How to: Measure Sectional Sofas

Reupholstering a sectional sofa is an ambitious project. But buying a new sectional sofa is often an expensive affair–and an old sectional with good bones is worthy of a facelift. Reupholstering rather than replacing a sectional can make it possible to keep a sofa that works well with your space while updating and getting fabric measurements to fit your decor.

Although sectional sofas are large and reupholstering can take significant time and effort, this is not a difficult project. If you can reupholster other simple pieces of furniture, you can reupholster a sectional.

On a large piece of furniture, exact measurements aren’t essential. Generally, you’ll want to overestimate how much fabric you need. However, carefully measuring can help ensure you have enough (ideally, more than enough) fabric to completely recover your sectional sofa.

How Much Fabric You Need to Reupholster a Sectional Sofa

Sectional sofas are large pieces of furniture and will need significant yardage to cover the entire piece. Additionally, they can vary significantly in size, depending on whether they have two main pieces that form an L shape, or three main pieces that form a U shape.

Generally, you can expect to use 24 to 36 yards of fabric for a sectional sofa. That’s a very large margin, so if you buy just 24 yards, you could have far too little, or way too much at 36 yards of fabric. As with most reupholstering projects, it’s best to plan to buy extra, but measure ahead so you don’t waste fabric–or end up without enough to finish your project.

Measuring Your Sectional Sofa

Method 1: Measure the Sectional

With this measurement method, you’ll measure each section of your sofa with the old fabric still in place. It’s best to remove your sofa’s old fabric and recover completely for a fresh start, but this option allows you to simply place new fabric over the old if you’d like.

  • Step 1: Measure the back of the sofa. Measure the width and height of the back of the sofa at its widest and highest points. For example, if there is a curve at the top, start your measurement there.
  • Step 2: Measure the other back of the sofa. Repeat on the other side, measuring both the height and width.
  • Step 3: Measure the chaise, if applicable. If your sectional is U-shaped, make sure you measure the chaise portion of the sofa the same way you’ve measured the other sections.
  • Step 4: Measure the arms and depth. Start outside at the bottom of the arm, then measure over the arm into the seat. Then, measure the depth of the sofa cushions. Remember that the depth may differ depending on the section, so take a measurement for each section.
  • Step 5: Measure the back support. Another interior measure, go up from the cushions to measure from the top of the sofa to the bottom of the cushion. This measurement should be consistent unless your sectional has curves in one section and not the others.
  • Step 6: Add a few inches to each measurement. It’s always best to have more fabric than you think you’ll need. With a few extra inches all around, you’ll have room for seams and small mistakes.
  • Step 7: Add all of your measurements. Add all your measurements together to get the total amount of fabric you need in inches. Then, divide that number by 36 to convert it to yards. Again, remember to add a little extra, so you have enough fabric.

Method 2: Measure the Fabric Pieces

You don’t have to physically measure a large sectional if you don’t want to. If you plan to remove the fabric anyway, you can simply use your old pieces of fabric as a template for your new fabric.

With this method, you don’t really do any measuring, simply tracing. But you do need to have an idea of how much fabric you’ll need before you get started so you’ll be able to trace your old pieces of fabric on the new fabric. If you plan to trace your fabric pieces, it’s a good idea to label each of your old pieces so you can easily figure out how to put them all back together again.

  • Step 1: Remove the fabric. Use a seam ripper to remove the old fabric from your sectional. Remember to work carefully and avoid ripping pieces beyond recognition, as you want them intact to trace them onto your new fabric.
  • Step 2: Lay out your fabric. Lay out your new fabric pieces, then lay all the old ones onto your new fabric. Pay attention to the direction of the old fabric, facing old pieces the same way they were on the sofa so you won’t have unusual stripes or patterns after you cut your new fabric.
  • Step 3: Trace the pattern. Trace your old fabric patterns onto the new fabric using chalk or pencil that can easily be removed.
  • Step 4: Cut the pattern out. Cut out your new fabric pieces. Remember to leave a wide berth as you cut, which will give you extra fabric for seams.

22 thoughts on “How to: Measure Sectional Sofas”

  1. I’m trying to find a P Kaufmann checkmate fabric in a deep forest green and ivory check. I know that it has been temporarily discontinued, but I’m hoping to find a fabric store that possibly has 3 or 4 yards remaining in stock. Any chance you might can help me?


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