Materials
  • - Fabric
  • - Lining
  • - Thread
  • - Buckram
  • - Wadding
  • - Weights
  • - Curtain Hooks
  • Tools
  • - Sewing Machine
  • - Needles
  • - Pins
  • - Clamps
  • - Scissors
  • - Set Square
  • - Straight Edge
  • - Invisible Marker
  • Step 2: Calculate the Curtain Dimensions
    Printable Worksheet
    Printable Worksheet

    FINISHED CURTAIN WIDTH

    For a pair of curtains the Finished Curtain Width for each curtain is half the pole length plus a figure for ease and overlap*.

    We use the following for ease and overlap per curtain on a pair of curtains.

    Pole Length Ease + Overlap per curtain
    120cm7cm
    160cm8cm
    180cm8.5cm
    200cm9cm
    220cm9.5cm
    240cm10cm
    260cm10.5cm
    280cm11cm
    300cm11.5cm
    320cm12cm

    *Note if you are returning your curtain to the wall (continuing the outside flap of the curtain from the pole to the wall) you will also need to add the distance of the curtain pole to the wall to the finished curtain width.

    Curtain NOT returning to the wall
    *Curtain returning to the wall

    FINISHED CURTAIN LENGTH

    To calculate the Finished Curtain Length add the Hook to Top and Hook Drop measurements together: The calculation for the finished curtain length is then.

    CHOOSE YOUR PLEAT DEPTH

    The Pleat Depth
    of the cartridge pleats you wish to make will determine the size of the buckram needed and have a small affect on the amount of fabric and lining you require (as calculated in step 3 and step 4). The depth of your pleat is the depth of your buckram.

    This is a design decision limited only by the sizes of buckram you have available to you. Note you can cut buckram down if needed.

    For guidance generally we would make sill length curtains with a 10cm (4") buckram and floor length curtains with a 12.5cm (5") or sometimes 15cm (6") buckram.

    PLEAT SIZES & SPACING

    THE NORMAL PROCESS

    When making a pair of hand pleated curtains we NORMALLY calculate the pleat and gap sizes in STEP 9. This is the process we follow.

    • Decide now how full you want your curtains to be. (see below)
    • Calculate to the nearest half width how many widths/half widths of fabric each curtain needs to be made with in STEP 3.
    • Make up the flat curtain panel (with the approriate number of widths/half widths wide) ready to be pleated in STEP 9.
    • At STEP 9 measure the exact width of the made up curtain panel and THEN calculate the pleat sizes and spacing.

    HOW TO CHOOSE THE FULLNESS OF YOUR CURTAINS

    When deciding how full we want our curtains to be we talk in terms of Fullness Ratio. Fullness Ratio is the ratio of the width of the curtain before pleating to its finished width when pleated or gathered. The higher the fullness ratio the more gathered and heavier the curtains will be.

    We have used a Fullness Ratio of 1.9 to form the cartridge pleats in the tutorial videos. A larger fullness ratio will give you bigger pleats.

    Your Questions & Comments

    Mary

    Hi - Can you tell me where side hems and seams are covered in these measurements? Thank you

    SewHelpful:

    This STEP is calculating the curtain dimensions. The next STEPs, STEP3 and 4 is where we calculate the fabric and lining quantities. It is there that we look at the hem and seam allowances.

    Emma

    My curtain return to the wall has to be 10cm and the curtain will then make a right-angle turn to follow the curtain pole. Should I put the first triple pleat to coincide with this turn or have the first pleat within the return. I imagine it should be at the corner but I'm asking in case you feel it would result in the curtain splaying out too much. Thanks

    SewHelpful:

    As you will see in the image above we do not put a pleat on the return to the wall.

    Louise

    Hello - thank you for the tutorial, it is very helpful. Is there a rule to calculate how wide a double pleat curtain would be when pushed back? I'd like to use that to work out how wide my curtain pole should be. Thank you

    SewHelpful:

    A double width, lined double pleat curtain will have a  stack back of appox 25 to 30cm. There will be variation due to fabric weight etc.

