Hi I am hoping to use a 6 inch/15cm pencil pleat heading tape. Do I need to adjust the heading allowance of 5cm? Also I bought 1.5metres of the 15cm tape just to make up a sample to try it out. I really liked the look. However the edge of the tape to the first pocket measures 1.75cm which is more than the 1.0 cm on the 7.5 cm tape. This affects the hook to top measurement. The curtain is to hang on a rail that will be ceiling mounted . The sample I made seems to sit a little too high and just does not run as freely as the current curtains which are made with 7.5cm tape. I have been looking online at other manufacturers but none give this measurement to edge of tape. I was wondering if you have any experience with this 15cm tape or could make any suggestions.
Hi, love your tutorials. You may have already answered this elsewhere. Apologies if that’s the case. I’m about to embark on triple pleat curtains following you tutorials and videos. I have a question about fullness ratio. My pole is 240, fabric 137, drop 244. I am intending to use 2.5 widths per curtain but the calculator tells me that the actual fullness ratio will be around 2.80. Is this too much and should I cut back? Would a 6” buckram be better if 2.8 fullness is used? Many thanks
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Hi, love your tutorials! You may have answered this however If I use 2 widths of my fabric to make triple pleat curtains (240 pole and 137cm fabric width ) per Curtain the fullness ratio fall short or the recommended 2.5 ratio. I have gone for 2 and a half widths but this will give a little over 2.8 ratio. Too much? Should I trim back, I’m intending to do returns to wall which will be 10cm each side. I’m keen to get started but would like a steer before going in with the shears. Many Thanks.
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Im having curtains made for my patio doors. The drop is 91 inches. I need to add 4% for shrinkage. What size should they be? And how big should the hem be? Many thanks
You need to discuss this with your maker.
Hi, thanks for the really helpful website!! This is the second time Ive followed your instructions. Im struggling this time with a couple of issues at the point of cutting the fabric drops. Firstly, the vertical pattern repeat as stated by the manufacturer is 64cm but when Ive measured it its more like 62.5. Shall i use that measurement? Also, I'm a little confused because the design could be described as 2 columns of a printed pattern but the left column is a couple of cm lower than the right. When i attach the drops together, will my adjusted cut drop allow for that? Im hoping that makes any sense!
Funnily enough we have had exactly the same problem with PT fabric - the print not running straight across the width so here's what I recommend.
1 - You must definitely cut your fabric according the the actual pattern repeat, not the suggested pattern repeat.
2 - This will make your adjusted cut drops shorter than they should have been but hopefully they will be still long enough for your needs. If you are tight on fabric, you could reduce the hem to a double 8cm fold.
3 - If you have an excess of fabric on your adjusted cut drop, try and make sure that you have 4 - 5 cm more on the length that you can cut down once the widths are joined.
4 - As the pattern is fairly random, you shouldn't notice the "drift" once the curtains are made up and gathered.
5 - Once you have joined the widths, then trim the bottoms straight.
6- I would make up both curtain panels simultaneously to make sure that you cut them both down at the same place. I normally keep the cut off section from the first one to lay along the bottom of the second one to double check that I am cutting off in the same place.
Hope that helps
My measurements are pole 360 drop 200 I only want to have 2 drops on each curtain but the calculator keeps changing it, the fabric is 137 wide with a 44 cm repeat!? So confused it even said I needed 13 m of lining !
If you only have 2 drops per curtain on a 360cm long pole that would give you a fullness ratio of only 1.5. nowhere near enough. I assume you are not putting a fullness ratio of 1.5 in the calculator so that is why the calculator is giving more drops.
When you add an extra pattern repeat to choose where the pattern starts, do you need to do this for every window you want to pattern match? E.g. say you want 4 matching pairs of curtains in a room, you work out the number of fabric widths and adjusted cut drop for each window then add 3 extra pattern repeats on top so that you can have each window matching?
IF the 4 pairs of curtains are exactly the same, ie same length and
pattern repeat in the same position, you only need 1 extra pattern
IF the 4 pairs of curtains are different, ie different lengths, you will need an extra pattern repeat for each pair to position the pattern in the right place.
If you are calculating how much fabric to buy online, how can you tell if your fabric has a half drop pattern repeat? The one I am considering has a 5.5cm horizontal and 5.5cm vertical pattern repeat.
