How Much Fabric do I Need? Drapery Edition


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How much fabric do I need for drapes?

With the launch of our new site,  we thought it was the perfect time to have a crash course in drapery and curtain yardage figuring.  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!

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 14″ 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 feel free to bring the info you have gathered so far and we’ll help you from here!) 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!

Of course, all curtains have their unique challenges.  At The Whole 9 Yards, we are happy to go over your measurements and calculations to assure a perfect fit!


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

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

    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.

  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.

  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,

  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!

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