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How much fabric to buy for curtains?

Pinch pleat curtains

2.5 Fullness – Pinch pleat curtains

Knowing how much fabric to buy for curtains is a really important process that needs to be worked out before the curtains are made and needs to be done correctly, especially if you are working it out yourself and not leaving it in the hands of a professional.   I thought I would write a post about this because if you are buying your own fabric you need to know exactly how much you need depending on your window treatment.  I have tried to do get break it down as simple as possible, but if you lost just get in touch and I will help you out.

Estimating Fabric Quantities

As I said an important part of getting your curtains spot on is the measuring and estimation of fabric. Estimating fabric quantities must be done accurately or your window treatment will not have the desired effect.

Curtains require fullness when they are drawn and even the most expensive fabric will look limp, cheap and really unexciting when created if not enough fabric is used. Each window treatment requires varying amounts of fullness and this really needs to be taken into account when estimating for fabric.

The first thing that you need to know is the length of your pole.  This must be correctly fitted before you can measure for your window treatment.  This is usually 10cm – 20cm above the recess (you don’t want to see the heading tape from outside the window) and at least 15cm either side of the recess.

Once you know the length of the track you can then multiply this by the fullness, the general range used is between two and three times with width of your track.  However this is dependent on the effect you require, the thickness of the fabric used and the heading tape.

Patterned Fabric

Pattern Matching

Pattern Matching

When a fabric has a pattern the pattern must match across the widths of the curtains when they are joined.  In order to have enough fabric to do this extra fabric must be estimated to match the pattern repeat.  When you’re looking at a fabric the label should tell you what the pattern repeat is, if it doesn’t you can ask the shop assistant for this measurement. It will depend on the size of the pattern to how much more fabric you will need. You can also work the pattern match yourself by measuring between two identical points on the pattern design.  Sometimes the manufacturers are not spot on with this information so measuring it yourself will make sure you have the correct figures, this is something I like to do so I am not caught short on the fabric.

Calculations

The following steps will help you estimate your fabric quantities.  I have broken it down for plain fabric and patterned fabric, as it is a slightly different process.  Now, the below might send you into a meltdown, it may not, however at school numbers really weren’t my thing, so I have tried to break it down as much as possible in order give you all the tools you need to do it correctly.  I have also put it into a quick guide underneath with the formula.

Calculating Plain Fabric

Step one

Establish the following:

–          The width of the fabric (fabrics come in different widths but a standard width is approx 137-140cm),

–          the length of the track or pole,

–           the finished drop measurement of the curtain

–           and the fullness required (you can use 2.5 for a basic pencil pleat heading)

Step two

 Establish the number of widths required:

 –          Multiply the length of the track or pole by the fullness.

–          Divide this figure by the width of the fabric to give the number of widths required.

–          Round this figure up to the nearest whole width. Rounding up will give you more fullness.

Step Three.

Establish the cut drop of what you want your curtains to be and take this measurement and add 25cm allowance for the heading and hems.

Step Four

Multiply the cut drop by the number of widths, to establish the total amount of fabric required.

 

Quick guide: estimating fabric quantities

Plain fabric

1. Length of track/pole x fullness of curtain ÷ fabric width = Number of widths required

2. Finished drop of curtain plus hems of headings (25cm) = Cut Drop

3. Cut drop x number of widths required = Amount of plain fabric required

 

Calculating patterned fabric

Step one

Establish the following:

–           width of the fabric,

–          size of the pattern repeat,

–           the length of the track or pole,

–           the finished drop measurement of the curtain

–          the fullness required.

 Step two

Establish the number of widths required

–           multiply the length of the track/pole by the fullness.

–           Divide this figure by the width of the fabric to give the number of widths required.

–           Round this figure up to the nearest whole width. Rounding up will give you more fullness.

Step Three

Establish the cut drop of what you want your curtains to be and take this measurement and add 25cm allowance for the heading and hems.

Step Three

Divide the cut drop by the size of the pattern repeat (always round UP) to the next whole number. This will establish the amount of pattern repeats required per cut drop.

Step four

Multiply the amount of pattern repeats required per cut drop by the size of the pattern repeat. This will establish the new cut drop for patterned fabric.

 Step five

Multiply the new cut drop by the number of widths required, adding a further repeat to help place the pattern (SEE BELOW). This will establish the amount of patterned fabric required.

NOTE: If the fabric has a large pattern design, you should calculate for the pattern ‘placement’ on the curtain itself. Wherever possible the whole design or motif should work up from the bottom of the curtain. In order to do this when purchasing fabric, you should buy the quantity required plus one extra pattern repeat.

 

Quick guide: estimating fabric quantities

Patterned Fabric

  1. Length of track/pole x fullness of curtain fabric ÷ width = Number of widths required
  2.  Finished drop measurement of curtain plus hems and headings (+ 25cm) = Cut drop
  3. Cut drop ÷ size of pattern repeat = Amount of pattern repeats per cut drop. Round UP to next whole number (i.e. 3.54 round up to 4)
  4. Number of pattern repeats per cut drop x size of repeat = New cut drop for patterned fabric
  5. New cut drop for patterned fabric x number of widths
  6. Add 1 extra repeat to the new cut drop = Amount of patterned fabric required

Now if I have lost you in any part of the above then don’t worry because we can work this out for you, this is our bread and butter so you can just leave it in our hands so you don’t have to worry.  You can sit back, relax and wait for your new curtains to come a knocking on your door…