Measure for Curtains with our Step by Step Guide

Measuring for curtains is a simple task, but only if you know how. Our step by step guide will show you how to get all the appropriate measurements correctly. We have also included tips, advice and things to consider when you measure for curtains. E.g. the amount of ‘gather’ you want.

How to Measure for curtains:


  • You should select and fit your track or pole (or curtain wire for nets), before taking any measurements for the length of your curtains. (You may not always be able to fit your track or pole, the exact height you would like. e.g. when trying to drill into a concrete lintel).
  • When you measure for curtains, always use a steel tape to take your measurements. (fabric or plastic type tape-measures tend to stretch over time and may give a false reading).
  • Every measurement you take, WRITE IT DOWN. 😉

Step 1: Measure for a New Curtain Pole or Track

(Please skip this step if there is an existing pole or track you intend to use.)

First we need to measure the inside width of the window recess. (Measure A)

Next, decide how far your curtains will over-hang the wall, each side of the window. This would normally be around 20cm (8 inches) each side and enables the curtains to open wider, allowing more daylight to enter the room. (Measure B)

Measure for Curtains pole or Track

Now add A + B + B. This will give us the length of the track or pole needed (C), excluding finals.

Step 2: Measure for Curtains Width

(If you skipped step 1, measure your track/pole (excluding finals), this will give you measurement (C).)

Measure for curtains width

When you measure for curtains width, it is important to consider the ‘gather’.

To have curtains with a medium gather when closed, we take our track/pole measurement (C), multiply it by 1.5 then divide by 2. The result is the required width of Each curtain.

For curtains with full/normal gather when closed, measurement C would be the required width of Each curtain.

If you desire a heavy gather, multiply measurement C by 2.5 then divide by 2. Again, the result is the required width of Each curtain.

Ok, we’ve now established the width of our curtains. Here’s how we work out the length.

Step 3: Measure for Curtains Drop / Length

Before we can measure for curtains length, we need to decide whether our curtains will fall to the sill, below the sill or to the floor.

Measure for Curtain length


– Sill length curtains usually finish 1/2 inch (1.25cm) above the sill.

Curtains that fall below the sill usually finish 15cm (6 inches) below. This, of course, can be adjusted for personal preference.

For floor length curtains you should allow 1 inch (2.5cm) clearance to avoid dragging.

(Click Image to Enlarge)


Now, with your track/pole fitted 6-8 inches (15-20cm) above the window recess, measure from the top edge of the track/pole to your chosen finished length.

  • For Tab-top and all types of pleated curtains, write down your measurement.
  • For Eyelet/Ring top curtains, write down your measurement and add 1.5 inches (3.5cm) (This is the distance from the inner edge of the eyelet to the top edge of the curtain).

Step 4: Important!

Sit down and relax with your favourite beverage!

Well… maybe you could put away your step ladder and tape first… I’ll leave that up to you.

Measuring for Ready Made Curtains

When you measure for curtains, and intend to buy ready made curtains, there are a few things to consider.

  • Ready made curtains are only available in certain sizes.
  • You may need to get them shortened which will add to the over-all cost.
  • The sizes quoted on the packaging are approximate measurements, NOT exact.
  • The quality of the fabric can often be rather poor. Especially when buying at greatly reduced prices.

Here is a list of the more common sizes available. The first number given is always the width. So curtains that are 117x137cm would have a width of 117cm, and a length of 137cm. Please remember when buying ready made curtains, the sizes given are approximate.

Standard Ready Made Curtain Sizes:

117x137cm (46×54″)
117x182cm (46×72″)
117x228cm (46×90″)
168x137cm (66×54″)
168x182cm (66×72″)
168x228cm (66×90″)
228x137cm (90×54″)
228x182cm (90×72″)
228x228cm (90×90″)

Measuring for Made to Measure Curtains

Are you measuring to get some Made to Measure Curtains..? – Did you know, some of the smaller, independent curtain makers, will make curtains from fabric you provide..? – This can work out much more cost effective. You can choose the exact fabric you want, at a price that your happy with. The big stores (I won’t name them but you can probably think of a few.) ask you to choose from their selection of fabric. That’s not always a bad thing, but you can’t shop around for the best price, and your limited to what they have in stock.

