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Measuring Curtains Part 16

Measuring and Ordering Custom Made Curtains

In our last lesson we learned about fabric selection, in today’s lesson we will learn about Measuring and Ordering Custom Made Curtains.

One area that I probably should have started this ecourse with is “the parts of a curtain”. Oops, never mind, I will introduce you to that now. You can go and look at a labeled picture of the parts of a curtain here.

How to Measure and Order Custom Made Curtains

I am always so nervous about doing this myself because the slightest mistake can cause a big problem, so I will keep it simple.

I will stress that if you aren’t comfortable with this topic, then get a professional to do it for you. It doesn’t usually cost anything if they will be making the curtains or selling the fabric, or if it does, the small fee is nothing for peace of mind!

Now that I have scared you. I will tell you how easy it actually is once you have chosen your fabric and know the style of curtain you want.

Here is a step-by-step guide for measuring and ordering curtains or drapes.

Measuring Curtains and Drapes

Step One

Measure the windows. As you will be giving these measurements to someone else, it always pays to have a drawing of the window. That way everyone is clear on where the measurements were taken from. So draw all the windows, then using a metal tape measure the internal width and height of the window. Measure from the track to the floor if you have an existing track, if not allow 15cm (6″) above the window frame. Measure the width of the existing track, if you don’t have one allow for the width of the window and add 25cm (10″) each side for the stackbacks. (see diagram for more detail here)

Step Two

Know what type of heading you need as this will determine the fullness of fabric you require.

Sheer and lightweight fabrics look better with more fullness than heavy thick fabrics. As you have measured you track width you can now determine the fullness by multiplying the width by one and a half times for a standard gathered tape, by two times for french, and inverted pleat, and by two and a half times for pencil pleat tape. (Note: These amounts vary depending on the brand of heading tape, so always check before you work out your measurements). The allowance for the head will be determined by the style – for simple casings add an equal amount to the diameter of the pole or rod plus 1.3cm (1/2″) to turn under and 1.3 – 2.5cm (1/2″ – 1″) ease. When using a heading tape the top hem allowance should be the width of the heading tape.

Step Three

Decide where you want the curtains to finish – this will determine the overall height of the curtain.

Allow 1.3cm (1/2″) clearance between the bottom of the curtain and the floor for floor length curtains. This gives you a small tolerance for uneven floors, and for the fabric to drop a little over time. For loosely woven fabrics allow 2.5cm(1″) clearance so that they have room to stretch slightly without touching the floor.

For below the sill curtains allow for the curtains to finish at least 10cm (4″), preferably 15cm (6″) below the sill.

For puddling curtains allow an extra 10 – 15cm (4″ – 6″) below the floor level. (These are curtains that fall on the ground and create a “puddled effect”.

Lower hem – use 10cm (4″) for a double hem on medium weight fabrics which means you need to add 20cm (8″) to the length. For sheer or lightweight fabrics a larger double hem of 12.5 – 15cm (5-6″) can be used which means you need to add 20-25cm (10-12″) to the length.

Step Four
Find a worksheet to use for this here

Use the window measurements to work out the drops you need ( I have used a track width of 150cm here as an example and a finished length of 230cm)

You need the whole width of the fabric required – (track / rod width x fullness)

For example: 150cm x 2 (fullness) = 300cm

300 divided by 137 (fabric width) = 2.19 = 3 full widths required (always round up any part widths)

If the finished length of the curtain drop is 230cm (incl hem and heading) Multiply by 3 full widths (worked out above) and you will need 690 cm of fabric to make your curtain.

230 x 3 = 690cm

Step Five

Make an allowance for pattern repeat.

Fabrics with a repetitive patterns need to have the pattern matched across the curtain fabric widths. To find the distance of this pattern repeat you can look on the selvedge edge of the fabric and often it will tell you, if not, measure from the top of the pattern to the top of the next same pattern repeat and you will need to add this extra amount of fabric to each drop or length of fabric width.

So, if you want to work out the drops required with a pattern repeat then do this calculation, it is the same as above but you need to add in the pattern repeat allowance.

Divide the entire curtain drop length by the pattern repeat

230 divide by 64 = 3.59 (round up to 4)

This means that 4 pattern repeats are required for each curtain length or drop.

So multiply 4 by the pattern repeat distance

4 x 64 = 256cm

This is the new figure for the fabric length or drop required for each curtain.

Then multiply by the widths required

256 x 3 = 768cm

Then add one full pattern repeat to the figure so you can have flexibility on where you want the pattern to start on the curtain.

768 + 64 =832cm

This is how much fabric you will need for your curtain.

Step Six

Decide if the curtains will be lined, then work out the lining fabric as above, (without the pattern repeat obviously.)

Step Seven

Confirm the hardware and where you want the curtains to sit on the track or rod as heading tapes have options for placing the hooks and this may alter the finished length of the curtain.

Step Eight

Decide on any accessories, tie backs, hold backs.

Step Nine

Do the same for all the other windows you may have.

Step Ten

Make sure you have all the above information listed so you can get quotations or estimations for exactly the same custom made curtains. There will be no surprises if you have it all written down. Something to remember is to check if they will install them. This is very important if you are having new tracks or rods, as they are quite difficult to handle and install at the same height around the room. It is much safer to use a professional to do it. Find more information on how to ask for a quotation or estimate.

You have just finished reading part sixteen. Go and read your related articles and take a look at some photographs to get more curtain design ideas. In two days time you will receive part seventeen, if you don’t receive it in two days, then look in your spam email box, and if you just can’t wait for two days the you can find part seventeen here online.

Bye for now


Lee Brown

Curtain Design Ecourse Coordinator