Window Treatment Information


On the pages below, we offer tips, information, and worksheets via downloadable links to help guide you with ways to calculate fabric, measure windows, table skirts, bedding, and more.

The link with “Draperies and Curtains” must be open to assist with navigation on this page.

There are many different types of window treatments, but one of the most practical and well known is the “pinch-pleated drapery”.

There are also many other different headings for draperies (French pleat, inverted pleat, flat panel, etc) but pinch pleats are the ones that most people think of when they hear the word “drapery”.

These styles are generally hung from some type of traverse rod or pole; that allows the drapery panels to open and close (either by hand or traverse by pulling a cord) across the opening.

The five basic rod styles are:

  • Two-way draw traverse

  • One-way draw traverse (opening to the left)

  • One-way draw traverse (opening to the right)

  • Decorative traverse rod (there are many different styles of this type of rod, so shop around for a style and size that complements the room)

  • Wood pole with rings (these are open and shut by hand)

Because your draperies can last for years with proper care, we recommend that you do not scrimp on your drapery hardware. With the advent of high impact, self-lubricating plastics, and fiberglass core drapery cords, good traverse rods can last for the life of the draperies (and in some cases, even longer). Make sure that when you purchase your hardware, that the installation instructions for that rod are included.

Decorative rods come in all styles, shapes and sizes.  You can buy complete sets, or “mix & match” poles (or rods), finials, brackets, and rings for a unique look.  While high end decorative rods used to be  available only through designers, now you can get a quality look for a less expensive price from the major chain stores, and home improvement outlets.

Have the proper tools to finish the job; this will enable you to hang your draperies easily. If you are not comfortable with tackling a job like that, look in the yellow pages under “window treatments” or “drapery installation” for a reputable installer in your area who can do the job professionally.

To finish…Draperies can be unlined or lined; for extra durability and energy savings, they can also be “inner-lined” (usually a piece of flannel between the face fabric and the regular lining). Draperies can also be made from sheer (very lightweight) material, lace, and other types of fabrics. Be sure to pick a fabric that is practical for the window you are covering, but that you are happy with as well. An informed salesperson at your local fabric store can help you make these choices.

Traditional swags and jabots are a very formal and popular window treatment; they are adaptable to a variety of fabric and window styles. Traditionally, swags are made 16″ to 20″ deep, and most often are lined with drapery lining.  As a general rule of thumb, you can figure on approximately 1.5 yards of fabric for a swag that would fit a standard size window (up to about 40″ wide).

If swags are the only treatment being used at a window, the returns can be 1 1/2″ or 3 1/2″.  If installed over a single drapery rod, returns should be 5 1/2″; if installed over a double rod or draperies, 7 1/2″ to 9″ returns should be used.  The reason for these returns is to clear the face of the under treatment and avoid wrinkling the swags / jabots.  Swags and Jabots can be stapled directly to the mounting board, or applied with velcro to the board.

Jabots are fashioned in lengths from half sash (or shorter) to floor length, and can be mounted over or under the swag(s). Generally the jabots are either self-lined or lined with a contrast fabric.

We suggest that you use the following approximate guide to determine the number of swags per window width:

Windows up to 48″ wide        One swag

Windows 49″ to 81″ wide      Two swags

Windows 82″ to 120″ wide    Three swags  

Windows 121″ to 151″ wide    Four swags  

Windows 152″ to 182″ wide  Five swags

 There are many different styles of swag treatments. They range from the loose and informal look of the “throw” swag (simply a long single piece of fabric draped over poles or some type of decorative hardware and pulled out to attain a “swagged” look), to elaborate Queen Anne and Empire-style swag treatments for formal rooms and areas.  Embellishments such as trims, tassels and buttons can be added for extra impact – don’t limit your imagination!

Almost any type of fabric can be used; we do however recommend against stiff “upholstery weight” fabrics. The reason for this is that they do not fall into folds nicely as do more medium and light-weight fabrics when cut on the “bias” (against the grain of the fabric).

Swags are an open treatment, but can also be combined with blinds and shades-this is for windows where light control is a factor. Also, long stationary panels can be used in place of the jabots to add color to the entire length of the window, without detracting from the look of the swags themselves. There are many different ways to combine this treatment for exactly the look you want!

Top treatments are those window treatments that are used either alone at the “top” of the window, or over another treatment such as draperies or side panel curtains.

Top treatments can be made on boards, put on rods, or hung on rings from a decorative rod. They are grouped into three different categories: swag & jabots (which we discussed above), valances, and cornices / lambrequins.

Swags and Jabots are a perfect complement for a formal or semi-formal setting, such as a living room or dining room. These treatments are generally mounted on boards (with staples or velcro); they can also be attached to decorative poles (wood or metal) with staples or velcro.

