Drapery Measuring Guide
Category: Interior Decorating Blog
Draperies can be very convenient when it comes to dressing your windows. Some advantages of picking custom draperies are:
- Best deal for your money - draperies are relatively inexpensive compared to some other, more complex window treatment styles that use the same amount of fabric yardage.
- They make your room taller - if you live in a small room, draperies will add height to your walls and open up your space. Even if you have a high two story window and a high ceiling, draperies turn a bland two-dimensional space into a larger three-dimensional area.
- Light, noise, and heat control - Draperies can be drawn to control light. They can also tune out the noise on the streets. Most importantly, draperies can block the sun's heat better than most other window treatments out there. This can cut your energy bill significantly. The better lined draperies are, the better they serve to control the amount of light, noise, and heat that pass through your windows.
- They fit very wide windows - No matter how wide your window is - you can always count on draperies to be the perfect solution and perfect fit. This also applies to bay windows, bow windows, corner windows, arched windows, elliptical windows, round windows, or any other odd window shape.
Now that we know some drapery basics, the question is how to measure
Choose the width.
Most people immediately focus on the length of a drapery and start measuring the window height first. Actually, you can never truly know the length until you determine the width needed first. Therefore, the first step in measuring a drapery is determining what width you need.
First we start with the fullness. The fullness determines the coverage of your window. Most people purchase draperies in pairs, so we will calculate with that in mind from now. Generally speaking, draperies gather to about half of their flat, stretched out width. We call this 2x fullness. If you choose a thinner fabric, 3x fullness may be needed. However, drapery fabrics are quite heavy and most are lined, so 2x fullness will be the right fullness for most draperies out there.
You should also know that drapery fabrics are printed and rolled up onto standard-sized bolts. For that reason, drapery fabrics come in a standard width, which is around 54 inches. This determines the widths that we make available to our customers. For purposes of convenience and cost, our draperies come in 1x (51"), 1.5x (78"), and 2x (104") flat widths. We refer to these available widths as width units
. Note that we defined width units in terms of flat
widths. So you may ask just what a flat width is. A flat drapery width is the width at the bottom hem. The heading on unpleated draperies is the same as the flat width at the bottom hem. However, pleated draperies are different. Pleats take away from the width, so you will see that our pleated draperies have smaller widths when you look at our products. Generally speaking, pleated widths are about 24, 33, and 48 inches for our draperies. Those widths correspond to about 51, 78, and 104-inch flat drapery widths, or 1x, 1.5x, and 2x width units.
To calculate what the proper drapery for your window is, calculate the window width first, including the frame. Add the proper overhang. If you'd like to make your window appear wider, consider a generous overhang (an overhang is the difference between the pole width and window width - this is the area on the wall, not window, that your drapery will cover). The sum of the window width and overhang tell us the width of the drapery pole.
As a general rule, we recommend the following:
- Drapery poles less than 44 inches will do well with a pair of 1x width draperies.
- Drapery poles less than 75 inches will do well with a pair of 1.5x width draperies.
- Drapery poles more than 75 inches will do well with a pair of 2x width draperies.
Every window is different and these recommendations don't apply to all window drapery styles. There are many factors that affect drapery widths. Some of them are:
- Larger rooms do well with wider, more densely gathered draperies with about 3x fullness whereas small rooms need draperies with 2x fullness.
- Additional accents that add volume to your drapery such as heavy trims or valances attached onto the drapery play a major role in determining the correct width. They sometimes add on extra width and volume, making it unnecessary to go up to the next drapery width.
- The wider the window is, the wider a drapery should be. Again, take a look at the general rules that we just mentioned above.
- If your window needs to be completely covered at certain times of the day (for privacy reasons for example), you have to make sure that your draperies can fully cover your window. Two 51-inch draperies won't help you very much if your window is 130 inches wide.
- The scale of the fabric prints also plays an important role. Big prints may be a bit busy on the eye, especially in a room that is otherwise plain, simple and average in size. For those kinds of rooms, slightly more narrow draperies are a good solution, whereas simple fabric designs such as solid or tone-on-tone prints work beautifully for very wide draperies.
