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Drapery Tips

Interior Designers & Decorators




Drapery Tips

 What Your Mother Never Told You About Draperies

1) How do I make sure my draperies are off the window when they’re open?

          Add 33% to the width of your window to determine how wide you drapery should be.

          Example:  If your window is 72” wide, make your rod 96”.  Then when your drapery is open, your window will be too! 

2) Where should I place the top of my drapery, how far above the window?

          Whenever possible mount your drapery a minimum of 4” above the window.  That way all the stitching will be above the window!  If you have 12” or more above your window, split the difference and mount your drapery rod at half the distance. If you want to add height to your room, take your drapery to the ceiling.

3) I’m doing a cornice, how much wider than my window should I make it?

          Making your cornice 4” wider than the window is the rule of thumb for any type of valance.  If you’re placing drapery panels under your cornice (or valance) then make your cornice 4” wider than your panels.  That way the outside edge of the drapery will touch the inside edge of the cornice.

4) My window has a blind in it.  How high should I mount my valance? 

          Make sure that the bottom of your cornice or valance is at least 1” below the blind when it’s pulled up.  That way your shade is hidden when it’s in the up position. 

5) How high should I mount my valance?

          This becomes a design issue.  Your valance should be at least 4” above your window and can go as high as the ceiling, depending on your valance style and size requirements.  Consider the following;

          How tall do I want my valance to be?       (12 -24” is a good range)

          How big is my room/wall?   Proportion is the key, a small wall won’t balance with a tall valance.  A cornice is a “heavy treatment” so a big cornice can make a small room seem unbalanced.

6) Do I need to line my treatment? 

          Lining adds years to the life of your drapery treatment.  It also gives body and richness.  That’s why ready-made panels that are unlined look inexpensive.  A small investment in lining your drapery adds value beyond the cost. 

7) What is a repeat and why do I care?

          A repeat is the distance from one point on a fabric pattern to the next exact point.  It must be calculated into your yardage so that your pattern repeat falls evenly across your valance or drapery treatment.  This is the difference between custom and ready-made window treatments.  Matching repeats is especially critical on flat treatments such as cornices and roman shades.

8) What is fullness? 

          Fullness refers to the amount of extra fabric needed to accomplish pleating, ruffling or gathering in a drapery.  Fullness ranges from 0 (Flat Roman Shades, Cornices) to 1 ½ (Tab or Ring Mounted Drapery Panels) to 2 ½ (Pleated Drapery Panels) to 3 (Sheers).  Multiply the width of your treatment by the fullness required to get the amount of fabric you’ll need width wise to accomplish your rod width.

9) What is interlining?

          Interlining is a fleece type fabric that is placed between your decorator fabric and your standard lining.  Typically used with silks, it adds body and life to your drapery.

10) What is a return?

          A return is the distance from the face of your drapery or valance back to the wall.  Standard is 3 ½” but can be anywhere from ¾” to 7 ½”.   This allows the valance or cornice to clear the draperies mounted underneath it.

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