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The Ultimate Guide to Custom Curtains [2019 Guide]

custom curtains

There is an old saying that states you are not finished getting dressed until you’ve added that last accessory. When it comes to your home, curtains are often the final piece of the puzzle to complete the design and look of your home. When it comes to custom curtains, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the number of options and decisions that have to be made.

How many times have you put together all of the pieces in your home, but given up at the last minute when it comes to the curtains? The hanging, the measuring, the curtain rod, the lining, the valance, the tiebacks… curtains often seem like more work than they are worth. But this doesn’t have to be the case! Believe it or not, custom curtains can be less expensive, less of a hassle, and an all around great experience when it comes to putting the finishing touches on your home.

We’ve put together this guide to walk you through everything you need to know about how to buy custom curtains. We’ve included an in-depth look at the differences between custom made and store-bought curtains. We discuss design details that go into every custom curtains, including some of the most popular bonus features that can be added to your curtains, such as UV blocking liners. We will also walk you through the process of measuring and designing your very own custom curtains, step by step.

When we are through, you will be more than ready to order your very own custom curtains, knowing everything that you need to make the best design choices for your home, your style, and your budget. Don’t worry, if you get lost or overwhelmed, we are only a heartbeat away. We are here to serve you! So contact us with all of your questions and we are happy to help make your custom curtains dreams come true.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Custom Curtains

  • Design
  • Quality
  • Size/Fit
  • Options
  • Lining

Guide to Curtain Fabrics

  • Velvet
  • Damask
  • Brocade
  • Voile
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Synthetics

Designing Your Custom Curtains


Benefits of Custom Curtains


Store-bought curtains offer limited design options. Even larger stores are going to be limited to a few styles and each style will be available in only a few common colors. These are influenced by the biggest trends of the time, and they are likely only going to stock what they know will sell. This means that you are buying the same curtains as everyone else in your area. You may not even be able to find curtains that you like; in fact, since stores have a limited inventory, it’s practically a guarantee that you won’t see the design you want there. You might find designs that you’re OK with, but why settle? Custom curtains let you find the exact design you want for your home.

In addition, not all windows are created equal. Depending on where you live geographically and what your house is like design-wise, you may live in a house where no two windows are the same dimensions. Or, you may live in a house with the same great, big windows…. But there are so many of them, you can’t seem to find anywhere that has the amount of curtain panels you need.

Custom curtains can be made to fit nearly every type of design aesthetic you can image. Want to make a bold statement? Custom curtains can make that possible, as well as more subtle design options. If you need a specific type of curtain, your options will be even more limited. Do you want blackout curtains for the bedroom? Sheer curtains for a living room? Your local stores may only have one blackout curtain or 2 or 3 sheer curtains. In fact, you may find that even when you look at their online store (assuming they have one) that the selection there isn’t much better. It all depends on what they think is going to sell, and how much demand there is. A lot of people aren’t worried about how their blackout curtains look, as long as they work. If you’re reading this, that’s not you. Whether you are looking for a custom sheer curtain to gently accent your living room, or a heavy insulated curtain for your toddler’s room to help them sleep, we can make those possible for you, whatever your price range is.


Store-bought curtains are going to make the most affordable materials available. If you are looking for a cheap option, then that will work fine, for a while. Cheaper materials won’t very long. Curtains experience more wear and tear than most people realize; the UV rays from the sunlight that they’re constantly exposed to can cause the colors to fade over time. Cheap fabrics will fade faster than the higher-quality, more expensive ones. Individuals that are looking for quality fabrics and unmatched constructions will find that custom curtains are the only way to go. Custom curtains are made with the finest materials and sewn individually at the time they are ordered. Custom curtains offer a personal touch with careful attention to even the smallest details. They’ll last longer than most store-bought curtains, too, so even though they’re more expensive up front, you’ll end up saving money in the long run.


The size of your windows, and ultimately the measurements of your curtains may be drastically different than standard sizing. Custom curtains are made to fit your windows individually, no mass production of the exact same sized curtains as everyone else. Homeowners that want to add design elements, such as taking the curtains to the ceiling to make their room appear taller, will not be able to find store-bought curtains that will meet their needs.

Extra-wide window treatments are another area where you will find mass-produced curtains inferior. In order to get the extra-wide, full curtain look, you will have to purchase several panels. Custom curtains are made to fit the width and fullness you want in your window treatment. This means that no matter how wide your window is, you can have the number of panels you want, instead of the several you may need to purchase with the store-bought curtains.


