How to Measure Curtains From Upholstery

Curtains are window dressings that can add luxury and style to your space. But it’s essential to know how to measure curtains from upholstery to achieve your desired drape. 

I put together this guide to teach you how to choose the curtain location, take measurements, and decide on the right rod. It’s helpful for anyone ordering custom-made draperies or those who plan to sew their own. 

1. Prepare the Materials

Measuring your curtains from upholstery fabric is an easy task. Prepare the following tools, and you can finish the activity in less than two hours. 

  • Measuring tape.
  • Chalk.
  • Rod.

2. Choose a Location to Hang Your Curtains

The next step to measuring your curtains for upholstery is to look for a spot to hang your drapery. The location will determine the length and width of the curtains. They should hang over the perimeter of the windows if you’re going for an outside mount. 

If you want to display the windows while keeping the curtains open, position the rod 8 inches above the window. Extend it one foot on each side for a total of 2 feet allowance of 24 inches. This is a fantastic idea for the windows to seem larger with closed drapes.

Hang the curtains in your window opening for an inside mount. Your goal is to keep the hardware near the window. Because the curtains will not extend beyond the window, take exact measurements that fit inside the window. 

Inside mounts also require you to measure at the top of the rod. Do this process even though you want to stay within the perimeter of the window. Check the rod instructions for accurate drapery measurements. 

Then, figure out the height from rod to floor. Here are some tips:

  • Use chalk to mark where you wish to place the rod.
  • Measure from the mark to the lowest spot you want to drape the fabric. 
  • The number of inches you get is the rod-to-floor height. 

3. Decide on the Type of Curtain

Choose the type of curtain you want once you know where to hang your drapery and your ideal rod-to-floor height. Do you want ornamental panels at the window’s sides? Or should the curtains entirely cover your window? 

The drapery style you want may also influence your fabric of choice. The material shall come with the right amount of fullness, so order the exact width that your curtains should cover. 

4. Decide on the Number of Panels

Learning how to measure curtains for upholstery involves deciding on the number of panels. A wide window usually takes more than one panel to cover the entire spot. It’s also practical to choose two panels because it’s hard to find a long piece of fabric for one panel.

Divide the width by how many panels you want. Fabrics should have a cut width that is the same as each panel width. You may use a shorter cut, but it will take more work because of the cutting and sewing.  

5. Measure the Width

Measure the panel width for drapery and curtains. Follow these tips if you want them to close and fully conceal the window:

  • Take the width measurements of your window from left to right.
  • Add a total of 24 inches or 12 inches on each side.
  • Divide the number by the number of panels you want. 

Note that the number of panels you want should shelter the whole area. You can check this by dividing the width by the number of panels. 

For example, you should add 24 inches to a 58-inch window you want to cover. If you wish to have two panels, divide the total by two, and you will get 41 inches. Therefore, the panel should at least be 41 inches wide. 

6. Measure the Length

The length of your curtains varies according to the design you want to pursue. Valances typically require a height of 10 to 30 inches to make the windows look tall.

Perhaps you want your curtains to reach only your window sill. Subtract ⅜ of an inch when measuring from the rod to the sill. This drapery is perfect for windows beyond the opening and outside mounts.

Cafe-style draperies are best for kitchens and should be 6 inches below the edge of the windows. The same measurement applies to apron styles, which are fantastic for outside-mounted windows.

One of the most common problems among floor style drapery is the excess fabric on the floor. The ideal length for this style is about ⅜ of an inch on top of the floor. Use this style if you will operate your drapery frequently. 

But some intend to make their draperies sweep the floor. If you like this design, the length should be a maximum of three inches longer than the rod-to-floor value. 

7. Calculate the Yardage

Almost all fabric stores and vendors sell them by the yard. To learn how many yards of cloth you have to buy, divide your total measurements by 36. That’s because one yard is equivalent to 36 inches. Then, round up to the closest yard. Read our full yardage calculator here.

8. Choose Your Fabric Type

There are many types of curtain fabrics for upholstery. But focus on those with a width equal to or close to the width of each panel. Don’t pick a shorter material than the ideal width, but feel free to buy a longer one.

Every material drapes differently. And some are sturdier than other fabric types. Here are some curtain fabrics you can use:

  • Polyester curtain fabrics are affordable, water-resistant, mold-resistant, and soft. 
  • Linen is the perfect mix of tailored and billowy, which fits most interior designs.
  • Silk draperies are heavier and more luxurious than your usual curtains.
  • Cotton fabric is the safest choice because they are soft, lightweight, and comfy.
  • Velvet cloth is perfect for a bigger and bolder look. 

9. Get Extra Fabric

Aside from the final fabric measurements, you will need extra pieces for headers and hems. But the amount of fabric you need depends on your preferred style. Consider the following tips:

  • Add double the header’s length to the height if you want headers.
  • Add four times the hem’s length to the height and width for hems.

10. Look for the Best Curtain Rod

The final width of your drapes depends on the type of rod you will get. The width of the rod should only include the one within the brackets and finials. Then, you may add up to 6 inches on each side. You can make deductions to ensure the finials and rods are the correct widths.

Now You Know How to Measure Curtains!

Store-bought curtains are usually expensive and limited in style. But making your draperies or having them custom-made requires knowledge on how to measure curtains for upholstery. 

Have you taken your fabric measurements already? Share your experiences in the comments below. Don’t forget to choose a fabric and rod that match your home decor!

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