You’ve bravely decided to tackle your own DIY drapery project. So get ready, it will be quite an interesting project considering how much fabric yardage you’ll need. I also hope you have a lot of table surface to measure the drapes since this kind of window treatment requires exactness.
But how much fabric is needed for drapes? A standard single panel width of rod pocket drapes with a length of 96 inches will require about 6-1/4 to 6-1/2 yards of fabric for a pair, but the yardage can increase substantially when large pattern repeats, special headers, and extra fullness are introduced.
Let’s go into more detail and narrow down a yardage amount that will work for you.
Tie-top custom drapery.
Determining the Length Necessary
Throughout this post, I’ll be referring to several drapery measuring calculators, which you can find by clicking here. Use it to determine the length for your drapes.
How high above the window frame will they hang? Will they be floor length, break length, or puddle length?
Once you have the exact number for the length, it’s time to add on the extra length needed for the construction of the drape. Drapes are made with double-turned hems on the left, right, and bottom sides.
The top will depend on the header style chosen, but the idea is very similar there, too. The bottom hem would lose 8 to 12 inches here (don’t forget to insert metal weights on each corner). For the header, a rod pocket generally requires about an inch more than what it needs to be. For example, if you’d like a 3-inch rod pocket, you have to account for 4 inches of fabric on top.
Pleated headers generally require 8 to 12 inches of extra fabric on top just like the bottom hem does, which corresponds to 3-1/2-inch wide pleater tape. Although, if you’d like long, oversized pleats, you may need a deeper header. This will require more fabric.
I’ll use a pair of 96-inch long drapes for the sake of having an example – you’d substitute your own numbers, of course. Adding 10 inches for the bottom hems and 5 inches on top of each drape (for rod pocket) gives us a total of 222 inches, or approximately 6.17 yards. Again, this is for a pair (two draperies).
Calculation: 2 x (96″ + 10″ + 5″) = 222″ 222″ / 36 = 6.17 yds This is assuming the fabric is a solid or has a small-scale pattern and also assuming each drape is a single panel width (50 inches) only. In case you’ll be adding lining, mark the above calculation also as the yardage required for lining.
But back to the face fabric here – what if the pattern is large? We’ll tackle that next.
Don’t Forget to Account For Large Vertical Patterns
Each fabric has a horizontal and vertical pattern repeat. When thinking about drapery length, we mostly care for the vertical repeat. A large vertical repeat more than likely will require much more fabric yardage when you’re trying to sew several pairs of drapes or extra wide drapes.
Drapes should be identical to each other. For example, if on one drapery a specific large floral print starts 6 inches from the top, it should do the same on the rest of the drapes in the room. This means that as you cut each panel to sew, you may have to skip ahead until the pattern starts repeating again.
A 23-inch vertical repeat may mean that you may have to skip over up to 23 inches of fabric in between each panel cutting. I won’t go into too much detail on fabric repeats, but you can read more about this topic in this post.
Let’s go back to the same example from above. We’ve determined that we need about 222 inches of fabric. But what if there’s a large floral medallion print you need to position to start a few inches below the rod pocket and the vertical repeat happens to be 23 inches?
Because you don’t know where exactly the fabric will be cut once you receive it, you’ll want to add an extra 23 inches in case you have to start cutting the first drapery panel lower.
Of course, there may be some space in between the two panels, too, so you’d add another 23 inches.
Calculation: 222″ + 2 x 23″ = 268″ 268″ / 36 = 7.44 yds Again, this is assuming each drape is a single panel width (50 inches) only. Speaking of width, what if the drapes need to be wider than 50 inches? Let’s talk about that.
Drapes Wider Than the Standard Single Panel Width
Most people are used to drapes that are only 50 inches wide (flat). But if your aim is to have more fullness and to get that designer look, I refer you back to the guide and calculator again to figure out how wide each drape needs to be. If each drape needs to be wider than 50 inches, simply go back to the calculations above and account for the extra panels needed.
So, for example, two double width (100″) drapes would be the same as four single width (50″) drapes. The single width pair that needed 7.44 yards of fabric from above would then need 14.88 yards of fabric as a double-wide pair.
What If I Have Too Much Leftover Fabric?
I get it – home decor fabric isn’t cheap. You’ll be lucky to get this much yardage at $15 a yard, and some designer patterns easily fetch over $100 a yard. You may be tempted to buy less fabric to save on your project, but I encourage you not to do this. Will you always lose the entire repeat in between each panel cut?
Of course not – sometimes the length of the panels will line up perfectly with the repeats and you won’t lose any fabric whatsoever. But play it safe and add some extra yardage. After all, the project will be impossible if you don’t have enough yardage.
There’s nothing worse than a drapery that cost an enormous amount of money in fabric, lining, and trims, only to come up 1 inch too short before it can touch the floor! So go ahead and use this extra fabric for pillows or cushions. There’s always something you can do with the leftover fabric.