Whether you’re investing in made to measure curtains, splashing out on some stylish new ready-mades or re-hanging curtains that you already have, it is important to consider how far above your window you are going to fit your curtain pole. So let’s take a look at the options:
- Fitting poles for made to measure curtains
- Fitting poles for ready made curtains
- For curtains with gathered or tailored headings
- For curtains with eyelet heading
When you’re ordering made-to-measure curtains, that is exactly what you’ll get - curtains made to your measurements. The number of widths off fabric in each curtain and the finished length will be determined by whatever measurements you provide your made to order specialist with; and with made to order curtains it is a lot more sensible and practical to fit your curtain poles first before ordering your curtains, so that you can provide the final width and finished length measurements accurately.
This also means that there is no limitation, other than any physical reason or obstruction, on what height you can fit your curtain pole at. The norm is usually about 15 to 20cms (6” – 8”) above the window where space allows. If the top of the curtain pole is positioned somewhere between these recommended distances then the pole is normally high enough for the curtain tape on the back of 3” pencil pleat curtain heading for example, not to be visible below the top of the window recess from the outside of the window. If you have a curtain heading which is deeper than this such as 6” or 9” pencil pleat tape or 6” deep hand tailored pinch pleats, then consider fitting the pole a little higher so that the bottom edge of the curtain heading is not lower than the top of the recess and therefore visible from outside.
If there is not enough wall space above the window to mount the pole at the recommended 15 to 20cms (6” – 8”) above, then the pole can be fitted lower, so long as there is enough room to accommodate the size of the brackets that have come with your pole. Often, only 8 to 10cms (3” to 4”) above the window is enough space to fit a curtain pole into. Just double check the size and shape of the curtain pole brackets before you start any fitting and before you cut your pole to size; and be aware that you may see the bottom edge of your curtain heading from the outside of the window. This is a small price to pay however, if it means that you can fit the curtain pole of your choice.
If there is ample wall space above the window, then the pole can be fitted higher than the usual 15 to 20cms (6” – 8”) above the top of the window recess. Doing this can change the proportion of the window in a very pleasing way, as it gives an illusion of more height to the window, creating portrait proportions, which are a window dressers dream! Judge the distance by eye and go for what looks right with this, preferably getting someone to offer the pole up to the wall for you and to hold it at different heights to help you decide.
Fitting poles for ready made curtains
There is no such thing as a typical window or an average window size; and personal preference often determines whether our curtains are to be long or short as well. For this reason, ready-made curtains are available in a number of pre-determined sizes, which aim to cater for the most popular window sizes.
The majority of ready-made curtain designs are available in three different widths – 46”, 66” or 90” wide; and each width option is available in three different drops – 54”, 72” or 90” long, giving 9 different size options in total.
If you’re planning to have curtains which come below the sill length but not to the floor (for example a 72” drop maybe), then the height of the pole is not too crucial. If you are hanging curtains which need to stop at sill level or at floor length though, then the height of the pole is much more crucial and needs to be considered with regard to the ready-made curtain length that you are purchasing.
If you have somebody lined up to shorten the length of your curtains for you or you can do them yourself, then again you have a little bit of lea way with the height of the pole. For example it may be that there is only one position where you can fit your pole above your window and it gives you a finished curtain length of 85”. The ideal situation here is to buy a pair of 90” long ready-made curtains and shorten them to the required finished length of 85” for a perfect custom fit.
If on the other hand you’re not able to shorten the curtains yourself or you’re on a tight budget maybe and don’t want to incur any extra cost for having them shortened then, where space allows, careful measuring and positioning of your pole could be the solution by simply working - backwards!
Rather than fitting your curtain pole first and then taking your final drop (length) measurement, measure the exact length of your new ready-made curtains (or even your own existing or new made to measure curtains if you already have them) and put your pole up at the correct height for the length of the curtains.
Depending on the heading type on your curtains, there are two different methods of doing this, so here are two easy examples of how to do it using 90” drop ready-made curtains:
For curtains with gathered or tailored headings
For curtains which have a heading tape at the top which needs to be gathered prior to fitting, or for hand tailored headings such as pinch-pleat or goblet headings, you will need to use curtain pole rings on your curtain pole to attach the curtains to.
The curtains attach to the pole rings with curtain hooks or stab hooks, which are hooked through the little hook eyes at the bottom of the curtain pole rings. The top edge of the curtains will sit flush underneath the bottom edge of the curtain pole rings.
Measure your curtain length from the very top edge of the curtain to the bottom of the hem. Unless you want your curtains to touch the floor or to knock up a little, the norm is to leave a 1cm (or ½”) gap between the bottom edge of the hem and the floor.
Add the ½” gap to the 90” curtain drop and this will be the distance that the bottom edge of the pole rings need to be above the floor – i.e. 90 ½”.
Now, with one of the curtain pole rings threaded onto a section of your curtain pole, measure the distance from the top of the pole to the bottom edge of the curtain pole ring and add this to your new calculated measurement - e.g if the distance from the top of the pole to the bottom edge of the curtain pole ring is 2” then your new measurement will be 92 ½” (90” curtain drop + ½” clearance from floor + 2” top of pole to bottom of curtain ring = 92 ½”)
Measuring 92 ½” up from the floor will now give you the correct height position for the top of your curtain pole. Offer the pole into one of the pole brackets to establish where the brackets will sit in relation to the top of the pole (this will differ somewhat for wooden and metal curtain poles), then mark and drill the wall for all the necessary brackets and fit your pole. You will now be able to hang your 90” drop curtains without any need for alteration to their length.
For curtains with eyelet heading
For curtains which have eyelet rings at the top you will not need curtain pole rings, as the metal eyelet rings slide directly onto the pole.
Measure your curtain length from the very top edge of the curtain to the bottom of the hem. For our example this should measure 90” in total. However, you will notice that the eyelet rings stamped into the top of the curtain are not flush with the top edge of the curtain, but are set down a little; usually by approximately 1 – 1 ½”. This 1 – 1 ½” stands up above the curtain pole because the inside edge of the eyelet rings rests on top of it. To establish the measurement to the top of the curtain pole, measure from the bottom of the curtain hem to the top inside edge of the eyelet rings. In our example that should be about 88 ½” (90” – 1 ½” = 88 ½”).
The soft, deep folds in eyelet curtains are designed to hang in tall slim columns and therefore the curtain hem should not be allowed to touch or knock up on the floor as this would distort the pleats, so it is essential to leave a clearance gap from the floor to the curtain hem. Also, eyelet headings don’t have any degree of adjustment in their length as gathered or tailored headings do, so an accurate measurement for the height of the pole is again essential. The norm is to leave a 1 – 1.5cm (or ½” – ¾”) gap between the bottom edge of the curtain hem and the floor.
Add the ½” gap to the 88 ½” drop from the underside of the eyelets to the hem and this will be the distance that the top edge of the pole needs to be above the floor – i.e. 89”.
Measuring 89” up from the floor will now give you the correct height position for the top of your curtain pole. Offer the pole into one of the pole brackets to establish where the brackets will sit in relation to the top of the pole (on metal poles the top of the bracket is more often than not flush with the top of the bracket), then mark and drill the wall for all the necessary brackets and fit your pole. You will now be able to hang your 90” drop eyelet headed curtains without any need for alteration to their length.