The retailer should be able to tell you. Ask them. That size pattern repeat is unlikely to be a half drop.
Hi, how much heading tape do I need? I imagine it would be the same as the finish curtain width, which for me is 147cm (So I'd buy 3 meters of heading tape)
The info for this is in Step 8. You basically need a length the width of
the pre pleated curtain panel plus 20cm for each curtain. Not the finished curtain width (that is the width after the tape is pulled and the pleats are formed)
I have a fabric that has a 73.5cm pattern repeat.
My window/door size is 420cm wide by 204cm drop
My finished curtain length with be 232.5 and 8 widths in total.
While calculating my adjusted cut drop the number is 3.16 if I round up to 4 the adjusted cut drop will be 294 if I am multiplying this by 8 it is going to a lot of wasted fabric in the end but can I get away with rounding down to 3 for my adjusted cut drop? I am getting a little confused as you can appreciate it is a large amount of fabric difference to waste if I rounded to 4. Look forward to hearing from you!
Large pattern repeats can cause a lot of wastage. We would try and get it
down to 3 pattern repeats for the adjusted cut drops if possible rather
than 4 to try and save 5.9m of fabric .
The first thing to look at is the hem size. We would look to reduce it from a double 10cm (20cm fabric) hem to a double 8cm (16cm fabric) or a double 7cm (14cm fabric) hem. If you do this remember to reduce your lining hem by the same amount.
In your case you say the finished curtain length with be 232.5cm. Don't you mean the finished curtain length is 207.5cm and the required fabric cut drop is 232.5cm?
If that is the case 3 x your pattern repeat is 3x 73.5 = 220.5cm, that gives you 13cm for the heading allowance and hem allowance.
With 13cm you could possibly get away with 3cm allowance on the heading rather than 5cm and a 5cm double hem rather than a 10cm double hem. Personally we would not go for this feeling it would too much reduce the quality of the finish of the curtain we were making, it is up to you.
If you do decide to go ahead and make such a small hem, be aware that very often the actual pattern repeat of the fabric is not exactly the same as specified, we have had discrepancies of up to 4cm in the past. If your pattern repeat is any shorter than the 73.5cm it will cause you real problems!
The fabric I have chosen is very heavy and thick, with a sort of patchwork so very irregular in texture (looks great tho!) Do you recommend double width for this? The window is 310 cm wide and with a drop of 230cm.
Despite the thickness of the fabric, on a pencil pleat curtain with a
310cm pole using the minimum fullness ratio of 2 we would not round down
to 2 widths per curtain we would round up to 2.5 widths per curtain.
In our experience using less than double the fullness (fullness ratio of 2) makes the curtain look skimpy.
Can you be over generous on curtain width? I have a 2 metre track, however, as I was unsure of about cutting half or three quarter widths, I use 2 full widths for each curtain and each finished curtain is 2.6 metres wide. Would you suggest I reduce width of each curtain or, by pulling cords in heading tape tightly would I get away with leaving them at full widths? Thank you.
I am getting a little confused about the heading allowance. Does it always stay at 5cm even if the heading tape is bigger (i.e. 7.5cm tape)?
You only need 5cm because the fabric is folded over at the top and the
tape sits on top. The tape sits about 0.5cm down from the top and covers
the cut edge of the fabric. With a bigger tape, 5cm heading allowance
is still fine.
I am making two sets of triple pleat curtains for 2 windows in the same room. Window 1 requires exactly 2 widths of fabric. Window 2 requires 2.5 widths, which I have rounded up to 3. My question is should I use all 3 widths (i.e. 1.5 widths per curtain) for Window 2, or cut it down to 2.5 widths (i.e. 1.25 widths per curtain) in order to maintain the same fullness ratio as Window 1? Is it very noticeable to have difference fullness ratios with triple pleat? Many thanks in advance.
We would make up the first curtain then work out what width is required
to make up the curtains for the second window to exactly the same pleat
and gap size as the first window. We would then cut the 1.5 width panel
down to the exact size needed when making the curtains for the second
Hi understand that we need to multiply the width of the pole by 2.5 to get enough fabric for gathering . But I don't understand why we need to divide it by fabric width and I don't know why number of widths are important. Im trying to sew a pencil pleat curtain for my L shaped window pole and haven't done before. The width and the height of the window is quite long.I wanted to make two panels so the curtain can be tucked on either sides of the window by gathering.Can you explain how much fabric I need to sew this pencil pleat curtain and how to?
