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How much drapery yardage do I need?

Sanah | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

I would like to make a simple pair pinch pleated drapes — you know, sew the tape on the back that forms the pleat and stick in the pin.   I just can’t figure out how much fabric I’d have to purchase. 

I’ll use them in my living room.  The area is 120″ across and I want the drapes to be 84″ hemmed.  Nothing fancy, no lining.  If I use 58″-60″ fabric, approx. how many yards do I need.  What about 45″ fabric?  Fabricdirect sells by the bolt.  Maybe some inexpensive cotton would be a good start.  Help, please.  I just want to do something fast.  I have a blind hemmer which should help be a tremendous help.

Any ideas would be appreciated.



  1. GWENDOLYN13 | | #1

    My suggestion would be that you will need at least 2 1/2 times the width of your window.  120 +120 + 60. to do a decent pinch pleat.

    45" wide material should take about 18 yards for an 84" length drapery.

    60" wide materila should take about half that amount.

    1. Sanah | | #2

      Thanks so much for the figures for the drapes I want to make.   After checking the board a couple of times after my initial post, I'd sort of given up on anyone replying.  This morning I decided to cruise the home decor board and was really pleased someone had responded; the info is exactly what I wanted to know.  Now I can get serious about ordering some drapery fabric and getting started.  

      I've sort of let things go to "rack and ruin" around here -- I have to remove old wall coverings that once looked beautiful, make slip covers, etc.,  but your email has encouraged me to get started. 

      Again, sorry for the delay in replying and thanks again.


  2. lindamaries | | #3

    Hi...I've made these kinds of drapes before with success. I really had to plan, though. I first put up the drawdrape rod to where I wanted it on the wall. Then I made absolutely sure the overlap was in the middle of the whole dimension on the top. I wanted the crack to go right down the center. Because of this, one drape was going to be less width than the other drape. There is an overlap and underlap that changes things just a little bit, not much, but it does. I then worked with each side or panel as a separate unit. I measured the whole distance of the rod...the wrap around by the wall, the width to the very tip of the carrier. I drew on a piece of paper this line. Then I figured out the hems on both sides even adding the little bit of fabric that needs to be folded under into the hem so there woudln't be a raw edge. I drew this on the paper too. Then I figured the placement of the pleats. One had to go right on the corner where the 90 degree angle went to the wall. The other one had to be just over from the panel center line. (I didn't want the overlap to bump into a pleat.) Then I divided up the distance between the two pleats into equal amounts. I drew all of these pleat placements onto the paper plan I was making. I had to consider where the fabic seam was going to come when placing the pleats. I wanted the joining of the fabric (because the fabric is only about 45 to 54 wide) to fall just to the side of a pleat, not in the pleat, but hidden just close to it. This was difficult because all of the distances between the pleats, the extra fabric that would be going into the pleat everything varied yet had to be pretty much equal and it all had to match up with the fabric width that I was going to be buying! I really worked at that paper plan to get it all the way I was going to do it. Once I had that plan, though, I could then figure the buying of the fabric yardage.

    So start by putting up your draw rod and go from there. You can do this. I did.

    1. lindamaries | | #4

      One more thing...pull a string on your fabric to make sure you are cutting on the straight of grain. Grain really makes a difference in how the panel will hang. If you do not cut and sew with the exact grain, your center line will swing to one side or the other...and drape weights will not fix this. That is why the cheap drapes in the stores aren't very nice.

    2. Sanah | | #5

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks so much for that detailed description of what it's going to take to get it right.  I can see your point about not wanting the pleat to fall on a seam and the under and overwrap.  I'm going to try to work it out on paper like you did.  I went through my sewing library and discovered that I'd bought Singer's More Sewing for the Home some time ago and it gives various yardages and techniques.  But I understand your instructions more clearly, so thanks again. 

      I was just going through Atlanta Thread & Supply's catalog to determine how much pleating tape to purchase.  I'm still looking for appropriate fabric, though.  I'll be sure to let you know how they come out -- when I get around to sewing them.  I know it will be well worth the time  and money to make the drapes. I went to a couple of sites that make them for you after you choose the fabric and supply the measurements -- they can run over $1,000, at least with the fabric that caught my eye!

      Right now I'm altering a suit for my husband -- I hate doing cuffs --  and adjusting a jacket pattern for myself that needs the dreaded "full bust adjustment", so my windows will after to look tacky a while longer!

      1. lindamaries | | #6

        Hi...You sound like me!!! I've got two projects going and my mind is thinking about the next future project.

        When I wanted to know how deep to make the pleats and basically how far apart the pleats should be (what would be an acceptable distance) I went to JC Penney's and looked at some ready mades. My mother, who also made some drapes in her day, told me that the ready mades usually put the pleats just a little too far apart to save on fabric. I can't tell you the distance between pleats because this is a variable thing...as is the depth of the pleats. Even the header tape can vary. But the ready mades are just a little to wide apart and the pleats are just a little not too deep enough.

