When it comes to properly measuring and sizing curtains for your windows, precision is key for both functionality and an attractive look. Getting the length, width, and curtain rod size right ensures your curtains will fit beautifully, offer full coverage, and transform the ambiance of your space.
Follow our pro instructions to end up with stunning, made-to-measure curtains.
Step 1: Measure Window Dimensions
The starting point for figuring out curtain sizing is getting accurate measurements of your window’s height and width. This will determine how long and wide your curtains need to be for proper coverage and proportions.
You’ll need a steel tape measure, yardstick, or laser distance measure. Measure to the nearest 1/8 inch for precision. Record the window’s height from top to bottom, and side to side width at the top, middle, and bottom. This accounts for any tapering. For angled windows, take measurements at each corner.
Check for squareness by comparing diagonal measurements. Make note of any obstructions like window cranks or sills that will affect mounting. These precise window measurements inform all your future curtain calculations.
Tools for Measuring Windows
- Tape measure
- Laser distance measure
- Pencil and paper for notes
Tips for Tricky Window Shapes
For arched or circular windows, use flexible measuring tape. Measure the height at the window’s center, then add height increments outwards to determine the arc. For angles, bay windows, and unique shapes, measure each edge and corner point individually. This ensures you get the full opening size.
Step 2: Calculate Curtain Length
Curtain length is based on your desired visual effect and proper clearance. Floor length curtains make a dramatic statement. Floating curtains are casually chic. Puddling curtains are romantically billowy.
No matter your preferred curtain length style, the golden rule is that curtains should be a minimum of 6 inches longer than the window height. This both allows for a high enough curtain rod installation, and prevents too much light leakage at the bottom.
Standard vs. Custom Lengths
For standard sized windows, choose common pre-determined lengths like 60″, 72″, 84″, 96″, 108″, and 120″. Or calculate a custom size using your window measurements.
First, decide if you want floor length, floating, or puddling curtains. Floor length should reach just above the floor. Floating lands approximately an inch above the floor. Puddling gathers elegantly on the floor.
Next, measure from the top of the window down to the floor. Add your minimum 6 inches, plus desired curtain style length. This gives you the ideal custom curtain length.
Matching Length to Curtain Style
To recap typical curtain length styles:
- Floor length: Sophisticated and dramatic
- Floating length: Casually elegant
- Puddling length: Romantic fullness
Select the aesthetic that best suits your room’s needs and style. Calculating the exact right curtain length results in beautifully hung, properly proportioned window dressings.
Step 3: Determine Curtain Width
Curtain width impacts how full, draped and light-blocking your curtains are. For most windows, your curtains should be wider than the actual window width.
As a general guideline:
- 1.5 times wider – For a gathered look
- 2-3 times wider – For a very generous, billowy effect
Take your window width measurement, and multiply it by 1.5 or more, depending on your preferred fullness. This method ensures properly scaled proportions.
Panels vs. Single Panel
For wide windows, use multiple curtain panels to avoid a skimpy look. Individual panels should be a minimum of 18 inches wide. Figure 1.5-3X the width per panel.
For narrow windows, a single wider curtain panel looks best. Align your rod and panel widths for consistency.
Coordinate Rod and Curtain Widths
Your curtain rod should be just slightly wider than the total width of curtain panels to prevent gaps.
If using two 50-inch wide panels, get a rod at least 101 inches wide. Having a rod overlay of 1-3 inches on each side creates a seamless look.
Step 4: Consider the Curtain Rod
The curtain rod is an essential part of the whole window dressing equation. You’ll need the right length, diameter, and mounting placement to hang curtains correctly.
To find the ideal rod length, simply measure your window’s width and add 12 inches. This provides 6 inches of overhang on each side for the perfect proportional fit.
Rod Diameter and Weight
In terms of rod diameter, consider your curtains’ thickness and weight. Slim rods suit lightweight curtains. Wider rods balance heavier drapes.
