Once, a young woman come into our showroom looking for new curtains. She had made her own out of a cheap fabric with a bright, cheery print, and she couldn’t understand why all the colors had faded and bleached after just a few months of use. “Can you explain why my drapes faded so quickly?” she asked, holding her limp, faded curtains out for us to inspect.

You’d be surprised how often we get that question, so we thought it would be a good idea to address it here. What went wrong with her curtains? The short answer is, she didn’t take the following things into consideration when she chose her drapery fabric:


Perhaps the most important thing you need to keep in mind when choosing a drapery fabric is its durability. Over time, the sun can damage any fabric, but silks and cheap, thin fabrics like the kind you can buy at craft stores are especially prone to fading. So, how can you tell a drapery fabric is durable? A good way is to touch the fabric! Fold it accordion style and let it drape from your hand. A durable fabric will drape well; if it starts to flare out, it probably won’t make a good curtain. Usually, durable drapes are lined, to protect from the sun; they also might have been treated to withstand prolonged heat and sun exposure.

Thread Count

A good rule of thumb is this: You can tell a good drapery fabric by its thread count. We’ve talked before about draperies in movies being made into clothes for the characters — but there’s a reason most people don’t make their clothes out of drapes. Drapery fabrics have much higher thread counts than clothes or sheets to help ward off sun damage as well as better insulate and shade the room. This makes them pretty rough and uncomfortable to wear!

Color and Texture

The drapery fabric that you choose will play a huge role in the mood of the room. Do you want the room to feel airy and light? Dramatic and well-insulated? The heft and hue of your drapes can make or break your vision.

For example, if your room gets a lot of natural light, it’s best to choose neutral-colored fabrics. Bright sun fades bright colors much faster than it does muted, understated hues.

A summertime fabric like a light linen or cotton can really brighten up a room. If it’s winter and you want to keep the room insulated, you’ll want to look into a heavier, darker fabric, like velvet, suede, or a wool blend.

Long, pooling drapes—where the drapery fabric is cut 2-4 inches longer than the wall, so it pools on the floor beneath the window — provide an elegant, formal, and dramatic look, whereas unlined cotton or sheers will bring a breezy, summery feel to the room.

What happened to the young woman with the handmade curtains? After we taught her to tell the difference between a good drapery fabric and a bad one, she selected a bright, cheerful drapery print with lining to protect from the sun. And she and her curtains lived happily ever after!

Are you in the market for new drapes? Do you want to learn how to tell the difference between good drapery fabrics and bad ones? Stop by our showroom for personalized assistance.