Curtains can be quite an investment, particularly if you have larger windows or lots of them, so you really want to get the measurements right. There is nothing worse than looking at them for the next 10 years knowing you should have added an extra two inches to the length. For this very reason we wanted to give you some guidance and advice so you can feel confident measuring for your curtains and ordering the correct amount of fabric. Even if you are buying ready-made curtains you still need to measure accurately.
Top Tip: Use a metal measuring tape if you can for better accuracy
Step 1: Measure the width
Depending on the style of curtains if you have already have the track or pole in place it makes things much easier. Tracks and poles should be positioned approximately 15cm or 6 inches above the window recess with 15-20cm or 6-8 inches either side of the window. For poles measure the width from the inside of any fancy or decorative ends on the pole. If you have tracks then measure the full width of the tracks and if they are overlapping measure the full width of both tracks and add them together.
The fullness of your curtains can be your personal preference (and budget!) and more fabric will create a much fuller and more luxurious finish. As a guide you need to multiply the width by 1.5 to 2 to calculate how much fabric you will need. Pencil pleats and eyelet styles look better with more fabric whereas you can get away with a bit less (x 1.5) for tab top styles. John Lewis boast that they use 2.25 or 2.5 times fullness for a superior finish and if you have the budget then when it comes to curtains more fabric does really add to the final effect. Add an extra 2.5cm or 1 inch to the width measurement to allow your curtains to overlap a little in the middle when they are closed and if you are working with patterns including tartans
remember you will need to allow a bit extra for matching the check.
Top Tip: Fit your track or pole before you measure
Step 2: Measure the drop (and just what is the drop?)
The drop is the length of your curtains and will reach to either the floor, below the windowsill or level with the sill. The length you choose is very much up to you and will depend on the style of your pole or track, your windows and the room but do remember things like radiators will affect the length you choose and how your curtains will hang. Watch out for uneven floors in old houses - take your measurements at a few different points and use the shortest measurement for the best fit.
For pencil pleat (see our How to choose the perfect tartan material blog
for advice on curtains styles) and tape top curtains take your measurement from the bottom of the curtain ring to the desired drop. Header tapes on pencil pleat curtains have the advantage of having 3 rows to hang your hooks on so you have a bit more flexibility to adjust the length when you come to hang them. Eyelet curtains are more difficult and once you have measured from the top of the pole to the desired drop add an extra 4cm or 1.5 inches to account for the fabric that sits above the pole. Tracks are nice and easy - measure from the top of the track to the desired drop and this will give you plenty of material to cover the track.
Curtains to the floor - measure to 1cm (just under half an inch) above the floor so your curtains don't trail on the floor. Personally I always have my curtains a little longer to keep the draughts out but this does mean they get dirtier more quickly (or maybe I need to clean my floors more often?) and new houses won't have this problem.
Sills - as a rule curtains hanging below the sill should be measured to 15 - 20cm or 6 - 8 inches below the sill. If you have radiators allow a few centimetres above the radiator so you don't lose all your heat. If you want your curtains to sit just on the sill similar to measuring to the floor measure to 1 centimetre above the sill.
Curtain trends in 2016
Colour is huge in 2016 and there are a few strong trends this season. Here are a few ideas from well know interior designers:
Jewel Tones (deep reds, emerald greens and subtle blues) "are sophisticated and create the atmosphere of luxury in any space" says designer Jennifer Duneier.
Lori Gilder urges us to brighten up our rooms with cheerful draperies "Yellow epitomizes warmth and a sunny outlook toward the future". Ailsa Yellow tartan
is our favourite sunshine check.
Lori also promoteds "In more contemporary and transitional interiors the use of large-scaled, geometric-patterned draperies creates a dramatic focal point within the space,". Use the tartan finder
to explore our huge range of tartans and checks.
"Charcoal and slate are the new neutrals and blend beautifully with the metallic trends." Explore lots of lovely shades of grey tartans
using the colour search.
Blinds are very much in vogue just now and measuring for these is quite different - watch out for the article on the blog next month.