How to Measure for Curtains



Measuring for curtains is a little bit chicken and the egg; should you have your pole up first? Should you measure the bare window? I’m here to tell you that either is fine as long as you understand what you’re doing.

In an ideal world, when measuring for curtains you’ll be starting with a blank canvas; a window with no pole/rail up but sometimes it’s already there and you need to figure out what size to buy. I say in an ideal world because you can always hang a pole to suit your curtains but if the curtains only come in a 229cm drop and you have already hung your pole 235cm off the ground you’re fairly snookered. I’ll explain what to do in each case shortly but first let me give you a few tips to live by when measuring for your curtains

My first and most important tip when measuring for curtains is to use a metal measuring tape. I’ve worked in Home Focus/ Hickeys stores for years and have seen all sorts of crazy things; pieces of string, bits of wool, plastic bags and that infamous incident when a woman told me her window was one and a half times the length of her arm!! Let me tell you people, these thing stretch or are weird and will leave you with an inaccurate measurement.

The second suggestion I have when measuring for curtains is to use what you know; if you’re comfortable with inches, use inches. The poles and ready made curtains will all have their sizes listed in inches and centimetres and if you’re really struggling our staff will help you convert.

Measuring with no pole/rail up:

Measure the width of your window across, from plaster to plaster, and from top to bottom. Then add on 6” (15cm) above the window and 6 - 10” (15-25cm) either side of the window to allow for the pole/rail size. This is to allow the curtains to clear the window when open, maximising the light into your room. Usually, the bigger the window, the wider you have the pole.


Measuring with a pole up:

If you have a pole up, measure the width of the pole, not including the finials (ends), measure the drop from just under the pole to where you want the curtains to fall.



Measuring with a rail up:

If you have a rail up measure the width of the rail, including any overlaps or returns, measure the drop from the top of the rail to where you want the curtains to fall.


If you’re thinking of getting Custom Made curtains, then stop here and visit your local store armed with this information.

If you’re going for Ready Made curtains then read on:

So now that we’ve figured out what size our pole/rail is likely to be we need to figure out what size curtains to buy. Without going into too much detail, you want your curtains to be approximately twice the width of your pole/rail, this is basically so they will be nicely gathered and look their best.

Use the handy little chart below to figure out what width you need:


Now that you know the width, the drop is a more straightforward prospect, you’re either hanging your curtains to just below the windowsill, to the radiator or to the floor. I have listed the standard sizes on the chart below, so it’s just a matter of picking which one is closest to your desired drop.


Let’s do a real life example of measuring for curtains:

Take this window in our training room here:

I have measured the width across = 43” (109cm)
The drop to the bottom = 34.5” (88cm)

So adding 6” (15cm) each side we estimate that our pole should be 55” (139cm) wide and adding 6” (15cm) above we get 40.5” (103cm).
So going by the charts above our curtains should be 66” x 54” (167cm x 137cm) and there you have it!!

Now you know what size you need shop our gorgeous range of Ready Made Curtains.


I started working for Hickeys when I was only 16 and my love affair with all things fabric, textiles and crafts began!! I always have some project on the go (even if they don't always get finished), and after 17 years in the business I'm still learning new things all the time from fellow staff and amazing customers!

Your Comments
  • attracta goff 20 October at 18:25

    Is 130cm the largest width in ready made curtains? My window is 160cmx90, viewed some beautiful ones on your web site but not wide enoughThanks

    • Home Focus 25 October at 12:28

      Hi, many thanks for your comment! Our largest width is 330cm(130") however we do offer custom made curtains! You can contact your local store to find out more.

  • Laura my window is 120 CM high 194 CM wide what size curtain will fit Thanks Bernie

    • Hi Bernie,
      Using our handy little chart in the blog, you can see the best available size would be 90" x 72"(229cm x 182cm). This will allow for the curtains to go above and below the window. Hope this helps!

  • Patrick Scully 26 April at 21:43

    Need a pole approx 265 cms
    can i cut the 360 cm oile to suit

    • You can indeed cut a 360cm pole to size. Just use a good hacksaw for metal.
      The 360cm poles will come in 2 pieces so simply cut an even amount off both sides. In this case cut each one down to 133cm to give you a 266cm pole.
      Hope this helps!

  • I've measured the existing pole and its 100 inches across. The drop down from just under the pole to the floor is 85 inches. So am I correct in thinking the curtains I need will be 144 inches wide with a drop of 90? Thanks

    • Hi Mags, 130 x 90" would be the best size to go for as they would be nice and full. However if you are interested in eyelet curtains that are only available in 90 x 90" these would suffice. Thanks for your query.

  • Victoria Treacy 17 January at 20:23

    Hi Laura. My window measures 2430 (drop) x 2400mm. Is it possible to get a pole/rail for this? Also have a lift-sliding door - 2580 (drop) x 2400mm. Any suggestions please?

    • Hi Victoria. All of our poles come in 300 or 320cm length which can be cut to size to suit your window. Unfortunately you may find it difficult to purchase readymades in a suitable size because of the length. For your sliding door the best option might be a rail with the curtains drawing to one side. This would be a custom made option and luckily there is 20% off our custom made service until 3rd Feb. The best thing to do is to call into your local store and they will be more than happy to advise you further on your options. Hope this helps!

  • Hi!
    I have 3 m bay type window. What size should be a Pencil pleat curtains? The drop size is 229cm. Thank you.

    • Hi Layla, You would need 130"x90" (329x229cm), this size is harder to come by in Pencil Pleat finish - ideally we would suggest having custom made curtains for a bay window as it ensures they will be perfect. There is 20% off all custom made curtains in our sale until Sunday 3rd February.