Curtains do more than cover windows, they both complement and enhance your décor. The design and color or pattern become the background of your room. When designing window treatments for your room, whether that be a country kitchen, formal dining room, or bedroom, your choice of curtain fabric and style makes all the difference. When it comes to fabric selection, the texture, transparency, and the way the material flows and gathers are all considerations. First things first, do you have single or double pane windows? Read more here.
Your fabric selection begins with your choices for function and style. Whether you are planning to sew your own curtains or purchase factory-made curtain panels, deciding on practical and aesthetic uses for your window treatments is the first order of business. This article contains a guide for the ten best fabrics for curtains for sheer as well as regular curtains.
Sheer curtains are more for aesthetics than function. Because you can see through them, they don’t block light or insulate against drafts. Often, they are used in combination with heavier drapes or curtains and blinds. They give an airy look to the window and softly diffuse the light entering your room.
Eyelet cotton fabric takes on the appearance of an open weave because it has delicate, small eyelets throughout it.
You can use lace as a sheer curtain due to the open weave. Lace curtains are sophisticated and pretty, though they can be expensive if you opt for a more intricate pattern.
Muslin is a lightweight cotton fabric that’s thin enough to use as a sheer curtain. Though, it’s not as sheer as others like voile or nylon net. You’ll get diffused sunlight in your room with this type of semi-sheer material.
Nylon net is one of the more popular choices due to its affordability. It’s an inexpensive sheer curtain with a knitted construction. While it’s not as fine as voile, it creates a similar look for a lower price.
Voile is exceptionally sheer and lightweight. The fabric is woven and has a soft look and feel. Most of the time, it’s 100% cotton, though polyester versions are available as well. Higher quality voile curtains have a fine surface and an excellent drape. It allows just enough light inside to brighten the room and provide some privacy at the same time.
For opaque curtains that you cannot see through, you need a heavier fabric with a higher thread count. These fabrics add vibrant color and deeper texture to your window treatments. Yet, they still drape and fall elegantly along the window.
Cotton curtains are very popular as much for function as they are for looks. The weave is often heavy enough that the curtains don’t need a liner. You may choose a liner for added strength but can easily go without one to stay within budget.
One type of cotton you’ll find with many curtain styles is madras cotton, which holds bright colors well. Another popular choice is twill cotton, which has an attractive weave. Then there’s cotton duck, which is a thick, rough material that looks good and blocks light well. Finally, gingham cotton has a check pattern that you see in kitchen curtains time and again.
Both damask and brocade come with floral or other patterns. Damask curtains always have a two-tone design, meaning two tones of the same color, similar to an embossed pattern. Brocade material features vibrant patterns involving many colors. Both fabrics come in silk or cotton varieties and are pricier than other sheer curtains. They are, however, more luxurious and often come with liners to strengthen and preserve the shape.
You’ll find medium weight and heavyweight linen in many drapes because it is durable and elegant. One drawback to linen is that it tends to wrinkle. Linen curtains may also be stiff when hanging. In addition, you will have to have them dry cleaned rather than toss them in the washer. On the upside, they do soften after laundering.
Anything made from silk is elegant. Silk is a beautiful fabric, delicate and luminous. Quality silk curtains are expensive, but they do provide a rich, luxurious look and feel to the entire room. Most of the time, silk curtains are lined to strengthen them as well as make them functional for privacy.
One drawback of silk is that the sun will fade it over time. Liners help protect silk curtains to a degree. And, you will need to have silk curtains dry cleaned as well.
Velvet curtains are often piled for a luxurious effect. This is an expensive fabric, but the thickness makes them functional insulators. They are heavy, so you will need appropriate hardware for hanging.
Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, are also options. They are the least expensive, and some of the better-quality synthetics have a faux satin finish that makes them look attractive. The material is durable, and they flow as well as the other fabrics we have discussed thus far. Some synthetic curtains block UV rays, which is an attractive feature for many people. Some of the best features are that synthetic curtains don’t wrinkle and are easy to wash, no dry cleaning required. On the downside, they may not last as long as natural fabrics like cotton.
Curtains are often a blend of synthetic fabrics. Typical combinations are polycotton (polyester and cotton) or poly rayon (polyester and rayon). Both have a good balance of weave and weight. One important thing to note is that synthetic fabrics are often flammable. They be used in the kitchen or near the fireplace.
Choosing curtains is an important choice, as you will have them in your home for several years. Once you decide whether you need sheer or opaque curtains (or a combination of both), you can choose your fabric accordingly. Of course, your budget will help you narrow your selections a bit further. Another consideration is how well the curtains will blend with any other window coverings you’ll be adding, such as blinds, shades, or frosted window film.
Regardless, take your time when selecting your curtains. You may even want to go to a fabric store to look at the types of fabrics we discussed above. There, you’ll be able to touch each fabric and see which texture is best for you. Here's a short guide on the different types of curtains.