Choosing to make your own drapes is a great way to add your own personality to your home. Drapes might be a practical item but, as they’re so big, they are a major feature of any room.
It can be frustrating when you can’t find exactly the design, style, and material you want in a store. So making your own drapes is a great idea. Making drapes is quite a big project. They are simple enough as they are (usually) just large pieces of square or rectangular fabric.
But there is quite a bit to remember and quite a lot that can go wrong. From measuring to adding the correct attachments to hang them up, there’s quite a bit to know before going ahead with making your drapes.
But, of course, the major thing to consider is the fabric. There isn’t one standard fabric for drapes and the style, thickness, and patterns all depend on your personal preference.
Drapes are generally heavier and thicker than most curtains. But there is no hard and fast rule (and as you’re making your own, you’re completely in control and can have whatever you like).So, to help guide you through all of these choices, we’ve put together a list of the best available fabrics for drapes. Read on for some guidance on what to buy, what not to buy, and what to know. All of the options on this list are considered for their suitability, but also for their environmental impact.
So you will be completely aware of the eco-friendliness of your crafting.
Need to dress that window ASAP and don’t have time to browse? No problem, here’s our top pick for the best fabric for drapes.
Top 5 Best Fabric for Drapes
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Material: 100% Cotton
Our top pick for the best fabric for drapes is this 100% cotton fabric by Waverly.
It is available in a huge range of patterns and colors. It is also the most eco-friendly fabric due to being made from 100% cotton.
This fabric is really unique and is available in a range of interesting patterns and colors, but isn’t too loud or overwhelming. There is a tendency for drapery fabric to either be plain or be covered in a very bold pattern.
This fabric comes in alternating colored stripes, herringbone, block colors, colored check, and more. Both are classic and will suit almost every home, but they are still interesting and not at all boring.
As this fabric is made from 100% cotton, it is definitely a more eco-friendly option. Cotton is a natural fiber that biodegrades.
Organic cotton is a more environmentally friendly option, but 100% cotton is still a step in the right direction.
- 100% cotton
- Multiple colors and patterns available
- Dry-clean only
Material: 100% Cotton Canvas
This 100% cotton canvas is a light to medium heavy fabric. This means it won’t be too heavy to move about but will also hang neatly and nicely against the window.
Drapes are generally long and made from a heavy fabric, but that doesn’t mean the fabric has to be difficult to handle.
This fabric will be easy to handle when you’re cutting and sewing and making the drapes, but also once they’re hung. They will be easy to hang in the first place and then will be easy to open and close.
You won’t find yourself struggling to pull these open with bleary eyes every morning. Although this fabric is 100% cotton, it is still very affordable.
Like most fabrics, it is available by the yard and is cut to order, so you’re getting quite a lot for your money.
If you’re looking for a bold block color that will stand out in a room, then this fabric is a great option.
There are more muted colors available, but the variety of bright and vibrant colors also available to choose from makes this a great, unique fabric.
- Multiple colors available
- Machine washable
- No patterns available
Material: 100% Polyester
As this fabric is made from 100% polyester, it is not the most eco-friendly option on this list. Polyester is made up of what are essentially very small plastic fibers, so isn’t great for the environment.
However, polyester recycling has become more possible in recent years, so it is possible for it to go on and be reused in the future.
This fabric is also different from the other options on this list as it is for the lining of drapes, rather than for drapes themselves.
But, we thought it would be a good idea to include it on the list as the lining is a very important aspect of drapes that cannot be forgotten.
There are more eco-friendly drape lining fabrics available, but this polyester lining will act as an insulator. This will keep your home warmer and mean you won’t have to heat it as much. So, there is some balance on the eco-friendly scale.
When it comes to making your home and your crafts as eco-friendly as possible, there has to be an element of balance. You can’t use a product if it isn’t readily available, is overly expensive, or just doesn’t work in your home.
If you choose a polyester drapery lining, then it’s best to invest in a good one that will last. This means that you will be able to use them time and again, keep them when the drapery fabric needs replacing, and then eventually recycle them when you no longer need them.
This fabric will also completely block out light and can even insulate against noise. So, if you live in a city or just need a little longer in bed once the sun has risen, these are a great choice to add to your preferred drapery fabric.
- Insulates against heat loss
- Insulates against noise
- Blackout fabric
- 100% polyester
- Only available in one color (but this is standard for drapery lining)
- Dry-clean only
Material: 100% Spun Polyester
If you want a bold print that will absolutely stand out in your home, then this colorful fabric is for you. This pattern is almost a modern classic that you have absolutely seen before.
You would easily find cushions and other accents that will complement or even match these drapes, if that’s your style.
One downside of this fabric is that they are made from 100% polyester. As mentioned above, polyester does have its benefits, such as being insulating, resistant against damp and mildew, and long lasting.
But, it isn’t the best option for the environment. It can usually be recycled but it is not the most eco-friendly option on the list.
As it is insulating and resistant to damp, this will help you save on heating, so there is some balance, so it isn’t entirely bad for the environment.
- Interesting patterns
- Multiple versions available
- Pattern available in different colors
- 100% Polyester
Material: 50% Linen, 50% Rayon
This combination of materials is a great choice if you want your home furnishings to be a little more sustainable.
Although rayon is made from natural fibers, such as wood or other plants, its production process is not the most eco-friendly.
Rayon will also take quite a while to biodegrade.
Linen, however, is a very sustainable choice. Its production process doesn’t use up many resources and leaves no waste.
