Fabric for Curtains - How to Choose the Right Fabric

Posted by Mark 02/10/2017 0 Comment(s) Sewing & Reference Guides,

Curtains are one of the most dominant pieces of fabric in a room, so choosing the right fabric for curtains is an essential task in interior design.

 

Curtains are used to protect privacy, block unwanted light when required and add insulation to the room. When fitted with a blackout 3 pass thermal liner, curtains are very effective at retaining the heat within the room, which is arguably one of the biggest benefits to curtains over blinds.

 

Curtains can be used all over the home, from the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen to the living room.

 

 

Colour and contrast to the rest of the room are vital, as this can have a negative impact if chosen incorrectly. The pattern of the material is of equal importance and you want to ensure that it ties in with the rest of room's theme and colour scheme.

 

The quality and type of material are essential in not only creating the perfect look but also suiting your needs.

 

Remember to be cautious when using fabrics which feature a flame retardant backcoat, such as upholstery based fabrics. The backcoat makes the fabric very stiff and will affect the drape of the curtains, which is primarily an issue with shorter curtains.

 

Fabrics that are inherently flame retardant are ideal however if you require an FR treatment.

 

Chenille Fabric

Chenille is one of the wealthiest looking fabrics, often playing a close second to velvet. It's more commonly used as an upholstery material, however, rather than for curtains and blinds due to its weight and susceptibility to fading in direct sunlight.

If properly cared for and maintained, chenille is one the most impressive looking fabrics and looks incredible when used for long curtains.

 

Pros:

Rich appearance

Chenille is often thick which can add extra insulation

Exclusive, it's unlikely your neighbours will have the same design

 

Cons:

Quite thick as it's aimed at upholstery rather than curtains or blinds. May not be suitable for shorter curtains as a result

Susceptible to fade from direct sunlight

Difficult to maintain and clean

 

Jacquard Fabric

Jacquard is a popular weave of choice for curtains due to intricate woven designs that are available from the weaving process.

There are plenty of designs to choose from to suit your room aesthetics. Jacquards are rich looking fabric s and can look extremely impressive.

 

Pros:

Rich appearance, with intricate designs

Nice thickness

Typically manufactured for curtains and blinds

 

Cons:

Heavier weaves can be challenging to drape

Can be expensive

 

 

 

Velvet Fabric

Who doesn't love velvet? Velvet is the most expensive and impressive fabric for curtains, especially longer curtains.

Velvets, especially cut velvets are, unfortunately, the most difficult fabrics to care for. Cut velvet and water are a dangerous combination as water will ruin the fabric.

 

Pros:

Very impressive

Ideal thickness

 

Cons:

Difficult to maintain

Water can ruin the finish

Typically the most expensive of fabric

 

 

 

3 Pass Blackout Fabric

Blackout based fabrics are explicitly designed with curtains and blinds in mind. The 3 pass process is used to ensure that the fabric has 100% light exclusion and the additional passes (layers) also help immensely with heat insulation.

These fabrics can also be used as a liner should you wish, as typically they are plain colours.

 

Pros:

Do not require any additional curtain lining

Inexpensive

100% light exclusion

Flame retardant

Heat insulation

Can be used as colour matching curtain lining

 

Cons:

Limited designs and typically plain

 

Dimout Fabric

Dimout is a lighter alternative to 3 pass blackout and has a wider variety of finishes and patterns. Dimout doesn't offer 100% light exclusion like blackout fabrics, however, but it does offer a high amount of light exclusion.

 

Pros:

Wider variety of patterns and finishes than blackout

Do not require any additional curtain lining

Relatively Inexpensive

High levels of light exclusion

Flame retardant

Heat insulation

 

Cons:

Limited designs

Doesn't offer 100% light exclusion

 

Cotton Fabric

Cotton fabrics, namely cotton prints are the most common fabrics used for both curtains and blinds. As they are 100% cotton, they are easier to crease, but are easy to work maintain and keep clean. Be aware that cotton fabrics can shrink when washed for the first time.

 

Pros:

Natural

Huge choice of colours and patterns

Cheap

Easy to maintain and work with

 

Cons:

Cotton prints are common and as such don't have much prestige

Susceptible to creases

Shrinkage after washing. Always account for this when measuring or making curtains. Adding a large hem to your curtains allows you to adjust for shrinkage.

 

Poly Cotton Fabric

Poly cotton is a blend of both polyester and cotton. The concept of the blend is create a fabric which has both the strengths of polyester and cotton, to create a solid blend. Poly cotton fabrics are less likely to crease and shrink, which are two of the main problems for cotton fabrics.

 

Pros:

Huge choice of colours and patterns

Ideal Drape weight

Cheap

Easy to maintain

Easy to work with

Often inherently flame retardant

 

Cons:

Much like cotton, poly cotton fabrics are common and as such don't have much prestige.

 

 

Polyester Fabric

Polyester is an entirely synthetic fibre and while it's an ideal fabric for curtains and blinds, it still maintains its negative stigma from the 1970s. Polyester is the easiest of all material to care for, but care must be taken when ironing polyester as it can quickly melt.

 

Polyester is also commonly used for both blackout and dimout based fabrics and also has the added benefit of being flame retardant.

 

Pros:

Resistant to fading

Crease resistant

Flame retardant

Wide choice of designs and colours

Low cost

 

Cons:

Entirely synthetic.

Despite advancements in production, Polyester still maintains a negative stigma with the consumer

 

Linen Fabric

Linen is another natural fibre and has an extensive history. Linen is thicker than cotton.

 

Pros:

Natural fabric

Drapes nicely

 

Cons:

Fairly expensive

Susceptible to creases

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Curtains perform a critical role in determining the look and focus of your living space. Take time to seriously consider how you want the window space to appear and then select the appropriate fabrics and colours necessary.

 

Always take into account the environment the curtains will be in your room. If there are small children or pets around, a long set of luscious cut velvet curtains are going to get dirty or damaged in no time at all.  

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