Measuring Your Windows for Panels

Decorating Fabric, DIY, Tips & Tricks
Sunshine Drapery sliding glass doors window treatment

In today’s uncertain economic times, many homeowners and interior designers are selecting quality fabrics from Sunshine Drapery, and opting to sew their own draperies at home. But before you head off measuring window panels, it’s essential for you to determine whether your drapes will hang from a rod or on a track, their heading, whether or not they’ll have a valance, pelmet, swags or tails; whether you want them to hang straight or be held with tiebacks, lined or unlined; combined with sheers or a blind. Here are some tips for measuring your windows to create today’s most beautiful effects with your windows.

Measuring Window PanelsDrapery Length

Determining drapery length depends on your window. Cottage style rooms with recessed windows look best with sill-length curtains. The same can be said for horizontal windows in modern homes. Sash windows, bays, bows, French and picture windows are best complimented with floor-length curtains that almost touch the floor with no visible gap. Curtain fabric on such windows can puddle as long as you’re sure the fabric won’t get underfoot. Some designers recommend café curtains to give homeowners privacy at the window’s lower half while letting in light at the top.

Measuring Window Panels - Tale of the Tape

When measuring your windows it’s best to use a steel measuring tape. Cloth tapes are not accurate for such measurements as they are intended for measuring fabric. Be sure to take exact measurements, rounding down to the nearest quarter of an inch (1/4”). It’s helpful to draw a picture of the window on a piece of paper, clearly indicating the measurements for its length and width, especially when it’s so common to transpose measurements. And even though the windows in your room may appear identical in size and shape, you’re better off measuring all the windows in the room. The last thing you want discover when hanging your drapes is the significant difference between the sizes of the windows in your room. Unless your window treatment is inside the molding, it’s important to measure the width of your window from the outside of the molding. Depending on your personal taste and style of curtains, fullness should be 2 ½ times the measurement you determined for the width of your window. When measuring the proper length for your curtains, you’ll want to measure from the top of the molding (or rod if already in place) to the point where you prefer the bottom of your curtains to be. Panel curtains are a popular choice for bedrooms because of their elegance and simplicity. We’ll use panel curtains as an example for measuring windows. Using a steel tape measure, start the length measurement where you want your curtain rod hung, extending the tape measure to the spot below the window sill where you want the curtains to end. This length measurement should be considered the finished length of your curtain panels. Next measure your window’s width from the outside of the molding. Since curtain panels come 2 in a set, the combined width of both curtain panels should equal 2 ½ times the total width of your window.  

Determining Your Fabric Needs

Next you’ll need to determine how much fabric you’ll need. First measure the window you want to cover and multiply the width of that measurement by 1.5 – 3X. Remember that you’ll need to add to the length measurement to accommodate for hems. A good rule of thumb is a double four inch turn to the top and bottom, sixteen inches per panel. Then divide the number you calculated for your multiplied width by the width of the fabric (54-60 inches for drapery fabrics). This answer tells you the number of panels you will need to have the appropriate fullness for your window. Multiplying the length of your panels by the number of panels you need gives you the yardage you require. Happy sewing!
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