Curtains and Draperies

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Curtains and DraperiesIn many homes, it is the fabric window treatment that commands the focal point of the room – far more often than any piece of furniture ever could.

What is it about fabric at the window that makes such a compelling statement? Of course, it can soften the architecture of a room, but it also has the unique ability to accentuate it as well. Fabric can hide flaws around a window area, trap drafts, shield a room’s furnishings from the sun and provide a needed focal point.

It can help to muffle sound, manage to pull all the disparate elements of a room together, provide balance and best of all: bestow beauty. Perhaps you are wondering about the difference between curtains and draperies. It can be confusing, because while curtains and draperies are sometimes similar in appearance, they aren’t necessarily similar in construction.

Curtains are mostly just unlined versions of draperies, a simple single or double layer of fabric that is hemmed and hung from a rod at the top of a window frame. Not all curtains are short but the most recognizable of curtains are those that hit the sill of the window and do not extend to the floor (although some will!).

Curtains can also be defined as a more “novelty” style treatment, probably due to the fact that you will see them used most often in kitchens, bathrooms and childrens bedrooms, where fun patterns incorporating various related motifs are pretty standard. So, by nature, they are almost always a less formal style of window enhancement.

Draperies are the grand older sister to curtains, all dressed up and ready for a night on the town. Draperies are for formal areas, areas in need of lush accents and also employ complicated stitching and multiple layers.

Draperies are the kind of window treatment that you invest heartily in and expect to keep on the windows for many years.

What is the easiest way to tell a drapery from a curtain?

First, the weight of the fabric. While some draperies can be lightweight, such as if they are made of silk, many will be constructed of heavier materials such as velvet, jacquard, satin, matelasse and damask.

And, if they are made of a lighter material, you will more than likely see that the “beauty” material has been lined at least once, if not twice or even three times.

Lining your draperies provides stability to the beauty fabric, bulks it up and best of all, protects it.

These methods of lining include:

– Interfacing, which is used to support and provide shape to the fabric. It is sometimes stitched directly to the primary fabric but depending upon the selected fabric, it can also be fused with heat. It would be covered with a lining to conceal it, as it is not an attractive product.

– Interlining is also a layer that provides stability and bulk to the treatment, but also pads and stiffens it. Better yet, it is a great insulating layer and keeps light from shining through the treatment, changing its appearance. The interlining is stitched to the back of the primary fabric and finished with a lining layer.

– Lining. All draperies should be lined. This will protect the primary fabric from sun and potential water damage, provide bulk and also offer a kind of “blank slate” look from the street.There are many, many popular curtain and drapery styles. Here are a short few; you will see even more as you page through this chapter, of course.

Curtains and Draperies  Curtains and Draperies


For curtains, there are:

– Cafe. Short, cute little curtains that usually only cover about half of the window – enough to offer some privacy but also allow constant sunlight.

– Flat panel curtains are simple fabric panels that have been hemmed on all four sides. They are hung with charming clip-on or sew-on rings.

– Grommeted curtains are flat paneled curtains with the hardware sewn into the top part of the panel. The hanging rod is fed through the grommets and then installed onto the end brackets. Grommets are usually placed close enough within the fabric that by pushing the panel to the side, folds are created. Grommet-top curtains are usually viewed as a more “modern, edgy” type of curtain because the hardware – almost always metal – is such a focal point.

– Hourglass & stretched (or shirred) curtains are typically used on doors and some windows – but only those windows that you would want an obscured view at all times. Stretched taut from top to bottom and held in place with a rod at the top and bottom, the hourglass is created by cinching the treatment in the middle with either a fabric band or some kind of tie.

– Tab-top & tie-top curtains are just variations of each other. With tab top curtains, the curtain header is a series of tabs that the rod slides through. A tie-top curtain has a set of strings instead of tabs, and they are tied individually onto the rod. As for draperies, you will possibly appreciate:

– Banded draperies define the edge of a drapery panel by using contrast fabric on one or more sides. Banding can occur on the bias – that is, turning the fabric in an opposite direction, such as if a vertically striped treatment had its banding constructed so that the stripes ran horizontally; or perhaps a solid color contrast band on a floral treatment. Banding also adds weight and helps the treatment hang well.

– A flip topper is a contrast lined fabric panel that flips over the top of a rod. The primary fabric shows for most of the treatment, but the contrast lining shows at the top and over. Typically, the flipped area will be styled in some way, such as with tassels or beads, or even cinching or tapering the fabric into a point of sorts.

– The French pleat, also known as a pinch pleat, is a tri-fold pleat at the top of the drapery and is certainly one of the more popular window treatment styles. Held in place like little trios of soldiers, the pleat is then “pinched” at the bottom near the soldier’s ankles. Each pleat then balloons out slightly to offer bulk.

– The rod pocket can be found on either curtains or draperies. One reason is because it is such a stable method, with the weight of the treatment evenly distributed. The construction? Easy. The header is folded over to the back and then stitched shut, creating a hollow pocket through which a rod slides.

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