How to Measure for Window Treatments

Item # X-HT-200593

Windows tend to vary greatly in size from home to home and even from room to room. Making your own curtains or drapes is a great way to customize your look and ensure a perfect fit. While sewing curtains is relatively simple, getting the perfect measurements before cutting your fabric can sometimes be tricky. The key to measuring for window treatments is a well thought out design.

Learn how to measure for window treatments like these dramatic drapes

Before you even start measuring the window, you need to make some design decisions about what type of window treatment you’d like for your window. Do you want short curtains or long drapes? Will they hang from a rod mounted inside the window frame, or above the window frame? Once you have a good mental image or maybe a sketch of what you want your curtains to look like you are ready to start.

We’ve put together a video that demonstrates measuring and also explains how to accommodate your measurements for your particular window treatment style.

Measure the Width

Using a metal retractable tape measure (not a fabric measuring tape) measure the width of your window. For an inside mount, measure across the glass. With an outside mount setup measure from one outer edge of the window molding to the other. Write down your total measurement.

If you are making drapes, you’ll then need to add in room for the fabric to stack back alongside your window when the drapes are open. An average “stack back” is 6-12 inches. Determine how much stack back you want, and add that measurement to each side of the window width. For example, a 6” stack back would require you to add 12” total to the total width of the window.

To add fullness to the drapes or curtains when they are closed, you’ll need to account for extra fabric. To do this, you’ll need to multiply the total width by a fullness factor of anywhere between 1.5-3. If you want a flatter curtain, you would multiply the total width by 1.5 or if you want a generous fullness, opt for the higher multiplier of 3.

Measure the Height

Measure the height of the window from where you want the curtains to start at the top and where you want them to fall at the bottom. Curtains generally stop at one of a few points: at the windowsill, at the bottom of the trim, 1” above the floor, or they will puddle on the floor. Drapes that puddle give a dramatic effect and have a very formal feel. Add an extra 6-12 inches to the measurement at the floor for this look.

A window treatment starts at its rod. Curtain rods typically sit about 4 inches above the window. However, you can hang them closer to the window as long as you leave enough space for the brackets. A popular choice is to hang curtains high and close to the ceiling. This trick helps to elongate the look of your walls and make the room feel taller and more spacious.

When you have your total height measured, add 8-10 inches total for hems. If you are using clips or rings to attach your curtain, you’ll want to measure that hardware. Then subtract the length of the hardware from the curtain height. This ensures that your curtains fall at exactly your desired location.

With measurements all calculated all you have to do is order your fabric and get sewing! The Sailrite Fabric Calculator makes it easy to figure out how much fabric to order. Enter in your measurements and it will calculate the needed fabric yardage.

What is your preferred style of curtain? Share your preferences in the comments!