You are first calculating what joined width of fabric you need to make
the curtain eg taking the pole length it will cover then multiply by 2.5
etc this gives you the width of the panel you need to make before you
pleat up (pull the heading shorter) creating the fullness of the
curtain. You then need to find out how many widths of fabric you need
to make that panel. The number of widths of fabric is important because
you will be making each curtain panel to the nearest half width of
fabric. Eg 1 width, 1.5 widths, 2 widths, 2.5 widths etc.
If you are making for an L shaped window with a curtain either side.
If you have individual poles for each side or just want each curtain only to cover a side of the L measure the pole/track length each side and make a single curtain for each side.
Note the example calculations in the tutorial are based on making a pair of curtains not singles.
If you have a track that goes around the corner of the L and want each curtain to be the same size (they wont meet in the corner if each side of the L is different in length) measuring the complete track length around the L and calculate for a pair of curtains the same width as the tutorial calculation examples do.
Hi I'm a complete novice and am looking to make a pencil pleat curtain for a window fitting 1.9 x 3.1. The fabric I have chosen is expensive and I'd like to limit how many metres I buy. The fabric width is 1.36. Would it look completely ridiculous if I keep each curtain width to this number (1.36) rather than adding on an extra amount of fabric? I thought it would look OK as it's 3/4 of the width anyway but my mother seems to think otherwise! Help please :)
We agree with your mother they wouldn't look right. In our experience
when you try and skimp on fabric with a pencil pleat heading you end up
with skimpy curtains and that would not justify your expensive fabric
and the effort used to make the curtains.
We we would always use the correct fullness ratio for a pencil pleat header.
Thank you for this tutorial, it is very helpful. I have calculated my fabric which has a 64cm half drop pattern repeat. I have followed the instructions but am slightly confused about the difference between whole and half pattern repeat when calculating fabric. My understanding of the instructions is that I calculate the same as if it were a whole pattern repeat ie. the no. of widths (6) multiplied by ACD (192) add 1 pattern repeat (64cm)? When you say add 1 whole pattern repeat is this 64 in my case? Or do I double this as it is half pattern repeat? I would be very grateful if you could clarify or check my calculations (no. of widths 6 x ACD 192cm + 1/2 pattern rpt 64cm = 12.16metres of fabric?) Many thanks
In our experience when suppliers say a fabric is a (pattern repeat: 64cm
half drop) that generally means the whole pattern repeat is 64cm and it
is a half drop fabric. (so the half a pattern repeat is 32cm). If
you are unsure, you need to measure on the fabric and be certain what
the whole pattern repeat measurement is or if you don't have the fabric,
clarify this measurement with the fabric company.
Have you read the half drop pattern repeat tutorial on the website? There is an image that shows you what a whole pattern repeat is on a diagram and how the fabric drops down half a pattern repeat when joining it. The tutorial explains that you add one whole pattern repeat to your calculation and use half of this to position the fabric and the other half to compensate for the half drop pattern repeat when cutting the drops.
I'm afraid we don't make or check calculations (it would open the flood gates), but for a pair of curtains the key points when calculating, are your adjusted cut drop needs to be a number of whole pattern repeats and you add one whole pattern repeat to your total to allow for the positioning of the pattern and compensate for the half drop. .
I wonder if you could advise me. I am making some window dressings and the FINISHED width of fully gathered curtains needs to be only 50cm. what is the maximum width of fabric I can gather into 50cm. I really wanted to keep it simple and go with a full width but wondering if this will be too much?
A full width (assuming 137cm) will be just over 2.5 fullness ratio. We think you will be ok using that for your 50cm curtain.
Could you advise me, I am going to make bay curtains with a 2 fullness ratio for a 4m bay pole, and I have rounded up to 6 widths. My fabric has a 32 cm pattern repeat, is 137cm wide and I make my adjusted cut drop 224cm (finished curtain length 180cm). Following your calculations I need 13.5m of fabric, but that does not seem enough - have I gone wrong?! I thought that I needed close to 16m (but that was without your wonderful and detailed notes) before I tried to replicate your calculations. Can you et me know if I am just doing this wrong!
