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When it comes to made to measure curtains you can be spoiled for choice given the the thousands of possible fabrics. (That’s why we are here to help you!) So before you pick a fabric you should know a few golden rules to avoid possible errors. Forearmed, it is much easier and more fun to pick your own fabric.

Choosing Curtain Fabric – 8 practical tips you need to know

You have decided that your home needs new curtains or drapes and you are about to select the fabric. Stop! Learn eight important trade secrets from the professionals before you buy any fabric.

Good quality fabric is not cheap and once you have paid the curtain maker and fitter curtains can be quite an investment. To make sure you get the best curtains for your budget think about the following.

There are thousands of fabrics suitable for use in curtains but bear in mind the following when choosing your fabric.

1) Opacity

Is the fabric thick enough to keep the morning sun out of your bedroom or will the curtain need to be interlined at extra expense?

Test a large sample of a fabric by holding it up to the sun. If you are thinking of quilted silks or similar fabrics hold them up to a strong light to check for production flaws between the two outer fabric layers – trapped threads can show up as annoying shadows.

2) How much fabric do I need?

It is always advisable to get professional advice on the quantity of fabric required to allow for headings and hems, particularly where the fabric requires a pattern match allowance. It is also important to allow for fabric (from the same batch) for pelmets, valances, tie backs and matching soft furnishings.

Remember to allow for hems and turns and most importantly factor in the fullness ratio when you are calculating the amount of fabric you need. If you order your curtains from Fabric Gallery & Interiors we automatically do all this for you when we measure and quote.

3) Pattern Match

Is the pattern match critical? Make sure that you allow enough extra fabric to accommodate pattern matching? Also beware that jacquard fabrics are prone to significant variation in pattern repeat dimension between batches because the repeat depends upon the tension of the fabric on the loom.

Don’t get caught out by half drop or quarter drop matching – speak to an expert!

4) Colour matching

It is highly advisable to use fabric from one batch for a job to ensure consistent colouration. Also be aware that manufacturers do not guarantee that colours will exactly match between sample books, swatches and the delivered fabric.

Nowadays with internet ordering it is inadvisable to rely on on-screen representation of a fabric sample. Most screen images will not match the colour of the fabric, nor will they show the full pattern repeat and of course the computer monitor cannot render texture, sheen or patina! The best place to decide on fabric is in a fabric shop with professional advice and appropriate lighting. Here you can feel fabrics and compare options side by side before choosing and ordering the best choice for your home.

5) Curtain Size

Sizing is most important for curtains that reach down to the floor. If they pool on the floor or only reach part way to the floor you do not need to worry too much about precision.

Full length curtains usually look best but obstructions under windows (e.g. radiators) are common. You can still have full length curtains even with radiators in place if you consider a curtain pole with extension brackets.

Certain curtain headings (e.g. pinch pleat) allow the vertical position of the curtain to be adjusted on fitting or after any subsequent sagging. Tab headed curtains or eyelet curtains have no such adjustment and so need careful fitting and selection of fabrics that will not stretch, shrink or sag.

6) Fitting

For full length curtains, to get the most accurate measurements put the poles up first and then measure the precise curtain drop. Then get your curtain maker to use these figures.

Make sure you use a professional fitter who knows how to properly hang and dress curtains. Doing it yourself can be a false economy. Our fitters will make sure that your curtains are fitted, hung and dressed to perfection. They are equipped with all the tools and experience to cope with even the most complex situation. And of course they will leave your home looking beautiful and tidy.

7) Shrinkage

Since curtain material is mostly natural it can be prone to shrinkage and expansion. Some fabrics are sensitive to relative humidity and expand and shrink accordingly. Shrinkage is common during treatments such as fire retarding. If you are considering long (over 2.5 metres) or heavy curtains get professional advice about your choice of fabric.

8) Do not cut

When you receive fabric always inspect it carefully. Is it the correct fabric? Is the quantity correct? Look for any flaws. Once you cut the fabric, the vendor/manufacturer will not accept the return of the fabric. If you need more, make sure you get the same batch code.

Finally, if you bear these points in mind you should avoid most common pitfalls.

However if you are in doubt come and talk to the experts at Fabric Gallery & Interiors. We can supply fabric for you to make your own curtains or we can measure, make and fit –  giving you complete peace of mind. Come and visit our showroom or call us with your requirements.