How Much Fabric for Curtains: A Complete Guide

Readymade curtains are hassle-free and beautiful, but they might not be the perfect reflection of your window décor plans.

If you choose to sew the curtains instead of buying them, you can handpick the material and have complete control over the design. So, How much fabric do I need for curtains?

How Much Fabric for Curtains

The amount of required fabric for curtains depends on your window size and the intended length of the curtains. There is no steadfast rule that specifies how long the curtains should drop. So, you have to take these measurements and crunch the numbers to determine how much fabric you will need for your curtains.

Already fallen in love with a material? Do you know exactly which pattern will work best in your curtains? It will not be easy to find that combination in store-bought items.

Therefore, sewing makes more sense. Here, we will go through the details of curtain fabric selection that would help you better understand how much fabric you will need for your desired drapes.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Fabric for Curtains?

Curtains do more than cover the windows. They help you complement the decor in your home and add to the look of the room as a whole.

Overall, curtains are the defining elements of a room. Aside from your own preferences, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the best fabric for your curtains:

Factors to Consider When Choosing Fabric for Curtains

Maintenance

Many fabrics may look elegant, but they need a lot of care to stay that way. Silk and velvet need dry cleaning, but you can wash cotton and linen at home.

Choose fabrics that you know won’t need a lot of upkeep or replacement for a long time. It’s smart to pick curtain fabrics that are easy to clean for households with children and pets.

Durability

When choosing curtain fabrics, quality is another crucial thing to think about. Even though some fabrics look nice, they don’t last long.

If you want the same curtain to last for a long time, choose a particular material that can do its job well.

The right material can easily stand up to direct sunlight and can show more resilience to damage and fading.

Size and Style

The curtain’s size and style have a say in the fabric choice. For tab top curtains, fabrics that are light in weight, like voile and lace, work best.

On the other hand, large, airy doors and windows need heavy curtains so that the curtains don’t keep flying away. Velvet and acrylic are more appropriate in the latter case.

Privacy

The transparency of the curtain fabric will depend on your need for privacy. It also has to do with the curtain’s weight since materials that are hard to see through tend to be heavier.

They are perfect for rooms that get a lot of sunlight because they can soften the light or block it completely, depending on how opaque they are.

Purpose

You can’t decorate every room with the same fabric. You should use bright and delicate fabrics to decorate rooms that are more casual.

But in the bedroom, you don’t want a material that is either too light or too dark. Go for serene and calming tones like blue and pink for bedroom curtain colors.

How to Measure Fabric for Curtains?

How to Measure Fabric for Curtains

Step 1: Measure Your Window

Window sizes can vary greatly. So, there is no “standard” length or height. To find out the width, measure from one side of your window to the other with a metal tape measure. Next, measure from the top to the bottom of the window to determine the height of the window.

Step 2: Calculate Curtain Height

Curtains drop below the bottom of the window, so you will have to add a few inches to the window height. Most curtains hang four inches below the bottom of the window.

If you want curtains like that, just add four inches to its final height. But if you want curtains that reach the floor, you need to measure the distance from your window to the floor.

Take this number and take away one inch. Then add the difference to the finished height. If you want to hang curtains inside your window frame, make sure to measure down to 1/2 inch, right above the sill.

Step 3: Determine Curtain Width

No further measurements are required if you intend to attach the rod inside the window frame. However, if you are mounting the rod outside of the window frame, choose a spot and adjust the width and height to fit.

How far do you want your curtains to go on each side? Curtains usually hang about four inches past each side of the window, so you will need to add eight inches to the width of the finished curtain. But if you want the curtains to be the same length as the curtain rod, measure that to get the final width.

Step 4: Finalize The Number of Panels

If you have a pretty broad window, it’s best to make curtains with two or more panels instead of one long piece of fabric that goes all the way across.

Divide this number by the width when it’s done. The cut width of the material you choose should be the same as the width of the panels you want to make.