You have gone for the absolute minimum fullness ratio effectively 2.05.
If you want a thinner look that would be fine. However we would probably
be looking to use 7 widths (3.5 widths per curtain) for a slightly
fuller curtain in a bay like you have described (fullness ratio of
2.39). That would require an extra adjusted cut drop and also don't
forget to add an extra pattern repeat to position the pattern.
That comes very close to the 16m you were thinking of.
Hi,my window track is 200cm, I want each drop of curtain to be 180cm (this already includes the top heading allowance and the bottom hem), the fabric is 140cm in width, I know I will need 3 drops of fabric but I don't know how to calculate how much fabric I will need because this is a patterned fabric with a vertical pattern repeat of 64cm. Please help!
I am not sure whether this fabric has a whole pattern repeat or half drop repeat (I don't know what they are anyway) :(
I'm afraid we don't do calculations for people (there would be too many requests).
If you have a normal pattern repeat you will need to work out the adjusted cut drop. Details of how to do that are above. You are basically rounding your cut drop up to the next whole pattern repeat, You do this because you have to cut each patterned drop as a whole number of pattern repeats to make sure each drop is cut in the same place in the pattern.
To find out if you have a half drop pattern repeat or not, ask your retailer, otherwise watch the video above or read our "half drop pattern repeats explained" mini tutorial. That will explain what a half drop PR is and you will be able to see if you have one or not and how to deal with it.
I am making curtains for a 9ft pole that i don't intend pulling closed. Would a width and a half each side look full enough for pencil pleat full length that will be tied back?
That would be the absolute minimum we would use. Interlining would make them look fuller.
I plan to make curtains that fall below a window sill, but will be above a radiator. What hem allowance should I use?
The curtains you describe are what we would call sill length not full
length. So we would use the sill length hem sizes given in the
How do you calculate how much fabric you require if you have a vertical and horizontal repeat in the curtain fabric?
All pattern fabrics have a vertical and horizontal repeat. You only need
to worry about the horizontal repeat if you are doing something
complicated like pleating to pattern repeat in a hand pleated curtain.
Otherwise you calculate the horizontal amount in terms of widths of
fabric and the vertical drops in terms of adjusted cut drops (each a
whole number of vertical pattern repeats) as per these instructions.
The only slight difference that can arisie, is if your fabric has a half drop vertical pattern repeat. There is explanation of what to do in this case on the website.
Hi is there any reason why I should not turn the fabric and use the width I.e. 137cm fabric to make the the finished drop, meaning I would not need to join fabric widths. Thanks. Joanne
Yes we've done that before lots of times. Make sure you have enough for
your heading and hem allowances and that you are happy with how the
fabric will look orientated that way.
I'm making a door curtain & im not sure if double the width of the track would work out too bulky.
Anyone there used less & whats the end result
We would use double minimum, with pencil pleat we would probably use 2.5.
I am making pencil pleat curtains with 1.5width in each using a standard pattern rpt. Each width matches in the middle as per your instructions but I am puzzled as to what happens when the side hems are then made and the curtains are drawn. They should overlap slightly but they will then not match? Please advise. Many thanks
Yes they will not match exactly as you say due to overlap and the extra fabric that may be needed in the side turn - but will be close, and will be inline horizontally,
You can match at the join but it is beyond the scope of this tutorial. It is also very dependent on what the pattern of the fabric is like as to how much fabric you will lose and extra you may potentially need to buy.
If you really want to get a perfect match at a point in the overlap you can do it by finding the right points in the fabric panel to fold over the leading edges of the curtain panels. This will lead to a loss of fabric, lose fullness of the curtain and with a fabric with a large horizontal pattern repeat a loss of a lot of fabric that may make the curtain panel width unviable so you would actually have to sew more fabric on the on the far sides of the curtain panel to get enough width. You also need to get both fabric panels the same size so the join comes in the middle of the window.
You need to measure your horizontal pattern repeat and work out how much fabric you are going to lose, you will probably find with a large horizontal pattern repeat you are probably best to make each fabric panel half a width more wide than required, trim them down so the leading edges turn at the right place and then trim the outer sides so you get the correct width for each panel.
These are calculations you need to do before making as it can affect how much fabric you need to buy, especially with a large horizontal pattern repeat.
