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13 Dec 08

How To Buy Curtains Part Two: What is Gather?

This is perhaps the most confusing area for customers when they are shopping for curtains. But it needn't be, the principle is actually quite simple.

Every single pair of curtains, regardless of heading style, should have a certain amount of 'gather'.  If a curtain had no 'gather' it would be a completely flat piece of fabric stretched across the window.

To achieve the pleated effect you notice at the top of most curtains, the curtains need to be wider than the track. This extra fabric is then 'gathered up' using the strings in the tape stitched to the top of the curtain.


(photograph shows Damask Red ready-made curtain)

The actual amount of gather depends on heading styles and personal preference, but as a general rule the width of you curtains should amount to double the width of your track. This is referred to as 'two times gather'.

Let's imagine I have a track measuring 228cm/90inches wide. Which size curtain should I buy?

Ready-made curtains are sold in pairs but are labelled with the width of each curtain. Therefore I'm going to buy the pair labelled 228cm/90inches. I will have 456cm/180inches of fabric in total, which will give me 'two times gather' and a nice full effect.

But what if my window measures 200cm wide?

Ready-made curtains are available in standard measurements: I can buy either 168cm/66" or 228cm/90" wide curtains. The smaller pair is going to give me one and a half times gather and the larger pair two and a half times gather. 

There's no correct answer to this dilemma. It comes down to personal preference. There are several factors you might like to bear in mind though:

1. Price: the smaller pair is going to be cheaper and we all have a limit to our budgets, so this might be the deciding factor for you.

2. Fabric: if you're curtains are a light-weigh, fine voile then they will need a little extra gather in order to look full. If you've chosen a heavy, woven fabric then you might not want the extra bulk.

3. Situation: perhaps the curtains are for a spare room or holiday home. If they're not going to be used or seen often then you might prefer to buy the smaller width. If however, they're going to be hung in your sitting room it might be advisable to choose the more luxurious, fuller width.

5. Heading style: Certain styles of heading require more or less gather than others. For pencil pleat curtains we would advise making your mind up following the first three guidelines. For eyelet curtains our advice woud be slighlty different.

harper .jpg

(photograph shows Harper Red ready-made curtain)

Eyelet curtains pleat in a concertina style and therefore always look slightly less full than pencil pleat curtains. I find that they look better with two to two and a half times gather and would always choose the larger size. The width of the tabs on tab top curtains mean that they can only be pushed back so far. Therefore the recommendation for tab top curtains is one and a half fullness.

We hope this post has gone some way towards de-mysifying the subject of 'gather'. We do provide a fullness calculator (click on 'what size do I need' in the tab box) on each ready-made curtain page. We also will automatically work out which size you need after you've entered your measurements on our made to measure product pages. But if you do need any further advice please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Click here to view our range of ready-made curtains.

Click here to view our range of made-to-measure curtains.


(24) Comments | leave a comment

Jan Newson | 23 Jan 14

Extremely helpful, I get so confused when ordering curtains and your advice is a great help. Thank you

Vimlesh shah | 31 Dec 13

Great help choosing the right curtains. rare available information online. There are thousands of online stores selling curtains but not providing true buying guideline. Excellent job guys. keep it up. all the best. thanks

ken | 9 Dec 13

great explanation. thanks a lot. am a lot wiser now ad a buyer.

Ann Edwards | 19 Nov 13

Thank-you so much for your sound advice. I'm very grateful.

viv | 26 Jul 13

spot on. thanks...

Jenny | 17 Oct 12

Thank you so much for the explanation..wish I had looked at your site earlier it would have saved me so much faffing about.

Eva | 28 Jan 12

Excellent advise, very helpful! Thank you!!

helen hall | 29 Nov 11

thank you ever so much for the advice you have given regarding how to buy the correct size curtains so that they look great once they are hung rather than just having 2 pieces of material hung there. Thank you again

Paula | 4 Nov 11

marvelous advice, my forte doesnt lie with home making! so I didnt have a clue about which size curtains to buy for my new flat. made simple with this advice thank you

s marino | 11 Oct 11

thank you so much, so simple when you know how ,look forward to seeing my new gathered curtains.

sam pope | 21 Aug 11

great plain english, to the point

Cath | 17 Aug 11

Thank you a great help as never used ring top curtains and did not know which width to buy.

SUE | 25 Mar 11

WOW!! The great mystery to buying the correct size curtains has finally been solved for me. Thank-you

Rebecca | 10 Mar 11

I don't know how long i've spent trying to work out what size curtains to get to fit my windows and this site has everything i've been looking for. A great help, thank you.

Ali Shaw | 20 Feb 11

BRILLIANT! Not 'Rocket Science' after all! THANK YOU!

Leanne | 12 Feb 11

Thanks, now understand!!!! :)

Mulalo | 6 Dec 10

Finally I understand how the calculation is done. great help Ta

Jane B | 24 Nov 10

Best explanation I've found so far!

Mandy | 17 Nov 10

Brilliant! A clear, simple explanation. Just what I was looking for!

KTB | 15 Aug 10

thank goodness - a site that actually gives a real example and clears the fog

lesley fairclough | 31 Mar 10

Brilliant! Just the info. required.

Hazel | 10 Mar 10

Finally ! A site that explains it simply and sensibly - Thank you !

Penny Pullin | 8 Mar 10

This is the first site of many visited that actually told me exactly what I need to know about curtain widths!Thank you

Lisa Uppal | 11 Mar 09

Wonderful!!! This question about gather has been bugginh me for days....I can now go my new curtains.....Thanks

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