Making Your Own Curtains – Calculating How Much Fabric You Need

How to calculate the amount of material to buy in order to make your own curtains

Making your own curtains doesn’t just cost less than buying them ready-made, but the wide range of fabric types, patterns, and colors allow you to get as creative as you want.

But as you set out to customize your drapes, the biggest question you’ll face is “How much fabric do I need to make it?” unfortunately, there’s no one answer here.

Instead, the exact amount of material you’ll need will vary depending on the type of curtains you’re making and their size. Not to mention, you’ll need to also factor in extra fabric for any lining, pleats, or hems you want to have in your curtains.

To get answers, just keep reading the following guide on how to calculate fabric for making your own curtains.

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Step 1: Determine the Height and Width of the Curtains

There are many different sizes of windows out there, so there’s no such thing as standard window height and width. For this reason, you’ll need to grab your measuring tape and determine those values yourself.

Starting with the height of your curtains, measure the distance from the top of the window to the floor then subtract 1 inch from this number. This will give you measurements for floor-length curtains.

If you want your curtains to show puddles on the floor, you can add up to 6 inches more to the floor-length measurement.  If you want to mount your curtains inside the window frame, measure the length down to ½ inch above the sill.

As for the width of the curtains, you need to consider the position of the rod. If you want the rod to be inside the window frame, you’ll just need to measure from one side of your window to the other.

If you plan to mount the rod outside the frame, choose a location then measure the width to match.

If you’re not sure how far your curtains should extend on each side, go with the general answer which is around 4 inches on either side. This means you’ll add a total of 8 inches to your final width value.

But if you want your curtains to only be as wide as the rod’s length, that should be your final width.

Step 2: Decide How Many Panels You Prefer

The next step would be figuring out the number of panels you want the curtain to have. If your window is on the wider side, making the curtains 2 or more panels would be the most practical approach. This way, you can handle the curtains easier than if they were just one long piece of fabric.

Once you decide on the number of panels, divide the final width value on this number.

Ideally, the fabric you choose will come in a cut width that’s equal to the target panel width. Otherwise, a longer or shorter cut will have you do some additional sewing and cutting.

Step 3: Choose a Curtain Style to Account for Extra Fabric

If you haven’t picked your curtain type up to this step, now would be the time to do it. The style of your curtain will determine whether or not you need extra fabric, and if so, how much.

For example, if you want to incorporate hems in your curtains, you’ll need to add 4 times the length of the hem to the measured height and width.

Similarly, if you plan on having a header at the top, you’ll need to add 2 times the length of the header to your final height.

Moreover, you need to determine your fullness ratio. This ratio helps you figure out how much fabric you need to make a certain style of curtains.

You see, unless you’re making flat panels, you’ll need extra fabric for making waves, pleats, or gathered headings. Each curtain style corresponds to a fullness ratio, and once you pinpoint yours, you’ll multiply it by the finished width.

Here are the fullness ratios for a few common curtain types:

  • Flat: 1.0
  • Eyelet: 1.35
  • Gathered headings: 1.8
  • Pencil pleat: 2.0
  • Wave: 2.2

Step 4: Calculate the Finished Height and Width

Use all the numbers you’ve measured and determined to calculate the finished height and width. It can be helpful to use a pencil and paper to put them all together.

Step 5: Calculate the Yardage

Since fabrics are sold by the yard, you want to figure out the amount of needed fabric in terms of yards so you can go out and buy it.

First, you’ll multiply the final height by the number of panels you plan to make. Then, you’ll divide the result by 36 (1 yard = 36 inches) and round it up to the nearest whole yard.

Wrap Up

As you can tell, there’s are several steps required to figure out how much fabric is needed to make curtains. Our guide on how to calculate fabric for making your own curtains will help make the process easier.

Now it’s time to go shopping! Choose the perfect fabric for your curtains from our Beginner Guide to Buying Fabric Online.

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