Due to all the extra work involved and potential extra fabric that may need to be purchased it is not something that is generally done.
Please can you advise why you need a hem allowance of 20cm for full length curtains. This seems excessive to me and when I measure the hem of other curtains they are generally 5 - 7cm. Am I missing something / not understanding this correctly?
We use a hem allowance of 16cm for a sill length curtain and 20cm for a
full length curtain. The hems are folded double so the actual hems on
the curtains will be 8cm and 10cm respectively. We use 8cm hem on a
sill length curtain and a 10cm hem on a full length curtain because we
think they look in proportion and right, plus the extra weight helps
them hang nicely. However there are no hard and fast rules, you can use
what ever hem size you like.If you are running into to trouble and need
to save a little bit of fabric you can always reduce the hem sizes or
have less of a fold.
Hi, I've worked out from your calculations that I'd need 2.2 widths of fabric for a 1.5m curtain pole. You suggest rounding up or down to the nearest number which would be 2 widths (one for each curtain, they're 135cm wide) ... Do you think the curtains would be too thin or is it just a matter of personal choice? Thank you, Petra
To get that figure you used a fullness ratio of 2.0. Which is lower than
we would use for a standard pencil pleat curtain. We would definitely
round up. If you round down your fullness ratio will be less than 2.0
which won't be enough.
I find your tutorials invaluable. I have a question regarding fabric drop and fabric calculation. On a patterned fabric I understand the pattern drop needs to be taken into account as it affects the length of the fabric required, but what about the pattern width? When attaching two drops of fabric, the pattern needs to be matched down the seam widthways. How do you calculate for this (bearing in mind pattern widths are not usually given) and avoid it affecting the fullness of the curtain? Hope I have explained this correctly.
Standard patterned fabrics should join near the selvedges. so you
generally only lose a few centimetres on the join. Most fabric companies
give you the useable width. Typical figures are a flat width of 147cm
and a useable width of 137cm.
I only need 2 widths of fabric for my pair of curtains, so one width per curtain - I am coming up with an ACD of 192cm and 3 pattern repeats, when I add a pattern repeat I need 448cm fabric for a track length of only 122cm. This seems an awful lot - do I need to add that fourth pattern repeat if I am only needing one width per curtain - won't the third repeat allow me to match the two curtains when they close, or is that 4th one necessary after all? Thanks for any help - this website if brilliant!
he one extra pattern repeat you add to the total is to enable you to
position the pattern on the curtain. (It is not to position the pattern
so they match in the middle - the ACD ensures that) If you don't want to
position the pattern you don't have to add the extra pattern repeat.
Your pattern repeat is quite large, make sure you don't have a half drop pattern repeat. If you do have a half drop pattern repeat read our extra info and you will need the extra pattern repeat in the fabric quantity.
I am new to curtain making. I have just done the calculation for my pencil pleat curtains and, using whole numbers, the fullness ratio is coming out at either 1.8 or 2.8. Will either of these work? your guidelines suggest it should be at least 2.25 for pencil pleat curtains, but that over 2.5 is too high.
Length of pole is 142 cm.
1.8 would be too skimpy.
if you are getting 1.8 and 2.8 Fullness ratio with a 142cm pole length, that would imply your fabric is 128cm wide.
If this is the case we would look to make the curtains with a 2.5 fullness ratio. To do that
2.5 x 142 = 355cm
÷ 2 = 177.5cm fabric per curtain
÷ 128 = 1.39 widths per curtain
Therefore we would use 3 widths to make the pair of curtains, but rather than make each curtain 1.5 widths wide, we would make them 1.39 widths wide. So we would trim the half widths down from 64cm wide to 50cm wide and then join them.
Hi, could you please advise what is the stack ratio for a single pinch curtain. I want the curtain to stack back completely off the Doors & Windows. Thanks
The stack back will depend on the thickness of the curtains and the size
of your spaces between hooks ( the number of folds for a given width).
Pencil pleat heading doesn’t stack as neatly at the top as a hand
A couple of examples of curtains we've made
1. 130cm wide lined hand pleated curtain stacks back to 35cm width
2. 130cm wide interlined (medium weight) hand pleated curtain stacks back to 40cm width
I am making 2 single curtains for 2 bifolding doors with the same measurements.
