How Much Fabric do I Need? Drapery Edition

drapery

image via ElleDecor.com

How much fabric do I need for drapes?

This is the most math-heavy aspect of our world and depending on the pattern repeat of the fabric can be a little daunting at times. With that being said however, there is a fairly simple formula we follow that I am going to walk you through now!

Of course, all curtains have their unique challenges.  If you are local, and are having your drapes made by us The Whole 9 Yards is happy to go over your measurements and calculations to assure a perfect fit!  If you are using a different workroom, we recommend getting in touch with them to answer all your questions!

First, some vocabulary lessons:

In our world a panel is what we call a finished drape or curtain.  Typically windows will have two panels that hang on either side of the window.  A width of fabric is how wide it is on the roll (typically 54″) and each panel can be made from as little as one width of fabric, but can go up depending on the size of the window and the style of the curtain/drape. And fullness relates to how many widths of fabric it takes to make a panel.

So here we go:

  1. Step one is to first decide on the style of drapery you want.  We will cover this more in-depth in another blog post, but your basic options are a flat panel (including a rod pocket, gathered on rings, and grommets) or pleated. (Which includes so many variations that we really need to get that other blog post written!  Our favorites, however, tend to be a Classic 3-finger or a 2-Finger Euro.)  For this example lets decide to do a flat panel gathered on rings.
  2. Step two is to figure out your Bracket to Bracket measurement.  You do this by measuring where your rod brackets (or track) are to be hung.  If you are able to go outside the window frame where the fabric can stack back when the drapes are open, all the better. (We like to go “high and wide” with our draperies!)  For this example lets say that the bracket to bracket is 65″.
  3. Step three is where the math starts happening…multiply your bracket to bracket number by the fullness amount.  For most pleated drapes you need 2.5-3 times the fullness. For flat panels gathered on rings or grommets, 2 times the fullness will do.  Rod pockets are usually 1.5-2 times fullness.  65″ x 2 = 130″
  4. Divide the number from step 3 by the width of the fabric you are using (most are 54″) and you will get how many widths of fabric you need to make the finished panel. Just a note – if you are between numbers always round up! 130/54 = 2.41 – so 3 widths are needed.  (Which means each panel will be made up of a width and a half of fabric!)
  5. Now we figure length.  As I said before, we prefer drapes to hang “high and wide” whenever possible.  Measure from where the rod is going to hang above the window, to where you want to the curtains to end. For this example lets say we want the curtains to finish 93″ long.
  6. Take the length measurement and add 16″ to allow for top and bottom hems.  We call this the cut length.  You may also have to take into consideration the pattern repeat of the fabric you have chosen.  (This is a bit more advanced so you may want to talk to your workroom, or take our Curtain Making Class!) 93 + 14 = 107″ cut length.
  7. You take the number of widths you need (you found that in step #4), and multiply that number by your cut length (step #6).  Divide that number by 36 (which is the number of inches in a yard) and that tells you how many yards you need! 107 x 3 = 321″ needed.  321″/36 = 8.92″.  So this window will need 9 yards of fabric.

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65 Responses to How Much Fabric do I Need? Drapery Edition

  1. kareema December 3, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Hi
    To cut swags how much material is needed

    • Victoria Robinson December 4, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

      Hi Kareema –
      Thanks for getting in touch with us! Unfortunately we don’t do a ton of swags here at The Whole 9 Yards and so we really approach them on a case by case basis. Which means we don’t have a specific formula to share as it depends on the size of the window and how much fullness you want in your swag, as well as wether you want to add any jabots or cascades down the side. For this type of situation I would recommend coming in with your window dimensions and we can look at your specific needs.
      Thanks!

  2. Tina December 16, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    my window wide is 70 . I want to make grommets at top . can you tell me how many widths of fabric do I need for my window please . thanks

    • Victoria Robinson January 19, 2016 at 10:12 am #

      Typically we allow 1.5 to 2 times for grommets. So at 70″ wide you are needing around 105″ – 140″ of fabric which equals 2-2.5 widths total.

