What is the Best Fabric for Drapery?

Rarely will you walk into a well-lived home without finding at least one or two windows covered in panels of fabric. But just because curtains and drapes are the most tried-and-true window treatments doesn’t mean they need to be boring or basic. Nearly every day, I am amazed by how my fellow interior designers transform the simple concept of a window dressing into a dramatic statement. 

It all starts with the type of fabric. Get to know the best fabric for drapery, and every decision after that will fall right into place – just like your window coverings.

Two panels of Agave linen make the best fabric for drapery in this white-walled living space
Be bold and add privacy when you choose 100% linen drapes in soothing agave.

Why Does Fabric Matter? 

Color and pattern are not the most important features of your drapery. The type of material you choose will have a much greater influence on your home’s overall design – and how satisfied you are with your window treatments – than details like the pleat style or embellishments. To help you clearly see the difference, we’ve broken down a few facts about drapery fabric. 

The best fabric for drapery will: 

Hold up to wear and tear

Durability is always a consideration, especially in family homes. The more activity and exposure your window treatments experience, the stronger the fabric needs to be. Silk curtains, for example, are susceptible to sun damage and color fading. No matter how well you care for them, silk panels simply won’t hold their sheen for the life of your home. 

Your best option is 100% linen or linen blended with rayon. These are much more durable fabrics that are resistant to wrinkling and won’t fade as easily. Better yet, invest in decorator fabrics like those from Everhem, and you can rest assured your window treatments have already been treated for optimal durability. Regardless of the fabric you choose, though, you’ll want to learn how to clean drapery. Caring for your drapery will help keep it looking new for years to come. 

Not weigh on you

Certain fabrics do block out more light than others, simply because of their weight. Velvet is a quintessential heavy-weight fabric. And while you may be inclined to try velvet curtain panels for that reason, this material is meant to be used as upholstery fabric. The same goes for chenille; it’s simply too heavy for drapes. 

So, what’s the alternative? Light- to medium-weight fabrics can effectively block natural light, while still maintaining their billowy flow. Pure linen, for one, shades the sun but does not thwart it entirely. To adjust the level of opaqueness, you would need to add a privacy or blackout lining. Everhem specializes in customizing window treatments and can add a lining to any of its drapery fabric, except sheer curtains (that would defeat the purpose of sheers, after all). 

Will stand the test of time

Like any investment piece in your home, you expect your drapery to last for as long as you live there. While we wish homeowners would purchase new drapes every year, the reality is that you pull the trigger once and never look back. We get it, which is why Everhem makes only the highest quality drapes that are sure to stand the test of time. 

And we’re not just talking about their durability. (Refer to the first point on that.) Timelessness means it won’t fade with contemporary trends, but will, instead, flow seamlessly from one to the next. Luckily, Everhem offers a solid selection of linen drapery that is so classic, you’ll never worry about going out of style. Your drapes will be true to you and true to whatever is new in the moment. 

The best fabric for drapery will hang neatly like these white linen curtains in a neutral bedroom 
Linen has just the right weight to maintain those beautiful ribbon folds when you pull back the drapes. 

Hang well

The design effect of your curtains and drapes depends on how well they hang from where they are mounted. If the fabric is too light, your window treatments may not hold their shape. Or, consider a fabric heavy in texture. It could easily create uneven folding and leave your room looking messy and unfinished. Of course, measuring your windows for drapery and hardware will ultimately determine the way the drapes hang; too long, and they’ll pool on the ground unattractively. But after those initial measurements, the flow of your drapery is largely dependent on the fabric itself. 

Again, cotton is a solid choice. It’s a very strong fabric that looks soft and flowy on your windows. Or, you could go with an entirely synthetic fabric, because it’s both affordable and durable. To achieve a more natural look, the best choice is a linen or linen blend. Linen offers the perfect balance of billowy and tailored, making it the best fabric for traditional and contemporary curtains, alike. 

What is the Best Fabric for Drapery? 

Your curtain options range from heavyweight brocade to light-and-airy lace. But, as you’ve seen already, not all fabric is created equally. Keeping functionality and fashion in mind, these are the three best fabrics for drapery: 

1. 100% Linen 

The what: When a drapery fabric label reads “100% linen,” you are getting linen fibers and linen fibers only. These fibers are derived from the flax plant and, surprisingly, have a hollow construction. Despite their open interior, linen fibers have a naturally strong, crisp texture, which softens a little bit over time. 

The why: Linen is a natural fabric that is neither too heavy nor too thick. Its hollow core allows air and moisture to flow through easily, which is why linen is an all-seasons fabric. It effectively 

insulates your home during the colder months, while also keeping your home cool during the summer. 

Linen is known to be one of the strongest natural fibers, so you can count on it to last a significant amount of time. These strong fibers are also the reason for linen’s exquisite structure. As drapery, linen hangs with just the right amount of weight to keep its shape from the top of the curtain rods to the top of your floor. 

These flint-gray linen curtains, open & folded, shows how elegant & airy drapery fabric can be. 
Everhem offers linen drapery in a range of soothing modern colors, from cloud white to agave. 

2. Linen Blends 

The what: Sometimes, linen is blended with synthetic fibers to enhance its properties and give it a slightly different texture. More specifically, linen and rayon are a popular combination for curtain fabric. Rayon is a unique fiber in that it is derived from wood and other plant-based products. Some would even argue it’s not a true synthetic, because it’s made from natural cellulose. In either case, rayon makes for a very versatile blend, because it has the ability to imitate other fabrics – like silk, wool and cotton. 

Linen and rayon each offer different strengths and weaknesses, which make them a complementary pairing. This is usually the case with blended fabrics, but it’s especially helpful in designing window treatments. 

The why: Blended fabrics combine all the best qualities of each fiber. When linen is blended with rayon, for instance, the end result has a slightly silkier texture and is easier to maintain. Both linen and cotton are prone to wrinkling, which is why these natural fibers are often blended with synthetics. With an ideal mix, the additional structure helps prevent wrinkling and moisture absorption. 

White linen sheers balance the blue velvet sofa and ornate area rug in a modern living room
Use linen sheers to keep your space light and bright without having to open your home to the world.

3. 100% Linen Sheers 

The what: Linen sheers are still made of 100% linen fibers. The difference is in how the fibers are woven together. With sheers, the fibers have a looser weave, which allows the sun’s rays to almost completely shine through. 

The why: Clearly, linen sheers do not provide much privacy. They do, however, offer an airiness that can be very impactful in your home’s overall interior. Take a nursery design, for instance. Linen sheers hanging in front of Roman shades helps soften the mood. (I don’t have to tell you that a serene environment is the best way to soothe baby to sleep.) 

Sheer fabric is uniquely versatile. You can use linen sheers to balance a richly patterned room or to add layers in an otherwise simple design. You can also hang sheers to help create defining spaces in an oversized living room. The best part is that sheers are so...well, sheer...that they won’t cover or detract from any interesting architectural details. 

Customize Your Curtains & Drapes 

Like it or not, store-bought drapes are incomparable to custom-made window treatments. For one, custom drapery tends to have a high thread count, which contributes to a more luxurious feel. Custom options can also be outfitted with a blackout curtain lining, providing as much privacy as you want. 

More importantly, though, custom-made drapery is always cut to the exact specifications of your windows. Without these personal touches, you simply cannot guarantee a well-dressed window. 

When you’re ready to make a statement with your window treatments, Everhem will be there for you. We specialize in customizing and will do everything in our power to help you find the best fabric for drapery in your home. Contact us today at hello@everhem.com and let us walk you through the next steps!