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How to Measure for Curtains

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

Take this window in our training room here:

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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.

Laura

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. https://www.homefocus.ie/store/list

    • Josephine Beggan 28 January at 15:15

      I have an apartment in the sun,which has sliding doors opening onto balcony, I want to hang curtains but am restricted to having to pull to one side only! The opening size is 280 cm wide and 220 cm in length. I am guessing these would have to be custom made and would be delighted if you could give me an estimate of cos
      Would appreciate your suggestions.many thanks.

      • Hi Josephine, we do not sell our custom curtains online but if you contacted your local store they would be delighted to help. We have 20% off custom curtains until Sunday 9th February

  • 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.

  • Still can't work out what sizes I need.

    Window sizes: 69 in wide x 65 in depth, 59.5 in wide x 42 in depth, 34.5 in wide x 45 in depth, 60 in wide x 47 in depth. What curtain sizes would I need please.

    • Hi Marion,
      I'm assuming they are the bare window sizes so if you only want short curtains the sizes are as follows, all sizes are width by drop and in inches:
      90 x 72; 66 x 54; 46 or 66 x 54 (46" width is not always available so 66 will suffice); 66 x 54. If you want full length curtains then get the same widths but a 90" drop in all.
      Hope that helps!

      • Hi Laura,

        Thanks for your reply. Yes you are correct they are the bare window sizes. So am I correct in that for the 69 in, 60 in and 59.5 in wide I would buy 90 in wide and for the 34.5 in wide I would buy 66 in wide.

        Many thanks,
        Marion.

  • Hi Laura,
    I have a window which is 177 cm across and 100 cm drop . After adding 30 cm to 177cm across - -pole size would be 207cm . So do you round up to pole size of 240cm ?
    And this gives you curtain size of 229cm across? Also in terms of curtain - is this 229cm for each side?
    And adding 15cm to drop - it is 115cm . So for ready made curtains - the drop would be 137cm?
    Thanks , Orla

    • Hi Orla,
      You are correct - you would need to purchase a 240cm pole - but you could cut it down to 210cm if you felt it was too wide for the space.
      229cm wide curtains does mean each curtain is 229cm wide which is perfect for this size and means they will have the correct fullness for your pole.
      The 137cm drop is also perfect if you want a short drop - though this can be more difficult to find in the 229cm width so you may have to go for one of the longer drops.
      If it is a living room I would recommend the 229cm drop as it looks more elegant. Hope that helps!

  • Hi there,
    This may seem like a silly question, however the measurements given of the ready made curtains e.g 229 X 229cm (90 X 90'') is that for one curtain or is that the measurement when the two curtains are closed. Many Thanks

    • Hi Ciara, Not at all! that's quite a common question - each curtain in the pack will measure 229cm wide

  • Is it possible to get ready made curtains for curtain rails rather than poles for a small bedroom window

  • Hi, I’m sorry, I’m still a bit confused. For ready made curtains, which comes first, the width or the height? And it that for both panels together or each?
    I have two windows: 1) 230cm wide x 220cm high and 2) 150cm wide x 130cm high
    The measurements include 6 inches to both sides above and across the actual window.

    • Hi Rebecca,
      The measurements are given as width x height and that is for each curtain in the pack. For your windows the following sizes would suit best:
      1) 90" x 90" (229 x 229cm) - assuming you want full length curtains - you will need to put the pole up a little higher to accommodate the length
      2) 66" x 54" (167 x 137cm) - this should come to just below your windowsill
      Hope that helps!

  • Hi Laura,

    My window is 98” wide x 47” drop.
    What size would you recommend, please and thanks!

    Audrey

    • Hi Audrey, For this width window the 130" wide curtains would look best - that width only comes full length so you would need 130" x 90".
      If you really wanted a shorter length you could go for 90" wide x 72" drop but be aware that they will not look very full on your window.
      Hope that helps!

  • Anne Mc Auliffe 20 June at 17:28

    Hi Laura.
    If my window is 5ft 8 inches wide and 53inch drop, would 66 inch width and 54 inch drop be the correct size to purchase? Anne

    • Hi Anne, If that's your bare window size you would need the 90 x 72" to allow for clearance above and below the window

  • Joan Dempsey 11 March at 14:45

    Hi Lauran,

    My new curtains will be 90ins long. I need to put up a pole, what height off the ground should my pole be?
    I need to leave a half an ins clearance from the floor.
    I am fussy that the curtains do not look short or rub along the floor' Thanks, Joan

    • Home Focus 16 March at 12:38

      Our advice is to measure the pole height off the curtains you are hanging - the readymade curtains in particular will always vary a bit in length and the difference is especially noticeable in eyelet vs pencil pleat. So ideally wait to hang your pole until you have the curtains in your hand and mark the height from the curtains themselves.
      Hope that helps

  • Hi Laura, I have a bedroom window which is 38 1/2 inches in width and my curtain rail currently measures at 56 inches (but I can extend it by an inch on either side). The curtains I want to purchase are no longer available in 66 inches in width but they are available 90 inches. Do you think they would look too full if I bough the 90 inches or would it be ok? They are pencil pleat curtains and I want them to look nice and full anyway but afraid to order in case the won’t work. The curtains are also available in 46 inches but presume they wouldn't look full enough? Thanks a million

    • Hi Chloe,
      You're right that the 66" curtain would be best, the 46" would definitely be a bit too skimpy in pencil pleat (though you might get away with it in an eyelet curtain). I think the 90" might be just too big (it would give over 3 times the fullness) so might not pull back when you open the curtains which could block a lot of light in the room. If this isn't an issue and your rail is good and sturdy you could give the 90" a go but I'd recommend dressing them back with a tie back rather than trying to pull them open and closed as they'd look better.

  • Margaret Hayes 03 April at 13:14

    Replacement curtains.
    Need 4 curtains
    Each curtain is width 66ins and drop 72 ins
    I am interested in buying two pairs of
    Linum cream lined ready made pleated .I have existing rails .

  • Do you make curtains to measure. For example I’ve got a window on one side & a door on the other side & the window glass goes right to the ground. Window 1 iwidth is 155cm, window 2 width is 100cm & the drop from pole to floor is 234cm

    • Hi Fiona, We offer a made to measure service through our stores. As soon as our stores can re open you can contact your local store and they'll be happy to help.