How to Choose the Right Fabric for your Window Coverings

You’ve decided on what type of window treatment you want for your home, now you have to decide what type of fabric to use!

Fabric is an essential part of choosing curtains and roman shades. The higher quality the fabric, the longer your window treatments will last and function well. Using a good quality lining will also help prolong the life of your curtains and shades.

Having trouble deciding which kind of fabric to choose for your window coverings? Here are some tips that will help you decide.

1. Fabric Weight

Light-weight, sheer and semi-sheer fabrics can be used when you just want to filter light and provide some privacy. Anything less than 4 oz/sq yd, is considered a light-weight fabric. You may want to use these in a sun-room, office, kitchen or living room. They can be used as curtainsrelaxed roman shades, or classic roman shades.

Fabric examples: light-weight linen, light-weight cotton, light-weight hemp

Medium-weight fabrics are very versatile for both roman shades and draperies. They generally weigh 5 to 8 oz/ sq yd. Combined with regular lining, they will provide privacy, hang well, and not be too heavy for large drapery panels or large roman shades.
Fabric examples: hemp/cotton muslinhemp/tencel muslinmedium weight linenorganic cotton.

Heavy-weight fabrics are used when you want to provide insulation and block out a lot of light. Usually anything over 8 oz/sq yd is considered a heavy-weight fabric. For draperies, I don’t recommend using fabrics more that 12 oz, because they become too heavy to hang and to operate, especially when lined. Classic roman shades can be made from heavy-weight fabrics, as long as they are not too large (over 60” x 60”). Heavy-weight fabrics are suitable for bedrooms, livingrooms, great rooms, dens, and media rooms.
Fabric examples: hemp/cotton twillhemp twill, organic cotton twillheavy weight linen

2. Fabric Design

Should you use a print or solid? If you want your window treatment to blend in with your walls, and not be the focal point in the room, choose a solid or very subtle design. If you want your window coverings to add some drama, pop, or fun to the room, by all means use a pattern. Remember that, with curtains, the print will not lay flat. It is a good idea to hold the fabric up so that it is pleated at the top, to see the effect the pattern will have. Very small prints are not suitable for large draperies or roman shades. Flat roman shades look great in all types of prints. Vertical stripes work well with both roman shades and curtains.

Pros vs Cons

3. Fabric Types

Organic Cotton

Pros – eco-friendly, washable, available in many colours and prints, available in many different weights,
Cons – may shrink, colours may fade, may deteriorate after long use or exposure to sun
read more about organic cotton

Hemp

Pros – eco-friendly, washable, very strong and durable, no off-gassing
Cons – may shrink, colours may fade if exposed to sunlight, limited colours available
read more about hemp

Linen

Pros – eco-friendly, washable, strong, available in many colours and weights
Cons – may shrink, colours may fade
read more about linen

Tencel

Pros – eco-friendly, washable, strong, takes dye well, drapes well
Cons – may shrink, colours may fade
read more about tencel

Bamboo

Pros – eco-friendly (when NOT from rayon), washable, strong, soft
Cons – may shrink, colours may fade