Discover How To Measure For Curtains On A Track

To start with there are a few simple rules I use when I measure for curtains to hang from a curtain track. You want them to look good but also be practical.

Such as clearing the window when open and not draping over obstacle under the window. Things like Radiators, sofas or other furniture.

Watch the short video below and see what I recommend when measuring a window for curtains correctly. I have also listed some tips below the video to recap on the important points to remember. I also added few other things that will help you with this project.





My Quick Measure For Curtains Tips List

No.1Fit your curtain track at least 4 inches over the top of your window. Assuming there is room, it will look better. I usually fit my curtain track at 5 or 6 inches over the top of the window frame. This allows the curtain header to sit over the wall so is not seen from outside. I think it just looks so much better.

No.2The width of the track is the width of your window plus 5 or 6 inches past both sides. This allows your curtain to pull back of the window allowing maximum light to enter the room.

Occasionally I would make the curtain track an inch or two wider if your curtains are made of thick fabric or have heavy blackout lining.

To work out how wide each curtain panel should be (assuming a pair). You need to allow for each panel un-gathered to be appoximately the same with of the curtain rod. Give or take a couple of inches. This allows the curtains to have enough gathered fabric when hanging over your window.

No.3In most cases it will be so much easier to get accurate width and length measurements with your chosen curtain hardware already fitted in place over your window.

You may end up fitting the window treatment hardware slightly higher or lower. Often this is because the wall fixings are not secure enough, or because of an obstruction not noticed earlier.

No.4Then hook your steel tape measure on the top edge of the track. This is so the track is not seen when the curtains are closed. Then measure down to where you want your curtains to finish. Maybe to just go to the window sill or a few inches past the window sill. Alternatively down to the floor. This gives you the finished curtain drop.

No.5Use a pad and pen and write down each size as you measure. Then go back and double check your sizes to make sure there are no errors. Even better ask someone else to check for you.

If you are measuring for very wide or long curtains. Then I would definitely have some one help you by holding one end of the tape measure while you pull out the tape and measure more accurately.



How much curtain fabric will I need for my pencil pleat curtains ?

No. 1 To work out how much fabric you will need to make pencil pleat headed curtains you start with the width measurement of your curtain track. This curtain style requires you to double the width of your curtain track. This is to allow for your finished hanging curtains to have enough gather in them.

No. 2 Next you need to divide this figure by the width of the fabric you are going to use to make your curtains with. The most common fabric width is 54 inches wide (137cm). I will use this size for some example lower down.

No. 3 The answer to this calculation will be how many widths of fabric you will need to create your curtains at the right width. Often the figure is not a whole number. For example it may end up as 1.8 or 2.7, or 3.9 - We don't use numbers like these to make curtains, we need whole numbers so we round them up. So 1.8 widths becomes 2 widths and 2.7 widths becomes 3 widths and 3.9 widths becomes (you guessed it :-) 4 widths of fabric. nice and easy hey!

No. 4 Then you need take your (freshly measured) curtain length size and add extra for the bottom curtain hem and for the turnover at the top of your curtain. I usually allow 8 inches (20cm) for this extra fabric allowance. I know it may seem like stating the obvious but for the sake of people (just like me) when doing new stuff. I like to cover every step no matter how small or seemingly obvious.

So if you have a finished curtain length of 80 inches. Then after you add an extra 8 inches for bottom hem and top turnover. You will have a total fabric length of 88 inches.

No. 5 Now you have 2 numbers to work with. The first is the number of widths you will need. The second is the total length of each curtain width. You now simply multiply these numbers to get the total amount of fabric you will require to make curtains to fit your window exactly.



Some examples to get you started

Curtain track width 48 inches X 2 = 96 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches

So 96 inches divided by 54 inches = 1.77

1.77 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. Now rounded up to nearest whole number 1.77 becomes 2

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus extra 8 inches hem allowance = 88 inches

So 2 widths X 88 inches = 176 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 4.88 ( 5 yards in real money :-)

So in this example you would end up with a pair of curtains with 1 width of fabric in each panel at 80 inches long.




Curtain track width 79 inches X 2 = 158 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches

So 96 inches divided by 54 inches = 2.92

2.92 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. Now rounded up to nearest whole number 2.92 becomes 3

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus extra 8 inches hem allowance = 88 inches

So 3 widths X 88 inches = 264 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 7.33 ( 7.4 yards in real money :-)

So in this example you would end up with a pair of curtains with 1.5 widths of fabric in each panel at 80 inches long.




Curtain track width 108 inches X 2 = 216 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches

So 96 inches divided by 54 inches = 4

4 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. No need to round up to nearest whole number

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus extra 8 inches hem allowance = 88 inches

So 4 widths X 88 inches = 352 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 9.77 ( 9.8 yards in real money :-)

So in this example you would end up with a pair of curtains with 2 widths of fabric in each panel at 80 inches long.




What if your fabric has a pattern ?

This just means you need to make one more calculation to allow for this. Most patterned drapery fabric have what is called a "pattern repeat". This is for example on a floral print fabric the distance before the same flower repeats itself lower down the fabric. So from the top of that flower to the top of its twin lower down is the measurement called the "pattern repeat"

If for example you are shopping in Joanne fabric stores or browsing online fabric stores. You will see a label or details with the price, fabric width and pattern repeat. Sometimes it is identified by just P.R.

I have added an extra line into an example just below to show how to add the pattern repeat in to your calculations.


Curtain track width 79 inches X 2 = 158 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches with a Pattern Repeat of 12 inches

So 158 inches divided by 54 inches = 2.92

2.92 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. Now rounded up to nearest whole number 2.92 becomes 3

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus an extra 8 inches hem allowance = 88 inches. However if the Pattern Repeat is greater than 12 inches. Then substitute the 8 inch hemming allowance for the pattern repeat size, in this example it is 12 inches. The total length of your curtain would be 80 inches plus an extra 12 inches for hem allowance ( the surplus would be trimmed off when making) = 92 inches.

So 3 widths X 92 inches = 276 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 7.66 ( 7.7 yards in real money :-)

So in this example you would end up with a pair of curtains with 1.5 widths of fabric in each panel at 80 inches long.


If the surplus fabric from the pattern repeat is enough you could always have a go at making some simple band curtain tie backs.

After reading this article on how to measure for curtains on a track, then also have a look at the how to make curtains page here.





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