Below are some tips for selecting the curtain style that suits your home, measuring your windows and calculating how much fabric you will need. We are happy to support you with your project by coaching you how to measure your windows, helping you choose a curtain style, showing you some great fabric options etc and can give you a fast quote based on your measurements.  You  can also email us (or bring in to store) photos of your room and the key pieces within it, so we can really help you find the perfect fabric.

1. How to measure a window for curtains

2. Typical lengths for curtains

3. How much fabric do I need for curtains?

4. Different styles of curtains and which fabrics they suit

5. What is a drop?

6. About lining for curtains - why use it, how to choose one

7. What happens to leftover fabric



1. How to measure a window for curtains

It’s really easy to measure a typical window. All you need is a tape measure (metal ones are the easiest to use), and to be able to count. It is best to take all your measurements to the nearest millimetre. The fail-safe way to measure is to install your track or pole and any floor coverings first.

H_Rmeasure.jpgStep 1 – Measure the width. Measure the maximum length of your track (if you have a pole, don’t measure the decorative ends). If you don’t yet have a track in place, measure the length you want your track to be – remember you want your curtains to be pulled away from the window when open, so allow space either side of the window for this.

Step 2 – Measure the length (or drop). First you need to decide how long you want your curtains to be. To measure the length, you need to measure from the top of the track to your required length. Measure both sides of your window and if your floor is uneven, take the longer length.  If you have a rod that you would like to be able to see when your curtains are in place, measure from the under the rod to your finished length.

If you bought your tracks overseas, it is helpful if you also send us the measure from the top of the track to the eye of the glide (where the curtain hook will attach) as this could vary from New Zealand norms.

When you don't want to see the track, our standing headings are 10mm with the hook in the middle pocket. When you would like to see the rod, our standing heading is nil, with the hook in the top pocket.  Let us know if you would like us to vary this for any reason.



2. Typical lengths for curtains

 There are some "usual" lengths for curtains - but they are your curtains and you can have them any length you want!  Typical lengths are:


  • just above the floor (measure to the floor then minus 10mm)


  • just breaking on the floor (20mm more than floor length)


  • pooling on the floor ( 300mm longer than to floor length so the material pools on the floor)
  • to the sill
  • just under the sill


3. How much fabric do I need for curtains?

This is harder but not impossible to explain. We are also happy to do this for you, if you drop us an email. To work this out, you (or we) need to know:

  1. the measurements of your window - the width of the track and the length from the top of the track to the bottom of your curtains-to-be.
  2. the width of the fabric you want to use (e.g. 140cm or 112cm). 
  3. how full you like your curtains to look – it is traditional to use a lot more fabric than the width of your track e.g. twice as much or even more.  Some styles of curtains suit less fabric and give a more modern look.  (See our section on styles of curtains to help you make up your mind).
  4. whether your fabric has a pattern on it, and if yes, how often the pattern repeats itself. (In order to match the pattern across your curtains, you always need extra fabric if it has a pattern - but you can always use the leftover fabric for cushions or other projects).

Step 1 – Work out how many drops you will need. Take your track width (in mm) and multiply by  2 (this gives a good starting point and means double the fullness) . Divide this by the width (in mm) of your chosen fabric. This gives you the minimum amount of drops that you need. To avoid a narrow wee strip on each of your curtains, you should round this number up to the nearest whole number. (You could also go down, but that would decrease the fullness of your curtains - which may be ok depending on the style of curtain and your personal preferences.  "Dropping a drop" is also the fastest way to economise on your curtains - just make sure you think you will still like the finished result).

Step 2 -Take your required length and add 300mm for hems and headers (just add 250mm if you want Pencil Pleats/Gathered curtains). Multiply that amount by the number of your drops – and that gives you the amount of fabric you need – for plain fabrics. If you are using lining, do the same calculation to find out how much you need.

Step 3 - For Patterned Fabric only : The easiest method is to take the length of the pattern repeats (that is the distance between the beginning of the design motif and the beginning of the next) and add that much additional fabric for every drop. (so if 4 drops, and a 60mm pattern repeat, you need 4x 60 or 240mm or 24cm additional fabric). There is another more precise way to calculate it, but to avoid error we would prefer to do that for you - so if you need to be as frugal as possible with fabric, or want to avoid any leftover material, please email us and ask us to work it out for you.

An Example:   My track width is 3m, my length from top of track to finished curtain length is 2.15m, I want 2x fullness in Pencil Pleat curtains and my fabric is 140cm wide and has a pattern that repeats every 30cm. I do want to use lining, and the one that I have chosen is also 140cm wide.

