Selecting custom draperies can be like learning another language. If you’ve shopped for window treatments, you’ve probably come across some puzzling terms like: Austrian shade, Bishop’s Sleeve curtains and chintz.


What do they all mean? Here at our Wilmington, NC showroom, our sales associates can help “translate” some of the trickier terminology.


An Austrian shade, for example, is a fabric window treatment that pulls up like a Roman shade, but with soft, billowing folds, rather than crisp ones. Curtains with extra long straight panels of fabric which are cinched in the middle and poufed are called Bishop’s Sleeve Curtains, for their resemblance to fancy garments, while a cut drop is the term we use to indicate the cut length of the fabric or “the drop,” plus hem allowances.


Strickland’s Home has over 70 years of experience providing high-quality window treatments and boasts the area’s only custom window treatment repair shop. If you find window treatment and drapery lingo confusing, we can help clarify the ABC’s.


Here’s a brief list of the “ABC’s” of custom drapery terms:


  • Appliqué : A technique in which pieces of fabric, embroidery, or other materials are sewn onto a second piece of fabric. Simple drapes can become more stylish with the addition of appliqued designs which create patterns or pictures. Lace is often combined with other elements in applique
  • Arched Valance: A valance treatment that is arched along the lower edge.
  • Avalon Valance: A valance that is comprised of structured returns and a fabric that represents tightly connected swags that are tightly pulled on the outer end and tapered on a diagonal in the middle with one swag overlapping the other.
  • Balloon Shade: A window treatment with ruched, shirred or gathered fabric that pulls up into soft voluminous folds, named for its resemblance to the swags of a hot-air balloon.
  • Banner or Handkerchief Valance:  A series of fabric triangles attached to a mounting board or threaded on a rod.
  • Blackout Lining: Lining that blocks nearly all outside light (99%). This is particularly good for people who need to rest during the day or have streetlights outside their windows that interfere with sleep at night.
  • Bleed Through: This happens when two fabrics are used in layers and the darker color of the bottom one “bleeds through” to the top one in the light and spoils the color and pattern of the top one.
  • Box Pleats: Deep, inverted, tailored pleats which are flat on the right side of the drapery to create a classical boxy look.
  • Braid: A flat decorative trim that can be used to beautify window curtains.
  • A beautiful brocade

    Brocade: Rich fabric decorated with raised embroidery. Because of its’ heavy weight, brocade is chiefly used for furniture upholstery and luxury drapes.

  • Buckram or Crinoline: A coarse cotton fabric stiffened with glue.
  • Bullion Drapery Trim: A very long and thick rope-type cording that is twisted and looped to attach to drapery for interesting trim features.
  • Bump Interlining: A very heavy weight interlining made of cotton flannel that is usually placed between the fabric and lining for added insulation and thickness of the drape.
  • Batten: A stiffener or insert added to a panel of fabric to stabilize and help prevent twisting or cupping.
  •  Blackout Fabric: Fabric that does not allow any light to filter through.
  •  Buttmaster: Drapery masters that “butt” into each other rather than overlapping one another.
  • Classic cafe curtains

    Café Curtains: Often used in kitchen windows, these European-inspired curtains (often found in bistros and cafés) only conceal the bottom half of a window.

  • Calico:  A plain-woven cotton cloth printed with a figured pattern, usually on one side
  • Cartridge Pleat: A fold of cloth sewn into place to create fullness in a drapery.
  • Cascade: Side treatments to valances and/or cornices with returns that fall in folds creating a zigzag effect.  Typically they frame a window on the left and the right.
  • Casual Swags: Free-form folds of fabric that are gathered at the ends, cut straight on and assembled in a sweeping fashion on a pole or board that drapes into informal folds in a semicircle fashion
  • Chenille:  A wool, cotton, silk, or rayon fabric with a protruding pile.
  • Chintz: A classic fabric choice, popular for decades, chintz is known for its bright and cheerful prints, often of flowers and other motifs. Chintz is made of glazed cotton fabric.
  • Cottage Style Window Treatments: Placed over the top of café curtains with a valance and tied back on each side, exposing the upper part of the window to view outside.


Whew! No wonder window treatment terminology can get lost in translation. If this feels too much like alphabet soup, stop by our showroom today. Our dedicated staff can help you learn more about custom drapery and window treatments. No homework required.  And, stay tuned for our complete window coverings glossary…coming soon!