Estimating Curtain Material Yardage


Because fabric widths vary, yardage cannot be figured until the fabric has been selected. After you have taken the necessary measurements and determined the finished size of the curtain, shade or drapery, you must add to the length and width for seams, hems, headings and fullness. This is the cut length. Use the cut length to estimate the amount of fabric you will need. For curtains and draperies, use the amounts as listed below and transfer the correct amount to the chart (right). For shade yardage, see individual instructions for each type of shade.

Determining Length

To the finished length, add the amount needed for lower hems, casings, headings and pattern repeat.

Lower hems. Add double the desired hem to the finished length. For medium weight fabrics, use a 4″ (10 cm) double-fold hem on floor-length curtains or draperies; add 8″ (20.5 cm) to the length. Or on short curtains or valances, use a 1″ to 3″ (2.5 to 7.5 cm) double-fold hem; add 2″ to 6″ (5 to 15 cm) to the length. For sheer and lightweight fabrics, a deeper double-fold hem of 5″ to 6″ (12.5 to 15 cm) may be used; add 10″ to 12″ (25.5 to 30.5 cm) to the length.

Casings and headings. For simple casings with no heading, add an amount equal to the diameter of the rod plus 1/2′ (1.3 cm) to turn under and 1/4″ to 1″ (6 mm to 2.5 cm) ease. The amount of ease depends on the size of the rod and thickness of the fabric.

Lightweight fabrics require less ease; casings for large rods require more. For casings with headings, use the formula for a simple casing, adding to it an amount twice the depth of the heading.

Patten repeat. Fabrics with patterns (motifs) need to be matched. Measure the distance between motifs and add that amount to the length of each panel.

Determining Width to the finished width, add the amount needed for seams, side hems and fullness. Seams. For multi-width panels, add 1″ (2.5 cm) for each seam. Panels that are not wider than the fabric do not require an extra amount for seams ..

Side hems. Add 4″ (10 cm) per panel for a I” (2.5 cm) double-fold hem on each side of the panel. Fullness. Fabric weight determines fullness. For medium to heavyweight fabrics, add two to two and one-half times the finished width of the curtain. For sheer and lightweight fabrics, add two and one-half to three times the finished width.

Make a copy of this chart and fill it in to help you figure the correct amount of fabric needed for curtains, shades or draperies.

Figuring Yardage

Cut Length                                                                                         in. (cm.)
For fabrics not requiring pattern match:
1)    Finished length
2)    Bottom hem (double for most fabrics)                                         +
3)    Casing/heading                                                                        +
4)    Cut length for each width or part width                                        =
For fabrics requiring pattern match:
1)    Cut length (figure as above)
2)    Size of pattern repeat (distance between motifs)
3)    Number of repeats needed*                                                        =
4)    Cut length for each part width: multiply size of repeat by number of repeats needed.
Cut Width
1)    Finished width
2)    Fullness (how many times the finished width)             x
3)    Width times fullness                                                 =
4)    Side hems                                                               +
5)    Total width needed                                                    =
6)    Width of fabric
7)    Number of fabric widths: total width needed divided by width of fabric*
Total fabric needed
1)    Cut length (as figured above)
2)    Number of fabric widths (as figured above)                                             x
3)    Total fabric width                                                                                 =
4)    Number of yds. (meters) needed: total fabric length divided by 36” (100cm.)     yds (m)

*Round up to the nearest whole number.

NOTE: Add extra fabric for straightening ends.

NOTE: Half of the width (determined above) will be used for each curtain panel. To piece panels, adjust width measurement to include 1″ (2.5 cm) for each seam.

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