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30-Minutes with Workroom Tech: Episode Three / Understanding Fullness

The term “fullness” describes the amount of extra fabric needed to create pleats or gathers in fabric, in relation to the finished size.

When you look at a window treatment, what do you see? Do you see a flat piece of fabric? If the fabric is not flat, but has gathered, or pleated sections...that's fullness!

In the November 14th episode of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock talk about fullness.

Click here to listen to this episode on iTunes

Click here to listen on Libsyn

Some window treatments require very little to no fullness. A flat, Roman shade doesn’t require any fullness. The only extra fabric used is an allowance for hems. You can tell just by looking at it... this style uses less fabric than a gathered or pleated shade.

Two times (2 x) fullness is used for flat panel styles like grommet or tab top curtains, while two and a half times (2.5 x) fullness gathers nicely for rod pocket, shirred or pleated curtains and 3 times fullness (3 x) is used for very generous, pleated curtain styles.

The more fullness you use, the more fabric you will need. When calculating yardage you may choose a slightly lesser fullness to save fabric, or use a greater fullness if more fabric is needed to achieve the desired results. In the illustration below, you can see the difference between 2, 2.5 and 3 times fullness.

illustration of fullness

Here is a basic calculation for figuring fullness for a drapery project using 2.5 times fullness. Rod width x 2.5 times fullness = ______ divided by the fabric width = ____ number of widths of material (WOM) or "cuts" needed. Round up, or down depending on the style.

For example; with a 60" rod width using a 54 inch wide fabric you will need 3 WOM.

THREE TIMES when I plan for "THREE TIMES" fullness

I plan to use three times fullness...

1) When making extra long draperies to create balance and proportion.

2) When using pleat styles that require more fullness such as goblet and cartridge pleats. The photo below shows double boxed pleats and variations. These pleats work best for stationary drapery panels.

Double pleat variations using 3 times fullness

3) When pleating to pattern. This method might require trimming off fabric from the leading edge, so the extra fullness will allow you to have more options. The cafe curtain below is pleated to pattern.

Goblet pleated cafe curtains by Susan Woodcock

When NOT to use too much fullness

It seems like a lot of fullness is a good thing! The more the better. More fabric = more luxurious and beautiful. Right? Well, that's not always true.

On a valance or drapery that is gathered on a rod, too much fullness makes it very difficult to gather on to the rod, especially with thicker fabrics.

This drapery heading made with a sew-on tape.  The cords are pulled to create small pleats.

Too much fullness on a London or balloon shade can make it droopy and saggy.

Extra fullness on a traversing drapery can create a large stack-back, preventing the drapery from clearing the window and obstructing the view.

Plan for Fullness First

So it's good to think about "fullness" in the pre-planning stages of your project. If unsure, plan for more fullness so that you will have the flexibility to adjust once the job is in the workroom.

Subscribe to the 30-Minutes with Workroom Tech podcast and you will not miss an episode, and if you enjoyed learning and listening, please leave a review! If you have questions about fullness, or making window treatments let me know. You can email me at

Best Wishes,


30-Minutes with Workroom Tech

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