We’ve referred to the limited options a bit already, but we really cannot emphasize enough how limited you are with store-bought curtains. If you have walked down the curtain aisle at your local department store you are going to notice two things quickly:

First, there are usually two or three different widths available. As we mentioned above most store-bought curtains only come in a few standard sizes. Not to mention they likely only carry of few of each type of curtain they offer. If you have a lot of windows or odd sizes, you will most likely be out of luck.

Second, color options are extremely limited. Stores only carry choices that are currently trending and the store buying manager decides to put in stock. If you are someone who does not follow the most current fad then these options are going to be extremely limiting. Even if you do enjoy following the current trends, then you know better than anyone else that trends don’t last forever. Are you prepared to update your curtains every few years? Talk about expensive!

However, if you are interested in investing in timeless, high quality curtains that you will love for years on end, then custom curtains are the way to go. Whether you are looking for something classy and always-in-style, or something totally unique that is definitive of you and your style, custom curtains give you a huge advantage. That’s where we come in! If the fabric exists, then we can probably make it into fabulous custom curtains.

Custom curtains provide you with a variety of options. The sky is the limit when it comes to the options available On the other hand, your options are virtually endless when you go with custom curtains. You get to pick the color, the fabric, the dimensions, and in many cases add design elements such as embroidery for a truly personalized custom look.

Emma Custom offers design expertise that will help you find the perfect custom curtains for significantly cheaper prices than you would find anywhere else. Check out our design gallery for some fun ideas.


The biggest difference between custom curtains and curtains off the shelf is found in the lining. You may need sun-blocking curtains or want to add more depth to your window treatments. Some store-bought curtains will come with a lining, but not all. If your local store doesn’t see much demand for lined curtains, they might not have any lined curtains in stock. By adding a quality lining to your curtains, it helps to give a look of fullness and can also help block the sun’s rays, if you choose.

Lining curtains also help to reduce the damage and fade that can be caused by the sun. Making custom curtains a long-term investment that you will not have to repurchase in a few short years like store-bought curtains that fade quickly from the sun’s harmful rays. When you choose to line your curtains, you get a three in one deal! You can invest in curtains that block out the light when you choose, create a full visual picture when you take in the room, and preserve the quality of your purchase by protecting it from the sun. What more could you want in a curtain?

Guide to Curtain Fabrics

Curtains can be made from almost any type of fabric. However, not all fabrics will make the best curtains. Below is a quick look at the most common fabrics used in custom curtains, including the fabric content and what they are most often used for, as well as, the benefits or drawbacks of each one.

Some may choose fabrics based on their aesthetic preferences, or, what they think looks good. Other may choose fabrics based on their practicality or their durability. Still others may want the cheapest option, the wrinkle free option, or the option that looks best with everything. None of these factors are particularly greater than the other, however, it is helpful to know what your choices are and what to consider about each before choosing one over the other.


Velvet fabrics have been used for curtains going back centuries. Known for the dramatic effect they can provide, velvet was traditionally made from silk, which also meant expensive. Today you can achieve a similar effect with velvets made from synthetic and less expensive natural fibers. Velvet curtains are heavy, which helps prevent them from wrinkling and can also make them effective at blocking out the light, although not all velvet curtains are true blackout curtains. Velvet can also tend to collect dust, so if you are ready for this dramatic effect, also be ready to put some time into caring for your curtains. The ends are totally worth it!


Damask fabrics are known for their ornate patterns woven in a single color. They usually combine a combination of shiny and matte fibers to create their pattern effects. Damask fabrics are most often used in draperies and more dramatic window treatments. Damask is great for bringing detail to a large room — just be careful that it doesn’t become too overwhelming in a smaller sized room.


Brocade fabrics, like Damask, are ornately patterned woven fabrics. However, brocades use multiple colors in their patterns creating a unique 3D design effect. Brocade offers a dramatic statement in custom curtains.


You’ve probably seen Voile fabric several times and just didn’t know it. Voile refers to any type of fabric that has some amount of transparency, like sheers. Voile curtains are used to give privacy without blocking light. If you have french doors or windows that overlook a yard, this could be a great option to let in light while still allowing privacy.


Linen fabrics are probably some of the most popular for custom curtains. They are known to provide durable curtains and available in several colors. Natural linens can be expensive, so people often choose a more affordable synthetic fiber linen. Linens can also be a little more wrinkled naturally, so if you are looking for something that will not appear wrinkled, you might choose something heavier in weight. Linen blends are also a good option that combines the durability and crisp look of linen with the easy care and wrinkle resistance of cotton or other fabrics.


Silk fabrics are thought by many to be the most luxurious fabric. Natural silk is one of the most expensive fabrics available and is both beautiful and light. Synthetic silks offer a wide range of options at a more reasonable price.


