Tip Tuesday: How Wide Should My Curtains Be For 36″ Window

Welcome to the first edition of tip Tuesday, where I give helpful tips you can use when you are decorating your home or apartment. Today’s topic is window curtains and drapes, specifically the width of the curtains.

When you are in the market for window treatments, the starting point is to determine is what size you need. There’s a standard rule of thumb that your curtains should be 1.5 to 2x as wide as the width of your entire window. If you want a fuller look you would choose 2x the width of the window, the right choice depends on your personal preference.

This formula applies to the total width of fabric, whether you use it for a single panel curtain pulled to one side or one curtain on either side of the window.

width of curtain

Ready-made curtains don’t come in all sizes, but usually work for smaller windows. For extra wide curtains you will likely need to have them custom-made. Use this table to get an idea of the right panel width to suit your window size. The standard widths for one drapery panel is 50 inches.

Width of WindowMinimum Curtain WidthStandard off the shelf curtain sizes
24-Inch Windowat least (1) 36-inch panel or (2) 18-inch panels (1) 50-inch panel, you can cut in
half if you want two curtains
30-Inch Windowat least (1) 45-inch panel or (2) 24-inch panels(1) 50-inch panel, you can cut in
half if you want two curtains
36-Inch Window(1) 54-inch panel or (2) 27-inch panels(1) 52-inch panel, not as widely available
42-inch window(1) 63 inch panel or (2) 32-inch panels(2) 50-inch panels
(2) 30-inch windows
side by side, total width is 60 inches
(2) 45-inch curtain panels (2) 50-inch panels
(2) 36-inch windows
side by side, total width 72 inches
(2) 54-inch curtain panelsThis is the breaking point where you should consider using two panels on each side or a 100 inch panel**

When you have a window width (or pairs of windows) that are wider than 72 inches you have to broaden your search beyond the standard sizes available. Search for “extra wide curtain panels” you can find panels that are 100 inches wide. Here’s an example.

When you find 100-inch drapery panels, the manufacturer has sewn two panels of fabric together for you.

If you are looking for reasonably priced custom drapes for wide windows the best place to find them is on ETSY. When you put in the search term custom drapery or custom curtains look for sellers with LOTS of reviews. Pay attention to the shipping time. Some of them are outside the US and delivery can take quite a while.

Here are a few sellers that I’ve used and like:

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  1. tha k you for the drapery tips! question what should i do i have two 36 inch wide windows the height of ceiling is 95. 1/2
    the one window looking g at it to left has 4 inches then inbetween the windows is 46 and right facing side of window is 46
    i plan on footing woven blinds inside window but can’t line them so i need privacy since this is my bedroom, What do i do?
    i was thinking of buying linen lined cotton drapes with with 1.25 rod cap for end cap and donc- loop curtin ring .. since they need to be functional.
    please advice?

    1. Lisa,

      Thanks for your question. I think you’re saying you have two 36″ windows (maybe the 46″ part is a typo). Each 36″ window needs a 54″ drape. The wider the better if you plan to open and close them, which it sounds like you do. For drapes you like to open and shut, rings are the best because the other options like a rod pocket or grommet don’t move as easily. Unfortunately, most drapes don’t come in 54″ widths. I would suggest getting 2-27″ panels for each 36″ window since you want privacy. Linen drapes are typically light filtering instead of light blocking. If you want room darkening, be sure you get them lined.

      I hope this helps.

      I appreciate your question. Feel free to email me a photo and I’m happy to send you some specific suggestions.


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