I’d love to say that “there are no wrong choices” when in comes to selecting the appropriate fabric for your next set of custom made draperies or curtains but that is just not reality. There are many important consideration that you need to take in to account when selecting the correct fabric, here are some things to consider.
1. Will your drapery be “functional” or “stationary”? By functional, we mean, will you be opening and closing the curtains often or will they just be decorative and stationary. If you plan on have functional curtains you will need to be sure that you are selecting a fabric that is sturdy enough to handle the constant tugging and pulling as they are opened and closed. You can help your functional drapery last longer by buying a baton that you will attach to the leading drapery rings. The baton, as you see in most hotel rooms, will allow you to open and close the curtains without touching the fabric with your hands. Using batons can add years of life to your drapery and keep the oils from your hands off the fabric.
If you are planning on your drapery being functional you want to stay clear of very sheer fabrics including sheer linens, they will not hold up to much abuse. Stick to cottons or traditional linens, Bristol Linens and cottons. You can safely use most silks as long as they are protected with the use of a baton.
Important Designer Note – If you are going to be using a baton with your drapes and you have selected a “Grommet” header, or pleat, we recommend a product called “Grom-O-Link”. Grom-O-Link is a patented Grommet System that will allow you to attach a baton to the leading grommet on your drapery panel. There really is no other way to attach a baton to a grommet drapery panel without tearing the fabric.
If you are not planning on opening and closing the draperies very often, or maybe not even ever, you can omit the baton and leave them hung and “dressed” by your Installer. For stationary or decorative panels you have many more fabric options to choose from. You can select the most delicate sheer or linen and not be concerned with wear and tear.
2. The second major consideration is sun exposure. How much sun will your drapery panels be exposed too? If you are installing your drapes on a window that will be exposed to a lot of direct sunlight you need to be very careful with your fabric selection. You can still use most silks or linens but you need to be sure that your curtains are properly lined and interlined. Simply lining your curtains is not going to be enough to block the UV rays over time. You need to be sure that your panels have a heavy flannel interlining sandwiched between the lining and the face fabric. The interlining will provide greater protection than a simple lined panel. If you want to block almost all of the sunlight you may want to consider blackout lining. Blackout will provide the greatest level of protection from sunlight and UV rays.
Important Designer Note – Well made draperies that use high-quality linings including quality blackout linings will make you curtain panels very heavy. If you compare the weight of a well made Designer Quality Custom Drapery or Curtain Panel to one that you would buy from a big-box department store, or even Ethan Allen Drapery you would be amazed at the difference in weight. Department Stores import their drapes from China or India and the cost to ship them is very expensive. Simply said, Department Stores and larger chains do not want their ready-made curtain panels to be heavy, it simply costs too much to ship them. This is one major reason that, if you want real custom curtains and drapes you need to shop domestically.
3. Outdoor Curtains and Drapery. When it comes to selecting fabrics for drapery that will be used outdoor or will be in direct sunlight the only serious choice for fabric is Sunbrella. Sunbrella offers a wide range of styles from conservative solids to contemporary patterns at reasonable prices. The feature that defines Sunbrella is its color-fastness or ability to withstand a great deal of direct sunlight without fading or deteriorating like other fabrics would. Sunbrella has a patented manufacturing process that makes it the only serious choice for outdoor curtains, drapery and pillows.