Making Draperies

Dianne Apple has been in the custom drapery business in Nashville, TN and the surrounding area for approximately 31 years. In those years she has done window or bed treatments for homes, offices, factories, buses, airplanes, etc. She has been teaching others to make window treatments for 21 years. Her classes are once a week for ten weeks. The following is an article she has compiled about some of the different things that are important to consider when starting a drapery project. For further information and detailed instruction on how to make these items, please view her book and videos at www.fabrics.net under Store.

When you are considering making window treatments there are many things to think about before looking for fabric. The most important choice is what type of drapery do you want. If you need complete privacy or sun control you may opt for a pleated draw drapery so that you can close it during the hottest part of the day, or at night when people could see in. If these two things are not a priority or you have blinds or shades, then you could choose a valance or swag top treatment only, or side panels that tie back and hang stationery.

The choice of your fabric is crucial. You can buy it from fabric stores that stock bolts of fabric, or you can order it from fabric books. Books will give you a much wider selection, but you will have to wait for the fabric to arrive. Weight, texture, and drapeability should be of utmost concern depending on the treatment you are making. Swags should be done out of fabric that has body but is soft. Anything too crisp or stiff, such as chintz, is not a good choice for swagging softly. Choose cotton/polyester blends, cotton, antique satin, etc. Roman shades need to be made of fabric with a great deal of body and very stable; balloon shades could be of a lighter weight fabric. Draw draperies hang best when the fabric is very stable – soft to a light upholstery weight. Stripes do not make pretty draperies – the stripes do not hang pretty when gathered or pleated .

Every treatment is mounted in a different place in relation to the window. Draperies are not put on the window frame, but on the wall. They are usually extended past the window so they will give more view when they are open. Romans and balloons can be mounted on the frame or the wall. Some things are on rods; others are on boards such as most top treatments.

Lining all window treatments, with the exception of sheers, is crucial. Lining not only prevents you from seeing any color from the outside, but it also protects your drapery from sun and moisture. Always use a very high quality lining.

Hardware is a mind boggling decision sometimes. There is so much on the market today – decorative traverse rods, pole sets, metal or wood rods. You can have finials that are balls, tulips, spears, elephants, lions, crystal balls, etc. If you want something really unique you can find it with just a little searching at a store that carries a wide range, or from a designer or drapery workroom.

If you are planning on making your own treatments you must have a large space for a workroom and a drapery board – minimum size 4′ x 8′. There are quite a few supplies which are discussed in my instruction book. Whether you are experienced at sewing, or are a beginner, these projects can be very rewarding and fun to do.

I hope this gives you some idea of what to consider when dressing your windows. The choices are endless, but always think of the way you use the room and make it be very practical, as well as beautiful. Draperies are one of the largest areas of a room and a well done treatment will draw attention instantly to the windows.

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