    • Mary March 15, 2017 at 7:03 am #

      I want to drape a 7ft cross. How much material do I need

      • Amy Estrin March 30, 2017 at 11:17 am #

        Hi Mary, I’m happy to help, but we need lots more info from you to proceed. Did you get a chance to read about how to figure yardage on our website? That will at least get the questions we need answers to. How long, what style, which fabric etc. Take a look. You are welcome to call me at the store if that is easier for you. 503-223-2880.
        Hope this gets you started,
        Amy

  3. Martha P July 19, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    I want to make a backdrop with fabric for a 10×10 frame. How many yards of fabric would I need?

    • Victoria Robinson July 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      Hi Martha, what style of backdrop are you making? Sounds like your 10′ (or 120″) is your Bracket to Bracket measurement, and 10′ (120″) is your finished length. You just need to decide on what your style and fullness is and you can plug these numbers into the formula. If you need more help please feel free to give us a call at 503-223-2880 with your chosen fabric information as well as your style and fullness choices and we can fine tune the yardage. Thanks!

  4. Doreen Y August 30, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    Would the calculations for the valance follow the same pattern? The window area I need to cover is 156″w by 101″h, 2.5 fullness. I calculated 26 yards of fabric for the draperies, but I need to add an 18″ valance at the top, I came up with 8 yards for the valance.

    • Amy Estrin August 30, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

      Hi Doreen, The amount you need for the valance depends on the style of valance that you want to make. Usually valances are more streamlined over the gathered drapery. What fabric are you using? Is it a fabric that you are getting from us, so that I could look up the repeat? Do you know how long a valance you want? Based on the valances we do most often, I think you need more like 3.5-4 yards. Of course this is very ballpark.

      • Doreen Y August 30, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

        20 oz. Crescent Velour, IFR, solid color fabric, so no need to match any repeating pattern. Based on the height of the draperies, the valance would be 18″. I want the valance to have the same fullness and drape as the draperies. So I figured the calculations would be fairly similar, although I read somewhere during my research that you would double the height of the valance for seam, etc. Thank you for your reply.

        • Amy September 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

          Hi, From what you describe, it does sound like you would follow the same formula that you did with the drape. However, with the length of the valance, I’m thinking you would not double the length. Are you board mounting the valance? Is it a rod pocket? are you pleating it? Are you getting the fabric through us? The folks you are getting the fabric from may be good to go over with you. If you are getting it from us, a one on one here at the store could help fine tune it! Hope this helps,
          Amy

  5. Cinda W August 30, 2016 at 9:22 pm #

    Hi. I am trying to figure out how much fabric I need for drapes measuring “96 inches long, 108″ wide using a fabric that is 54″ wide and has a 26” repeat. Can you help me figure out the yardage with the repeat? Thank you for your help!

    • Victoria Robinson March 4, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Cinda, sounds like 108″ is your Bracket to Bracket measurement, and 96″ is your finished length. You just need to decide on what your style and fullness is and you can plug these numbers into the formula to get how many widths you need. As for cut length 96″ + 16″ (for hems) is 112″ which when divided by your repeat of 26″ is 4.31. So, you want to round that up to 5 repeats per width or 130″ per width.

  6. Rachael phillips March 1, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    I have a 10 foot window by width and it’s about 6-7 feet long I want to make curtains how much fabric do I need?

    • Victoria Robinson March 4, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi Rachel, sounds like 10′ is your Bracket to Bracket measurement, and 6′ (or 7′) is your finished length. You just need to decide on what your style and fullness is and you can plug these numbers into the formula. If you need more help please feel free to give us a call or email with your chosen fabric information as well as your style and fullness choices and we can help fine tune the yardage. Thanks!

  7. Glenda Beecher March 3, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    I am making drapes 1 is71/99 2 is63/84 3 is35/83 I figured 1 would be 10 ys 2. 9 yds 3. 6 yds. Would like to know I am correct. And is the just 1 panel?

    • Victoria Robinson March 4, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

      Hi Glenda, hard to answer without more information. What is your drapery style and how much fullness do you want? What is your pattern repeat? If you need more help please feel free to give us a call or email with your chosen fabric information as well as your style and fullness choices and we can help fine tune the yardage. Thanks!

  8. Dusty Cutter April 5, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    Hi – I want to cover a window that is 72 wide and I want to make the curtains 68 long with a 1 inch gather at the top of the rod. How much fabric do I need? Right now there are 5 panels but I need to replace them. I leave the first window panel at the top uncovered so I can see the tree tops. Thanks and have a lovely day.