Curtain Fabric Calculator

Now that you have taken the measurements, it’s time to use your findings to calculate to determine the required amount of fabric.

Before you get into calculations, we must remind you that you will need some extra material for hems and headers.

Curtain Fabric Calculator

For embellished headers, you will need double the fabric you would need for a simple header. If you intend to finish the edge of your fabric with a hem, add the length of the hem multiplied by four to the required height and width.

Now, let’s pick up our pencils and paper. It’s time to do some math!

Step 1: Learn Your Fullness Ratio

If you don’t want your curtain panels to be flat, you’ll need extra fabric to make waves, pleats, and gathered headings.

For each of your curtain styles, you need to multiply the finished width by its “fullness ratio.” Here are the fullness ratios for some of the most common curtain styles:

Curtain StyleFullness Ratio
Pencil Pleat2
Wave Curtains2.2
Gathered Headings1.8
Flat Curtain Panels1
Eyelet Curtains1.35

Step 2: Calculate the Final Width and Height

At this point, you will have a lot of numbers to consider. Looks confusing, doesn’t it? Take a deep breath and grab your pencil. Once you write it down, it will make more sense.

Let’s assume you are working with a 40-inch wide and 30-inch long window. You have a five-inch curtain rod on top of it. You want standard 4-inch vertical and horizontal overlays, and half-inch hems, and for a waved pattern, the fullness ratio will be 2.2 (check the table above). Your preference is to split the curtain into two panels.

The width (40″) plus twice the overlay (4″x 2) would be your final approximate width. After that, divide the result (48″) by two, which is the number of panels you have selected for your curtain. You now have 24″. Multiply the hem size (0.5″) by four. Take this figure (26″) and multiply it by 2.2, which is the fullness ratio for the wave curtains design you picked.

We can summarize the calculation with the following expression:

Curtain Width= Fullness Ratio x ((Window Width + 2 x Overlay)/2 + 4 (hem size))

In our numerical expression, the calculated curtain width is 58 inches. The actual value was 57.2, but we will round up the numbers to the next integer to keep the calculation simple. Now that we have determined the curtain width, we will move on to the next part of the process; determining curtain height.

For calculating curtain length, we will use this formula:

Curtain Length= Window Height + 4(Hem Size) + Overlay + Rod Size

So, in the case of our numerical example, the curtain length will be:
30 + 4(0.5) +4 +5=41 inches.

Step 3: Calculate How Much Fabric You Will Need

Most fabrics are sold by the yard. Multiply the height of the curtain by the number of panels. Now, you know how many inches of fabric you will need for the curtain.

Convert inches to yards by dividing the result by 36. Why 36? Because 36 inches equals one yard. Round up the number and pick the nearest full yard. So, we can use the following identity:

Yardage= (Curtain Height x Number Of Panels)/36

Let’s apply this formula to our example:

Yardage=(41×2)/36
Or, Yardage=2.27 yards
Or, Yardage= 3 yards (By rounding up to the next whole yard).
No further calculations are necessary if you have gone for a non-patterned design.

However, you still have a bit of work to do if you have chosen a patterned curtain.

Step 4: Account for Pattern Repeats

If you’re using patterned fabric to make multi-panel curtains, you’ll want to ensure that the pattern repeats properly from panel to panel. To do this, you will need to make a small change to your calculations.

Find out how many times the pattern repeats in the vertical direction. This is usually written on the product information for the fabric. Divide your total height by the vertical repeat. If the result isn’t a whole number, you’ll need to change the number of yards.

Take the number you have just found and multiply it by the curtain’s height. Now, use this number in the yardage formula instead of the final curtain length. In doing so, you will get the yardage that compensates for the pattern repeat.

Skipping this step will result in mismatched patterns on your curtains. That’s fine if that’s the style you’re going for. But, in general, curtains with patterns that don’t line up look messy and awkward in any room.

How Much Fabric for Curtains?