Evaluate the mounting surface strength too. Fragile walls may require smaller, lighter rods. Sturdy woodwork can support larger brackets and rods.
Mounting Height and Clearance
Aim to install curtain rods as close to the ceiling as possible. This elevates curtains for optimal height and light control. Place at least 3 inches above the window frame, up to a foot for a grand effect.
Make sure there’s clearance to fully open curtains and windows. Measure window operation to prevent obstructions.
Coordinating Brackets and Finials
Finish off your curtain rods with decorative brackets and finials that complement both your rod style and interior decor. Sleek modern lines, traditional ornate curls, rustic wrought iron, and more suit any personality.
Step 5: Order or Make Custom Curtains
Armed with your perfectly calculated curtain dimensions, it’s time for the fun part – bringing your dream curtains to life!
Order ready-made curtains in standard or custom sizes from online retailers. Or get crafty and make your own custom curtains out of fabric yardage.
Buying Custom Sizes Online
Many retailers like Pottery Barn, Wayfair, and Target, now offer custom-sized curtains made to your exact measurements. Provide them the carefully determined dimensions for a tailored fit.
Expect to pay a bit more for this specialty service and allow several weeks for delivery. But the end result is curtains that fit like a glove.
DIY Curtains – Calculating Yardage
For the budget-conscious, sewing DIY curtains is a thrifty option. Determine yardage needed based on your width calculations, and add 20% extra for hems and headers.
Buy drapery weight fabrics like jacquard, brocade, velvet or heavy cottons. Allow for possible shrinkage, preshrink if needed.
Sew side and bottom hems approximately 2 inches wide to finish edges. Top headers help feed onto curtain rods via tabs or back pockets.
Step 6: Hanging and Installing Curtains
The final step is deploying your curtains onto their fresh new rod. Follow mounting instructions to correctly install the hardware into studs or using drywall anchors.
Use clip rings, Velcro tabs or a back rod pocket to neatly hang curtains. Ensure panels align to window edges and ample floor clearance.
Add weights or holdbacks to keep stationary as needed. Stand back and admire your curtain transformation! Proper sizing results in elegantly framed windows.
Calculating the ideal curtain size in inches for your windows is an important process. Precise measurements, knowing styles, and properly coordinating all components leads to a custom, polished look.
While it takes careful planning, the ability to make or buy curtains in the perfect length and width ensures flawlessly dressed windows. Our insider tips help simplify the math and formulas so you can achieve decorator grade style.
Follow our step-by-step guide for measuring windows, planning lengths and widths, selecting appropriate rods, and installing your tailored curtains successfully. With these pro tips, your curtains will elegantly frame your windows and enhance the ambiance of any room.
Measuring for Custom Curtains
While standard curtain sizes are available, sometimes custom-made curtains are necessary to perfectly fit a window. To measure for custom curtains, follow these steps:
- Measure the width of the window as you would for standard curtains, but also measure the depth of the window frame to ensure the curtains will fit snugly.
- Decide on the desired length of the curtains, taking into account the ceiling height and desired effect (floor-length, puddling, or floating).
- Measure the distance from the top of the window to the floor to determine the overall length of the curtains.
- Add the desired amount of drop (the distance between the bottom of the curtains and the floor) to the overall length.
- Add 6 inches to the overall length to ensure the curtains will hang properly and not appear too short.
- Double-check all measurements to ensure accuracy.
In addition to measuring correctly, it’s also important to choose the right type of curtain for the room. Here are some factors to consider:
- Purpose – Is light control, insulation, or pure decoration needed?
- Windows – Bedroom curtains often block light and noise. Living spaces may allow more natural light.
- Style – Formal, casual, modern, traditional? Match room decor.
- Fabric – Light and breezy vs. thick and insulating as needed.
- Color – Create an elegant neutral palette or make a bold color statement.
Analyzing your room’s unique architecture, lighting, and interior design needs guides you in selecting both the optimal curtain dimensions as well as the perfect style. Follow these pro tips for stunning window curtains every time.