Everything you need to know about curtains
Which fabrics are best for curtains?
In our experience the following fabrics work best:
- Synthetic fabric
We introduce each in more detail below:
Traditionally linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant, but is now more widely made using cotton, hemp and other natural fibres either separately or as blends.
Reasons to choose linen curtains:
- Renowned for being luxurious and exuding comfort and elegance, both in its appearance and texture
- Highly durable
- Fantastic insulation properties
- Eco-friendly: requires less energy and fewer chemicals than synthetic fabrics to produce
Velvet is produced from both natural fibres such as silk, mohair, wool and cotton, or from synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon or viscose meaning there is a velvet to suit all budgets.
Reasons to choose velvet curtains:
- Distinctive look and feel
- Its soft, short dense pile catches the light in a way no other fabric does
- Drapes very well
- Can be maintained by dry cleaning without compromising its visual properties
- Available in a wide variety of textured patterns such as pile on pile, heat embossed or crushed
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, rayon and acrylic provide a wide and varied choice of curtain finishes.
Reasons to choose synthetic fabric curtains:
- Can emulate natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk and more, but with the durability of a man-made fibre
- Alternatively, they can provide a striking fabric design or finish that would not be possible with natural fabrics
- Additives can be included to make the fabric flame resistant, crease proof, stain resistant or water repellent
Damask is woven in such a way that the fabric is reversible showing a sort of colour and texture mirror image on the back of the fabric. Damask is usually produced in a weave of a single colour and is made from natural fibres such as silk, wool, linen and cotton or synthetic fibres.
Reasons to choose Damask curtains:
- It is a heavier fabric, meaning it hangs well
- Does not require lining due to the reversible weave
- Timeless look
- Mixes well with other patterns and textures
Cotton is one of the most widely used natural fibre fabrics used in soft furnishings and curtains.
Reasons to choose cotton curtains:
- Soft and breathable, and can be produced in a variety of weights making it a versatile choice
- Can be dyed before weaving, or have a design printed on afterwards, meaning the choice of designs and colours is virtually limitless
- Less flammable than man-made fabrics
- A good insulator
Silk is made from silkworm cocoon fibres and has been a symbol of luxury and opulence for thousands of years. There are many types of silk, from sheer fabrics such as chiffon, habotai and crepe de chine through to the heavier damask, embroidered varieties, dupion silk with its distinctive irregular slub and fuji silk, with its soft suede like appearance. It is recommended that silk be lined to protect the reverse from strong sunlight to prevent damage, except damask, which holds its beauty in the pattern on both sides.
Reasons to choose silk curtains:
- Associated with luxury for millenia
- Available in a wide variety of textures and weights meaning there will be a fabric suitable for all your needs
- The strongest natural fibre
Voile is made from either from pure cotton or cotton and polyester blends. Available in a wide range of patterned and plain designs and unlike cheaper ‘net’ curtains, voile is available in in a wide range of colours to complement the room scheme.
Reasons to choose Voile curtains:
- Incredibly lightweight and floaty making it perfect for providing privacy without blocking light
- Can be made in panels to provide a flat curtain, much like a blind in appearance but without the mechanism
- Can be made as fuller longer curtains with an abundance of fabric tumbling in pools on the floor
- Easy to maintain as it is both machine washable on a gentle cycle or washable by hand.
Jacquard fabric is usually made from cotton or silk and has a raised design woven in during manufacture, designs include floral, geometric and traditional styles.
Reasons to choose Jacquard curtains:
- Beautiful tactile qualities that make it perfect for formal rooms and creating an elegant design statement
- Heavier fabrics with varying drape qualities depending on the fibre blends used
- Extremely durable and long lasting
- Easy to maintain.
What to consider when buying curtains?
Here are some pieces of advice we’ve picked up over the years that may help you when choosing curtains.
- If you are buying or making curtains for patio or French doors you will need to consider ease of access without damaging or dirtying the fabric each time you use them.
- Curtains designed for windows that are rarely opened may offer you choices that are far more lavish.