It is also naturally biodegradable and recyclable. But linen is a very light fabric and not appropriate for heavy drapes.
As rayon is a heavier fabric, it balances out the linen. Although, the drapes will still be a little lighter than usual.
So, if you’re looking for a way to lower your environmental impact but still need heavy drapes, this is a good compromise.
Linen products are usually very plain and light colored. But this fabric comes in a range of designs from floral, to geometric, to completely abstract.
By the yard, it is a little more expensive than some of the other options on this list. But that is usually the case with linen.
- Multiple patterns available
- Unique and interesting designs
- Not too heavy or thick
- Sustainable linen
- Not 100% sustainable
Best Fabric For Drapes Buying Guide
Curtains vs Drapes
Most people think that “curtain” and “drape” are interchangeable and are just different words for the same thing. Most people will refer to curtains as drapes and vice versa, but they are actually quite different.
Curtains are much thinner than drapes and usually don’t block out the light. Drapes are heavier and made from thicker fabric. Drapes are also usually lined with heavy material and will generally be floor length, whereas curtains are usually short and only reach the bottom of the window.
Choosing Drapes for Your Home
You would think that choosing the drapes for a room would be a very simple process, after all, they’re just some fabric you put over the windows to keep the sun (and the gaze of passers-by) out of the room. But there is actually quite a lot to decide.
The length might seem like an obvious one. You need them to be as long as the windows but do you want them to stop at the windowsill or halfway between the windowsill and the floor?
Drapes are usually very long so you probably want them to at least reach the floor. Do you want them to pool on the floor or just graze the floor? What kind of flooring do you have? Carpet will be thicker than wooden boards or laminate, so you may need to take an inch or two off the end.
This might seem like a lot but don’t panic. Just take the time to look at the window and how the light comes in throughout the day. But, most of all, consider what your preferences are. You might be tempted by all the fashionable styles you see on Pinterest and Instagram, but not everything has to be the same.
Thickness and Lining
If you have chosen drapes over curtains, then it’s probably because you want a fabric that will block out the light. If you like to keep the sun at bay for your weekend lie-ins, then you’re going to need a thick fabric that has been lined.
One of the main features of drapes is that they are long and heavy. They usually reach the floor or are even longer so that the ends pool on the floor.
You can obviously buy thin curtains that are this long, but if you want the drapes to be heavy and stay in place, then they need to be thick.
The lining will help with heaviness but will also help to make them opaque or even completely blackout. The lining is really important and there are different varieties available. The biggest differences are material and thickness.
Lining your drapes is also a good idea for protection. Your drapes will be exposed to condensation due to being next to the window all year round, so they can easily become damp and develop mildew.
With lining, you will have a layer of material between the window and the drapes. So, even if you have to replace the lining, the more expensive drapes will be protected.
Hanging drapes is similar to hanging curtains. You have the option to add holes to the fabric itself and then push the curtain pole through these holes.
Or, you can add thread to the underside of the fabric that curtain hooks can be attached to, and then attached to curtain rings on the curtain pole.
The decision for this partially personal preference but also practicality. If you choose a drapery fabric that is very heavy, it will pull on whatever is hanging it up.
This means that curtain hooks aren’t very suitable for heavy drapes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I wash drape fabric before sewing?
This depends on the fabric you choose to use. Some fabrics will be okay in a gentle wash but a lot will become worn or damaged, especially at a high heat. Absolutely do not put the fabric in the dryer as it will become damaged.
You may want to wash the fabric just because it will be nice to know that the drapes you’re making and have hanging in your home are clean. If this is the case, double-check the care instructions and follow them exactly so that you don’t accidentally ruin the drapes you have spent so long making.
If you do choose to wash the fabric, make sure you do it before sewing. Otherwise, your measurements may be off afterward, even if the fabric has shrunk only a little bit.
Depending on how skilled you are and how strong and sturdy your stitching is, washing them afterward may also cause the stitching to wear out and become loose.
Are drapes outdated?
This depends on who you ask, but it shouldn’t really matter. Drapes are much more traditional style but that doesn’t mean they’re old-fashioned and shouldn’t be used.
Drapes are great if you want to be able to block out the light. As they are thick, they will prevent heat from escaping through the windows better too.
Is polyester or cotton better for drapes?
This decision is entirely up to you. This will depend on your home, your style, and your overall personal preference.
Polyester is a very common choice for drapes as it is more affordable, more water-resistant, and often fire-retardant. Polyester also works as a great insulator against cold and noise. It is also much better at blocking out light.
However, polyester is usually a less popular fabric for environmental reasons. Polyester is, essentially, plastic fiber which (as we all definitely know) isn’t very good for the environment. Plastic is currently causing terrible pollution in the oceans.
So most people are trying to limit their plastic consumption.
Cotton is a much better alternative but it isn’t perfect either. Organic cotton is a much better option as it doesn’t involve insecticides. Its overall production process is also much better for the environment and uses fewer resources.
The choice is entirely yours. 100% organic cotton is a more eco-friendly option. But you can find recycled or recyclable polyester fabric. As polyester is an insulator, it will keep your home warmer so you will be heating it less. This will have a good impact on the environment.
If you feel that polyester drapes will be the best choice for your home, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. It is the most common fabric available. You can’t buy what isn’t readily available.
When it comes to reducing our environmental footprint, balance is incredibly important. If having polyester drapes is making you feel really guilty, then you can just make up for it in other ways. You can only do your best.