The Fabric Mavericks says... You can make drapes with a little help!
January 13, 2009
There is a "dummy" book for everything, but I have not seen one for drapes/curtains. I am going to use the term drapery and curtain interchangeably even though purists know they are not the same.
There are 3 areas that are key to your success:
2. Fabric selection
3. Proper hanging of the curtains
Today, we are going to discuss the correct way to measure for curtains. There is nothing sadder than not enough fabric. As I have discovered, the fabric you have bought will be completely sold out and non-reorderable. This is a fact for most things in life. There is nothing like skimpy curtains.
I am going to give you 2 formulas that will help you along the way. I might mention that it is good to have a basic reference book that has these formulas written in an easy to understand format. I like simple. This is no reflection on my fine mind, but when I am ready to sew I want to sew. The good news is that sewing curtains is actually very easy. I think people are intimidated by the volume of fabric used.
Rod length + overlap and returns allowance = Y
Y times 2 (fabric fullness) = Total Drapery Width divided by width of fabric (54'')= number of fabric panels required for the width of your window treatment. Usually this is a fraction. This is rounded up to a whole number.
Let's explain each step:
Rod length- Measure the width of your window. Your rod should extend on each side of the window by at least 3 inches= 6 inches. This does not mean that it cannot extend more if you wish to make the window look wider.
For example if my window width is 37'', my rod should be at least 43''.
If you are using a traverse rod, you will have an overlap- this is generally 3 inches. You will also have a return. A return is the measurement from the wall to curtain rod. I am not using a traverse rod so zero will be our figure.
The first formula is to determine the desired width of your curtains.
Rod length ( 43'') + overlap and return (0)= 43 inches x 2( fabric fullness) = 86 inches wide
Fabric drapes naturally into folds when hung. If your fabric is a medium weight fabric, you need to plan on 1 1/2 to 2 times the Y measurement so your curtains will not be skimpy. If it is a light to sheer fabric, you will need to multiply by a factor of 3.
So we have determined that our fabric will need to be 86 inches wide. Most home decor fabric is 54'' wide so I will assume my fabric is 54'' wide. 86" divided by 54''= 1.59 which rounded up is 2.
That was not so hard was it? Now that we know what our desired window width is, it is time to figure out the length.
The formula is desired finished length + header allowance + hem allowance= Z (length of fabric without repeat measurement.)
Z divided by fabric repeat if any= a number which will be rounded up to the nearest whole number times the pattern repeat which equals the length of fabric with repeats. (number of repeats along the length)
The desired finished length is the measurement from where you intend to hang the rod to the finishing point ( this could be the floor or the apron of the window). For our example, I am measuring from the rod to the floor. This measurement is 84 inches. The header is the portion of the curtain which will show above the rod. If you do not know yet what style of curtain you will be making estimate 8". I am going to have a header of 3''. The usual hem allowance is 8" which is a 4'' inch hem (double folded).
So far this is the formula:
the desired finished length (84") + 3" header allowance + hem (8")= 95 inches
If your fabric has a repeat, you must factor this figure into your formula. A repeat is the distance from one point of an individual pattern to the same point of the same pattern in the next row. This runs along the selvedge of the fabric. This is used to match your pattern when sewing sections together. Our pattern repeat is 12".
If there was no pattern repeat. we would divide the 95 inches by 36" ( 1 yard)= 2.6 which is multiplied by the final figure from the width formula which was 2. This will give us total yardage we need which will be 2.6 x 2 which is 5.2 yards which I will round up to 5 1/2 yards.
If we have a repeat of 12", let's see how this will change our yardage.
Our finished length is 95" with a 12 inch repeat= 95'' divided by 12=7.9 or 8. Multiply this figure by 12= 96 inches which divided by 36 will equal 5 1/2' yards. If the repeat is 27'', 95'' divided by 27" is 3.5 or rounded up is 4. 4 x 27=108 divided by 36" = 3 3 x 2 (final figure from the width)= 6 yards. As you can see, the larger number the repeat is the more fabric you will need to match your pattern.
Your assignment if you choose is to measure a window and calculate the amount of fabric you will need to make a curtain. With a little practice, I think you will have no problem. See how easy that was.
Next time we will discuss selecting fabric for curtains.
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