    • Amy Estrin April 5, 2017 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Dusty, Do you have your fabric picked out for your project? Is it a solid or a pattern? Sounds like you are doing a rod pocket, correct?Amy

  9. Debra May 2, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

    Hello i need to cover 2 sides in a cafeteria. Yje panels have to 15 feet tall and 80 feet wide on each side. I need to find the cheapest and easiest fabric to work with ….ehat is your suggestion?

    • Amy Estrin May 4, 2017 at 10:43 am #

      Hi, Do you live in Portland? It would be best if you could come in and we could find out what style of drape you wanted for the cafeteria. What is your time frame for completion?
      I think we could find something for you if we had a better idea of what you are after. What price per yard did you have in mind? You need about 100 yards. Hope that gets you started, Amy

  10. Terri Baxter May 11, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    Helo I am trying to figure out how much material I am going to need to make curtains for a barn door. The opening is 12 x 13 ft. Any help would be great thanks

    • Victoria Robinson May 12, 2017 at 6:22 am #

      Hi Terri, it’s hard to answer without more information. What is your drapery style and how much fullness do you want? What is your pattern repeat? If you need more help please feel free to give us a call or email with your chosen fabric information as well as your style and fullness choices and we can help fine tune the yardage. Thanks!

  11. Georgia ALEXANDER June 11, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Hello my window is 95inches wide and the length is 61,I would like to know how much fabric do I need to make a scarf for the window??

    • Victoria Robinson June 12, 2017 at 10:02 am #

      Hi Georgia
      Scarfs are a bit tricky to calculate, as they depend on how many loops or gathers you want to create. Typically you would add the length of the window, plus how much you want into cascade on either side plus about 18 inches per loop.
      Hope this helps,
      Victoria

  12. Doris July 5, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    I want to make 4 curtain panels, each panel to be 54×80, with a pattern repeat of 24.5”, and a 4” bottom hem on each panel, and a 3″ top hem on each panel, so how many yards do I need?

    • Victoria Robinson July 6, 2017 at 5:00 pm #

      Hi Doris. Your final amount will depend on the pattern repeat of your fabric, but based off of your description: 80″+ 4″+ 3″ = 87″ x 2 = 174″ which when divided by 36″ (how many inches in a yard) comes to 4.83 so I would round you up to 5 yards total.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Sheri July 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    I want to cover two windows in my bedroom and have a total of 8 yds. of a heavy damask fabric. The window measurements are:

    1: 72″w x 63″ l
    1: 36″w x 63″ l

    I’d like to make the panels as long as possible (82″ to floor) and am not sure whether to design as a rod pocket panel or panels to be hung by rings. Is 8 yds. enough for the room, and what configuration would be best to get the most?

    I truly appreciate your help.

    • Victoria Robinson July 18, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Sheri,

      Thanks for getting in touch with us. It sounds like you “may” have enough fabric depending on how you want your curtains to function. If you do 2 panels on the larger window and only one panel on the smaller you may be able to eek it out with the 8 yards you have. Ideally i would suggest having at least 14 yards (plus whatever you need for pattern repeat) to give you the appropriate amount of fullness all around.

      We have some lovely fabric options which you can see here: https://w9yards.com/product-category/fabric/ and you can always have us send you swatches if you are out of town. https://w9yards.com/free-fabric-swatches/

      Thanks,

      Victoria

  14. Sheri July 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    P.S. The fabric is 56″ w.

  15. Aki July 26, 2017 at 12:23 am #

    For my backdrop,I need 20ft wide and 10 ft long material.
    My fabric is 60 inches wide .
    How much fabric do I need

    • Victoria Robinson July 28, 2017 at 11:26 am #

      Hi Aki,

      If you plug your numbers into the formula I outline in the blog post above I am sure you can get there on your own! If you need further help I will need to know what fabric you have chosen, what header style you want, how it is going to be hung, etc.

      Thanks,

      Victoria

  16. Aparna September 19, 2017 at 10:41 am #

    Hi Victoria,

    I would like to purchase fabric for 2 flat roman shades. The fabric I like has a pattern repeat of 27″V and 27″H. The measurements for the window (brackets, length) are: 63.5″W x 57.25″L. I followed your calculations and think I need 7 yards of the fabric but firstly don’t know how to incorporate the pattern repeat. If you could instruct me, I’d appreciate it (I’m in New York or I would stop by).

