Chi HouseHomeRepair | How to Measure for Pleated Draperies

Free Shipping on Orders Over $49! Buy Now and Save at!

How to Measure for Pleated Draperies

This article is titled "How to Measure for Pleated Draperies" but the same basic rules apply anytime you are measuring for draperies, curtains, valences or most any other type of window treatment. New or new to you words will be defined inside ( ) the first time they are used.

There are only seven measurements and one critical observation for obstructions that are necessary to ensure a perfect job every time. When you measure the window you should be recording a picture of that window with your measurements that will allow any soft treatment to be made without your having to return for more measurements.

The scaled down, web friendly version of this form shown below may be found here in a printer friendly version and may be printed for your personal, non commercial use.

These seven somewhat intuitive abbreviations are my own and not found in any resource material that I know of:


Width of casing  (or opening if frameless window)  from left to right. 

CTC  Measurement from the top of the casing to the ceiling or crown molding
CTS Measurement from the top of the casing to the top of the sill
CTA Measurement from the top of the casing to the bottom of the apron.
CTF Measurement from the top of the casing to the floor (or other item like radiator, window seat,  or any other place the treatment must end.
WSL Maximum wall space to left of window casing to nearest wall, next window, or obstruction. 
WSR Maximum wall space to right of window casing to nearest wall, next window, or obstruction.
Obstruction Note anything that might interfere with the installation in the comments section. These might include but are not limited to tray ceiling, light fixtures, security system, furniture, HVAC vents, built-in (or soon to be ) bookcases or other items.

Important Note: If you get to the ordering stage and are missing one key number, Don't wing it. Go back and get it. The minor embarrassment of saying "I need to get one more measurement" is far better than the major one of saying "I'm sorry. I am not sure what went wrong. We will fix it and bring it back next month."

What the heck do I do with these Numbers? If you are working with a store or fabricator all you really have to do is take the information above to the store or fabricator. They will do the rest of the work for you.

If you are a Designer, Decorator, making your own, shopping for ready-mades, or just someone who would like to learn more please continue reading.

To determine the rod face (the left to right measurement of an installed rod). To the CCW add a minimum of two inches. This is your rod face. Mounting one inch to each side of the casing ensures that you will have room for your rod brackets to be installed properly and for your drapes to hang clear of the small lips that project to the left and right of a window at the sill.

To determine the total pleated width (the measurement of a panel or panels across the pleated top portion). To the rod face you must add your overlap (extra fullness added to the rod face amount to allow the panels to properly close, usually 4") and returns (the portion of the drape that extends from the front of the rod to the wall. This is normally 4" on each side for a single traverse rod and 6" for double rods) amounts. This is your total pleated width.

Drapes where a stack back allowance (an allowance for extra width added to panels to allow them to open farther and expose more glass) is required or desired: For a regular traverse rod CCW multiplied by 120% will normally provide an adequate stack back. If this is a critical goal for you add a couple of inches to each side as the stack back needed can vary with the brand of rod and the weight of the fabric.

To determine finished length (the length of the drapes from top to bottom). To the CTA, CTF, or CTS, (you only use one, depending on style of drapery), amount add a minimum of two inches, but not more than your CTC amount. This is your finished length. The two inches above the top of the casing provides enough room to allow for the installation of center supports and reduces the chance that the pins will be visible from the outside of the house. If you have the room mounting the rod 4" above the top of the casing will insure that the drapery header and pins are not visible from the outside.

If the top of the window casing is close to the ceiling and you plan to have a board mounted top treatment (a board or rod mounted fabric that covers only the top portion of a window), remember that a board and fabric requires a minimum of two inches of free space above top of the drapery to ensure trouble free operation. In a pinch it can be done with less, but the 2 inches is a good "rule of thumb".

This article or portions of this article were previously published in a significantly different form on two websites owned by the author, and Those articles are no longer available at those locations. Copyright is renewed with this revised publication (01-31-2010).

More Articles in:  Window Treatments

Click or touch anywhere on the text to view article.

Are Interior Shutters A Good Choice for You?
First things first: interior shutters are not blinds! Blinds can also cover the windows in your home, but they're usually flipped open-and-shut, and d................

Installing Blinds
This article applies to all 1-2" wood, faux or metal blinds whether they are custom ordered or ready-made product. Most of it is applicable to pleated................

How to Convert a Traverse rod to One-way draw
Converting a two way draw traverse rod to a one draw is a very simple process. A rod has a Overlap carrier and an under lap carrier. The names make se................

Measuring For Blinds
Measuring for your blinds is the most important step in the entire process. You need accurate measurements to order the blinds and receive the correct................

Choosing a Mounting Style for Blinds or Shades
The very first step in purchasing or ordering any blind or shade product is to determine how it will be mounted so that you can take the proper measur................

How to Install a Traverse Rod Part One
This is part one of a two part illustrated article that will show you everything you need to know in order to install a traverse rod.................

How to Install a Traverse Rod Part Two
This is part two of a two part illustrated article that will show you everything you need to know in order to install a traverse rod.................

Installing Window Treatments on Masonry Walls
Installing window treatments or anything else for that matter on masonry walls present a much different challenge than a normal installation. Masonry ................

Materials for Installing Window Treatments
The most frustrating part of working around the home is stopping for the multiple trips back to the hardware store. Stocking up with enough of everyt................

Read how this works