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Curtain Heading Tape: Planning and Preparation

Planning and Preparation

Hanging fabric over a window or door creates a strong visual focus in any room. For the most part, the effect of a curtain will determine the character of a room.

It is therefore well worth taking plenty of time to plan and prepare the look of a curtain in relation to its window or door opening, and to the whole of the room, before you begin working.

The decorative appearance of a curtain is subject to a number of factors other than just the type of fabric that you choose, including the style of the curtain heading tape, the dimensions of the window or door opening, and the width and length of the curtains.

Choosing a Heading Tape

The type of heading tape determines the curtain's character by governing the way the fabric hangs in folds.

Ready-made heading tapes are available in many gathered or pleated styles. They are easily applied to the fabric, and the pleats or gathers are made by drawing up sets of cords within the tape.

These folds can be released to allow the curtains to be washed or dry-cleaned flat. Some tapes are constructed with rows of pockets into which the curtain hooks can be inserted.

Sheer and Net Tape

This tape forms thin pencil pleats on sheer or net fabrics. It is approximately 6 cm wide. Use standard curtain hooks, or slide curtain wire or rod through loops in the tape. For measuring allow twice the track length.


Simple Gathered Heading

Often used for small-scale curtains, this narrow tape - approximately 2.5 cm wide - forms gathers. When using a track. Position the tape to hide the fitting. Allow one-and-a-half to twice the track length.


Box Pleating

Use this tape for fixed-position curtains and valances. It is 7.5 cm wide, which enables you to hide the track with ease. This tape has two rows of hook pockets, to be used with split hooks. Allow for three times the track length.


Goblet Pleating

An extra-wide heading tape that forms deep, goblet-shaped pleats, is ideally suited to full, floor-length curtains. You should use metal split hooks with this heading tape. Allow twice the track length when measuring.


Cartridge Pleating

Designed to produce rows of cylindrical pleats, cartridge tape, which is 9 cm wide, is most suitable for curtains that have a long drop. Use split hooks to hang this tape. Allow twice the track length when measuring.


Pencil Pleating

The most popular heading tape, pencil pleating is 7.5 cm wide and produces multiple folds in the curtain fabric. Standard hooks can be placed in one of three rows of pockets. Allow two-and-a-half times the track length.


Smocked Pleating

A heading tape 7.5 cm wide, designed to produce a "smocked" effect, is made for valances and curtains. Standard hooks can be placed into one of the two rows of hook pockets. Allow two-and-a-half times the track length.

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Triple Pinch Pleating

This tape is 8.5 cm wide and creates groups of triple pleats. Suitable for curtains with a long drop, it can be used with any fabric. fit split hooks into either of the two rows of pockets. Allow twice the track length.


Measuring Up

(see the image below the paragraph to correlate)

The amount of fabric needed is affected by the width of the opening, type of hanging system, style of heading tape, length of the finished curtains, and size of any pattern repeats on the material.

For floor-length curtains to clear the floor, deduct 12 mm from the track-to-floor measurements (B).To bunch curtains on the floor, add 5-20 cm to measurement (B).

For a window sill, either hang the curtains 12 mm above the sill (C), or to an apron length of 5-10 cm below. The curtain heading should obscure, or stand slightly above, a track. If you are using a pole, curtains should hang just below it.

From the curtains top or the hanging system, measure to the bottom edge of the required curtain drop. Add to this 7.5 cm for top turnings and 15 cm for the lower hem.

To find the fabric width, measure the span of the hanging system (A). If the curtains are to overlap, add the extra necessary. Multiply this by the fullness of the heading tape. Add 30 cm for side turnings.

Divide this by the fabric width to find the number of fabric panels needed for the curtain width. Round up to the next whole number.

For the total amount of fabric required, multiply the number of panels needed by the length calculated above.


Measuring Requirements

(see the image above to correlate)

The length of the hanging system can curtain are the basis for calculating the amount of curtain fabric needed. Use a wooden rule or steel tape to measure for accuracy.

To calculate the width of the fabric, measure the span of the hanging system between the end stops (A).

To find the track-to-floor measurement (B), or the track-to-sill length (C), measure carefully, starting from the pole or track.

You will need to add or deduct from B and C, depending on the required length of the curtains.

(A) Hanging System Length

(B) Track-to-Floor Measurement

(C) Track-to-Sill Measurement

Matching Patterns

When calculating the widths for a patterned material, allow for the pattern to repeat so that you can accurately match the pattern across the curtain. You should always try to centralize the pattern on each curtain.

Measuring Pattern Repeat

You will need to spread out the curtain fabric on a smooth, flat work surface, and carefully measure the whole of one pattern repeat on the material.

You can allow for the matching of the pattern across the seams and from one curtain to another by simply adding a single pattern repeat for each drop of curtain.


Cutting Out

Cutting out with accuracy is as important as taking careful measurements. Lay the fabric on a flat surface. Cut square and straight to the grain or, if necessary, the pattern.

For cutting out fabric, you will need the basic sewing kit. When cutting loosely woven fabric, cut along a pulled thread.

1. Pulling Thread Make a small cut through the selvage. Pull out a single thread at this point and smooth the fabric.


2. Cutting Fabric Using the channel left by the pulled thread as a guideline, cut across the fabric with a pair of dressmakers scissors.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Temoor Dar

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