Step 1:  3000mm (track width)  x 2(desired fullness) = 6000mm         6000mm/1400(fabric width) = 4.28    which I round up to 5 drops

Step 2: 2150mm (length) +250mm (Headers and Hems) = 2400mm  per drop      2400 x 5 drops = 12000mm or 12m     

For my lining:  2150 (length) +100mm (Headers and hems)= 2250mm per drop     2250 x 5 drops = 11250 or 11.25m

Step 3:  My fabric has a pattern repeat every 30cm - to be safe for pattern matching, I am going to add the length of the pattern match for every drop - so 5 x 300mm = 1500mm or an extra 1.5m making a total of 13.5m of fabric and 11.25m of lining.


Nb - if I decided to "drop a drop" I would save 1 drop at 2250mm plus the pattern repeat of 300m so over 2.5m of fabric and the associated making costs.  My curtains would also look sparser - so I would need to decide whether I liked that look - if not I would be better to pay the additional cost and just enoy the end result!


4. Different styles of curtains and which fabrics they suit

 We typically sew 4 styles of curtains (but will do others on request).  These are:

  1. Pencil Pleat (also called Gathered curtains).  This is the most common style of curtain and the easiest to make at home.   It is usually made with twice the amount of fabric across the width, though can also be made with less if you prefer (down to about 1.8 x the fullness).   It suits most fabrics, but a smaller pattern can get a bit lost in all the gathers.

    Pencil Pleats are very forgiving - you can vary both the width and the  length of the curtain once it is finished - so any minor errors in your measuring can be accommodated.
  2. Bi Pleat.  This style shows the pleating at the top of the curtain.  It is also usually made with twice the width of fabric (though you can go down to about 1.8x).  You can choose to have 3 pleats rather than 2 if you prefer, but you will need more than twice the fullness to make this sumptious style.  You can also have a unipleat, which needs a modest 1.6 or 1.7 x the fullness and creates a simple, sparse curtain that stacks well off your window.

    You can adjust the finished curtain for length, but the width is fixed.
  3. Inverted Pleat - this curtain keeps the pleat on the inside of the curtain, showing a more linear look to the front.  It suits all fabrics, dressing up plains and exposing lots of the design on patterned fabrics.  As it is quite a flat design, it stacks efficiently to the side of your window.  This style is a good one if you want to economise on fabric - it really suits somewhere between 1.7 times and 2 times the fabric fullness.

    You can adjust the finished curtain for length, but the width is fixed.
  4. Wave - this is a simple modern style of curtain.  It typically uses from 1.6 times to 2x the width, and has no gathers or pleats across the heading so you can really see any pattern on the fabric.  It has a flatter look than the other styles with a heading tape that creates a permanent wave effect at the top.

    You can adjust the finished curtain for length, but the width is fixed.

    5. Flats - this trendy curtain gives more of a blind look to a curtain and is perfect for our fabrics with really fabulous images or patterns which you want to be able to see.  Very economical with fabric, this is also a great look on a budget.  Suits a very modern home.

We do also offer eyelet curtains - these flat curtains are one of the most fabric efficient, utilising from about 1.5x the fullness.

As a standard our curtain tapes are placed 10mm from the top of the curtain and our hooks are placed 40mm from the top.  You can move the hooks yourself to adjust the finished length of the curtain - and we can place them differently on request.


 5. What is a drop?

 The sewing of curtains is priced on the number of "drops" needed.  This is simply the number of times a strip of fabric must be joined together to cover your window - as that is where the time consuming work is (creating headings, matching the patterns). There are 2 decisions in your control that influences the number of drops needed:

  1. How full you want your curtains -  2x as much fabric as the width of your curtain track is the norm for curtains, but sometimes you can use less and save a drop.
  2. How wide the fabric you love is.  With a wider fabric (140cm or 150cm) you will need less drops than with a narrow fabric (112cm or 120cm) however your total fabric cost will be a lot less as they tend to be less expensive - its worth doing a quick total cost comparison of the fabrics you love.  We are happy to quote multiple fabrics for you.

To work out how many drops you need, take your track width and multiply it by 2 or your desired fullness.  Divide this by the width of your fabric.  Round this number up to the nearest whole number and that gives you the ideal number of drops for your window.

e.g. My track width is 2m, I love Pohutukawa by Ingrid Anderson which comes with a width of 140cm, and I want 2 times the fullness. I need to make sure all my measurements are in the same measure (mm, cm etc).

2000mm x 2 = 4000mm                    4000mm/1400mm = 2.85    which rounds up to 3 drops


6. About lining for curtains - why use it, how to choose one

Curtain lining is used for a number of different reasons:

  • it protects your fabric from the harsh New Zealand sun
  • it can add fullness to the look of your curtains
  • it makes thinner fabric less transparent, providing privacy
  • it provides a uniform look to your windows when looking in from outside your house
  • thermal linings provides insulation, keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer
  • blackout linings can make a room darker (and also insulate).

We stock a range of different linings - click here to see our linings range.


7. What happens to any leftover fabric?

Fabric scraps will not be included unless requested - so if they are useful for you just let us know and we will include them with your curtains.

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