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6 Best Tips on How to Choose Curtain Fabric

Curtains can alter the whole feel of a room; they can create a light, airy feeling or block out all the light, making the space dark and restful, or they lie somewhere between, letting in enough light to create warm, cozy look. The color can complement the walls, or the furniture, or the decorations, or all of them.

Custom curtains and drapes, though more expensive than off-the-shelf options, are the best way to go. You can get exactly what you want- even customizing the curtain headers- every time, without having to compromise on the design at all. The most important part of designing your curtains is choosing the curtain fabric.

You’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to choose curtain fabric. It’s more complicated than you think. This guide is intended to help you through the process and give you all the information you need to make the right choice.

1. Choose the Right Material


Cotton is the easiest of the natural fabrics to maintain, and it’s also easy to dye and pattern. This can reduce the cost of your custom curtains, and prolong their lifespan. Cotton is also a lightweight material, so cotton curtains will let a good amount of light into a room unless you hang them with a liner.


Linen is the other common, natural material for curtains. Pure linen wrinkles easily; leaning against them can cause wrinkles, and even high humidity can wrinkle linen. Because of that tendency, linen blends- usually a combination of linen and cotton- are more common. Whether you buy pure linen or a blend, these curtains, while heavier than cotton, still allow a lot of light in.


Synthetic fabrics are the cheapest option and the easiest to care for by far. It’s possible to make synthetic fabrics that mimic the appearance of cotton or linen, or even silk. That combination of versatility and affordability makes synthetic fabrics the most common materials in drapery.


Velvet curtains are heavy and can block out a lot of light, although that aren’t true blackout curtains. Velvet curtains have a classic look to them that never goes out of style, and their weight means they hang perfectly on their own.


Sheer curtains are made from very thin curtain fabric. They lot in lots of lot and you can even see out of them, but they’re substantial enough that you can’t see through them from the outside. Sheer curtains are typically hung inside cotton or synthetic curtains unless they’re purely decorative.

2. Buy Quality Curtain Fabrics

Custom curtains cost a lot, and you may want to save money by purchasing cheaper materials. Don’t do it. Your curtains will be sitting in sunlight all day, every day. Cheap materials will break down quickly and can literally fall apart. You’ll end up spending more money replacing your cheap curtains in a few years, when you could’ve just bought quality curtains in the first place.

3. Buy fade-resistant material

Sunlight will cause all fabrics to fade in color. The UV rays break down the dye in the curtain fabric. Using curtains liners will slow the process down, but manufacturers have also come up with treatments to minimize and slow fading. Before you purchase your fabric, you’ll want to know how resistant to fading it is. Synthetic fabrics are often more fade-resitant than natural fabrics.

4. Know how thick you want it

The thickness you want will depend on what you’re using the curtains for, and to some extent it will determine which fabric you need to use. If you’re buying blackout curtains for a bedroom, sheer curtainĀ  fabric isn’t and option, and you’ll probably want thick velvet or synthetic panels. If you just want to add something to your windows to improve their appearance while letting lots of natural light in, sheer or cotton curtains are your best bet. You can always add liners if you want a heavy, thick curtain, but it’s usually cheaper to just buy thicker curtains than to have curtains made with a liner.

5. How much effort will you put into curtain maintenance?

Be honest with yourself here. Are you really going to take your expensive custom curtains to get dry-cleaned or are you better off with something that’s machine washable? How often are you going to clean your curtains? Again, it’s important to be honest with yourself. You might like the idea of curtains made from all-natural fabrics that are dry-clean only and require careful maintenance, but if you aren’t going to put in the effort to maintain them you’d be better off buying cheap pre-made curtains at the store. Custom made, low maintenance options exist.

6. Know why you want curtains

Ultimately, the material you choose is going to depend on what you want the curtains for: do you need blackout curtains for a bedroom? Insulated curtains for rooms with big windows? Are they purely decorative? For blackout curtains, heavy materials are best. For decorative curtains, cotton or sheer work well. If you’re putting curtains in a room that your kids will be using a lot, you’re probably going to want o be sure and buy curtains that are machine-washable. You should also be considering how much you want to spend and how much effort you’re willing to put into maintaining them. Natural fabrics are more expensive than synthetics, and require maintenance. Synthetics are cheap and need very little attention. Synthetics are also more resistant to fading than naturals, although that varies by manufacturer. Still, there’s a good chance that synthetic curtains will have a longer lifespan, especially compared to similarly-priced natural fabrics.

Whether you buy cotton or velvet, sheer or synthetic, we hope this guide was helpful for you. Custom curtains really are a nice touch to add to your home, and we want to be sure that you get exactly the curtains you want. While there are other factors to think about-patterns, colors, length, etc- choosing the curtain fabrics is often the most difficult and important decision when you’re buying custom curtains, and we’re glad to help.

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