Quantifying Fabric For Curtains

FGoblet pleat”One of my strongest convictions and one of the first canons of good taste, is that our houses, like the fish`s shell and the birds nest ought to represent our individual taste and habits.”

Mary Hawies

The comments above were made by Mary Eliza Haweis she is best known as an important figure in the female literature of household taste that flourished in the 1880s, her most famous work being “The Art of Decoration” (1881). I feel her comments still stand firm today { a point that some designers in the industry need to be reminded of}.

I am E.D.Wolfe interior decorator / designer, technical expert and soft furnishings specialist with 20 years experience in the public sector of the wonderful world of interiors and home decoration. Needless to say I feel I have a lot to say about the industry, trends and who is doing what and how well.

I have started this blog for several reasons mostly because I have more family commitments and can no longer work the hours required by demanding employers and clients, as well as not wanting to work for other people and having to adopt their ethos which did not always coincide with mine. This often has got me and my big mouth into trouble until I finally evolved to the stage that I would bite my tongue. So many times my point of view clashed with the powers that be. I hated having to put profit and loss before the design or the clients needs . Frustrating is an understatement.

I found the only advice I felt completely free to give was when I was giving it freely {without payment}. I have therefore begun this blog to pass on my experience and advice to whomever needs it.

You can glean from it what you will without fear that I am trying to sell you something.

Hopefully I can stop people making huge mistakes, helping them with a problem or advising them how to tackle an issue. Not to mention how to avoid being screwed over by the greedy and inexperienced in the industry.

{ how not to line the owners pockets with money furnished by reselling the off cuts you have rightfully paid for}

This can be simply avoided by understanding how fabric quantities are worked out.
DO NOT WORRY. It does not a mathematician take. I barely scraped a C in GCSE maths {with help} and even I can do it.

It is kind of like hanging wallpaper if you have ever tried this . You will notice depending on height of wall, size of pattern repeat and how this comes together the size of the off cuts {waste} will vary.

Hopefully the images I have provided will also help.

cutting repeat

Information Needed.
1. What are you making
2 Pole / rail size and finished length of product when hanging.
3 How many drops of cloth are needed
4 What is the pattern repeat. {this info is readily available in books, on samples or by the
cloth manufacturers, all else fails and you have a piece then measure it vertically}

For arguments I am going to work out a basic pair of pencil pleat {normal gather} curtains.
We will work in cms for simplicity. But please work in inches if you find that easier {I do}

Pole = 2mtrs
Finished length = 2mtrs

Pencil pleats normally work on between 2 to 2 1/2 x the fullness.
I like a fuller curtain personally.

200cm x 2.5 = 500 cms

Now fabric is normally 137 cms wide this is the width of a roll. The bit of fabric along the edges that sometimes has only writing on is called a selvedge {try not to get caught out with the speech, it can sound like a whole different language but it is not and some try to use this language to confuse, as well as make themselves look clever and occasionally to make you feel not as clever . I only used it when someone annoyed me and looked at me as if to say what does she know. (Joke)

selve edgeexamples of selvedges.

So we know we need 500cms across the pole for a nice full curtain so lets see how many drops that is? 500 divided by 137 = 3.64 Oh know I hear you cry. Do not panic. You have a choice you can go for 3 which is just about 2 x full or 4 which is 2.74 x full. I would advise 4 on a flat window and 3 on a bay {less room in a bay}. But it is completely up to you, also if it is a thick cloth stick to the 3.

4 DROPS THEN. So that is a pair of curtains with two widths in each curtain.

The Pattern is 64 cm {most are this or 30cm give or take}



200cm FINISHED so you will need a bit extra for hems {bottom} and turns {top}.
I used to work on 22 cm {9 inch} in total. It does vary from company to company.
Some use a little more and some a little less.

SO 200 + 22 = 222 now how many patterns fit into this?


4 pattern repeats at 64 = 256 cm {This is your CUT}

4 drops at 256 cm = 10.3 mtrs. This is how much cloth you need. Any seamstress or company trying to add a repeat on every drop should be professional shot.
Extreme I know but this is a wasteful way of doing things and costs you a lot more.

If the pattern has something on that you want to start in a particular place you will need to add a repeat if you are ordering it in, if on the roll just take a look and start in and pay for the bit extra you need to do so.

With this example you end up with approx 34 cm waste . Not a lot I hear you say. Not on this occasion but sometimes you can end up with enough waste for cushions and they are better off being your cushions than someone else’s who has bought the off cut re sold at 100% profit by the people who made your curtains.



I know there are many other styles and types of curtains but this is the basic. Please do message on problem chat if you have style not mentioned or detail not outlined and we will endeavour to help you. The chart below details basic curtain styles and the recommended fullness.

Pencil = 2 – 2.5

pencil pleat heading

Pinch (this can be 2 or 3 pleats) = 2.5 – 3


Goblet = 2.5 – 3


Eyelet = 1.5 – 2


These estimations are all based on hand sewn pleats and not tapes, please use the tape manufacturers guidelines.

BLINDS, BLINDS, BLINDS. All about blinds in the next post, keep a look out?

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s