        When I moved into my new house a couple of years ago, I decided to get rid of the drapes and put up a wooden blind. Then I put a green leaf garlen ontop of a 4" wide board held on with "L" brackets that was just above the wooden valence that came with the blinds.

        Cleaning is a breeze! Just wash the fake leaves in the shower. Vacuum the blinds. For a dusty place that is always under construction, these worked well for me.

        1. Sanah | | #7

          It's just because of those variables in pleat width and different types of pleating tape that I'm not gonna go for broke on the fabric the first time out.  However, if they come out well I'll probably be sorry I worked with less than desirable fabric! 

          Actually, I don't even like pleated drapes.  I'd much prefer something tabbed or shears with a beautiful scarf treatment--but that would call for completely different hardware and someone to install it which I don't have.  So, I'm going  to incorporate everyone's tips and hope I come up with something half decent. 

          You sound so handy around the house, I wish I were!.  I used to think about eliminating drapes by installing fabric covered verticle blinds.  Actually I'm glad it didn't work out -- I don't like the look anymore. 

          1. lindamaries | | #8

            I just was down at Walmart the other day and saw some cheapy verticle blinds for about $20. They were 72" wide and 84" tall. They had a valence included and all the hardware, too. I was really thinking about those. I was thinking that maybe a person could somehow glue or some other kind of way to attach some fabric to the vinyl slats and make them a little more classy/expensive looking and therefore, more coodinated with the room. How do you think a person could attach the fabric to vinyl? I have a sun room that has draw drapes now, but I'd think a verticle blind treatment would look sharp in there.

          2. Sanah | | #9


            Re attaching fabric to those vinyl blinds, I would think you'd just have to cut the right width and length for each piece and glue it on -- they have all type of really good glue.  Since they're so inexpensive, I think it'd be worth a shot. 

            Would you believe I've never been to a Walmart?   I've heard so much about this store and drool when I see the commercials on TV.  I'm sure I could find everything I'm looking for to pull this place together.   I live in NYC and we only have access to K-mart on 34th St. which I haven't bothered to visit -- I understand their stuff isn't as good as Walmart. 

            If you go ahead on this vertical blinds, I hope they turn out well.

          3. lindamaries | | #10

            Ho!!! No Walmart in NYC??? I can't believe it. Here in Wisconsin we are just now getting another Walmart. They are building it about a mile from our house. It is called a Super Walmart. It will have a grocery store in it too. The old Walmart that we have now will be changed into a Sam's Club. This is owned by Walmart sotres too. They have a membership for about $40 a year and then you can go into the Club store and buy in bulk. Everything. Food, pop, clothes...everything in the mega size so it is really cheap. People get together and have sub clubs and then divide up the products after someone goes and gets it. That way a person doesn't have to buy so much of everything and it won't spoil. You should go on line and complain to the Walmart corp and see if they will build in NYC.

          4. Sanah | | #11


            You see --- your email re: the bargains of Walmart definitely makes me feel deprived! 

            I might take your suggestion and register a complaint with them about not being located in NYC.  Actually, they're probably somewhere on Long Island, but ever since we lost our beloved Volvo -- some jerk ran into me and totalled it and we weren't able to replace it-- I haven't had access to all the good stores on the Island. 

            Enjoy your good fortune.

          5. lindamaries | | #12

            We had a car accident also!!! We had a very nice station wagon, old but nice. No rust. We bought it new when we were better off back in 1994. I waxed it twice per year faithfully. Then, four months ago, a stupid lady was on a 4 lane road, driving in the center lane. My 18 year old daughter was driving the wagon in the outside lane. This lady decided to make a right turn through my wagon and then onto a side street. She hit my wagon behind the front wheel and hurt the brakes so my daughter had to stop the car with a tree. The side was hit; the front was hit; the back was hit. The insurance gave us a drip for our family car because "it wasn't worth anything". To me it was worth a lot. It was our cared-for car. The one that would start when it was 30 degrees below zero. (Wisconsin winters are a bit nasty.) I miss that car so-o-o much. We have another car now---a 1988 wagon all covered with rust---ugly. No air conditioner. It runs pretty good, but when winter comes...God I hate to think about it.

          6. Sanah | | #13


            I'm glad your daughter wasn't hurt in the accident.  We're convinced that the strong "cage" of the Volvo prevented my friend and I from being killed. The entire front of the car was twisted and almost completely demolished.   Like you pointed out, the insurance company gave us a pittance -- in my opinion -- because of the age of the car.   At least you were able to purchase another one, even if it is older, something I couldn't convince my husband to do; we also were better off then.  It took me so long to become accustomed to the bus -- I felt so poor! 

            The worse thing is I don't have access to all the stores.  So, I spend a lot of time combing the net for wallpaper, drapery fabric, pictures, lamps etc.  I'm gonna hop the subway tomorrow and check out Bed, Bath and Beyond on 23rd St.  I've asked my husband to come along, hoping to spark his interest in helping me fix the place up.  Boy, when we first got married he put up shelves, painted rooms, tiled floors, and so on.  Now I have to take the initiative -- only then does his interest kick in.  I guess that's what happens after 27 years of marriage!

