What’s Wrong With My Draperies?
I’m usually open to conversation when it comes to design. Today we’ll talk about draperies…
Draperies are one of the easiest ways to add color and attitude to a space. You see them everywhere and they are easy to acquire. It’s one of my favorite things to design and as such, it’s one of my fortes. I know all about them, how they are made, how they are installed. After so many years of being in this industry, talking about them comes naturally. I realized that I like to enlighten people about design topics and as one of my clients says” [I] educate as [I] go”, so I find that I would be remiss not to enlighten my friends and readers about design. Recently, I asked a few friends to write to me in regards to things that have frustrated them with their homes. The receipt of letters was a little overwhelming but the first I found entirely interesting. It was about draperies and it went something like this:
I wanted to finish decorating my living room and went to a local retail store where I knew I could find a few things to accessorize it with. While browsing, I fell head-over-heels with a set of draperies that I just had to have. I bought eight to cover the glass sliding door at the back of the living room, plus the curtain rod that would fit over the door.
They looked great! The color was just right except for the fact that every time I pull them closed over the window, I have to pull all of them, one by one, to get them to look right. And, even then, the sun peeks in between them and no matter what I do, they still look a little catty wampus! I was hoping you would know what the problem is and as you can imagine, this kind of thing drives me crazy so I was thinking of having my sister sew them together so they can block out the light the way I want them to. I just want to be done with it. Do you think this will fix my draperies?
I think the problem here is that you have separate drapery panels and no, sewing them together will not work. You’re looking at two different issues that aren’t exactly related.
No.1: The span of the window is wide. Sliding glass doors are anywhere between 8 feet and 11 feet wide. While you do need them attached to one another, just sewing them together is not going to solve your problem.
There are many factors in draperies that affect the way they look and function. What you need is one drapery composed of several widths (or single panels) to cover the window ( just as you stated) but they should be pleated at the top to make it easy to draw over the window without all the fuss of fixing or adjusting them. These are designed to be drawn with a cord at the side or with a wand.
This is what a Pleated Drapery panel looks like:
No.2: Blocking out the sun is not what ready-made or store-bought draperies are designed for.
Yes, we see the ones with room darkening abilities at the store but they are only one width wide. The best solution that seems to fit you best would be draperies that come in multiple widths already sewn together with the Black-out behind them. Black-out is a product that is fabric-based with a foam layer that feels like rubber. It blocks 100% of light and must be carefully handled in order to maintain its integrity. It’s the best thing to use to protect your draperies and it will give you the relief against the sun and heat that you are looking for. As I mentioned earlier, it requires special handling as it cannot be ironed and requires industrial sewing machines and dry silicone spray to move through these machines. As someone who’s handled it before, I can honestly tell you that it is not a self-healing product: If you puncture it with a needle or pin in the wrong place, you will forever see the sun flooding through that one little pinhole. There is no fixing it! And even if you find these drapery panels, they are not designed to travel the span of any window wider that 30 inches.
You may have to purchase several more widths to cover the take-up required for draperies that cover the windows. At this point, I’m not entirely sure if you have enough because I don’t know the width of the windows which is a prime factor that dictates your project’s final appearance. You will also have to take the draperies apart to sew them together and apply the Black-out lining to the back. Once that is done, you will have to pleat them and hang them up to get them to work. I am assuming your drapery rod is designed with the brackets out of the way to not obstruct the panels as you draw them closed over the window. If not, you should look into a traversing drapery rod that is also designed for long spans and non-obstruction of the draperies as they travel across the rod.
It should look something like this:
This is a fluted pole (notice the lines on the surface). There are also architectural tracks and smooth poles, as well. These would be chosen by your style and personal preference. The little tabs with the holes are where hooks or pins on the back of your drapery will be threaded through to hold them up. If you need to purchase one of these, make sure it extends out further than the area you are trying to cover. This minimizes the leaking of sunlight along the sides since your draperies are not flush against the wall but will be at a projected distance of no less than 3 and 1/2 inches from the wall.
The image below represents one sets of draperies on a track that is wall-mounted. These are architectural tracks that were sized especially for the window. Since there are two windows, there are two tracks and two sets of drapery panels. Each set has their own cord to operate them with. That cord is hidden behind the drapery panels to give you a clean look that is highly desired in designer projects.
In short, David, there is nothing wrong with your draperies except for this : You’ve noticed the drapes you’ve purchased were not designed to work the way you hoped they would. The underlying problems to this is that the ones you are in need of are not going to be found in a store because they must be custom- made, especially for you and your windows where you will have the guarantee that they will fit properly, be the right length, make a statement AND work the way you intended them to. If your sister can assist you with this concept, I say “Go for it!” 🙂
To you, my readers, I want to add that, yes, I think we all deserve a beautiful home to relax in and a little professional advice to help us understand why things don’t work the way they are expected to. Some things that you see at the store may look just like a designer product sans the designer cost but they truly are not the same. There is nothing wrong with store-bought products ( I have quite a bit) but the truth is that items that serve a specific function are made for a specific place, determined by height, width, and use. In essence, you won’t find custom grade products like this sitting on a shelf at a retail chain store. It’s just not feasible due to the cost of production and attention to detail, not to mention the quality of materials that have been included in it’s creation. Custom Draperies take about 3 hours of manufacturing per 54 inch widths to make them flawless and that is from a professional fabricator that has been making custom draperies for over 10 years! Let’s not forget about the specific machinery required that they need experience in. Rest assured that no two fabrics are alike just as no two designs are alike and each machine must be properly adjusted in order to not compromise the design nor the beauty of the raw materials being used to make the custom products. Don’t be surprised at the difference in cost because it is obvious in their final presentation and durability. Anyone that orders custom draperies can expect to not replace draperies as quickly as those that purchase ready made. They can expect them to fall (drape) properly, be the right length and the correct color they want, not to mention add a touch of luxury and sparkle to the space. Custom versus Store-bought: there is a difference. One that is justified by their cost and your reduced trips back and forth to the store to find what works.
Lastly, to you, David, you are asking for a special design. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with your drapes. They just weren’t custom-made…