Just remember: it is best to make them proportionate to the window-using a steel tape to get an idea of length is the best thing. To cover the distance at the bottom when multiple swags are on a board-pelmets can be used. These are fabric pieces that look almost like a short necktie, and they are generally about the same length as the drop on the swags.

Valances come in many different styles – they can be shaped, scalloped, pointed…the list goes on. Shirred up on a rod, or stapled / velcroed to a board – a valance can make a statement from simple to elegant.

Additions such as covered buttons, fringe and various trims can give a unique “custom look” to an otherwise ordinary window treatment. Some different kinds of valances are shown in our gallery: box pleated, pennant, swag and shirr-ons are some of the more popular. Remember to always use a steel measuring tape for accuracy.

Abellaquen Home patterns has some great valance styles for those folks who are home seamstresses and you can find some starting ideas in our gallery.

Cornices and lambrequins are fabric covered board frames that mount on “angle irons-L brackets” either as a stand alone treatment, or as a cover for draperies, curtains, shades, or some other window dressing.

Again, as with most top treatments, they can go from the most informal “country barn look” to elegant – whatever the setting, a cornice can add a finished touch to the overall look of a room(s).

A lot of times, you will see cornices with a cording around the bottom to finish them off. This can either be “self-cord” (matches the face fabric) or a contrast fabric or even pre-made rope cord. Tassel trims are also used, but thesse are usually reserved for the elegant look referenced above.

Remember – in most cases, add an additional width of at two inches to board treatments, particularly over draperies, so that there will be a proper fit. Also keep in mind that clearance to the inside face must be allowed so that working drapery panels can traverse back and forth. And always use a steel tape for accuracy – remember “measure twice, cut once”

How to figure the number of widths needed for draperies

To calculate the number of widths:

  1. you take the width of your rod (R), and add 12″ (ex. 48” +12)

  2. multiply that figure by 2.5 (this is the amount of fullness and can be varied)

  3. then divide by 54.

So it would look like this

[(R + 12) x 2.5] ¸ 54.

For a window with a rod width of 48″ you would have

1. 48+12=60

2. 60 x 2.5= 150

3.(150) / 54= 2.77 widths

so you would round “up to” three widths or 1 1/2 widths each side if it is a two way draw rod; or a single three width panel if it is a one-way draw.

Accuracy is key!

If you are starting a window treatment project, always write your measurements down immediately – don’t rely on memory.

Do not measure with your tape upside down. As funny as this might seem, it is an easy way to transpose numbers.

The industry standard for window treatments is WIDTH first, then HEIGHT

And as always:

Remember to use a steel tape measure!

Professionally Calculate and Measure for Window Treatments (Calculating Widths and Yardage)

There are two important factors in calculating the correct amount of fabric (yardage) needed for making drapes:

1.The repeat – (does NOT apply to solids and vertical stripes)

2.The width of the fabric

The repeat is the distance between the same two points on a print fabric. For example; if a fabric has a “flower motif” the repeat would be the distance from a point on one leaf to the same point on the next leaf (above or below it).

Fabric, in general, comes in 48″ and 54″ widths. Sheer materials (such as lace, tergale, and battiste) usually come in 48″ and 60″ widths; there are some companies that make sheers and laces in widths up to 118″ – this allows for “seamless” panels.

To calculate the yardage of your material, you must have the finished width (or rod width), and finished length of your draperies. Then from there you need to calculate:

1. The number of widths used to cover each window, and

2. The amount of yardage for your fabric.

You must remember that these calculations are different for the various types of window treatments. Your local fabric store can generally provide this service. Just be sure that your measurements are accurate by using a steel tape measure, and you will have perfect window treatments every time!

One of the biggest questions customers ask in any window treatment job is “how much fabric should I buy?” While most fabric stores and designers are able to give you an exact figure, it always helps knowing how to figure yardage for your own information.

The first thing to keep in mind is to ALWAYS have accurate measurements before beginning. We recommend a steel tape measure – a small 25 ft. tape is preferct for almost any home job.

To figure the amount of fabric needed (for a solid or stripe) you:

1. Take the finished length of your draperies

2. Add 16″

3. Multiply this figure by the number of widths (previously calculated)

4. Divide by 36

5. This gives you the number of yards of material you need

So if your finished drapery length is 92″ , and you have a window that takes 5 widths; you would take:

1. ex. 92 + 16 = 108″

2. then 108 x 5 = 540

3. then 540 ¸ 36 = 15

So you would need 15 yards of a solid fabric for that window. If we had ended up with an odd figure in this example (such as 15.376 ) we would round up to 15.50 or 15 1/2 yards of fabric.

For a print fabric with a pattern the calculation is a little different, but still easy.

You simply follow steps one and two above, then divide this figure by the amount of the repeat.

Take that figure and round up. This is important.