Cotton fabrics are perhaps the most versatile, available in a wide range of colors, densities, and even patterned designs, cotton fabrics can offer the widest variety of fabric options that are durable. Cotton fabrics are more prone to sun fading, so curtains should always be lined. Of the natural fabrics, cotton is also the easiest to care for, since many cotton fabrics are machine washable. Cotton tends to be more affordable than other natural fabrics, like silk or linen. Your most unique curtain moments will most likely come in the form of a cotton fabric — embrace it!


Synthetic fabrics come in all kinds of colors, weights, and patterns. The advantage of synthetic fabric is affordability, although they will often show wear more easily than natural fibers.

Designing Your Custom Curtains

Designing your very own custom curtains may be easier than you think. Before getting started you should measure your window. Check out our article for how to measure for curtains.

Follow these easy steps to design your curtains:

  • Choose a Heading Style
    1. Flat Panel
      • Choose flat panels for a modern look. A flat panel heading will hang the curtains just below the bar. The curtain will hang smoothly, with no pleats when closed. This is a good option for large windows and sliding doors. Flat panels create a crisp look that’s great for businesses or giving off a no-nonsense vibe. These are best for large spaces, especially when you want a modern look.
    2. Grommeted
      • Grommeted headings create a similar look to flat panel headings. The main difference is that grommeted headings have the grommets for the curtain rod within the curtain, while flat panels hang the curtain from the bottom of the grommets. Both create a sleek and modern look. Grommeted curtains have a looser feel than flat panel curtains; by placing the rings within the fabric of the curtain, the panel is shaped into waves that have nice, clean lines.
    3. Pinch Pleat
      • This is the classic look. The tops of these curtains have folded fabric to create the pleats; the folds are pressed together and sealed with pins. Pinch pleat curtains are hung from the rod with pin hooks that pass through the fabric. Although pinch pleats can look very traditional, even antique, they can be made to look sleek and modern as well. It all depends on your fabric and design choices.
    4. Rod Pocket
      • Rod pockets are another classic look. As the name suggests, the curtain has a pocket at the top which the rod fits through, so there are no grommets. The advantage of trod pockets is that they hide the curtain rod from view; you only see your beautiful fabric. This style of heading is difficult to open and close, and so rod pocket headings are best for decorative curtains that will stay either open or closed most of the time. Because these are purely decorative curtains, you can really experiment with intricate patterns and even embroidery or lace.
    5. Tabbed
      • Similar to, but more functional than, the rod pocket heading. Tabbed headings also lack grommets, and instead use loops of curtain fabric to fasten the curtain to the rod. Tabbed headings are just as easy to open and close as headings that use grommets, but they’re more subdued. Curtains with this heading won’t stand out as much in a room, which might be exactly what you want in your design. This heading also has the advantage of not requiring any extra rings or hooks to hang.
    6. Tailored Pleat
      • A variation on the pinch pleat. The tailored pleat is a cleaner, simpler, more modern look that still creates a classic style.
  • Choose Your Fabric
    1. We’ve already covered the various types of fabric here. Choose the fabric that fits your needs best. Synthetics are the most affordable, but natural fibers tend to hold up better over time. Heavier fabrics are better at blocking out light and preventing wrinkles, lighter fabrics are more decorative.
  • Choose a Curtain Style
    1. This is where you can really start to have fun. You get to choose your color, pattern, the thickness, weight, and lining of your curtains. This is when you make your curtains your own.
  • Add Accessories (Valance, Tie-back, Lining)
    1. All the finishing touches you want to make your curtains perfect.
  • Order your curtains!

That’s it! Can you believe how easy it is? Now all you have to do is sit back, relax, and wait for your custom curtains to be delivered right to your door. We make the whole process as easy as possible, with descriptions and guides for each type of header and fabric, so that you’ll never feel lost or confused while designing your curtains. You’ll also find that our prices are a lot lower than other custom drapery companies, but don’t worry: we don’t skimp on quality, we just think that custom drapes should be affordable for everyone.

How Long Should Curtains Be

The good news is that curtain length is largely up to your personal preferences. Style trends are constantly changing when it comes to curtain length, so if you want to keep up with them to indicate your style choice you can do so. As a general rule of thumb, current trends suggest floor-length curtains.

When you’re measuring for curtain length, be sure to start from the floor or sill and measure up to where you want your rod to be. This will allow you to buy perfect custom sheers that fall exactly where you want to be. If you’re buying readymade curtains, then longer is better than shorter for less exact matches. You can always hem curtains, but you can’t let them down.

Just Hitting the Floor

For a classic look that is clearly tailored and custom, use this length when you measure your curtains. Your fabric should just touch the floor or sill or hover half an inch above it. This makes a lot of sense for homes that want to open and close curtains regularly and have them easily fall back into their place.

