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Short Guide to Choosing Drapery Fabrics for Your Home

Before you decide on the kind of window treatment you want, you should first consider durability and ease of care. You will invest a pretty good sum of money in your window treatments, so you want to make sure on the front end that you choose wisely, particularly if you are selecting for windows that get a lot of direct sun during the hottest times of the day. You can always invest in awnings or plant trees or bushes to gain shade for a window, but it will still behoove you to choose your fabrics wisely.

Consider the two kinds of fibers: natural and synthetic. The most durable fibers in the natural category are: cotton, wool, linen and silk. The first three are the most durable. Silk is the most delicate. In the synthetics category we find acetate, polyester, nylon and rayon. All of these are quite durable and easy to clean. However, you might want to know that each of these synthetics has a personality of its own.

  • POLYESTER: Polyester washes and drip drys very well. It gets high marks for that. It doesn't show wrinkles and does well in direct sunlight.
  • ACRYLIC: Wool-like to the touch, acrylic resists wrinkles, mildew, moths and fire.
  • ACETATE. Acetate has good draping qualities and is soft to the touch. It is nice to know that acetate also is sun, moth and mildew resistant. It has excellent crease retention.
  • NYLON: Nylon is a very strong fabric and it pleats well. It is also wrinkle and sun resistant.

I recommend that unless you are a talented seamstress that you buy your curtains and drapes from a professional. Though custom made is usually better, you can also buy ready mades at department stores and other fine stores.

If you're on a tight budget or a tight schedule, ready mades are the way to go. You will usually find a very good selection of fabrics, colors and patterns and should have fun shopping for what you want. The one draw back is that they only come in standard sizes, so if you have an odd-size window, you're going to have to go custom. Standard sizes are 63" long by 48", 72", or 96" wide per pair. They also make 84" long by 48", 72", 96" 122" and 144" wide per pair.

While more expensive, custom curtains or drapes come just the way you order them - the sky is the limit. While there ultimately is a limit to style, your fabric choices are endless. Bear in mind that just in other purchases you may acquire, you generally get what you pay for, so watch your budget and shop wisely.

As to whether you should line your draperies, that all depends. If it is a sheer or a casement, lining is usually not used. If you line a sheer, it ceases to be sheer, doesn't it? Lining helps most other fabrics, however. If you line it, the drapery will handle more smoothly and give more depth to the pleats. Sun damage can be a killer to fabric, so a good lining will help protect your fabric from fading and sun rot.

For this reason, natural fabrics should always be lined. Lining your fabric also helps conserve energy. And you will have a unified look to the outside of your home if all of your fabrics are lined with the same fabric. This way you can change the color and pattern of the fabrics you use from room to room without changing the color or look of your home from outside.

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