According to my calculations (and the online one) it would be better to have 4.5 widths of fabric and lining for each curtain to get the desired fullness.
I have 2 questions.
If I divide a fifth fabric width in half can I use each half for the 2 curtains?
Where should I join the half panels on the fabric?
We put the half widths on the outside edge of a curtain. (not the
leading edge you pull). You can split the drop for the half width in
each curtain. But as you are making 2 single curtains on 2 different
doors, are your curtains both going to be identical and pull in the same
direction? or be like a pair pulling in different directions eg towards
If they are going to be identical and pull in the same direction then you will find you can only have the half width on the outside edge of one of the curtains (because you join selvedge to selvedge). It would be a waste of fabric and expensive to buy another drop to cut another half width though. So we would probably advise the customer to just accept the half width on the leading edge of the second curtain to save money.
I have read two different methods for calculating the allowance for pattern repeat. One said to add a pattern repeat to each cut drop, the other is to round up the number of the pattern repeats needed for each cut drop. They give quite different results, I see you use the latter and I'm curious as to which is the most reliable.
They both work, the first method means you will buy more fabric than is necessary and have more wastage.
I have a 125cm rail and light to med wight material for some pencil pleat curtains. One width gives 2.1 fullness. Will this be enough or do I add a extra half width on each curtain or do I then cut some off as it will be nearer 3 x fullness. If I need to cut some off how do I work out how much to cut
1. That wouldn't be enough fullness for us using one width.
2. Yes and extra and cut it down to 2.5 fullness.
3. half pole length x 2.5 = width of fabric panel (each curtain)
I have a fabric with a vertical stripe (I am new to this!) so I will need to apply adjusted fabric drop??
We are using the vertical pattern repeat here to calculate an adjusted cut drop. A vertical stripe will have 0cm vertical pattern repeat, but it will have a horizontal pattern repeat (distance across the fabric that the pattern repeats itself) which you do not need to worry about. (the fabric should join ok across the widths)
As there is no vertical pattern repeat you will be able to treat the fabric as a plain fabric when calculating the qty.
I have a curtain pole of 137 with 142 drop, I have been sold 4.90 of material. The width of the material is 1.37 cm. Is this too much material? would a width and half be too full? I measured the whole length of the pole when giving my measurements to the shop, or would one width in each curtain be sufficient?
They have given you enough for 1.5 widths per curtain in plain fabric
which is exactly what we would have went for. We have learnt it is a
false economy trying to skimp on the fabric as the curtains look no
where near as good, 4.9m is what we would have ordered.
When joining the widths, do you add seam allowance? If so, how many centimetres seam allowance across the width for each seam
How to join fabric panels with a plain seam is shown in STEP 6 of the tutorial.
With pencil pleat curtains you are making curtain panels up then pulling along the heading tape to reduce the panel to the required width. The fabric used in the seam when joining is inconsequential in comparison to the widths of the 2 fabric panels joined (about 270cm). Therefore we do not need to make an allowance for it in the calculations, it is effectively included in the fullness ratio.
Is it necessary to launder the fabric before making the curtains?
Different fabrics behave in different ways. Washing your fabric is
fraught with the danger of it shrinking, fading and changing its feel.
With the fabrics we use we never wash them and would not expect the curtain or blind to be washed after it is made. The only thing we do is press the fabric and lining before measuring and cutting. That way you avoid the curtain or blind shrinking later when you press it. Always take care when pressing the fabric and test a small piece first.
Is it necessary to shrink curtain fabric by laundering prior to making up.
We never wash fabric as we have had too many costly mistakes in the past with it fading, shrinking etc.
If you are making a curtain that needs to be washed and are confident your fabric and lining is washable, we would wash and press the fabric before making the curtains to reduce the chance of them shrinking when they are washed. It may be worth cutting a test sample of the lining and fabric to wash and press first.
Hello, is 3x fullness too much for interlined pencil pleat curtains? For the window I am dealing with, 1 width per curtain gives only 2x fullness but 1.5 widths gives 3x fullness (too full?). Should I make up the curtains with1.5 widths or cut down the 1.5am widths to give 2.5 x fullness? Do I cut this excess from the half width?
Sounds like you have a short pole.
We would use the 1.5 widths and cut them down to give 2.5 fullness. for us 3.0 fullness would be too much.