DIY Basics: Figuring Fabric Yardage For Draperies (or Curtains) With Patterned Fabric

Don’t you just love the look of a bold patterned fabric on draperies?

I love that look. That’s why I’m so anxious to get started on the draperies for John & Alice’s family room, using this beautiful robin’s egg blue/white damask fabric.

But the key to making draperies out of fabric like this, and ending up with that really polished look, is to have the patterns lined up the same on all of the drapery panels.

Now I know that for some of you, numbers and math just come naturally to you.  Yes, I’ve known a few of you in my life.  You can be really irritating…especially when you look at me with a shocked look on your face when I have to count on my fingers to do the most basic math.  😀

But for us right-brained, anti-math types, we need a little help. I was so thankful when I finally learned how to confidently figure fabric yardage for this type of fabric, so now I’ll pass this info along to you. And for those of you who tend to get paralyzed at the sight of numbers and math (like I do), I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

For this example, I’ll use John & Alice’s family room windows.

Thank goodness we’re saying goodbye to that cornice, am I right?!

The first step is to determine the finished length of the draperies. For John and Alice’s family room, I want the draperies to extend just a few inches above the windows, and go all the way to the floor.

The finished length is 92 inches.

To this finished length, I add eight inches for the hem, and ten inches for the header (top edge) of the drapery panel.

92 (finished length) + 8 (hem) + 10 (header) = 110 inches.

So I’ll need a minimum of 110 inches of fabric for each drapery panel.

So far so good? Okay, let’s move on…

Now I need to know the vertical repeat of the pattern on the fabric. Most websites and fabric retailers have this information available.

That means that every 12.5 vertical inches, the pattern on the fabric repeats.  That’s pretty self-explanatory.

Because I want the pattern to stop and start at the same place on all eight drapery panels, I need to determine how many repeats I need for each panel.  I do this by dividing the minimum inches needed per panel by the vertical repeat.

110 (minimum inches needed per panel) / 12.5 (vertical repeat) = 8.8 vertical repeats

Then I round that number up to the nearest whole number.

So for each drapery panel, I need 9 vertical repeats.  Next I’ll multiply the number of vertical repeats needed by the measurement of the vertical repeat.

9 (number of vertical repeats per drapery panel) x 12.5 (inches per vertical repeat) = 112.5 inches

So for each drapery panel, I need 112.5 inches of fabric.  Multiply this number times the number of panels you need…

112.5 (inches of fabric per panel) X 8 (number of panels) = 900 total inches of fabric needed

Now divide that number by 36 to determine the number of yards needed.

900 (total inches of fabric needed) / 36 (inches per yard) = 25 yards of fabric

If that number of yards had been a fraction, I would have rounded up to the nearest whole yard.

Now if you’re new at making draperies, you might want to add a couple of vertical repeats just to have extra fabric, you know…just in case.

I know some of you just instinctively knew this information.  Others of you didn’t, but you read through this and got it right away.

Then there are those of you who are like me.  You saw numbers and math, and your eyes immediately glazed over.  You tried to read through it, but you convinced yourself that you wouldn’t get it right from the start, so now you’re frustrated.

Look, I’m probably one of the most numbers-challenged people in the country.  When I talk about having to count on my fingers to do the most basic addition, I’m not joking.  So if I can get this, I’m confident that you can too.

Now I also know that some of you are saying, “Well, that’s great, Kristi.  Now I can order fabric, but what do I do with it after that?!”

No fear.  Very soon, I’ll be showing you just how easy it is to make your own lined draperies…the Kristi Linauer Interiors way.  🙂  So stay tuned for that.

Don’t forget! Your comment enters you into this month’s drawing for a \$100 gift card to the home products store of the winner’s choosing. More info here.

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1. The O's says:

This is great! I'm just beginning to learn how to sew and drapes are one of the first things I'm wanting to do. I have done a few window treatments but I wouldn't call them "drapes"…..they are very simple, starter sewing projects, but I've been happy with them! Thanks for this info…I'm MAJOR number challenged and I understood this!!

2. Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) says:

Wow! That almost made sense to me!
I love, love, love that fabric!

1. This is all great, but I’m making curtins for my camp trailer and all of the windows are a different size, how do I figure yardage for that? A d each curtain has a 2 in top a d bottom sewn for a rod sytle… help!!!

3. kim says:

thank you so very much for this information. i am in the process of making window treatments for lots of windows and have been trying to figure this yardage thing out. i am so looking forward to the tutorial on the lined draperies…. it is exactly what i need. thanks so very much.

4. Kim says:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am a fellow mathematically challenged blogger and I e-mailed the link for this post to myself and filed it in my "decorating" folder 🙂

5. Kristi says:

That was awesome, thank you so much for explaining that, and in a very simple way too. I need drapes for my bedroom but was scared of making patterned ones until now, thanks!

6. Stacie says:

Thank you so much for posting these instructions!! This is the best explanation of how to determine your fabric needs and measurements for drapes that I have found on the internet. I have read so many websites/blogs on how to figure measurements but have come away from it more confused. I actually understood and followed your instructions perfectly! Thanks so much again for providing this!

7. deb@RoomscapesDecor says:

We apparently hang out in the same places, Kristi – I have that same photo you posted from Decor Pad on my desktop to show to a client.

8. Abby says:

Yay! I was hoping for a drapery tutorial. I have a sewing machine that hasn't been used much, and just recently moved, so new drapes are high on my list of things to do! Looking forward to the instructions!

9. Sindy says:

Hi Kristi, I think I would just print this out and check off each step and then go over it again to make sure I really did get it right :)!

10. Kim-A Creative Spirit says:

I am sooooo glad that you chose that beautiful fabric. WOO HOO. My dear Kristi, we have an excuse on the Math. In college for Interior Design degree, I had a professor tell our class that Interior Designers are notoriously BAD in Math. so woo hoo, we are in a great club. :o)

11. Cammee says:

Easy peasy!

You should my confusion when I am trying to match up patterns while doing french seams. I can make it work, but there has got to be an easier method than my brain comes up with!

12. ~*~Felicia~*~ says:

Thank you so much for this!!! I've been staring at my horrible curtains in my living room for months wanting to do something about them but not having enough money to buy custom designed curtains, but not knowing where to start either!! Thanks so much! Can't wait for the next tutorial!!!

13. livvie365 says:

I glazed over the math, but will refer to it next time I use a big repeat pattern. I just try to pick solids and add borders or something like a vertical stripe or tiny repeats, or no repeats like the awesome lattice pattern on the fabric I bought yesterday from fabric.com!

14. Anonymous says:

Loved this!! What a help – when will you post how to make lined drapes – that's what I need next!! Thanks Peg

15. deb says:

exactly what i needed to know. i know how to sew, but always took the easy way out
with plain fabrics. i can now order the print i want and make my drapes. thank you!

16. morgan says:

Thanks for this info! I have a question though. If I am making unlined drapes, does it change the measurements at all?

17. Joana says:

Thank you so much for posting these instructions! Now anyone can handle that and enjoy that kind of wonderful fabric at home.

18. Karen says:

Thanks so much for all this good information. The instructions were all about vertical repeats, what about horizontal repeats? I have a fabric that has a vertical repeat of 15.5 inches and a horizontal repeat of 16.5. Does the horizontal repeat play into this at all?