Choosing the Right Drapery Fabric

Does the idea of choosing the right drapery fabric almost give you hives?  Does walking into a fabric store feel completely overwhelming?  Well, before I began my interior design business, I ran a drapery business for 10 years.  I have been around fabric a long time, and hope to guide you through the process today, with ease!

Picking Drapery Fabric from

Five Steps to Choosing the Right Drapery Fabric

1.  COLOR –  Start with deciding on the best colors for your drapery fabric.  You need to take into consideration the other colors in your room.  What are your wall colors?  What are the colors in your upholstered furniture?

2. PATTERN – Once you have narrowed down the color or colors you want in your fabric, the next step is choosing the right pattern for your curtains.

Picking drapery fabric from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comIn this client’s home, she had a leather couch, and her occasional chair was a brushed gray/green corduroy fabric.  So, we could add a lot of pattern and color in the drapes because we had limited pattern in the upholstered furniture.

Take into consideration how your fabric will look far away.  When looking at the fabric on the bolt, take a huge step back and see how it looks.  Also, take into consideration what curtain style you have chosen.  For example, if you are making long panels, gather up the fabric you are considering and see how it looks.  If you have decided on a box pleat, then unroll the fabric, step back and you can see how it will look with most of the fabric not gathered.

How to Choose the Right Fabric

Below I have put together some examples of fabrics that pair well with a coordinating couch and an occasional chair.

Subtle Earth-tone Colors

Picking drapery fabric from

Here the couch is beige with chevron pillows.  The occasional chair has stripes. So, I would add a larger bold print in the drapes that does not have stripes, lines, or any chevron pattern.  I would make sure the fabric has some green, because green is the more dominating color in the chair.  You can introduce a second color in your drapery fabric.  Take a look at the bottom fabric photo.  This fabric has slight hints of tangerine.  Beautiful.

Gray/Light Tan

Picking drapery fabric from
Here are the drapery fabric choices I have for this furniture grouping.  There is a chevron-type pattern in the pillows, and a larger damask pattern in the occasional chair.  So either a large stripe, or a larger geometric print will pair perfectly with this grouping.

Blue/Green and Beige

How to choose drapery fabric from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comNow, this is a soft and charming color scheme.  The blue/green couch piped in beige, and a beige occasional chair are both open to almost any pattern.  But, in keeping with the cottage style look and feel, and larger print with the same mute colors will bring to life the entire room.

3.  FABRIC WEIGHT – Another consideration in choosing drapery fabric is making sure you have chosen the ideal weight.  For most of the fabrics you will encounter in the fabric store, they will be a standard fabric weight. But, some fabrics are much heavier, and are intended for upholstery.  I have made the mistake of trying to make a box pleat curtain from a fabric that was much to0 heavy, and the curtain did not hang properly.

If you are making long drapery panels, and the fabric is really light, then you will need to consider adding interlining and lining to give the drapery panel body.  Interlining is a flannel-like cotton fabric that is sewn between the drapery fabric and the lining.

4.  FABRIC REPEAT – What in the world is fabric repeat?  The larger a pattern is, the larger the repeat.  Below is an example of two different fabric repeats.

How to pick drapery fabric from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comSo, if you have chosen a larger fabric repeat, you will more than likely need more fabric.  Why?  For valances like a box pleat, fabric is pieced together.  And with a larger fabric pattern, matching the pattern means you will have some wasted fabric.  See the fabric above with the bird? Well, if you need to match that section if you were making a box pleat curtain, and your repeat is 27″ you may have to move way down the fabric before you come to the next bird pattern.  Where the hounds-tooth fabric would not have much, if any, wasted fabric because the repeat is so small.

How to Not Stress Out in The Fabric Store

First of all, most fabric stores have well educated employees that will help you make the right choices.  Do not be afraid to ask.  That is what they are there for!  Second, take photos of your furniture, and colors you want to match.  Show them what you are trying to coordinate.

Another wonderful thing about most fabric stores?  They usually compile their drapery fabric in rows according to color.  And then they place bolts together that coordinate!  Below is one of my most popular Pinterest pins on window treatment ideas.  I receive a lot of compliments on the coordinating fabric in this custom curtain.  While I am flattered, I feel a little guilty.  After all, as you can see, the fabric store had these coordinating fabrics hanging on a row of bolts together.Picking the right drapery fabric from http://www.jenniferdecorates.comWell, I really hope I have helped educate you on choosing the right drapery fabric, and relieving some of the stress involved in the process.

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  1. I would love to know where you found your most popular pin fabric, the yellow grey and blue floral with lots of coordinating fabrics. Or the brand name if you know it. It is perfect for my room! Please email me – much appreciated! Robyn Singh

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