A Guide to Drapery Fabrics

Choosing the right drapery fabric for your draperies can be overwhelming. There seems to be no limit to the styles and types of drapery fabric. It includes cottons, linens, silks, polyester, rayon, acrylic blends and more. Where to begin?

Begin with these four considerations: What is the draperies' purpose? How will the draperies operate? How do you want them to look? Where will they hang? Arm yourself with the answers to these questions before you go shopping and the choices will become easier.

1. What is the Draperies' Purpose?
Are your draperies intended to be simply decoration? Or are they intended to create privacy? Do you want them to filter sunlight during the day, or block out the light altogether? Are they going to frame a beautiful view? Or obscure an ugly one?

2. How Will Your Draperies Operate?
How your draperies operate is largely determined by your window type. Are they double-hung sash windows? Casement windows? Sliders? Where will you need frequent access? This will tell you if you want draperies that pull to the sides or pull up in either a roll or a gathered swag.

Will your draperies be hanging over sheer curtains? Are they static for cosmetic purposes only or will they open and close? And if they do open and close, will they operate with a pull cord or manually with a wand or yanked by hand?

3. How Do You Want Your Draperies to Look?
How will they hang? When open will they hang straight down or will they be pulled back with ties? When closed, do you want them to hang with a casual, irregular relaxed look or do you want them neatly pleated so they hang with uniform folds? Do you want them "puddling" on the floor or not even touching the floor?

Will you be adorning your draperies with accessories like swags, valances and tie-backs?

4. What Kind of Environment Will They Hang In?
Are you hanging draperies in a formal living room where they're not going to get a lot of wear and tear? Or are you putting them in a busy kitchen or children's play area where they are going to get used and manhandled by potentially dirty hands?

Will they be subject to harsh sunlight? Sunlight can fade and degrade some fabrics faster than others. How tall are your windows? An eight-foot drape will hang differently than a 20-foot drape of the same material.

Knowing the answers to these questions before you go shopping will narrow your choices and make your decision a whole lot easier.

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