Last week we talked about appropriate fabrics for my clients' roman shades. Of course you can make Roman shades out of several other fabric selections such as silk or sheer fabrics, but her room-darkening needs helped us narrow down what to choose from given an almost unlimited number of available fabrics.
Today let’s talk about what kind of fabrics one might choose for drapes, and while we’re at it, we will touch on the style of drapes you might want to consider for your rooms. Drapes can be functional or just decorative. And that is the number one factor you have to consider when choosing a fabric for your drapes.
If, like my client, you want to be able to close your drapes to darken your room or prevent too much sun from coming in and fading your rugs or furnishings, you will want the option called “draw drapes”. This option requires a lot more yardage and hardware that allows for the drapes to be easily closed. (We are going to talk about hardware next week.)
Since draw drapes require more fabric, as they are covering more space, you will want to take the weight of the fabric into consideration.
Here’s an example. A couple of years ago my client Shirley wanted drapes for her double French doors in her living room. The French doors opened onto her covered porch, but too much sun continued to seep in. Her husband hated the glare on the television screen so they wanted to be able to close the drapes.
Double French doors --a pair of French doors centered and then flanked by same size windows-- are a wide expanse to cover with draw drapes. In this case her width was 125 inches and over 10 feet of wood pole was required.
She had already purchased her fabric from one of the warehouse stores in Atlanta and just found something she liked and bought it with no idea of what she was getting me into! She selected a tapestry fabric, a double weave that was 55 inches wide.
When I went over there to measure and saw that enormous bolt of fabric and what she had chosen, I thought to myself, “ohhhhh boy...” She hadn’t purchased lining or a rod, so I explained to her how much this fabric was going to weigh on her wall once it was lined and hanging up.
She wanted them to be on a wood pole with wood rings.
“I want to be able to pull them with a wand like the curtains in a hotel room,” she said to me.
Suffice it to say, I made the drapes out of her heavy fabric and the rod that was required was very expensive. Again, more on hardware next week. The finished drapes were two panels pushed back to each side and pulled closed to meet in the middle. Each of the two panels required six yards of fabric plus six yards of lining for a total of 24 yards of fabric hanging off that wall. That’s a lot of fabric!
The rod required toggle bolts at the brackets because we didn’t find a stud where we needed to place them, which was 7.5 feet up in order to cover the entire area. And then, drawing the panels closed with a 60-inch wand for my 5’2” tall client was a bit of a challenge. I hated to say, "I told you so."
But, fortunately, it did work with some effort and they were gorgeous. The tapestry was rich, and its black background really created an elegant ambiance in the room, but we’ve had to go back over there twice to tighten the brackets due to that heavy repetitive action, even with toggle bolts included in the original installation.
As another example, I will share another experience with similar windows.
A different client, Betty, had a new house at Lake Oconee. The sun porch had a gorgeous view of the lake and the shady yard allowed for filtered light in the room. Curtains were not needed in that room for any sun-induced reason, but at night, with the television in that room, the occupants felt a little exposed. There were people on the lake in houseboats and nearby neighbors.
I recommended sheer draw drapes on wood poles with rings, employing the same wand-type closing that my previous client requested. We were able to order wide ready made pinch pleated sheer panels from J. C. Penney which made it very cost effective, and the white sheers against the white window trim and soft green walls looked stunning and gave a soft light amount of privacy. Drawing the sheer curtains open and closed was so much easier with the lighter weight of fabric.
With these two examples I’m not saying you can never use a tapestry for drapes. In fact, a more recent client just came to me with the exact same tapestry in a different color as the heavy drapes I described earlier. But this client wanted stationary panels flanking her picture window in her study. These drapes were never to be closed and their purpose was just to hang there and be beautiful and add color and texture to the room. Their weight didn't matter in this instance and they turned out perfect.
For stationary panels you can use any fabric in the world, but if your drapery panels are going to move or be exposed to harsh sun there are factors to consider in your fabric selection.
Those factors include weight, durability, whether they are to be lined or not, and if the fabric will accommodate the style you chose such as pleated, grommetted, pole top, or tabbed.
Most fabric stores offer assistance from knowledgeable staff with whom you can confer when you are shopping. And don’t forget about your favorite designer whose hourly fee encompasses a vast knowledge and experience, is worth every penny and can help you avoid costly mistakes.
Next week...rods, rings, and brackets, oh my!
Do you have questions about window treatments? Ask them in the comments.