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How to measure for curtains

Accurately measuring for curtains is a must if you want to get the right fit, whether you're shopping for easy-fit ready-made curtains or commissioning made to measure.

Curtain width measurements will depend on the length of your curtain track or pole, but measuring curtain length or 'drop' will be determined by where you'd like your drapes to end.

Use a metal tape measure for better accuracy and follow our guide on how to measure for curtains to get those dimensions right!

Measuring a curtain track or pole

If you don't already have your track or pole in place our advice would be to fit it before you measure.

To fit correctly measure the width of the window plus 30/40cm (8-10"), this will ensure your curtains will comfortably cover your window. Fit your track or pole approximately 15cm (6") above your window recess and centre ensuring you have 15-20cm (6-8") either side of the window.

Measuring curtain width

For the best performance, your curtain track or pole should be positioned approximately 15cm (6") higher than the window, and be wider than your window by 15-20cm (6-8") either side.

If you're using a curtain track, measure its full length. For curtain poles measure the length of the pole only, do not include the finials (the decorative pieces on the end).

Use your curtain pole or track length to calculate the width of your curtains. To achieve a soft gathered look when your curtains are closed, use the header type to calculate the following:

  • Pencil pleat = pole or track width x 2
  • Eyelet = pole or track width x 2
  • Tab top = pole or track width x 1.5

Add a further 2.5cm (1") to the width measurement to allow your curtains to overlap in the middle when closed.

Measuring curtain length

Decide where your curtains will end.

  • Sill length = Curtains should finish 1.25cm (1/2") above the sill to prevent wear to hems
  • Below sill = Curtains should finish 15cm (6") below the sill to block out light and draughts
  • Floor length = Curtain should finish 1.25cm (1/2") above the floor to prevent wear to hems

If there is a radiator below your window we recommend that your curtain sits 3cm (1 ½ ") above the top of it so heat can escape into your room and not rise up behind your curtains.

To measure the 'drop' of your curtains, bear in mind the kind of curtains you are going to hang.

Pencil pleat curtain measurements:
Curtain track: measure from the top of the track to your chosen end point (e.g. windowsill, floor)
Curtain pole: measure from the bottom of the pole rings to where you want the curtain to end

Eyelet and tab top curtain measurements:
Measure from the top of the curtain pole to where you want the curtain to finish. Eyelet and tab top curtains can only be used with a curtain pole.

  • For pencil pleat = If you have a track measure from the top of the track and if you have a pole measure from the eye of the curtain hook as it sits on your pole
  • For tab top = Measure from the top of your pole
  • For eyelet = Measure from the top of your pole and add 2.5cm (1") to account for the fabric that will sit above the eyelet of the curtain

If you'd like your curtains to drape on the floor or sill for a fuller, more relaxed feel, add a bit extra to the length.

Windowsills and floors are not always level, so measure at 2 or 3 points and use the smallest measurement to ensure the best fit.

Buying curtains at Dunelm

Our curtains all follow 'width x drop' sizing to make it easier to find your favourite drapes in the size you need.

Dunelm's ready-made curtains are sold in pairs. The size given refers to each individual curtain, so if you buy a pair of curtains measuring 117cm x 137cm (46" x 54") you will receive two curtains each with the same measurement of width 117cm x length 137cm (width 46" x length 54").