Get Your Window Treatment Right

Whether you’re saving up to have a wall of windows draped or ready to place an order with a local workroom, here’s an idea book packed with insider terminology. Not only will this help you understand what goes into creating draperies, it will make you look as though you know what you’re talking about when you’re ready to place that order. You’ll get the look you want and save time and money, too.

Panel width. One of the first questions to come out of a seamstress’s mouth will be, “How many panel widths?” This refers to the width of a standard-size drapery panel, which is approximately 48 inches wide when drawn closed. If you’re simply covering a small-to-medium-size window (36-60 inches wide), you’ll most likely want to go with one single-width panel on each side. This particular space had a pair of wide French doors to cover so I opted for two double-width panels. The double-width sizing allows for a really nice stack-back when the draperies are drawn open. In case the name doesn’t give it away, “stack-back” refers to how the draperies hang when pushed away from the window for decorative effect.

Pattern repeat — flat. Pattern repeat is another important factor if you choose to go with a print fabric on your window treatments. Keep in mind that the overall effect is totally different with upholstery than it is with drapery panels. When used for upholstery or wallcovering applications, the fabric will lay flat and therefore you get the full effect of the pattern repeat. That ain’t the case with draperies. See this ain’t-she-purdy paisley print? Take a look at it flat, then take a look at it in the next image.

Pattern repeat — pleated. See what I mean? The overall look of the print is totally different when the ripple effect from top pleats factors in. Pattern repeat can also have a huge impact on budget, depending on its size. Tighter patterns like this paisley print have multiple areas where the shape repeats itself. This is good, ladies and gentlemen, this is very, very good. Why? A tighter, plentiful repeat means it’s easier to match the print from one panel to another thus creating less waste. Patterns that only match up in one or two spots mean more cutting away to get to the right spot; all the cutting leaves wasted fabric on the floor — fabric you’ve paid for. Doh! But not to worry, seamstresses know how to center the pattern to make the match easier.

Drapery rings. Now we’re entering budget-breaking territory: hardware. Clients often want to punch me in the face the moment I talk hardware pricing, especially after they see the numbers for the drapery panels. But just as the wrong accessories can make or break an outfit, drapery rings can totally change the dressing of your windows.

If you’re simply putting up two single panels, it ain’t no big thing, y’all. If you’re covering an entire wall of windows, that’s another story. To figure out how many you’ll need, just keep in mind that each single panel will require about 8 drapery rings.

Drapery hooks. Well how do those purdy little rings get on up there with them purdy drapes? See the teency weency silver hook latched on to the small ringlet? Yep, that’s a drapery hook. These insert up into the back of each panel, usually into the stitching at the back of the pleat. Once in place, this attaches each panel firmly to the ring or ringlet. As opposed to hardware, hooks are usually supplied by the workroom or seamstress as part of the cost for fabrication.

Drapery rods. Pretty self explanatory, huh? In addition to choosing the right finish, you’ll need to keep in mind how the rods will mount to your wall. Most come with brackets wide enough in depth to clear windows, doors and their surrounding trim. Wood rods may require cutting down in order to fit your space perfectly; metal rods often “telescope” in certain areas to increase the length for a perfect fit. I often recommend choosing rods that telescope near each end instead of in the middle; the drapes will most likely sit on top of the telescope and help mask it. Pottery Barn is an excellent source for these.

Finials. And then there are finials, the crown jewels of drapery hardware. When deciding which one is right for your space, think about cost in relation to how visible it’s gonna be from different vantage points in the room. If the window is the star of the space and there ain’t much more to look at, spend away! But if your finials will butt up into corners of adjacent walls, go for the budget version.

That’s it for today’s lesson! Anyone else have great window-treatment tips? Please share