Upholstery fabric can be expensive. When calculating the fabric required to reupholster a queen sleeper sofa, the goal is to purchase enough fabric, plus 10 percent extra for accessories or future repairs. It's helpful to learn the names of the different sofa sections and to understand how to measure these sections. Making to-scale pattern pieces is simplified with the use of graph paper.
Upholstery fabric is printed with the top of the pattern perpendicular to the selvage (bound) edge, which is the lengthwise grain. This allows one long piece of fabric to be placed horizontally along the inside back of a sofa, for example, with the pattern in the correct position (as a comparison, the pattern on drapery fabric is printed parallel to the selvage edge so the pattern will be in the correct position on a long, vertical, panel of drapes).
Measure the Sofa
Measure the sections of the sofa and record them as “width” by “length.” For example, measure the inside back from the inside of one arm to the other and record this as the width. The length of this piece is the measurement from the top of the sofa down (toward the floor) along the inside back to the bottom of the sofa. Reach down between the mattress and the inside back to the bottom of the sofa for inside measurements. For example, this would be recorded as 82-by-46, to indicate 82 inches wide and 46 inches long. Measure the outside back from side to side as the width, and from the top of the sofa to the bottom edge as the length. Measure the arm width as the measurement from the front of the arm to the back; the length is measured from the bottom edge of the sofa on the outside, up and over the arm, and down the inside of the arm to the bottom of the sofa. Record this measurement twice; once for each arm. Measure the width of the front rail as the width of the sofa front and the length as the measurement from the bottom of the sofa front, up and over the front rail and down the inside to the bottom edge of the sofa. Record the sizes of the top, bottom and boxing for each cushion. The boxing is the piece of fabric sewn around the perimeter of the cushion that creates its depth. Record the width of this piece as the perimeter of the cushion and the length as the measurement of the cushion's thickness.
Make To-Scale Pattern Pieces
Using a scale of one square to 6 inches, cut graph paper for each of the pieces you've measured. For example, if the sofa back measurement is 84-by-36, cut a piece of graph paper 14 squares by 6 squares and write the sofa section and the measurements on each piece. Clearly indicate the width direction.
Use the graph paper and, with the same scale of one square to 6 inches, create a piece of paper that represents 16 yards of fabric. Sixteen yards is a typical amount of fabric for a sofa. If the fabric is 54 inches wide, the paper will be nine squares by 96 squares. Lay the pattern pieces on this ‘fabric,’ with the width of the pieces running along the 96-inch length. Move the patterns around so they fit onto the paper with one square between each. Count the number of squares along the long edge of ‘fabric’ that you've used. Multiply this number by six and divide by 36 to determine the base yardage required. Add 20 percent for seams, binding, pattern matching, future repairs and, if required, add 4 yards for a skirt.
Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.