To help you work out how much fabric would be needed for made to measure curtains, we have put together a ‘Curtain fabric calculator‘. A useful little gadget that can use your measurements to calculate the amount of fabric required to make your curtains.

Comments welcome!

If you found our ‘Measure for Curtains’ guide useful, or can think of something we’ve missed, please let us know. We appreciate your feedback!

28 thoughts on “Measure for Curtains with our Step by Step Guide

  1. Fabulous easy to follow instructions. An absolute lifesaver. My curtains looked fab, an if I say so myself a little professional.
    Thank you

  2. Straightforward, easy to follow instructions and calculator, brilliant. Made getting started on the curtains a lot easier ! Thank you.

  3. Lovely, clear instructions. I am going to attempt to make my own for the first time. Panicing….but your instructions are very calming!!!

    • Hi Elle, There really is no need to panic. Just work through the process one step at a time and I’m sure you will do a great job.

  4. All sounds good but what about an allowance for pattern repeat? Mine has a 52cm repeat, I’m concerned that I might not buy enough fabric and have to possibly mix batch numbers or order too much which will be costly.

    • Hi Arlene, the purpose of this guide is to help you measure for what size curtains are needed for the window. It isn’t to work out the amount of fabric needed to make curtains. Once you know the measurements of the curtains you require, please use our curtain fabric calculator to calculate the amount of fabric needed. That is where you would enter the measurement for the pattern repeat. 🙂

  5. I’ve just moved back to England after many years abroad and was horrified at how much it costs to have curtains made.
    Did a Google search and found you guys and wow!
    I’ve just finished my lined bedroom curtains (first I’ve ever made) and I’m sooo proud of them!
    On the back of this success I’m about to tackle the curtains for the really large patio doors.
    You’ve saved me a small fortune already, so thanks a bunch! xx

  6. This was really easy to understand and made it all so simple. I love the important step of having a drink – made the whole process more enjoyable!!! Love it and will use again.

  7. Searched for ages to find out more about the mysterious world of curtain,measuring (am total novice and just bought house with no curtains or poles) – thank heavens for this fantastically simple advice page!
    Many thanks

  8. Okay, so when buying ready made curtains, are the sizes specified (though approximate) per curtain or per pair?

    I need to cover the gap width of 88inches, so If I get the 90inch width, they will gather to a double or will they only by 2inches?

    • Hi Graham, the sizes given on ready made curtains is the size of Each curtain. E.g. a size given of 90″x90″ would mean each curtain is 90″ wide and 90″ long(drop).

      For a gap of 88″ – Yes, 90″ a pair of width curtains would gather to give you double.

  9. Excellent instructions!!! Thank you so much!!!
    But I have an additional question….
    The railing is fixed to the ceiling and the distance from railing to floor is 263cm. I want to leave some space between the end of the curtain and the floor so the fabric’s length should be 261cm. So far so good 🙂
    But, should I consider and extra 1 or 2 cm for possible ‘stretch’ of the fabric due to its weight? Should I make the curtain 259/260 cm long? Width of each curtain is 300cm and I’m using a cotton fabric plus blackout material. Thank you.
    Greetings from sunny Rotterdam 🙂

    • Hi Daria, I would say “yes!” it would be a good idea to allow for stretch in your chosen curtain fabric. I would go with a 260cm finish.

  10. have been making my own curtains for many years ,wished I had seen this advise earlier .Made things so much simpler .thankyou

  11. Hi,
    We are about to purchase curtains for our bedroom window, which has radiator 10″ below the windowsill, should we measure the drop allowing the curtain to drop between wall and radiator, keeping heat in the room rather than the window?

    • Hi Arthur, Yes, that would be the approach I would take. Some of the heat will travel behind the curtain and heat the window as well anyway.

  12. this is a stupid question really but the measurements for the curtains are 117x137cm (46×54″) is this for both of the curtains or what im a bit simple at this thing

    • Hi paula – I believe that there is no such thing as a ‘stupid’ question, if you don’t know the answer to something then asking is the only way to learn 🙂

      To answer your question – 117x137cm (46×54″) would be the size of each curtain.

  13. Thank you so much!! I’ve been looking for instructions on width/gathering measurement for curtains for ages and these instructions are simple, clear and easy to understand. Fab!!

  14. Thank you so much for using inches measurements as well and centimeters – I’m very old fashioned so it is really helpful and saves me getting out my calculator.

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