Curtain Fabric Guide

Burnout: A technique used on many kinds of fabric but in general is a chemical solution applied to destroy a portion of the fabric, while leaving other areas intact. An example would be burning a floral pattern out of the pile in a velvet piece while leaving the backing fabric intact. Burnout sheers are extremely popular, as they allow light of filter through at various intensities.

Calico: Used primarily for simple curtains, this cotton fabric boasts small floral patterns (typically) on a contrasting background.

Canvas: A sturdy, plain weave cloth, this cotton or cotton/polyester cloth offers a stiff and tailored, yet casual look. Best for stationary drapery panels. Consider duck or sailcloth (lighter weight canvas) if you require a little bit of draping.

Chintz: This cotton cloth offers bright colors, patterns and floral motifs. Consider having this fabric lined if used in a window that receives direct sunlight, as the fabric will weaken and fade over time. Sometimes chintz is finished with a slight glaze to offer a polished look. Was very popular in the 18th century, though is still used frequently today due to its lower cost and bright patterns, for curtains and draperies.

Damask: A delicate lightweight cotton fabric best suited for curtains. Small raised dots printed on either side of the fabric are the identifying detail. Most often they are woven into fabric; they can now be found applied to the surface.

Dotted Swiss: A delicate lightweight cotton fabric best suited for curtains. Small raised dots printed on either side of the fabric are the identifying detail.

Gingham: Usually seen in a plaid or checked pattern, gingham is a plain weave cotton fabric used most often for café curtains and very light draperies such as a kitchen. Typically white with one color accent.

Jacquard: Refers to a type of weave more so then a fabric. The jacquard loom was invented in France 1804 by Joseph Jacquard. Brocade, damask and tapestry are some of the fabric manufactured with a jacquard attachment.

Lace: A light open work of cotton fabric typically used for sheers or curtains, its delicate mesh background consists of openwork designs.

Linen: Stronger and glossier than cotton, linen fibers are obtained from the interior of the woody stem of the flax plant. It is strong but not pliable. It will wrinkle readily and is somewhat stiff. However, it’s tough, textured beauty makes it an interesting look at the window in curtains and drapery form, excellent for sun resistance.

Moiré: Meaning watered (French) this silk, rayon, cotton or acetate fabric has a distinctive wavy pattern on the surface that reflects light in the same way light reflects off water.

Muslin: For casual curtains and draperies, cotton muslin can be fine to coarsely woven. Typically used a liner fabric, but has been seen as the primary material.

Nylon: Perfect for sheers, nylon is durable, washable and inexpensive.

Organza (Organdy): This lightweight crisp, sheer cotton fabric is finished with a starch that will wash out. Organza takes a variety of finishes and embellishments including bleaching, dying, and frosting, for curtains and drapes.

Satin: With a matte back and a lustrous front, satin is available in many colors, weights and degrees of stiffness.

Taffeta: A crisp fabric known best for its wonderful “rustle” sound, taffeta is a lustrous plain weave fabric usually made from synthetic fiber but sometimes made from silk, great for draperies.

Tapestry: Heavy and deliciously dense, tapestry is often hand woven and features elaborate motifs such as pictorials, floral and historical scenes.

Toile: French for fabric or cloth, toile is best known as Toile de Jouy, a finely printed design resembling a pen and ink drawing. Found primarily on cotton fabric, toile de jouy depicts romantic, idyllic scenes of pastoral countryside’s, floral and historical motifs, great for country curtains and drapes.

Velvet: Plain and figured velvets are beautiful and soft, and best employed as drapery fabric. A medium weight cut pile fabric typically constructed of silk, rayon, cotton or synthetics, its high luster and smooth hand create beautiful, graceful folds of fabric. Crease resistant and fairly inexpensive, velvet wears well.

Voile: A lightweight sheer fabric, cotton (also wool) voile is plain and loosely woven. Perfect for curtains or drapes, it gathers and drapes well.