How Much Fabric Do I Need for Curtains

It’s impossible to say how much fabric you will need for your curtain without knowing the specifics. Your window size, width, pole thickness, and your choice of curtain design will dictate the yardage of your curtains. It could be two yards, three yards, or more.

Next Read: Complete guide on how much fabric for a dress

How Much Fabric for Pencil Pleat Curtains?

How Much Fabric for Pencil Pleat Curtains

Measure from the track’s top if you’re hanging pencil pleat curtains. When you draw out the curtain, it will cover the track. Measure from the curtain ring’s eye to the finished drop when choosing a pole.

Then, your curtains will dangle below the pole. If you want your curtains to hang from a different track or pole, measure from that point to the finished drop.

How Much Fabric for Eyelet Curtains?

How Much Fabric for Eyelet Curtains

For eyelet curtains, add 5cm to the drop from the pole. Eyelets are usually 5cm from the top of the fabric, so you have to consider that while taking measurements.

Measure the diameter of the curtain pole to provide ample room for opening and closing the drapes.

How Much Fabric for Gathered Curtains?

How Much Fabric for Gathered Curtains

No matter how the curtains are headed, they should all have some “gather.” If a curtain didn’t “gather,” it would only be a flat piece of fabric across the window.

Usually, the width of your curtains should be twice the width of your curtain track to get a proper gathered effect on the drapes.

How Much Fabric for S Fold Curtains?

How Much Fabric for S Fold Curtains

It is possible to hang curtains in broad, even folds using an S-fold header. You can achieve this effect with a special track and tape that you can operate with your hand or a cord.

You will need double the finished curtain width to get properly functioning S-fold drapes.

How Much Fabric for Sheer Curtains?

How Much Fabric for Sheer Curtains

Most pinch-pleated sheer curtains are made with triple fullness, which means they take up three times the fabric of the finished curtain width.

The level of fullness depends on how see-through the fabric is, the curtain style, and your personal preferences.

How Much Fabric Do I Need for 84 Inch Curtains?

How Much Fabric Do I Need for 84 Inch Curtains

84-Inch Wide Curtains

Let’s say we know our window requires drapes with a width of 84 inches, allowing for fullness. The next thing to figure out is the drop of the curtains.

If we want the drapes to run to the floor, we must measure the floor-to-curtain pole distance. We’ll assume that the curtain pole lies 80 inches above the floor.

We will also need to make allowances for hems and header. We’ll assume it adds 10 inches more to the floor-to-curtain pole distance. That leaves us with a curtain length of 90 inches.

Multiply the curtain length by 2 as the curtain is double-paneled. The result is 180 inches. Divide it by 36 to get yardage. In this case, the yardage is 5 yards.

84-Inch Long Curtains

The yardage could change if we consider the curtain to be 84 inches long. By adding 10 inches for the header and hems, we get 94 inches.

We’ll need a double-paneled curtain to cover the window, so we will multiply the number by two.

By doing so, we get 188 inches. After conversion, we get 5.22 yards. If we round up to the next yard, we get six yards.

How Many Yards of Fabric Do I Need for 96 Inch Curtains?

How Many Yards of Fabric Do I Need for 96 Inch Curtains

96-Inch Wide Curtains

Let’s consider only two changes to the 84-inch wide curtain example. Instead of 84 inches, the window is now 96 inches wide.

Since the window is wider, we would need more widths of fabric to cover the window. Let’s assume we will require 4 widths of fabric, instead of two.

So, curtain length= (80+10) inches= 90 inches (From the 84-inch wide curtain example)

Yardage= (90×4)/36= 10 yards.

96-Inch Long Curtains

Similarly, we can calculate the yardage for a 96-inch long curtain.
Curtain Length=(96+10) inches= 106 inches
Yardage= (106×4)/36=11.77 yards=12 yards.

Final Words

Determining the correct yardage is crucial to materialize your drapery vision. Without an adequate amount of fabric, you will have to compromise density, embellishments, and drop length. So, make sure you got your math right before undertaking a curtain project.

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