Measuring 101: Get The Fabric You Need For The Furniture You Love

Change is hard. And finding just the right furniture was a pain in the proverbial booty last time. Do you really need to go through that just because your furniture is beginning to look more frat house appropriate than chic or family-friendly?

You do not.

Reupholstering allows you to extend the life of a treasured piece of furniture, makes your piece(s) truly you, and saves you time and money.

Yes, Reupholstering Can Save You Money

Absolutely. It’s just math. As a rule, new fabric is cheaper than new furniture. 

Unless you don’t measure up. 

Actually, we’re being a bit clever. YOU don’t need to measure up. We’re certain you’re perfect as is. But you DO need to measure correctly. So let’s make sure you’re ready to do just that.

In the last post, we talked about how to DIY your sofa slipcover. Today we’ll back up a bit and talk about measuring. The ins and outs of how to measure right.

At KOVI, we delight in the power of fabric. Power? Yes, power. Fabric can change your life by changing the way your life looks and feels. Reinventing or just reinvigorating your furniture and space — be it your home or office.

After the last year and a half, we know many people are eager for a lifestyle refresh or even a total reboot. We’re more clear than ever what works in our homes and offices AND what decidedly does not work anymore.

You’re ready to do the thing. And you want to do it right. We can help. 

If you wear a size 10 shoes and you accidentally order size 8, how’s that going to work out? Or let’s say you find the perfect pair of pants you’ve been looking for — yes, you need pants again, sorry — and you click “buy now” only to find you ordered three sizes too big. Well, that won’t work either. Unless, you know, you’re rocking the baggy pants around your knees look. But we’re betting you’re not.

The point is this. Yes, you DO want to refresh your furniture vibe. No, you DON’T want to order too little and fall short. You also don’t want to order too much and waste your money on extra fabric now only useful as the most expensive dust rags you’ve ever owned.

And look, this isn’t something you have much practice doing. It’s more like buying a car or house. These are not skills you practice often. So are you really supposed to be an expert on how to measure? 

You are not. 

We get it. And we’ve got you. This comes up A LOT for our wonderful customers. 

So, pull up a chair. Literally.

Let’s talk about how to measure. And let’s use that armchair you love. Don’t give up on it. There are still lots of books to be read and memories to be made there. And, let’s be honest, our favorite furniture is like a 3D photo album of memories. So don’t dump it. Give it a furniture facelift instead — whether through a pro or on your own.

We’ve pulled together resources to get you there–from idea, to properly measuring, to ordering what you ACTUALLY need. 

Your “new” armchair beckons. Let’s dig in.

Choosing The Right Fabric For Reupholstery

We’re obviously biased, but we think this is the FUN part! You get to pick your new look and style. And with KOVI’s thousands of fabrics to choose from — sorry, not sorry — there’s virtually no limit to what you can do.

As ever, we recommend beginning with the end in mind. Ask yourself a few basic questions about your armchair and what you’ll need from your upholstery:

  • How will it be used? A visual showpiece? Or will it get LIVED in? Or both?
  • Pets or no pets? Claws or no claws? Kids or no kids?
  • Office or home? Crisp and clean? Or comfy and cozy?
  • And what about color? Cool and energetic? Or warm and inviting?
  • Or maybe leather?

Taking a few minutes with questions like these helps you decide things like perhaps you’re looking for something that really pops, like our lemon drop pattern (yummy).  Or maybe you’ve got a furry feline friend to keep in mind. (We’re not hating on cats, but claws and loose weaves are not on speaking terms.)

Or maybe you realize that durability is mission-critical, so you’re after one of our Crypton fabrics (we’re flush with those). 

We recommend playing with this. No need to be overly serious with yourself. And you don’t need some secret design decoder ring. Just let yourself fantasize about what would light you up every time you walk into your space. It’s your space, after all. Love it. Or at least love that chair – lol.

So, dig into a conversation about how you’ll live in your armchair. Then head over to peruse our vast fabric selection. And, please reach out with questions. Share your vision with our crack team, and we can help you narrow down your options. (We love that part.) 