Just Hitting the Window Sill

For short café curtains that only cover the lower half of your window, your curtain length should just hit the sill. Rooms like kitchens and bathrooms wouldn’t really make sense to have curtains that are floor-length (unless your bathroom window is just perfectly positioned and you want some real opulence).

Floor to Ceiling

Another option is to skip the window and just go for floor to ceiling curtains. Your eye follows lines, so having these style curtains will make your space seem taller and more open. You will notice the already existing height in the space that too much floor décor might mask.

These are also a great way to divide space in a room. If you want to tuck a window seat away from the rest of the floor plan or divide an entire room in half, you can use this tactic. Just make sure you don’t hang them too short because the trick only works if your curtains hit the floor!

Breaking at the Floor

Panels that extend onto the floor are also stylish. Having 1 to 3 inches pooling on the floor are more relaxed while still feeling tailored. This style is also more forgiving when it comes to uneven floors or less than precise measuring.

Puddled curtains are very French, hailing from the Rococo period, and this look is very successful with high ceilings and expensive fabric. Silks will billow the best of any material. It can add a ton of glamor to décor if you have the right architecture to pull it off.

You can even exaggerate the look with 4 to 6 inches of fabric on the floor for a very romantic look. As a rule of thumb, the more billowy it is when it rests on the floor, the more dramatic a look it will create. Just realize that this is also very high maintenance and requires regular cleaning and upkeep, as well as adjustment every time you vacuum.

How to Buy Curtains

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to buying curtains. If you don’t know how to buy curtains, then consider these factors carefully when making your decisions.

Custom Versus Ready Made

Custom sheers and curtains don’t cost nearly as much as they used to anymore. In fact, you can find very high-quality custom curtains for even cheaper than ready-made curtains at a lot of home décor stores, and these will perfectly fit your space without any need for hemming!

If you are buying ready-made curtains, they may not come in your exact needs. In this instance, it is best to buy them longer than you need. You can always hem long drapes and curtains, but you can’t let them out if they fall too short.

Hanging Implement

You also need to consider the hanging options. For example, if you are in an apartment, drilling in holes for a curtain rod may not be an option. In this case, you will need to find tension rods, Velcro, or Command Hooks. These will all serve to hang fabric without drilling holes in your wall.

Just be sure that you get the right size and weight for your needs. For example, custom sheer curtains won’t require very much support, so you can get very thin rods. On the other hand, if you want blackout curtains, these are usually made from very heavy materials that will need extra support.

How to Measure Curtains

It is important to know how to measure for your curtains, so you don’t ned up with too much or too little at the fabric store. This is especially true for custom curtains, which will be cut specifically to the measurements you provide.

Determine your mounting technique.

You need to know whether you plan to mount your curtains inside or outside the window frame. Outside mounts are the most common style for curtains. This style secures a rod to the wall outside the frame. Inside mounts are a very specific look. This secures inside the frame for a streamlined look that provides a minimalist, modern look without blocking out the light.

Determine Rod Length

Before measuring the window, you should determine the length of your rod. Curtain rods usually extend 3 to 6 inches past a window’s frame.

For streamlined window treatments, suspend curtains from the window frame. Find rods with protective end caps and expandable design. If you’ve got gorgeous molding above your frame, then mount the rod below the trim to showcase the molding. These should be 3 to 5 inches wider than the window on either side. An ideal placement is 6 to 12 inches above the window frame. This may not be possible depending on your space and the aesthetic of your home.

Choose Curtain Length

Next, consider the type of curtain length you want. Typically, curtains will sit about 1 cm above the window sill, at or half an inch above floor-length, or pool a little on the floor.

Measure Width

Your curtain width should be 2 or 3 times wider than your window’s measurement. This will allow for full curtains. Ultimately, it’s up to you how full or sparse you want your curtain to be. Fuller curtains are richer, whereas shorter widths look more tailored. Window panels are usually listed separately, so see if your curtains come in a pair or if you need to buy 2. If your curtains come separately, double the listed width.

Measure for Length

The length is the most common measurement you can find for curtains. This is the distance from the rod pocket to the bottom of your panel. Choose the length based on your style preferences.

When you measure floor-length curtains, you will want to start from the floor and measure up to the curtain rod. Otherwise, start from the top of the window frame or top inside corner and measure down to your desired length. If your curtains are being placed higher, measure from the top of the window frame to the rod placement and add it to your overall length.

We know this may appear simple, but when you get into it, you may need some help. Don’t worry, we’re here, so don’t be afraid to contact us for any assistance you need at any point. We’re happy to help.

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