· What the Pros Know

Choosing Fabrics for Windows

We’ve previously explored all the reasons to invest in window treatments – from the practical to the decorative. With this post, we hope to educate you on choosing the best possible fabrics for draperies and Roman shades, should you be considering that route (versus roller shades or blinds). There are so many textiles to choose from that it can get very overwhelming and confusing. You’d think that almost any fabric could be crafted into a gorgeous custom treatment – and if you have unlimited time and budget, then, yes that can happen. But that is not a reality for most of us. If you apply a few filters, you can narrow down your options and hopefully make the process a little easier and the results a lot better.

Here are a few things to think about as you start your fabric search:

Fabric content is super-important yet so many do not consider this when sourcing textiles for window treatments. It is the biggest determining factor in how curtains hang, drape and age over time.

Linen and cotton both drape very nicely. Depending on how they are lined, they can also filter light quite beautifully. But if you have floor-to-ceiling windows with a lot of sun exposure, these are perhaps not the best choices. A synthetic or performance linen can stand up to sunlight, but loose-weave sheer linens, cotton and silk can will fade over time, even if lined. (And lining will affect the quality of light that filters through the fabric). Consider instead a synthetic blend that looks/feels like cotton or linen – these will have the same hand and drape but be much more durable and, often, easier to clean.

Velvet is thick and luxe and can act as a great insulator.It’s wonderful for draperies but not the best choice for Roman shades as it doesn’t pleat well and the weight of the fabric may cause it to sag over time. Ditto alpaca and other furry or “teddy” fabrics that are popular now.

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In our decades of experience, we find the most misunderstood (and therefore problematic) textiles are anything with a pattern – whether it’s a simple stripe or a more decorative and dense all-over design. Some fabrics are woven, others are printed. Printing on a textile can cause it to shrink in certain parts, and plaid fabrics, unless purchased from a reputable company, can often be uneven, meaning they don’t “line up” the way you’d expect. Sadly, neither are issues you’d notice when sampling or even looking at larger yardage.

Why? Because curtains are ultimately panels, and the panel may look perfectly continuous when vertical (because that is how directional fabric comes off a roll) but may not line up horizontally. And you won’t know this until we’ve are in the midst of hand crafting your window treatment. We can and have devised solutions to these issues – including weighting fabric so it hangs properly -- but they can be time- consuming and very costly.

There are many reasons and several ways to line window treatments, depending on the desired effect. Lining the primary, out-facing fabric can add heft and depth resulting in a fuller, more luxurious overall
look. Lining also aids insulation if windows are drafty and privacy if the main fabric is a bit sheer. If using If using rich colored or patterned fabrics, we always suggest an interlining or blackout lining to make sure that the color or pattern reads as intended, without being washed-out by incoming light. Finally, blackout lining can cut down on glare in media rooms or offices as well as enhance sleep in bedrooms.

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It’s better for all involved to become educated, know what to look for, where to look for it, and what questions to ask before placing a fabric order. We are happy to share our knowledge with you, guide you through the process and direct you to trusted showrooms with quality product. Call 212-925-6519 or email us to get started.