    Secondly, just to be sure, if I want to use insulation and blackout backing, will my fabric needs change at all? Or does it not matter since the latter would be a backing of the same measurements as my window and the former stuck between the designer fabric and the backing?

    Thanks,
    Aparna

    • Victoria Robinson September 19, 2017 at 10:49 am #

      Hi Aparna,

      The formula I outline in the blog post is for draperies, not roman shades. I would talk to the people making the shades as they will have specific requirements for you as every workroom is slightly different in how they handle shade construction and hems. We also sell this amazing book that goes into construction of multiple types of shades, including how to figure yardage. https://w9yards.com/shop/books/the-shade-book/

      Thanks,
      Victoria

      • Aparna September 24, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

        Thanks, Victoria!

  17. Michelle September 27, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    Tryiing to figure out how much fabric would be needed for 2 story windows. Floor to ceiling.

    • Victoria Robinson October 6, 2017 at 11:06 am #

      It all depends on your fabric choice, ceiling height and what style of curtain you want. Feel free to check out our visual dictionary here: https://w9yards.com/visual-dictionary/ to start getting ideas on what style curtain you like.

  18. Jaclyn October 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    Hi Victoria,

    First, I’m so grateful for this walk through. It was incredibly helpful, and I really appreciate it.

    Second, would you mind helping me? I’m trying to figure out how much fabric I would need for a window, at brackets length, 84″W x 60″L. I would like for the length of the curtains to be at 85″, after the hem, and my fabric is 54″.

    I did the math, and I believe I would need 10 yards, but I’m not certain.

    Again, thank you so much for this! It really is a lifesaver!

    Thank you,

    Jaclyn

    • Victoria Robinson October 13, 2017 at 9:59 am #

      Hi Jaclyn,

      Please feel free to call the store and we can go over your details in person!

      Thanks,

      Victoria

      • Jaclyn October 16, 2017 at 9:43 am #

        Great, thank you!

  19. Lala October 17, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Hi, I am in need of some huge help. I am draping a stage about 25ft. I am have about 3 set of panels to fit the space. Only thing is I have no idea how much fabric will I need in total or how much fabric can fit one panel. The panel is about 8ft tall and maybe about 20 feet wide.

    • Victoria Robinson October 26, 2017 at 9:57 am #

      Hi Lala,

      I have some more question for you regarding your project. Please call me at the store so we can talk over the details in person.

      Thanks,

      Victoria

  20. Brady November 12, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you. You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  21. Sandy December 19, 2017 at 12:36 am #

    Hi Victoria,

    First, Thanks for this valuable information! ( I’m an engineer, so, this is totally out of my area! ;-))
    Second, I’m trying to make thermal/insulation linings for my kids’ bedrooms, how much fabric should I buy for this kind of fabric if my window is 45W/82H?
    Thank you so much!!
    Happy Holidays!!!
    Sandy
    Del Mar, CA.

  22. Meghan January 19, 2018 at 12:25 pm #

    I’m making curtains for my basement and using the formula above with a couple changes I came up with 14 yards
    Curtains will be 32.5hx7w
    170×1.5=255/54=5
    94×5=470/36=13.05
    So 14 yards right?

  23. Kimberlee Sherman February 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm #

    Thank you!

  24. Carol Kane February 23, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

    Need to know how many yards of a solid color fabric to make two panels that measure 56″ wide & 90″ long

    • Victoria Robinson March 12, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      Hi Carol,

      Without knowing the style of drape, fabric width and pattern repeat it it hard to give you an exact amount, but 6 yards should be close. Mots fabrics are only 54″ wide, however, so be aware that if you need a panel that is a full 60″ wide you will need extra yardage to seam the panels!

  25. Christina March 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm #

    I want to know how much fabric do i need for a window that is 74 inch wide and 52 inch long I want two panels

    • Victoria Robinson April 16, 2018 at 11:17 am #

      Hi Christina, thanks for contacting us. Have you chosen your curtain style yet? You can see some options here: https://w9yards.com/visual-dictionary/ Then based off of your style, and fabric choice you can just plug in your measurements to the formula listed above. Thanks!