    Claire

    Hi - I want to make a triple pleat curtain, but I need it to hang 4cm above the pole as the glass on my window goes to the ceiling and heading tape would be seen. It is a dress curtain so wouldn't be opened and closed. Would a triple pleat curtain work.

    SewHelpful:

    Yes it would work, you will need to get the gap sizes the right proportion as they will stick out forwards between the pleats as they will hit the pole behind.

    Jade

    When you add on a return to the curtain for it to meet the wall how does it stay in place and not flap out to the side. Or how does it stay at a 90 degree angle?

    SewHelpful:

    With a return back to the wall, to hold it 90 degrees to the wall we usually

       1.   Hold it in place with a small wooden block attached to the wall with a hook velcro edge and sew soft loop velcro to the back of the heading near the edge. Then press the 2 together.

       2.   Fix a screw eye to the wall an put a pin hook near the end of the return and hook the return to the wall.

    Emma

    I am making curtains for two windows in the same room. One is sill length and one is floor length. What pleat depth would you recommend? Would you use the same depth for both? Thank you

    SewHelpful:

    We would use the same size for both, 5 inch buckram in this case.

    Also for a single pair we position a pattern at the bottom of the curtain, but with 2 pairs of different length curtains in a room we would match the vertical pattern position on the headings (Top) of each pair.

    Amy

    How many pleats are recommended per metre for triple pleated curtains?

    SewHelpful:

    Generally we look to use 5 to 6 double pleats per width depending on what size pleat we want. For triple pleats we usually use 4 per width as a starting point when deciding.

    Bronwen

    What thread do you use when hand sewing and when machine sewing the pleats. I have found the video very useful but didn't see this information.

    Secondly if doing a return to the wall do you miss out the last hook on the return which you place one cm from the end?

    SewHelpful:

    We use varous threads, Gutermann, Coats Duet, 100% cotton, 100% Polyester. For us the important factor is the colour match.

    With regards to returns, quite often we fix a wooden block to the wall and attach the return to the wall to hold it in place at the right position, either with velcro (loop sewn on inside of curtain, hook on block) or hook through an eyelet.

    Helen

    I have a centre bracket in my pole. Should I increase the overlap provision?

    SewHelpful:

    No, you should ok unless it is a really chunky bracket and you might want an extra cm on the leading edge in that case.

    Sharron

    I am about to calculate my double pinch pleats. I allowed for a return to the wall, which is 5cm. I am using track with finials. Am I right in presuming that the end pleat is hung on the last fixed hook at the end of the track, just before the finial, and the return free from there on? Does it need any special treatment to fold back to the wall.?

    SewHelpful:

    You need something to hold it on the wall. We would usually cover a piece of wooden batten with lining, attach that vertically to the wall, attach velcro hook down the side of the batten that the curtain will touch onto, Then sew loop velcro on the inside of the curtain so we can hold the curtain in place to the wall.

    Sania

    I'm confused about the ease + overlap.

    Is this the amount by which the two curtains overlap when they are drawn? So is this the amount I should leave on each center of the curtain.

    Should I use 12cm return to the wall for all widths of the rod?

    SewHelpful:

    The curtains will not pull out exactly to their flat width so a figure is required for some ease. They will also need to overlap in the middle slightly to seal out the light. If you don't put in this allowance they will not even meet in the middle because they will spring back slightly.

    You add in  this ease and overlap figure to calculate your finished curtain width. 

    The return to the wall is the distance from the pole to the wall (nothing to do with ease and overlap and the width of the pole)

    Sharron Boog-Scott

    My curtain track is 446 cm. Making a pair of double pleat curtains. How much ease and overlap should I allow? Your guidance only relates to tracks up to 320 cm long

    SewHelpful:

    10%  22cm per curtain.

    Christine Hengen

    I have purchased shears for my living room window and will be mounting them on a simple pole rod. The width of the window is 20" or 51cm. For a soft flowing pleat, how wide should the width of my shear fabric be to accomplish this look?

    SewHelpful:

    We would look to use a fullness ratio of  2.2- 2.5

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