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Measuring LONG curtains

Boni | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

Help!  I’ve never made long curtains before, and need some help in measuring accurately.  I cannot seem to get to the proper length of curtain, and the lengths I’ve cut are not consistent.  What I’ve done so far is measure every 20 inches on both sides of the selvage.  It still doesn’t come out right!  I don’t think I’m on the proper crossgrain. 

If anyone knows any “tricks” for measuring, the information would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you.






  1. rodezzy | | #1

    It sounds like you need to straighten your fabric first.  If it is a loose woven fabric you can pull a thread on the straight grain and follow the pucker to cut across the width of the fabric.    

    Or you will have to fold salvage to salvage and visually adjust the fabric to where it lies flat and has no puckers in the fabric, and like in quilting, straighten the first cut end with a rotary cutter and ruler.  Cut off about one quarter inch.

    There may be other ways to straighten the fabric, but you must do it on the straight of grain. 

    Then after doing that, you should be able to get precision cut lengths from there.  Did you measure your window where you want the curtains to start and stop.  That is the measurement you are after, plus the proper openings (2.5 in) for the rods you are using and the hem, which most give about 3 in. hem allowances.

    Edited 11/5/2007 5:00 pm ET by rodezzy

    Edited 11/5/2007 5:01 pm ET by rodezzy

    Edited 11/5/2007 5:01 pm ET by rodezzy

  2. solosmocker | | #2

    I agree with Rodezzy. It sounds like your grain needs straightening. I think that will take care of most of your problem. I have also found when cutting drapery that I do it best on a clean floor with lots of space. You need to be able to lay the material flat with no bubbles or ripples and then start measuring. Of course that is all after you have straightened the grain. It is a challenge measuring fabric for long drapery. Hope this helps.

  3. Teaf5 | | #3

    In addition to the good suggestions so far, here is another tip:  fabrics, when hung, will have completely different properties than they will when laid out flat, even if you take care to start with a straight grain.  Walls, floors, windows, and ceilings are not always precisely level, either.

    Although it may seem wasteful, it's not a bad idea to cut each panel at least 4-6" longer than you expect to need.  You can always make curtains shorter, but you can't lengthen them without it being obvious, and curtains always look better a bit too long than a bit too short.  A healthy 3"-6" double hem always looks better than a skimpy one, too.

    Construct the curtains as usual, but do not hem them.   Hang them on the permanent hardware for at least a couple of days before marking the hems.  If they are washable, you might want to spritz them with water, then hang in place and dry for up to a week.  This allows the fabrics to drape and hang in the light, heat, humidity they'll stay in, and your hems will be the real ones that fit the space, not some precise measurements that may not work at all.

    1. MaryinColorado | | #4

      Great tips and reccomendations here.  I would just add that when hanging a curtain rod, I use a level.  Wallsfloors, and ceilings are rarely even.  Mary

  4. mygaley | | #5

    Good luck with your curtains!  I cut mine on a ping-pong table which is long enough for 82" drapes plus 35 " for 10 inch double hems and casings, headers, turn of cloth, whatever.  I use my husband's laser light tool to "Mark" my cutting line--nothing has ever worked better.  I put the hems in first and then table my panels.  After pinning the headers and casings, then measure again and you will know you have the correct length.  Some fabrics, expecially the gauzy ones used today will never hang squarely--I think these want to be puddled on the floor!  God bless you Galey

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