How much fabric to buy for drapes?

September 25, 2012

Firstly I’d like to thanks all of you who offered your opinions when I asked for advice about replacing my current dining chairs with my dream chairs. For now I’ve decided to stick with what I have, and spend my money on other things my condo so desperately needs like window coverings.

I’ve lived for two years with absolutely nothing on my windows (gasp!), but before anyone gets too excited,  I overlook the side of a house with no side windows, and I’m on the second floor, so the only way anyone can peer in to see me is if they climb up on the roof next door. I’m not at all worried.

Adding window coverings was on my to do list for 2012, and since we’re nearly at the end of September (how did that happen?) I thought I should probably get started on that item on my list. I think I’ve finally found a fabric I love to make drapes for my living room, but I’m clueless as to how much fabric I need. Can any of you lovely readers help? I’ve tried asking Google, but there seems to be a lot of varying opinions on the subject.

I’ve done some rudimentary photoshopping in the hopes it helps explain what I need. In the picture below you can see I've got a bit of a quirky situation. The window isn't centered on the wall, but I've also got the wall-mounted AC unit just 6" from the window molding. I've also only got about one inch of space between the top of the window molding, and the bottom of the crown molding, so the  curtain rod's placement is decided for me (Yay! No need to figure out how high the drapes need to be hung!)
Living room with dimension lines
Here is what I’m hoping to achieve. They will be mostly decorative but I’d like to be able to close them on occasion when I have guests sleeping over (on my pull-out couch). I will obviously be moving the desk.
Living room with imaginary drapes
Any advice? or a great online resource you’d like to share? The fabric I'm hoping to purchase is about 53" wide (137cm) with a 25"(64cm) vertical repeat. Any help would be appreciated as I want to make sure I order enough fabric, but don’t want to order too much as it would get wasted.

PS - Please excuse the messy bookcase and desk in the pictures above - I'm a bad blogger who didn't hide all the evidence that someone actually lives in my home before taking the pictures.

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  1. All the pattern books have very good info about measuring for different style drapes/window coverings.

  2. I usually sew my own curtains and I always measure the length I'll need (distance from your rod to the floor) and then add length to account for the hem (so you'll need to figure out how wide you want your bottom and top hems to be). It will also depend on how you want to hang them. If you're going to use ring clips, for example, you could just add an inch for the top hem and say four-six inches for the bottom hem. But say you want to do tabs, you'll need to account for the extra fabric they require. The width of your fabric is good, so I'd just cut for length and hem the sides. I'm guessing you'll need 5-6 yards of fabric to sew two panels.

  3. Hi! I came by because I am checking out the other $15 Fall Challenge Bloggers that I am linking to, but I know the answer to this!!

    First of all, normal drapes are 2 1/2 Full. Which means that whatever the width of your window, you multiply that by 2 1/2 and that's how wide you want your final curtains to be. Then you divide that in half to get the width of each side of the drapes. Sheer drapes are Triple full or even 3 1/2 full, so if you have sheer fabric, adjust accordingly.

    Decide how long you want them (based on the rod position and desired length). For normal rod drapes, you would add two 3" fold-overs at the top (for a normal sized rod pocket) and a good sized double hem (as in: you fold over twice) of 3-4".

    Then you figure out how many lengths (of that length we just figured out, let's call it "x") you need to make each panel wide enough to be 2 1/2 full. That could mean you need to sew two lengths together for each side, or 1 1/2 (The third panel gets split down the middle).

    Also, if the fabric has a pattern, especially a large one, and you need to match up the pattern (like with a huge floral), you should measure how often the pattern repeats lengthwise on the bolt (like maybe the same flower repeats every 25") and then whatever you cut for "length x" needs to be a multiple of that pattern repeat (So you are cutting it 50" long or 75" long or 100" long). So even if you only need 80" in length, you cut your lengths 100" and then trim off the excess after you have pattern matched all your pieces.

    And... you can email me if you get confused. :D I know the math is a huge pain.

  4. Oooh I have no idea how much fabric you need, but I am excited to see the result! I need new drapes for my living room and should embark on the fabric hunt, but I also need a chair and I think I should probably get that first...good luck with your project!

  5. Oh my god Amanda - this is So helpful Thank You!!

  6. Judy Wood DicksonMarch 23, 2014 3:13 pm

    Thank you - this information really helped me :-)


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