          7. lindamaries | | #14

            I'm glad you weren't seriously hurt in that accident. It sounds like it was a bad one. Maybe you are better off not owning a car. At least you are safe.

            I have the same problem finding sewing supplies as you do with household items. We use to have a Minnesota Fabrics and also a Hancocks. Now all we have is a Walmart. We do have a Ben Franklin and a Hobby Lobby that sell pretty much the same things as Walmart.

            I buy a lot of patterns and cloth over the internet. It is the only way that I can get anything.

            One time I needed a Burda pattern for a class that I was going to take and you'd think that the stores around here thought I was talking a foreign language or something. I went to a really neat site on the web that sold Burda and was able to purchase it on line.

            I like this internet shopping. Especially for sewing supplies.

          8. Sanah | | #15

            I do quite a bit of shopping for sewing supplies on line also. 

            I buy most of my interfacings in bulk from Atlanta Thread and Supplies.  For notions I like Nancy's Notions and Clotilda's (Clotilda is usually 20% less expensive then Nancy).

            For fabrics, GStreet Fabrics was the best before they discontinued the online service-- good thing my shelves are loaded with their fabric.   I love the quality of MichaelsFabrics and I've dealt a lot with FabricClub.  I usually purchase their "buy-the-piece" designer stuff (although my last  shipping experience with them really put me off).  The Fashion Fabric Club has a huge selection and if you join for $5, you get monthly or bi-monthly swatches in the mail and can go online to order. They've just recently been offering Ultra Suede at $20 yard and you know how much that stuff costs.

            I guess each service has something different to offer, but it can be a little hit and miss sometimes.

          9. lindamaries | | #17

            I'm a member of Fashion Fabric Club. The last time that I purchased some fabric from them, used my charge card, and only received a partial order. They said one kind of fabric was out of stock already and they couldn't fill my order. Yet...they charged me for it anyway! About $35.00!!!!!

            They sent me a coupon for the amount. Well, I misplaced the coupon. I cannot find it anywhere.

            Now I get a notice in the mail that says I have to send in another membership payment. I think that I am going to ask if they can use some of the credit for the membership amount. May as well say that money is gone anyway.

            Did you ever order Thread from Cleaners Supply??? They have the very best price around the web for thread and the service is sensational.

          10. Sanah | | #18

            I'm glad you mentioned that Fashion Fabric Club snaffu!  I'll be on the lookout.  If a fabric order is unfillable for any reason, I'd expect a credit to my card, not a coupon.  As for thread purchases, I usually get it from Atlanta Thread but I'll check out your suggestion.  Thanks

          11. lindamaries | | #20

            Don't you think it is time to start a new subject line????

            I kind of think we got off the subject of "how much drapery yardage you needed."

            I'm going to start a new thread. I guess, though, to do that a person has to go to the board and click around here and there.

            I'm not exactly sure how this all works, so I'll just try it.

            Over an out for the drapery yardage.

          12. BYDEZINE | | #16

            you live in NYC , one of the fabric centers of the universe, where there are entire stores dedicated to buttons.... and you buy off the internet and covet walmart?

            people take entire vacations to roam 39th and 40th street. I mean if you want a specialty shop for creating anything out of fiber, NYC has it.

            are you new to the city? hey send me a plane ticket and I will give you a personal tour of all the jewels in  midtown, soho, tribeca and nolita.

            my mouth waters to think of living in nyc again.

          13. Sanah | | #19


            I know, I know.....you're making me feel so guilty :).  Believe me, I know what a wonderland of fabric and stuff can be found in the garment district.

            I actually live about half an hour by subway from 38th St.  I've roamed all the fabric stores, BJ's, Parons, etc.  I've been to the dedicated button and trim stores, I used to work right there at W40th.  I had to give it up -- I really am a fabricholic, no kidding! It's all logged into my computer -- where, when, how much I paid and what I'm (eventually) going to do with it!  Walking into those stores and being surrounded by all that beautiful fabric was, for me, overwhelming.

            I spent more time hunting,  matching  and purchasing than I did actually sewing.  I came to realize how much I enjoyed  pulling the different pieces together (linings, buttons, pattern, etc.), but then I'd immediately go in search of more fabric -- crazy, huh.   In fact, I probably should have pursued a job in the garment district, maybe as a buyer or something.  Anyway, I figured if I confined myself to purchasing online I could get some control.  I'm getting better -- I resisted Michaels Fabrics' last two mailings.  And, since I didn't buy anything he probably won't send anymore swatches.

            I really am trying to work on my stash.  I read on one of the sewing sites that some ladies had established a rule for themselves: sew at least one garment a month or forfeit 2 pieces from their stashes -- I'm sure I couldn't do this.

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