- Think about whether you want the curtains to rest on the sill, under the sill or collect in a big pool of opulent fabric on the floor. This will affect the length of the fabric to be used.
- Consider whether the window is in a formal or informal room. While curtains are often used to make a real statement, highlight a feature window or frame a view, the design and style needs to be carefully chosen to ensure they are right for the room.
- There are many different types of headings and pleat styles available to suit every room setting perfectly. Some create a feeling of cosiness and intimacy, others serve purely as an everyday functional choice and some inject grandeur and formality into your room setting. We have a separate resource on pleats if you’d like to take a look.
- The existing scheme of the room may naturally suggest a colour for the curtains to complement your room scheme or maybe you are looking to use contrasting colours to make a bold statement.
- Patterns and textures add a further facet to the design process adding charm to draw your interior design ideas together.
- The size of pattern or texture you choose is important. Small detail can be lost if the curtains are too large for the design, conversely, a room scheme could quickly become chaotic if the pattern and texture repeats are too large for the size of the curtain.
- Heavier fabrics are better suited to curtains that provide privacy and insulation.
- The weight of fabric needs to be suitable for the style of curtain you want, this will also affect the heading style or pleats that you choose. Thick embroidered fabrics will be better suited for Goblet pleats whereas lighter fabrics are better suited for cottage pleats.
How to choose your curtains?
When it comes to curtains, you generally have three possible routes to follow:
- Buy ready-made curtains and hang them yourself
- Buy fabric and make your own curtains and hang them yourself
- Order professionally made curtains in the fabric and style of your choice
We outline each method in more detail below:
Benefits of ready-made curtains:
- They are convenient
- They are cheap
Issues with ready-made curtains:
- They come in limited sizes, fabrics and styles
- They are machine-made to keep costs down, meaning they do not have hand-made quality
- They are folded into packaging, often resulting in creases
We do not stock readymade curtains, however, we do supply an extensive range of fabrics and are always happy to help customers making their own curtains with fabric selection, sourcing and supply.
Benefits of making your own curtains:
- It offers satisfaction for the maker
- You have more choice over fabric
Benefits of professionally made curtains:
- You have full choice over fabric
- You get expert quality handwork
Our curtain making service.
We are able to make curtains to your unique requirements. All our curtain makers are experienced and produce items of the highest quality. They work in well-equipped workshops with all the tools and equipment needed to produce perfect curtains.
Once the curtains are finished you can collect them from us or we can deliver them to you anywhere in the UK mainland and even overseas. All our curtains are carefully packaged to minimise creasing in transit and we use express couriers to transport them as quickly as possible.
Alternatively, in Yorkshire we can fit your curtains for you, together with your poles or tracks and most importantly we always dress your curtains to ensure that they hang beautifully. This is not a quick process but it ensures that your curtains will look their best. We can handle complicated and large curtains with our two-man fitting teams.
If you want the best possible outcome you won’t regret getting our professional curtain service.
Why should you choose curtains
Some of the main benefits of curtains are below:
- They offer privacy
- They block out light
- They are a design statement
- They have insulating properties
- They reduce drafts
- They protect soft furnishings from UV damage
Should you choose a curtain pole or track?
Deciding on whether your curtains will be best suited on a curtain track or a pole will affect the overall look of the window. The size and type of window that you have will also affect the length and style that would best match the vision you have for the room.
Curtains poles generally create more of a focal point and can enhance the overall effect by making a big, bold statement, especially with the choice of finials available.
Curtain poles can be placed high above the window casement to create an illusion of a more substantial drop for the curtains, this is often a good choice for smaller windows or mullion windows.
Curtain tracks are less visible so are a good choice for plain or simple curtains styles.
Tracks also offer a wide variety of possibilities to support very intricate or contemporary curtains styles that would not be achievable using a pole, for example the contemporary Wave header style can only be accommodated on a track.
Glossary of related terms
Some of the terms we’ve included here may not be familiar, so we’ve defined them below.
Damask: a heavy silken fabric with a pattern woven in
Voile: a thin fabric that is semi-transparent