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How To Work With Curtain Fullness

curtain fullness, working with fullness, how much fabric do I need for curtains

Curtain fullness; a simple panel, or luxurious, billowing pleats?

If you’re making your own curtains, using a curtain fullness calculator will help give you great results. Read on to find out all about how to make curtain fullness calculations; we’ll show you how to work out the fullness or gather, for pinch pleat curtains, eyelet curtains or pencil pleats, and how to adjust curtain fullness.

What is curtain fullness?

Curtain fullness or gather is basically how much fabric it looks like there is in your curtains. If they are more full, they can look more generous, luxurious or billowy. Curtain fullness is determined by width and weight:

How much width of fabric you start with, compared to the finished width of your curtains. The more fabric width you have within the pleats or gathers of your curtains, the more full they will be.

The weight of the fabric also contributes to the fullness as a heavier fabric will provide more bulk, and therefore more fullness, whereas a lightweight fabric needs more fabric in the curtains to give the same effect. Doing a curtain fullness calculation before you start will help you make sure the finished result gives you the look you want.

Why is it important?

You curtain style, or header is very important when you’re working with fullness. Pinch pleats and eyelet curtains require the fullness to be carefully worked out before you start. Other styles, like pencil pleat and tab top curtains, are more forgiving and will work just as well with a little more or a little less fabric.

Curtain fullness is important if you have more than one set of curtains in a room. If your windows are different sizes, you’ll want your curtains to match in terms of the amount of fabric at the windows. In order for all the curtains in the room to look harmonious, you’ll need to work out the fullness for each window and make any necessary adjustments before you start making. Lets look at what we need to do to calculate fullness for the different curtain styles:

Curtain fullness calculator

Curtain fullness is calculated using the width of the pole or track and the width of the fabric, but if you have two or more windows in the same room and they are of different sizes, then you may have to make a fullness adjustment to match the fullness at all of the windows in the room. Work through our simple curtain fullness calculator for your curtain style to get the perfect gather in your curtains and match the windows across the room.

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Pencil pleat curtains

These are the most forgiving because you have some wriggle room with the gather and fullness. For standard pencil pleat curtains on a 3″ header we usually recommend double fullness (width x 2) but you could easily reduce this to 1.5. This is useful if you’re a little short of fabric, or if you don’t want to join widths.

triple pleat curtains, pinch pleat curtains
pleated curtain detail


pinch pleat curtains

Pinch pleats are sewn in with a buckram header, so the fullness must be correct. Both double and triple pleat curtains need 2.5 times fullness. (length of track or pole x 2.5). You can alter amount of fabric by adjusting the depth of the pleats, and also the spacing; read more here.

eyelet curtain, eyelet curtains, eyelet header style, measuring for curtains, measure curtains


Eyelet curtains

How much fullness for eyelet curtains? We use between 1.5 fullness (adequate) and 2.25 fullness (maximum). An even number of eyelets is needed on each curtain to allow the wave at the top to work properly, soadjust the fullness to allow an even number of eyelets. As a guide, our eyelet curtain header tape for home use has 8 eyelets per metre of tape.

Comparing your windows

Once you have calculated the number or drops for all the windows in a room, you will need to work backwards to determine the actual fullness of each window. Windows within a room need to match, otherwise they will look wrong. Here’s how to check the fullness will match, and how to adjust it.

NB: The fullness does not have to be identical – If you had two windows, one with 1.9 fullness and one with 2.1 these would look fine together, but a window with 1.6 fullness in a room with a window of 2.4 fullness would not look right at all.

In the curtain fabric calculator we calculated the number of drops of fabric; now we need to calculate the actual fullness of each window so that we can compare them.

Calculating the fullness

Time for some math! To finish the curtain fullness calculation, work out the fullness for each window: multiply the fabric width by number of drops for the window, then divide the total by the width of the pole or track.

In our example We’re working with a fabric with a width of 138 cm. For window one the pole or track is 238cm, and we’ve already calculated that we will need 4 drops. For window two the pole or track is 150cm, and we’ve calculated we will need 3 drops.

Window one: 138cm x 4 = 552/ 238 = 2.3 fullness

Window two: 138cm x 3 = 414 / 150 = 2.8 fullness


Making a fullness adjustment

If there is a mismatch, you can use the figures from your curtain fullness calculation to reduce the number of drops, like this:

Window one: 138 x 3 = 414 / 238 = 1.7 fullness

Window two: 138 x 2 = 276 / 150 = 1.8 fullness

This is a closer match, but with less fullness in both of the curtains. An alternative would be to use the original calculation but cut down the fabric on window two to give 2.4 x fullness. You would still need three drops of fabric, so there would be some wasteage

Do you need to know more?

Whether you’re buying made to measure from us, or making your own curtains at home, you’ll find lots more useful info based on our years of experience in all aspects of curtains and curtain making in our curtain making knowledge bank:


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