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Curtain woes

ilonamisa | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

This is probably a stupid question but you can all be the judge of that.  I wanted to make curtains for my room.  I have tons of books that give you great worksheets for calculating yardage and hems and returns and what not, but never anywhere does it tell you if these measurements you come up with in the end are for just one curtain panel or for the whole window.  Are the numbers I come up with then halved to make two panels so that the curtains can be opened to the sides, what if I have two windows that are side by side with no gap in between and I wanted to have four individual panels but the window has to be measured as one cohesive window do I then divide my measurements by four adding seam allowances for each panel.  I have a double window setup that I want to treat as two windows with two panels each to open to the sides.  The width is 144 once I’ve included fullness and side hems but now do I take that number and divide it by four or is this number I’ve come up with just for one panel and then I’m to make another panel using the same number, it would seem to me odd for a panel to be so wide.   Please help the book doesn’t say anything abou this neither do any curtain instructions on the internet.


Thank You



  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    It is odd that your directions do not state if they are for one panel or two (one clue would be the number of side hems added or side and return). What kind of curtains do you want?  If they are to be 'gathered' on a rod then the measurements are not quite as hard.  If they are to be pleated, you must get it right or they might not cover the window when closed!

    You want to treat a large window as if it were two, so of your 4 panels, one will go to the right one will go to the left and the middle 2 will come to the center?  What kind of rod will you use?

    Yes, double window panels can be very wide!

    Hope this helps,


  2. User avater
    TwilaTee | | #2

    Ok. calm yourself. your making it too complicated. relax. All you need to know really are just a few things. Fabric only comes in just a few widths, and most of the time, if you buy material that is designed to be used for drapes it's 60" or maybe 54" so ok. thats simple. one of those numbers will be the width of your panel. right? you just need to decided how many panels you want to hang on your rod. Youv'e already figured that out 4. Wonderful! The width I'm saying is not really important. It's a static number and not to be worried about. What is important, however is the LENGTH of the panel. Get a tape measure and get the height of your CEILING not your window. Most of the time cielings are 7' - 9' or sometimes (only if you have vaulted) 12' or more decided if you want to have your drapes to hang at or below the ceiling. If so where exactly. Take that measurement and either round up to the next yard or give yourself enough to do a hem. Add some, 12" - 24" if you want a puddle. Sewing drapes is really straight forward. There are lots of different tapes that you can get to give you different looks at the top, pinch pleats and the like.
    If your really worried about the width get a soft tailors rule, or a peice of ribbon cut at 54" and lay it on the floor under your window. Does it come at least 3/4 across the window? If it does, you have plenty of fabric to make it across your window with 2 panels. If not get enough fabric to make an extra panel, so that you will have 2, 1 1/2 fabric width panels.
    So in total you will either make 4 or 6 panels.
    I have faith in you! You can do this! When you get your panels done please post pictures! I bet they will be beautiful! -Twila

    1. ValerieJ | | #3

      I've made curtains a couple of times. You can simplify this for yourself if you measure the entire window and then divide by the number of panels you want. For instance:

      Your window is 84" wide. You are going to make curtains that use rings to hang from a pole (like a tab-top but with rings instead of tabs). You want two panels. You want them to be full so that they have some drape when they are closed.

      I would take the 84" and multiply by 1.5. That gives you 126". Divide by two. Your panels will have a finished width of 63". Add in the hems on each side of the panel - say 1" doubled over for 2" per side, 4" total. You will need two panels that are each 67" wide.

      Now you need to go back to your fabric. If it is less than 67" wide, and it probably is, you are going to have to do some piecing. If your fabric is 54" wide, you will need to add 13" in width. At this point you have to decide how best to do this. You could add a 13.5" wide piece to one side (the .5" is for the 1/4" seam allowances on each piece). Depending on the fabric, you might want to cut your 54" wide fabric to be narrower and then add a bigger piece on to get to the width you need. You also need to think about where the seams are going to be.

      1. ilonamisa | | #4

        Thank you so much your explanation has probably been the simplest and most efficient way of figuring out measurements.  I have no problem finding out measurements I just found couldn't understand why any of the books and instructions I found made no mention of the panels and whether I wanted the panels to open to the side or from the middle.  I think this is very important but was excluded.  I will use your method because the light went on as I read it, very easy to understand and it makes perfect sense. 


        Thank you for your help



        1. ilonamisa | | #5

          Thank you all for your great advice and for taking the time out to help out a stranger in need



  3. spicegirl | | #6

    You are a stranger no more!  I have two double windows that I treated in the same way that you are describing....deje vu all over again (my French is just as bad as Yogi's, but maybe his spelling is better!)

    I have taken a short cut by using clip-on rings and fabric tabs for the family room and other informal rooms. 

    I measure from the top of the curtain rod down to the length I want, or use the numbers manufactures use on ready to hang and add 10 inches for the hem and header. 

    The extra 10 inches also allows for a little "fudge room".  If you need to match patterns, measure the repeat and add extra.   I usually bump up the measurement a little then I have enough for tabs and tie backs.  Take this final number x the number of panels you want to make.  If I wanted four 84 inch panels I would buy 10.5 yards of fabric.  If there was a repeat in the design of 12 inches, I would add another 1.5 yards for a total of 12 yards.

    When I sew the panels, I leave the ends of the header open just in case I decide to place the panels directly on the rod some day (like, probably never).

    Once you finish a single panel the rest will be a snap! 

    Best wishes and happy shopping and sewing!

    Edited 3/11/2007 1:06 pm ET by spicegirl

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