  26. Shorty March 22, 2018 at 8:07 am #

    How much fabric do i need for a backdrop that is 10ft by 10ft

    • Victoria Robinson April 16, 2018 at 11:18 am #

      Hi Shorty, thanks for contacting us. Have you chosen your curtain style yet? You can see some options here: https://w9yards.com/visual-dictionary/ Then based off of your style, and fabric choice you can just plug in your measurements to the formula listed above. Thanks!

  27. Carmen Mouton March 29, 2018 at 10:31 pm #

    Bracket to Bracket is 77” wide length is 83” long. The drapes are a multiple cut boho gypsy sheer style. How much fabric do I need? If I calculated right i figured 3 for width and 8.5-9 for length?

    • Victoria Robinson April 16, 2018 at 11:20 am #

      Hi Carmen,

      I am not sure what you mean by “multiple cut boho Gypsy sheer style” but based off of your finish measurement of 83″ you will need at least 3 yards per width. The number of widths will depend on your fullness and style.

      Thanks!

  28. Rachael LaCross April 25, 2018 at 8:54 am #

    Wow, I just did the math for drapes and came up with 18 yards of fabric for a 77 inch wide slider! That sounds like a lot of fabric to me. Can you tell me if this is right? I want flat header clip-on ring style drape. Using 96″ rod (bracket to bracket) with 1inch floor clearance. So, here’s my math: Length: 95″ + 8″ (double bottom hem) + 6″ (double top hem) = 109″ Total Length. Width: 96″ x 2.5 (fullness) = 240″. 240 + 6″ ( 1 1/2″ double hem on sides) = 246″ Total width. Then, 246″ /2 = 123″ each panel width. Using 54″ fabric, 123/54= 2.3 Round up to 3 widths. 6 widths to do both panels. 109 x 6 = 654. 654/36 = 18 yards of fabric. Am I correct? This sounds like it will cost me a fortune just to make my own drapes. Did I mess up somewhere?

    • Victoria Robinson April 27, 2018 at 11:05 am #

      Hi Rachel,

      You absolutely did the math right (although you don’t need to allow extra for side hems as that usually gets folded in with fullness). You can always reduce the fullness as well. Flat panels gathered on rings/clips could go down to 1.5 fullness which will drastically reduce your yardage requirements!

      Thanks,

      Victoria

  29. Vicki jones May 8, 2018 at 8:09 pm #

    I want to wrap a twin mattress for a hanging swing. How much fabric will I need in a solid color. I want to fold the ends under as if I were wrapping a gift and Velcro it together like tape. Thank you so much. I know zero about sewing.

    • Victoria Robinson May 18, 2018 at 11:59 am #

      Hi Vicki,

      Depending on how thick the mattress is, 3-3.5 yards should do the trick!

      Happy swinging!

  30. Rina June 3, 2018 at 12:25 am #

    Hi, for day curtain plain sheer voile, can i use the fabric width of 118″ as the height of my window because the total height including allowance is about 110″. Or should I use a 60″ fabric width & join 2 pieces to form a panel?

    Thank you

    • Victoria Robinson June 4, 2018 at 11:28 am #

      Hi Rina,

      Double width sheer fabrics (typically 110″-118″ wide) are perfect for situations where you don’t want to see multiple join seams across the panel. You can go right ahead and use that width as your height, and get as much fullness as you need without seams!

      Thanks, and happy sewing!

  31. Rita Melan July 26, 2018 at 10:31 pm #

    Well, when I don’t have a lot of money, and I’m making a project, I’m going to stick to the pattern envelope. They are always generous in their yardage requirements anyhow, and I always have fabric left over after cutting a garment out. Always.

    The only exception is for fabric that shrinks a LOT – cotton knits and cotton flannel. Then you really should buy extra.

  32. abby August 14, 2018 at 11:53 am #

    how many yards do i need

    current panels measure: 31″ wide by 40″ long

    i want 4 panels total of the same measurement

    • Victoria Robinson August 24, 2018 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Abby,

      Sounds like you have your number of widths already figured out, so you can jump to step 6 in the formula and figure your cut lengths. Just a note, for shorter curtains we usually only use 10″ for hems, but you may want to speak with whomever is dong the sewing and find out how much they would like to allow.

      Thanks,

      Victoria

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