How to Fix Curtains that are Too Short

We have all run into the problem of your curtains not fitting into your space. Perhaps you bought new curtains but got the wrong size or maybe you got a killer deal on the perfect curtains but they aren’t quite the right size, or perhaps you are a serial renter like me and move every two to three years so you’re constantly tackling new spaces. 

Curtains can make a space feel warm and inviting. When curtains are too short it can make the room feel unpolished. Nobody wants that! Here I will share five easy ways to lengthen any of your too-short curtains so that your space can feel complete and designer-worthy! 

Should curtains touch the floor? That’s a good question. Find out whether or not curtains should touch the floor here.

Standard Curtain Sizes

standard curtain sizes

Before we get into making curtains longer, let’s talk about standard curtain sizing. When I say standard curtain sizing, I am specifically talking about curtains that can be purchased at retail. The three most popular curtain lengths are 84 inches, 96 inches, and 108 inches. 

It’s a good idea to avoid 84 inches curtains because they can make a space with a lower ceiling seem even smaller. Those are standard lengths but every now and then you might find curtains that aren’t standard and they might be slightly too short.

Custom draperies are another option to explore but generally, they are very expensive. 

The most popularly sold curtain width is 54”, but curtain widths vary wildly. You’ll find widths anywhere from 50” to 100” across. Be sure to check the dimension of the drapes you’re purchasing so that you know how many panels you’ll need to cover your windows. 

How Long Should Curtains be?

perfect curtain length is just kissing the floor - heres what you can do about too short curtains
via Katie Martinez Design

To know whether or not your curtains are too long or too short you first need to know how long your curtains should be. There are a couple of things to consider when deciding how long your curtains should be. First, decide what your preference is.

Do you want a more formal look or are you going for a relaxed vibe? For a traditional look, curtains should be hung high and should just barely kiss the floor. This option is my preference and it looks beautifully polished in the image above.

curtains that puddle are whimsical - heres what you can do to lengthen your too short curtains
via Must Have Mom

Another option, which is more relaxed, is to have curtains pooling or puddled at the bottom. This is a nice option if you have drapes with a raw hem because you can slightly tuck the hem under.

Another thing to consider is panels that puddle and leave a large amount of fabric on the floor can become a dust collector and additionally a vacuuming nightmare. This is especially true if you have a robot vacuum.

The second thing to think about is the size of your window. Taller windows can handle longer curtains while shorter windows might get lost in the excessive fabric. You also need to take into consideration the width of your window. Wider windows can carry heavier fabrics such as velvets and brocades, whereas narrower windows might do better with lighter-weight materials such as linen drapes.

Now that we know more details about standard drapes, let’s check out how we can give those too-short panels a bit of length!

Here are 5 easy ways to make your too-short curtains look longer:

Change the Location of the Curtain Rod:

If you have just a couple of inches from the bottom of your drapes to the floor, consider moving your curtain rod down just a hair. This is a quick fix that can make a big difference. By moving the curtain rod a few inches lower you can bring your curtains down so that they can kiss the floor. 

This little trick goes against my typical curtain hanging rule which is to hang curtain rods high and close to the ceiling. Hanging curtains high gives the illusion of higher ceilings and taller windows. When curtain rods are hung lower, it makes the ceiling feel lower and that’s not ideal. So you’ll have to weigh your options. Would you like the look of higher ceilings or unpolished drapery? I think bringing the curtain rod down a couple of inches won’t make that much of a difference, making it worth it to have floor-length drapes.

Add Curtain Rings

If you don’t want to or can’t put new holes in your walls to lower the curtain rod, another way to achieve a similar lengthening look is by adding rings to your existing drapes. Adding rings instead of using the hidden tabs or ties can extend your curtains 1 to 2 inches giving your drapes additional length. Those few inches can make all the difference in giving your home a more polished look.

Make sure to buy rings that match your other curtain hardware for a clean and cohesive look.

Further, if your drapes are still too short after installing curtain rings, you can release the top seam of the curtains to give yourself even more length. Release the seam with a seam ripper being careful not to damage the fabric. You can fold back the top half inch of your curtains and re-stitch them, or simply iron the new hem and clip the curtain panel back onto the rings. The top hem won’t be visible so it’s a clever way to cheat some length out of your curtains if needed.  

Additionally, I love ring clips because they make it easy to open and close drapes. My family is constantly opening and closing our drapes for privacy or to allow natural light into our home. I find it easier to slide curtains open and closed when they are attached to rings. 

Don’t Use Curtain Tiebacks

Tiebacks can be functional or purely decorative, but they will almost always shorten the look of curtains by cinching in the fabric on either side. If you want your curtains to appear longer, let them hang straight without any type of tieback!

Make Small Alterations

Re-Hem The Bottom Hem

Another great way to fix drapes that are too short is by altering the hem. You can do this yourself by dusting off the sewing machine and making a DIY project out of it or you can take them to a local seamstress or tailor for alterations.

Some curtains have bottom hems that are 2-3 inches long. These seams can easily be undone with a seam ripper and sewn back together with a much smaller bottom seam giving you an added length of 1-2 inches.

If you want an even quicker way to re-hem drapery panels you can release the hem, and shorten it by using iron-on seam tape at the end of the panel, no sewing machine is required.

If your curtains are more than just a couple of inches too short then you have to get creative.

Add Panels and Trims to Your Curtains to Add Length

If your curtain panels are more than just a few inches too short then you’ll need a little creativity and some other supplies to lengthen your curtain panels. 

Add a Panel To Curtains

Here’s a really clever idea to lengthen your curtains. Simply slice a chunk off of the bottom of your curtains, sew in a coordinating panel of fabric, and bam, you have custom drapes that are the perfect length. 

This DIY’er fell in love with curtains that were only available in 84-inch length and did just that. This project can add any amount of length you need to resize your favorite curtains.

Another idea is to add trim to the bottom of your curtains. Fabric trims like tassels can add several inches to the bottom of your curtains. You can release the hem of the curtain panels and then add the tassels to the raw edge for maximum curtain length.

Wrapping up Fixing Curtains that are Too Short

If you find yourself with drapes that are just a touch too short, you can fix it! There are many ways to lengthen curtains. By following some of the tricks in this guide, and choosing the best option that works for you, you can achieve the look you desire without having to replace your favorite curtain panels!

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One Comment

  1. What is a reasonable width for added panels? Our last house had low ceilings that were 7′ tall on the outside walls, and our new build has 10′ ceilings. I wanted to use the curtains I’d made for our last house in our new LR so I ordered a contrasting fabric to make extensions. However an extra 3′ (roughly) is quite a conspicuous addition, and even though the proportions are visually pleasing at roughly 2:1 the border between panels hangs a good bit above the window sills which are only 20″ off the floor – and this is made even more obvious by the natural light that flows through the upper part of the panel but not the part that hangs against the wall below. I knew in advance that these two horizontal lines would not meet up but until hanging the first panel (of 3 planned) I couldn’t be sure what the overall effect would be. I’ll leave this hanging (literally and figuratively) for a while but I’m not sure if this small annoyance is something I can live with long-term. I may decide to simply start over with full-length curtains, but unless I find another use for this one it would represent a large waste of time as I did most of the work by hand before acquiring a sewing machine. I would post a photo if I could but hopefully my description gives an adequate mental picture.