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How to Measure for Curtains

measure for curtains tape measure

If our experienced makers are making your curtains – or if you are making them yourself- you’ll need accurate measuements to get the very best result. To measure for curtains, you’ll need two measurements on your window – the width and the drop. You will get the most accurate measurements if your pole or track is already fitted and you measure with it in place.

What kind of curtains?

In order to get your measurements you will need to know what kind of curtains you want and also how long you want them to be. Remember that the curtain header you choose can change the look of your cutains completely, and also affect how you need to measure for them.

Measure the drop

Eyelet curtains: measure the drop from 1”/2.5 cm above the pole to where you want the curtain to finish. Tab top curtains should be measured from the top of the pole, then subtract the length of the tabs you are making. All other types of header: If you have a pole, measure from the bottom of your curtain rings to where you want the curtain to finish. For curtain track you should measure from the top of the track to where you want the curtain to finish.

Inside the recess or outside?

Curtains within a window recess usually finish just above the windowsill, whereas curtains hung outside a window recess usually longer. They can finish below the windowsill (approx 4-6”/10-15cm or to your preference), or you can choose to make them longer if you desire. Floor length curtains can finish just above the floor (to make them easy to draw), just on the floor (to keep out draughts), or can be made a couple of inches longer to add weight and a luxurious feel.

Now measure the width

Once you have measured the drop, simply to measure the width of your track or pole. Add in any overlap which is in place on your track fixings. For poles, measure from just outside where the pole is fixed to the wall.

Calculate your curtain fabric

Once you have all the numbers, you can easily work out how much total fabric you need for your curtains as well as the measurements for each cut. Use the how-to below to calculate your requirements. You will need to know the width of your fabric and any pattern repeat (these can be found on any of the fabrics on our shop). It’s important to follow all the steps correctly, so take your time and follow the how-to carefully; make sure you use the same units of measurement (inches or centimetres) throughout!

  1. Work out your fullness

    First calculate how many widths of fabric you will need for your window. This will depend on how full (or gathered) you want your curtains.
    For standard pencil pleat heading we recommend double fullness (multiply the width by 2).
    For triple pleat curtains you may need 2.5 times fullness (multiply the width by 2.5)
    For eyelet curtains you need between 1.5 times fullness (adequate) and 2.25 times fullness (maximum). You will need to make sure you have an even number of eyelets on your finished curtains. Our eyelet curtain header tape has 8 eyelets per metre of tape.

  2. How many widths?

    In step 1 you multiplied your measured window width by the fullness you wanted; now you need to divide this figure by the width of the fabric like this:
    Measured width 210cm
    x 2 for fullness = 420cm
    divided by width of fabric (137cm) = 3.07

  3. round it up

    Round the number in step 2 up (or down) to the nearest exact number. In the example the figure is 3.07; Round this down to 3. This means you would use a total of 3 widths or drops of fabric for your curtains; For a pair of curtains this would mean one and a half widths in each curtain. If in doubt round up to the next whole number, as curtains with more fullness look better.

  4. How long is each width or drop?

    Now you know how many widths you need, the next stage is to calculate the length of fabric you need for each drop. You will need to add a hem allowance to each drop. We usually add 8”/20cm to the drop to get the length of fabric needed. This gives 2”/5cm of turning at the top and a double thickness hem of 3”/7.5cm at the bottom.

  5. How many pattern repeats?

    Next, check your fabric for a pattern repeat. When curtain fabric has a pattern and you need more than one width of fabric, it is usual for all curtains or joined fabrics to start at the same place on the pattern in order to make them match. (For vertical stripes, plain fabrics or only one width of fabric this step is not needed). Divide the fabric length by the pattern repeat, then round up to the next whole pattern repeat. To check your pattern repeat, look for an obvious detail in the pattern, and check the fabric until you see the same detail again; now measure from one to the other. In this example the pattern repeat is 65cm:
    Drop = 140cm
    Add hem allowance of 20cm = 160cm
    Divide by pattern repeat of 65cm = 2.46
    Go up to the next whole pattern repeat = 3

  6. Work out the length of each drop

    Now multiply the whole number of pattern repeats from step 5 by the size of the pattern repeat (65 cm in this example) and you get the length of fabric needed for each width. In our example this is:
    3 x 65cm = 195cm.
    Note : if your fabric pattern is a half drop repeat then you may need to add more fabric here for matching widthways.

  7. Now work out your total amount of fabric

    Multiply the length of each width (in cm or inches) by the number of widths you need to get the total amount of fabric you need. In our example this would be:
    195cm x 3 = 585cm or 5.85m of fabric needed.
    Be sure to add in any extra fabric you may need for tabs, tie-backs, cushions, piping or pelmets. You will usually need to buy the next whole metre of fabric (in this case 6) if shopping online, although we do cut to more exact lengths both online and in the shop.

If you are shopping with us, we can calculate your fabric requirements for you. Either call in to the shop, or email us letting us know which of our fabrics you are interested in and your measurements, making sure you say whether the measurements are inches or centimetres – we’re happy with either. We’ll do the sums and let you know how much fabric you will need.

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