Take that figure and multiply by the repeat. This gives you the finished cuts.

Multiply that by the number of widths, then divide by 36.

This gives you the amount of yardage needed, as in the example below.

If your finished drapery length is 102″ , your repeat is 27″, and you have a window that takes 5 widths; you would take:

We suggest with fabrics that have prints and patterns – that you add an extra 1- 2 yards for pattern/print) variation.

Always look flaws when purchasing fabric at the store. Once fabic is cut, there are generally no returns.

1. 102 + 16 = 118

2. then 118 ¸ 27 = 4.37

3. then round up to:

4. 5 then 5x 27 = 135”

5. So 135” is the length of your cuts.

6. then 135” x 5 = 675”

7. then (675) / 36 = 18.75 yards

So in this example you would need 18 3/4 yards of fabric.


  • We suggest with fabrics that have prints and patterns – that you add an extra 1- 2 yards for pattern/print) variation.

  • Always look flaws when purchasing fabric at the store. Once fabic is cut, there are generally no returns.

  • When purchasing fabric that has to be ordered, whether from a website or through a store or designer, ALWAYS request a “cutting for approval” from the same dye lot. This ensures that your fabric matches the rest of the colors in your project AND that you are getting the color you want.

  • And as always, use a steel measuring tape for accuracy. Remember:

Measure twice, cut once”

Measuring Instructions for Draperies

We sometimes use the word “drapery” or “draperies” to describe many types of window treatments. The instructions on this page are applicable to curtains, sheers, drapery panels, pinch pleat draperies, and some valances. To ensure accuracy, use a metal tape.

With any project, there are always exceptions; when something does not go according to stated or implied instructions the best thing to do is stop, assess the problem and think about different ways to move forward.

To measure for draperies:

For draperies to be mounted inside the window frame (This is not often done):

  1. Measure the width of the opening where the rod is to be mounted (generally at the top)

  2. Measure the height of the opening. Deduct ½” from this measurement so that the draperies clear the top and bottom of the window opening. If someone else is fabricating your drapery treatments – let them know that a 1/2” deduction has been made

  3. Remember-the term “inside mount” applies to a window treatment mounted inside OR between anything; ie: bookcases, kitchen cabinets, etc.  

For draperies to be mounted outside the window frame:

  1. Measure the exact width to be covered. This will be the rod width, and will vary with every window.

  2. For height; measure from top of trim-or where you want the top of the draperies to start-to the sill/apron/floor (wherever you want bottom of draperies to come to). If draperies are floor length, deduct ½” for clearance from floor.

Please note: Draperies that are mounted under a top treatment need to be covered by that top treatment at least four inches down from the top of the draperies so that the pleats are covered.

Brackets, screws and installation instructions are packed with drapery rods. These will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so please follow instructions carefully to ensure proper mounting.


Measuring Instructions for Blinds and Shades

For blinds to be mounted inside the window frame:

  1. Measure the width of the opening at the top, the middle, and the bottom of the window.

  2. Take the narrowest measurement-this will be the width of the blind.

  3. The blind will be manufactured 3/8″ smaller so it will not rub on the sides.

  4. Measure the height of the opening. Add ¼” to this measurement, if the bottom rail is to rest on the sill.

For blinds to be mounted outside the window frame:

  1. Measure the exact width to be covered. If window has no trim, it is recommended that 3″ be added to the width for overlap. If window has trim, it is recommended that the blind extend ¼” beyond the side trim.

  2. For height; if window has trim, measure from top of trim-or where you want the top of the blind to start-to the sill/apron/floor (wherever you want bottom of blind to come to).

  3. If window has no trim, measure height of opening, and add 3″ to this figure for overlap (1 ½” on top and bottom).


  • Use a steel measuring tape for accuracy.

  • Write down your measurments and write your WIDTH first, then your HEIGHT. This is the industry standard.

  • Always measure with your tape with the right side up. While this may sound funny, if you transpose your numbers, the mistakes can be VERY costly!

  • Brackets, screws and installation instructions are packed with blinds. Please follow instructions carefully to ensure proper mounting.

Measuring Sheet for Tables

Please remember:

  • Always use a steel tape-this is much more accurate than a cloth tape or yardstick

  • Use exact measurements…if something is 40 3/16″ that is your figure.  Record your measurement, and we will take deductions where appropriate

  • Measure the table top & length on both sides for drop

  • Sometimes tableskirts are made longer than floor length, so for a puddle – simply add the additional length as shown below. Do keep in mind that fabric on the floor represents a potential hazard for falls (the same goes for more than floor length draperies)

  • Never assume that tables are all the same size. A small variation in widths or lengths can mean the difference between a correctly fitted treatment, and an expensive re-make

A. DIAMETER ___________

B.  DROP ___________


*ADD _____________ INCHES