Princeton Capital Blog

How to Choose Drapery Fabric

January 22nd, 2014

drapery fabricHow to Choose Drapery Fabric

Practically every proud homeowner wants to make the most of their home in terms of the look and feel and how well a room is pulled together.

One important area are window treatments. In prior posts we’ve talked about types of window treatments. In today’s, we’ll look at how to choose drapery fabric that will pull a room together successfully.

For instance, if you are buying drapes for your kids’ bedrooms, heavy elaborate covering would look a rather odd and could be quite costly, whereas lighter coverings with simple, colorful designs could prove ideal. A family room used for relaxing might benefit from simply designed and easy to maintain coverings (especially if you have cats that like to hang out in the windowsill), whereas a kitchen might fare better with café style drapes or even blinds. Each room requires careful thought and consideration before you make any firm decision with regards to the right coverings for the windows.

The position of the window also makes a big difference.  South-facing windows are considered best for consistent, natural light. You want to have window treatments that let in light but also have the option for protection against the light.  Some draperies have a back coating to prevent them from being ruined by too much sun.

So, what to look for in drapery fabric?


Consider the use and mood of the room. For a formal space, there’s heavy silk or velvet. However be advised that both are dry-clean only.  More casual and washable options include silky rayon blends and cotton sateen. Cotton and cotton blends work with any type of decor and bring a crisp, neat feel, as does seasonless wool or wool blends.


You’ll need to decide if you want the curtains to blend with the decor or to pop. For blending, pick curtains that are the same tone as the wall but a few shades darker, or choose a non-dominant subtle color in the room. A bold color will add in that noticeable burst of color. Also keep in mind that when the sun shines through unlined curtains, the color will infuse the room. This can either enhance the mood or cause an unintended buzz-kill. If you find yourself avoiding the room, you probably chose the buzz-kill.

Prints and Patterns

Professional decorators will recommend sticking with solid curtains if you have large amounts of prints in other areas like a sofa, chairs and a rug. However, if you have solid-color furniture or bedding, consider patterned curtains.

You have tons to think about when deciding on fabric for window treatments. Choosing the correct weight, texture, light-blocking or light-exposing qualities, and the fabric’s durability are just the beginning. If you spend some time considering your options now, when it comes time to look at dozens of fabrics at the store, you’ll have a clearer idea of what will work best for your specific needs.

Durability: Over time, the sun can damage all fabrics, but silks are especially prone to sun rot. Some of the window fabrics least prone to sun rot are chintzes, brocades, and cotton canvas.

Thread count: Generally speaking, decorator fabrics have a higher thread count than fabrics used for making clothes, so decorator fabrics last a bit longer. Some of these fabrics need to be dry-cleaned; check the fabric bolt tag or cylinder tag.

Weave: Plain, twill, satin, or damask weaves are common ones for decorator fabrics. Most printed cottons are plain or twill weave. For example, satin weaves are used to create stripes in some fabrics, and a damask weave is a single-color, patterned weave.

Width: Fabric generally comes in two basic widths: 42 to 45 inches and 54 to 60 inches. Always check out the fabric bolt label or tag to determine its width. Home-decorating fabrics compared to fabrics used for clothing are in the wider width. You can also find some decorating fabrics that are 72 to 75 inches wide, 90 inches wide, and even some that measure 105 or 110 inches or wider.


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