To measure fabric for a project, read the instructions for the project to determine whether seam allowances are calculated into the measurements provided. If the measurements include a seam or hem allowance, place the fabric on the cutting board, and cut it to the recommended size. If the seam allowances aren't included, add the recommended seam allowance to each of the four sides of the fabric, or add 1/2 inch to each side for the seam, and cut the fabric.
When making loose, gathered items, such as curtains, exact measurements typically are not used. To determine how much fabric to use, place pins in the material to form a temporary hem, and place the fabric on a yardstick. Gather the fabric on the yardstick, and mark the length that looks most appealing. Add 1/4 to 1/2 inch to each side for the seams.
To determine how much fabric is necessary for large projects, such as reupholstering a sofa, measure the length, width and height of the item, and measure the cushions or other upholstered surfaces. Take the measurements along when purchasing fabric, and ask for assistance to determine how much fabric is needed for the project.
Purchase slightly more fabric than recommended, as 1 to 2 inches of fabric is typically unusable due to labels and other imperfections along the edge of the fabric.