Fabric Pattern Repeat: Calculating Yardage

written by Melissa Wolck

A Pattern Repeat is the distance between one point of the design and the exact point where it begins again. Whether it is very small or very large, every patterned fabric has a pattern repeat. Luckily, Greenhouse Fabrics provides the measurements for every pattern repeat on our website, as well as in our books.

Let's take a look at the examples below.

Here are the 3 most common types.

FULL DROP / BLOCK REPEAT

This is the simplest of all the pattern repeats. The shape is repeated in a gridded layout allowing for easy pattern matching and resulting in the least amount of fabric waste due to pattern.

Teal Geometric Embroidery Fabric, B7159 Turquoise

BRICK PATTERN REPEAT

This type of repeat is stacked horizontally. Like a brick wall, the pattern is offset by half in the next horizontal row. It may be a bit trickier to match up this type of pattern, however, the scale of the pattern will have more of an impact in this case.

Green Geometric Jacquard Fabric, B6169 Grass

HALF DROP REPEAT

This repeat is similar to a brick pattern repeat. However, the pattern is stacked vertically and then offset by half in the next vertical row. Half drop repeats often give fabric designs more variety and visual interest than basic block repeats. Depending on the scale of the pattern, this type of repeat makes pattern matching more challenging and results in unusable fabric.

Large Scale 100% Cotton Fabric, B9336 Cornflower

As previously mentioned, a pattern’s repeat will often affect the amount of additional yardage your project will require, and unfortunately, can also affect the amount of fabric that you will be unable to use. This is especially true for patterns with large scale designs.

Take a look at the large scale floral print below.

Large Scale Floral Print, B8676 Charcoal

This is a very large scale floral pattern with a half drop repeat, measuring 27" H, 27"V.

Let's say for example, you want to center the large floral bouquet on the back of several chairs. You would need to take the measurement of the pattern repeat into account. Depending on how wide the back of the chairs are, you may be able to cut the fabric down the middle and use the bouquets to the right and left of center. However, let's say the back of the chair measures 42" wide. You will need to use the floral bouquets printed in the center of the fabric to ensure you have a wide enough piece of fabric to stretch across the back of your chair. Unfortunately, you will have to scrap the rest or use it for another project. 

A little confusing huh?

Here is a cheat sheet I found to help you calculate the additional amount of yardage you will need for your patterned fabric project. Hopefully, you'll find it useful. 

Patterned Fabric Additional Yardage Estimate Chart via Carr's Corner

To use this chart, first add the fabric's vertical and horizontal repeats together. For example, a 27" vertical repeat plus a 27" horizontal repeat equals 54" total. Find the appropriate entry on the chart, and increase the yardage estimate by the percentage indicated. In this case, it would be a 35% increase. 54"+ 19"= 73" Total. 73"/36" = 2 yards. You will need approxiamtely 2 yards per chair to center the floral bouquets on the back. This is just the fabric required for the inside back of the chair. You will need to get an approximate total for the entire project, and then increase it by the percentage listed in the chart.

Ultimately, the thing to keep in mind is that a fabric's pattern repeat will affect the estimated yardage required. This is important to explain to your customer when quoting the amount of fabric required for the job. Often times, the larger the pattern, the more fabric required, and the larger the final bill. 

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