Side note: leather is a bit different. Given that it’s an animal hide, it doesn’t have the edge-to-edge usable fabric area that other upholstery fabrics have. In addition to being more than happy to help with navigating that, we’ve also discussed this in previous blog posts. Most recently in “Navigating Your Leather Upholstery Project Like A Boss!”

On To Measuring For How Much Fabric You’ll Need

By the time you get to this step, we imagine you’ll be fired up and wanting to measure and order, so let’s cut to the chase. We’ll introduce you to a few of our favorite how-to’s, and you can go with whatever you like best.

First, you’ll want to have some basic supplies handy: 

  • Paper and pen for diagramming and writing down measurements
  • Tape measure — Ideally, the soft rolled-up version, aka. tailor’s tape measure.
  • Marker and/or pencil — In case you choose to write on the chair itself.

That’s it. Get those things together, and you’re ready to begin.

Actually, go ahead and put on a record or playlist you love and pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee or something more adult — no reason this can’t be fun!

Armchairs vary in size and style, of course. But, as you’ll see, the general approach stays constant: separate your piece into parts and panels. You’ll essentially be measuring each part and then adding them all together.

Ok, to the main event. Each of these measuring how-to’s involves a different level of time and detail commitment. We’ll give you a quick take. You take it from there.

And even though we’re focused on measuring with this post, the usual DIY question applies: time vs. money. What’s the priority for you? We’ll frame it like that.

Read all about it.

We lean heavily on videos for our curated guide. But for those who’d prefer to simply read a quick how-to, we love Amma Marfo’s piece for Hunker

She gets right to the nuts and bolts, breaking down measuring your chair into easy-to-understand steps from start to finish — regardless of the style of chair you’re measuring. 

It’s quick and easy and a great introduction to the primary things to consider as you get down to the business of measuring.


Do you know this old acronym? Keep It Simple Silly (actually, “stupid,” but that’s just not nice.)

This video is that. There’s so much to love about Kathryn Joy’s video — besides the stellar name of her YouTube channel: Now That I’m A Mother. She simplifies measuring with the (rather ingenious) aid of an old sheet. 

Oh, and stick around for the whole video. Not only does she walk you through a no-sew reupholstery how-to — mostly involving a staple gun and hot glue — but she also crushes modeling the fun of creative problem-solving when you DIY. She makes it an adventure.

Let’s just get to the yah-dage

Up next, let’s check out Kevin Kennedy’s walk-through of the quickest ways — and we do mean quick — to estimate the yardage you’ll need for a wide variety of styles of armchairs. With decades of experience, he’s got it down to a science that allows you to estimate in essentially a minute or less.

Fair (and delighted) forewarning, he’ll actually be walking you through measuring yah-dage. No, really. Kevin’s Broadway Upholstery School is just outside of Boston. So, yah-dage. What? How do you say it?

Seriously, though. If quick and done is priority #1, Kevin is 100% your guy.

Make Me A Measuring Master

All the offerings so far will get you to the measurement answers you’re after. Also, they each prioritize saving time versus getting the most precise and detailed measurements. 

If you’re after detail and want to be sure to really order only what you’ll need, WOW does Aimee from Artisan Upholstery Studio have you covered!

What we LOVE about her super comprehensive guide to measuring your chair is she doesn’t just dig into what to do or how to do it. She quickly and clearly explains why to do it this way — why different parts of the chair call for different approaches.

Fun fact: most rolls of upholstery fabric are 54 inches wide. So Aimee sticks the landing by showing you how to diagram it all out and onto the fabric roll on paper to precisely maximize the usable area of whatever fabric you choose. Oh, and she walks you through the math, too (which can kind of be a thing). Yes, please!

But Wait, There’s More! 

Not really, though, because you already know this part. We can help! Reupholstery is a team sport. 

In addition to the wildly robust, factory-direct, number of fabric options we offer, we also have a stellar customer service team ready to assist you with any questions. 

We’ll make sure what you’re ordering is going to measure up to the task at hand. Wink.

Your new favorite book is on the way from Amazon. Time to get that favorite chair ready for a long summer’s reading sesh.

Drop us a line or give us a call today.

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