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"How To Measure For Pinch Pleat Curtains"

To start with there are a few simple rules I use when measuring up a window for new pinch pleat curtains to hang from rings under a decorative curtain rod. 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 Tips List

No.1 Fit your curtain rod at least 4 inches over the top of your window. Assuming there is room, it will look better. I usually fit my decorative curtain rod at 5 or 6 inches over the top of the window. 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.2 The width of the curtain rod should be 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 rod an inch or two wider if your curtains are made of thick fabric or have heavy blackout lining.

Then to work out the width of each curtain panel (assuming a pair). You need to take the total width of the decorative curtain rod. Then divide by half and add extra to allow the panels to overlap in the middle. Also extra for what is called "spring back".

When the curtains are in the open position on the rod. The spaces between the pleats are forced in to a curved shape. With this style of curtain heading the curtains will tend to want to creep open a little along the curtain rod. This is caused by the buckram that is used to stiffen the heading. I usually add an extra 4 inches per panel, somtimes more on very wide curtains.

No.3 In 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.4 Then to get the length for your new curtains. you need to hold the tape measure under the curtain rod ring. Then measure down to where you want the 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.5 Use 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 pinch pleat curtains?

No. 1 To work out how much fabric you will need to make pinch pleat headed curtains you start with the width measurement of your curtain track. This curtain style requires you to 2.5 times the width of your curtain track. This is to allow for your finished hanging curtains to have enough fabric to create the pleats.

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 12 inches (30cm) 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 12 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 2.5 = 120 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches

So 120 inches divided by 54 inches = 2.22

2.22 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. Now rounded up to nearest whole number 2.22 becomes 3

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus extra 12 inches hem allowance = 92 inches

So 3 widths X 92 inches = 276 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 7.66 ( 8 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 79 inches X 2.5 = 197.5 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches

So 197.5 inches divided by 54 inches = 3.65

3.65 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. Now rounded up to nearest whole number 3.65 becomes 4

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus extra 12 inches hem allowance = 92 inches

So 4 widths X 92 inches = 368 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 10.22 ( 10.3 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.




Curtain track width 108 inches X 2.5 = 270 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches

So 270 inches divided by 54 inches = 5

5 = 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 12 inches hem allowance = 92 inches

So 5 widths X 92 inches = 460 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 12.77 ( 12.8 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 2.5 = 197.5 inches

Fabric to be used width 54 inches with a Pattern Repeat of 15 inches

So 197.5 inches divided by 54 inches = 3.65

3.65 = Number of widths of fabric in your curtains. Now rounded up to nearest whole number becomes 4

Finished length of your curtains 80 inches plus an extra 12 inches hem allowance = 92 inches. However if the Pattern Repeat is greater than 12 inches. Then substitute the 12 inch hemming allowance for the pattern repeat size, in this example it is 15 inches. The total length of your curtain would be 80 inches plus an extra 15 inches for hem allowance ( the surplus would be trimmed off when making) = 95 inches.

So 4 widths X 95 inches = 380 inches total fabric required. Divide by 36 to convert to yards = 10.55 ( 10.6 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.





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What Visitors Say

"Dear Lee, Just wanted to say I found your site last week and it was an absolute godsend. Most helpful and informative - easy to follow instructions - and my very first bay window pelmet looks like the work of a true (and expensive) professional!

The pelmet and curtains both look much better in real life than on the photo of course. My wife thinks it all looks the work of a real pro rather than a first time amateur! Many many thanks for your site.

Kind regards Neal"

About Lee

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Discover why I Believe almost anyone can make and install their own beautiful curtains