Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fabric Pattern Matching and Measuring Up

What exactly are pattern repeats? What is a half drop repeat?

All patterned fabrics have a repetitive pattern down their lengths - this is the pattern repeat and is measured from the point in one pattern to the same point in the next pattern.

Regular horizontal replicate: The pattern repeats across the roll and is positioned at the same place at each edge, allowing a straight match for each cut of fabric.

Straight match

Related: Designer curtains: Pattern Faux Silk Curtains

Related: Vintage Cotton Velvet Curtains Collection

Related: How to Make Your Curtain Fabric Romance

Half drop replicate: The pattern repeats across the roll half way down the vertical replicate, usually to make the design repeats more interesting. Every other horizontal repeat (from side in order to side) is dropped down one half of its length i. e. the style repeats itself on the diagonal rather than the horizontal. This normally means allowing additional fabric for curtains (an extra pattern repeat for every other drop associated with fabric) and cutting very carefully.

Half drop
Fabrics which are made in modern Generators tend to have very precise pattern matching.

Fabrics which are hand made / produced available looms or hand finished / hand embroidered will not have the same uniformity like a machine produced fabric. Please bear in mind that it will be more difficult to pattern match these types of fabrics.

What does railroaded mean?

The term 'railroaded' refers to the orientation of the fabric's design as it is woven on the fabric roll.
Regular fabric: The design is orientated to operate along the length of the fabric and is the correct way as it comes off the roll.

Railroaded material: The design is orientated to run along the width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge) so that you must turn the roll 90 degrees to show the design running the simplest way. The width of the fabric is then used for the curtain drop.

Some red stripe designs and wide width curtain fabrics are often railroaded avoiding the need for seams.

How to measure for curtains ?

We would always recommend that you suit your track or pole before measuring for your curtains. In our experience you will find occasions when you can't put the pole / track fixture where you originally meant due to a poor fixing or the opposite a solid lintel.

Poles are usually fitted ten - 15 cm above the window, depending on the depth of the wall between your windowpane and the ceiling.


Tracks / poles extend past the width of the windowpane, usually by 15 - 25 cm either side of the window. This particular measurement depends on how wide the window is - if you want to have the drapes drawn back off the windows during the day, you will need more room to stack back again a bigger, fuller curtain, than for a smaller window with a less bulky drape.

When measuring for curtains you measure the width of the track or pole, not the width of the window. If you are using a pole, it is the dimension from one finial to the other which is used.

Track width
Pole width
If you are fitting the pole or track with an overlap arm in the middle, then you need to measure the actual overlap and add this amount to the pole / track length (A in addition B).

Overlap arm
Floors can be uneven, so we would always advise which 3 measurements are taken for the drop - one at each end as well as another in the middle. The shortest measurement is usually used, otherwise the curtains in their longest will drag along the floor. If these 3 measurements tend to be greatly different, or you are using certain fabrics with a lot of movement in them for example silk velvets, we would recommend that the curtains are pooled or puddled on the ground, rather than trying to work to an exact floor length curtain.


The overall decrease of the curtain is the complete length of the curtain, top to bottom, including the started height.

Curtains are usually finished to a choice of 3 lengths:

(i) cill size (usually 1 cm above the cill)

(ii) below cill length - generally 15 - 20 cm below the window cill, unless there is a radiator and so on to take into account.

(iii) floor length (usually 1 cm above the floor)

If you are using the track, we would recommend that the curtains sit just above the track, so you might measure from the top of the track, plus one cm or two, down to where you wish the actual curtains to finish.

Heading height
Track drop
If you are using a pole, the dimension will depend on the type of heading you are having and how you want your curtains to hang:

Pen pleat, Pinch pleat, Goblet etc . - measure the drop from the eyes (small metal ring on the curtain ring) so that your pole will be seen above the actual curtains..

Pole drop
Eyelet - measure from the top of the pole, and then add-on a further 3 cm or so for the curtain heading above the pole.

Tab or even tie top - measure from the top of the pole.

Eyelet and tab decrease
How to measure for blinds ?

Cord and cleat
The very first thing to decide is whether you want your blind to sit inside or outside your own window recess.

If the blind is to sit inside a recess:

Inside recess

Measure across the window recess in three places - top, middle as well as bottom, as windows often aren't square. The smallest measurement is the one to utilize, so that the blind can move smoothly. NB Take into account any tiles or windowpane fixtures which may impede the blind.


Measure the length from the top of the break to the bottom, again measuring in 3 places. Again, usually the quickest length is taken as the finished drop.

If the blind is to sit outdoors a recess:

Measure the required width and drop of the blind, allowing a good overlap at each side (usually 3 - 5 cm). We often recommend that for those who have a window cill that extends beyond the window, then use the cill width as the width of the blind too, and have the blind sitting on the cill for a neat finish.

Outside recess
Fabric - How do I calculate how much material I need?

1) Measure the width of your curtain pole or track, because explained in the previous section.

2) Multiply this width by the fullness required for your own heading:

Goblet pleat/Triple pleat: multiply your width by 2 . 5 by

Gathered / Slotted / Eyelet / Tabbed top / Tie best: multiply your width by 2 x

Pencil pleat: multiply your thickness by 2 x - 2 . 5 x

3) Divide this quantity by the width of your chosen fabric and round up to the nearest whole quantity. This is the number of widths of fabric required.

4) Measure the finished length of the drapes you require, as explained in the previous section.

Add 30 cm for turnings, which gives you your cutting length.

5) Multiply the number of widths by the cutting size. This is the amount of fabric you need to buy if the fabric is plain.

6) In case you are buying a fabric with any kind of pattern, you will need to pattern match the fabric, so that once the curtains are drawn together, the pattern is the same on both curtains.

To permit enough fabric for pattern matching, add the following calculation:

Take the cutting size you have calculated and divide this by the pattern repeat. Round the number of design repeats up so that your cutting length increases.

Use this new, final cutting size and multiply by the number of widths. This is the amount of fabric you need to buy for material with a pattern repeat.

We usually recommend that you add an additional pattern replicate to the overall quantity, so that you can choose how to place the pattern on the first as well as subsequent widths.

Remember the golden rule - Measure twice - reduce once!

If you are still at all unsure as to how much fabric to order, please request a curtain quote and we will work it all out for you.

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