always better to have extra fabric than not enough.

How Much Fabric for a Shirt Dress?

Following the equation given above, you should be able to measure the person for the dress shirt and buy the right amount of fabric. A lot will depend on the size of the person who is going to wear the shirt so take that into account when you do your calculations.

For a shirt using material measuring 36 inches wide, you will need about 96 inches of fabric or about 3 yards of material. For fabric that measures 58 inches wide, you can get away with using just under 2 yards but get the full two yards to have enough for allowances and mistakes.

The size of the width of the fabric will help you purchase more or less yardage and can make your sewing the shirt a little easier so plan carefully and choose the right width for your project.

Also, if you are adding pockets or doing cuff link cuffs, make sure to add in a little fabric for all the extras you are putting on your shirt. The little details consume a lot of fabric if you are not careful.

How Much Fabric for Long Sleeve t-shirt


The good news here is that you are not looking at buying more fabric than you need for a dress shirt. Make your measurements and determine which width size you want when you go and buy your fabric.

A long sleeve t-shirt will have a little more material than a short-sleeved one and a little less than a long-sleeved dress shirt. But you will still need fabric for your allowances, seams, and any pockets you place on the shirt.

A good rule of thumb is to get more fabric you need. That way you will be ready and prepared for any miscalculations or other errors that occur sometimes. For larger t-shirts, you should count on using between 2 and 3 yards of material depending on the width of the fabric.

For smaller t-shirts, you should be able to get away with 2 yards of materials. A 24-inch t-shirt will only need about 1 1/4 yards of 60-inch material. That is if you are using knit fabrics to make the shirt.

A knee-length t-shirt will need about 2 1/4 yards of material to make it look just right.

How Much Fabric for a t-shirt Quilt

This will depend on the size of the t-shirt quilt you want to make. The main fabric will come from the T-shirts themselves and for a lap sized quilt, you will need 16 t-shirts and for a twin size, you are looking at using 24 t-shirts and on it goes.

If you are making a quilt 60 by 72 inches in size, you will need 30 t-shirts, 14 1/2 yards of featherweight fusible, 60 by 72 inches batting material, 3/4 of a yard for binding, and 60 by 72 inches of backing fabric.

The number of yards in total will depend on the width size of the fabric you are using. If you want to use 60 inch wide materials then you would need 2 yards of each of those items. 4 if you are using thinner width materials and so on.

Fabric Needed for a Shirt in Meters


This seems to be the new way to measure fabrics as the world has almost gone completely metric. Knowing these figures will help you figure out how much fabric you need to buy and not spend too much money or have too much waste left over.

For a regular t-shirt 24 inches in length, you will need 1 1/4 meters. For a knee-length t-shirt, you are looking at buying 2 meters of material. A short sleeve dress shirt using 36-inch wide fabric will require 2.2 meters and using 58-inch wide fabric, you will only need 1 1/2 meters of cloth.

A full sleeve dress shirt will need 2.4 meters if the fabric is 36 inches wide and 1.6 meters if you are using the 58-inch version. This doesn't include various sizes or if you need to make the shirt a little wider in the wist for those men who have stopped exercising.

How to Cut Fabric for Shirt

The first thing you should do is read the instructions that came with the pattern. Those include how to cut the fabric for the specific shirt you are trying to make. But basic instructions are to pre-wash the fabric first.

This will make sure the shrink factor is removed and not ruin the fabric if you waited till after you cut the material. Next, straighten out any edges that may have been cut a little crooked.

After the material has dried, cut 2 fronts, 2 sleeves on the fold, 2 collar blades, and 2 collar bands on the fold. Then cut two yokes on the fold and one back on the fold. After that is done, save the excess for pockets and sleeve plackets.

Make sure to cut a notch where those sleeve plackets will go. That is all there is to cutting fabric for a nice dress shirt.

Cutting Fabric for Men's Shirt


Men’s shirts are not all that difficult to cut. The key is to make sure you get the collar just right as well as the yokes. Any interfacing you are using should be fused to the wrong side of the fabric.

What you also have to be careful of is the lack of patterns for men’s shirts. Those have increased over time but they are not as frequent as the ones for women’s shirts. Usually, the amount of material you will need for an average-sized man is about 2 yards.

Then you will need about 1 yard of lightweight interfacing to get it to drape just right. Don’t forget the buttons or snaps.

Fabric Metric Conversion

Since many stores are adopting the metric system when it comes to material yardage, it would be nice to know the Imperial equivalents so you don't make a mistake when measuring or ordering your new material.

Here are the equivalents:

  • 10 millimeter = 1 centimeter
  • 100 centimeter = 1 meter
  • 1 inch = 2.54 centimeter
  • 39.3 inch = 1 meter
  • 1 yard = .91 meters.

It doesn’t take much to do the conversion and a little multiplication will be necessary to get the right amount of material.

Some Final Words

Most shirt makers have to make these clothing items in different sizes. Growing families demand more shirt sizes than one that is already full size, although the outward growth is still a factor.

Knowing how to calculate the amount of material you need is not hard and those calculations can help you avoid spending too much money or buying too much material.

Once you get the size of the fabric you want, looking for a good men’s shirt pattern may be a little harder. Most men’s shirts are very basic and do not have a variety of styles to them, especially when they are dress or formal shirts.

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