Oftentimes, custom drapery can be overwhelming. With drapery comes an extensive vocabulary that can be confusing to dissect. There is talk of “double rubs, railroading, and pleats”, much of which you may not have heard before.
Double rub is a term used most often with upholstery and is an indication of the fabrics abrasion resistance. For most residential uses, fabric manufacturers recommend a minimum of 9000 double rubs to ensure the fabrics durability, while commercial projects generally require over 100 000.
If you are looking to do drapery in anything but a plain fabric, the fabric repeat becomes important. This is the distance that an entire pattern will appear in the fabric before it repeats again. Fabric repeat will have a big impact on what the fabric will look like on the wall, window, or furniture. Often, fabrics with large pattern repeats also have a very large pattern scale (think large florals or damask). In contrast, smaller pattern repeats are typically found in products with smaller-scaled patterns such as polka-dots or stripes.
When working with fabric, you want to visualize what you want the end result to be. If it is upholstery, you need to think about what kind of fabric, pattern, or texture you want. If it is drapery, you need to consider the fabric as well as how you want it to look in the window. Once you have found a fabric, you need to consider things such as fullness and lengths. Are they full drapery or just panels? Full drapery is great for light control or privacy while drapery panels are more for decorative use.
How long do you want your drapes? There are several different options for drapery length: hovering, floor breaking, or puddling. Hovering drapes leave just a small space between the floor and the hem of your drapes. This length is ideal for high traffic areas such as the living room because it makes the drapery easily operable while staying clean. To achieve a breaking look, the fabric needs to be one or two inches longer so that there will be a crease above the hem line. Puddling drapery goes beyond a simply break in the fabric. To achieve puddling drapery, you need to order the length of the fabric several inches longer than your floor to ceiling measurement. Puddling drapes are not as low-maintenance as the other lengths because the puddling must be adjusted to create the look you want.
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Do you want to have the fabric railroaded? Railroaded fabric refers to the way a fabric, particularly a pattern or stripe, is milled. Usually fabric patterns run “up the roll,” meaning the pattern flows from top to bottom, parallel with the selvage edges. On a fabric that is railroaded, the pattern runs across the roll from selvage edge to selvage edge.
Another particularly confusing concept in the world of drapery is pleats. There are many different options from ripplefold to pinch pleat, cartridge to grommets, that can become overwhelming. Once you have an idea of fabric, a drapery professional will be able to explain the options and what pleat will work best for your application.