- Tall windows may need more fullness. This again, refers back to the idea of scale. Now, keep in mind that when we talk about a pleated drapery width, we talk about the maximum width that it can reach. Our pleats are created by hand, giving you a pliable header. So, just because a pleated drapery is said to be 33 inches wide doesn't mean that that's a fixed width. You can gather it to 32, 30, 28, 26 inches, maybe even less. Thus, for taller windows, keep that in mind as they may look best when they are gathered a bit more than their maximum pleated width.
The following is a graph that may help you choose the right width:
Note that drapery coverage decreases as you go from rod pocket to pleated headers and average to tall windows. This is just a visual summary of what we have explained previously.
We hope that the above tips will help you to determine the width that you need. If you're still uncertain, contact us.
Double-check the width again.
It's important to read step one again and make sure that you've measured correctly. So to summarize, we can double-check the following aspects:
Choose the length.
- Did you subtract a few inches from the calculated gathered width for pleated headers?
- If you chose to use a continental rod, did you account for the returns in your overhang measurements?
- If your measurements are on the border between two drapery widths, consider getting blackout lining or interlining. They add fullness to a drapery without having to go up to the next drapery width. They also block out the sun, light, noises, heat, cold, and prolong the lifespan of your drapes. Otherwise, you can go up to the next width with pleated draperies or go down to a smaller width with unpleated draperies.
- Does your chosen drapery width fit in with the scale of the room? Regardless of how wide your window is, bulky draperies may not be the best solution for small rooms with simple furniture. Likewise, narrow draperies don't go too well in large rooms with heavy furniture.
- Does it serve your room's functionality needs? If you need light, a narrow drapery may be better to cover the least area of your window. If you need privacy, a wide drapery that you can draw over the entire window might be the best solution.
Now that you have determined the drapery width that will work on your window, it is time to measure the desired length.
The following are the most commonly requested drapery lengths:
- Floor length draperies. These draperies are installed to hang about 0 to 1/4 inch above the floor.
- Puddled length draperies. Measured just like floor length draperies, but a few inches are added to create a puddled effect.
- Trouser length. Drapery just barely brushes across the floor. This is usually a 1 to 2 inch length addition to floor length draperies.
- Puddled length. Includes large fabric amounts that fan out across the floor to create a rich, luxurious drape. Usually 4 to 8 inches are added to the floor length measurement to achieve this effect. Not recommended for busy areas such as hallways.
- Sill length draperies. These draperies are quite short. Their length stops at the window sill, which is the bottom frame of the window. This is usually convenient when there are obstacles that prevent the drapery from being longer. Obstacles include things like radiators, counter space, sofas, and anything else that is placed directly underneath the window. Sill length draperies are also a popular choice for small rooms or Country style decor. Many cautious parents prefer sill length draperies in small children's bedrooms for safety reasons.
You've just learned where to start measuring from the bottom of the drapery. It's time to learn where to stop measuring at the top. For rod pocket draperies, you'd measure up to the point where the curtain pole ends. Keep in mind that some draperies have ruffles, so the extra ruffle length should be added to the measured length. For a pleated drapery, you not only need to know where your drapery pole will be installed, but you also need to know what drapery rings you will use. With pleated draperies, measure to the bottom of the drapery ring. Make sure to take into account any other factors that may affect your drapery length. One important thing to consider are tiebacks. Tiebacks pull a drapery up from the floor slightly, so a drapery may end up being too short. Therefore, if you decide to use tiebacks, add about 1/2 to 2 inches to the total length, depending on the total drapery width. Likewise, if you'd like to create bishop sleeves, you will need to add a few inches to the measured length.
Another factor to consider is the height of the ceiling. Most people like to install their draperies high up to draw the eye up, emphasize the high ceiling and open up the space. So if you have high ceilings, by all means take advantage of them and install the drapery pole a bit higher.
Feel free to contact our staff if you should have any questions about measuring for custom drapes.
Comments on Drapery Measuring Guide
My window is 144 inches wide by 96 high. In essence, we're trying to cover the entire thing. Can this be done with two 2x panels? Thanks
I have 3 windows areas to cover:
one is 150 width by 132, other 82 width by 104 and other 112 width by 104.
All will be mounted on tranverse rods and will cover entire area. Please advise panels size and x for a quote
Thank you for all your help. This article answered all my questions.