The need for privacy, as well as the desire to control light, obscure flaws, and enhance or block
views, will determine what type is should be. The shape of the window, the decorating style of the
room, and the colours and patterns throughout will dictate its style. Although window treatments
don't have to be fabric, full-length drapery panels styled with unusual pleating, patterns and colours,
hung in unconventional ways, is a trend worth embracing.
Drapery panels are traditionally floor-length, lined and pinch pleated, attached by hook to a traverse
rod, with a pull cord. To update draperies, there are non-traditional headers (the style in which the
drape is sewed at the top), including boxed pleats, pencil pleats and goblet pleats. If attached with
clip rings to decorative rods rather than traverse rods and hooks, the look is contemporary as well
Boxed pleats transform drapery panels into an elegantly modern window treatment. This style is for
stationary panels only.
A 3- to 5-inch swath of contrasting or patterned fabric, when loosely stitched over the drapery
header or top of the drape, creates a cuff or faux valance that hides the pleats.
Flat Panel with Folded Cuff
An unpleated drapery panel lined with a contrasting colour or patterned fabric. The top edges can
be folded over and exposed between drapery rings.
Visually appealing, these are formed when the top edge of tiny pleats — stitched 4 to 5 inches
below — are pushed out and padded to form a goblet or wine-glass shape.
Thin pencil-pleating tapes are sewn to the back with strings that cinch up the fabric into elongated
pleats. These are used for stationary panels only.
A sewn-in valance is created when the top one-fifth or 10 to 12 inches of a drapery is composed of
a contrasting colour or fabric.
"Puddling" drapery is an elegant style achieved when over-long drapery panels are hung to settle
and billow on the floor. Although there are no stringent measures, smaller rooms look best with
moderate puddles of 4 to 5 inches. Larger rooms with higher ceilings look best with exaggerated
puddles of 6 to 18 inches of extra fabric.
Lining panels with contrasting fabrics, and then cuffing the headers to reveal the lining, add
interesting notes of colour or texture to your window treatment.
Cascading Tab Tops
Tab top panels are simply hemmed lengths of fabric topped by sewn loops that slide onto decorative
rods. If the panels are more than doubled in width, and the tab top loops spaced at much wider
intervals, the result is an exaggerated but elegant draped "cascade" of fabric between each tab.
Wide Horizontal Stripes or Panels
Extremely wide stripes or bands of coordinating fabric, sewn on the panels, transform draperies and
can tie elements of a room together. This style can also be used to lengthen drapery panels.
An interesting and increasingly popular style of dressing that incorporates a heavier weight (but
lighter coloured) fabric for the top 15 inches, with a sheer, lightweight panel below that falls to the
Layered and Mixed
Layering draperies with light-filtering panels, blinds, or Roman or woven shades, creates depth and
finishes a room—layering in this way can also hide window flaws (if the window is too short or too
narrow). Combine and contrast textures when layering; mix tulle with satin, or a rich silk or sheer
georgette with woven bamboo or grass shades.
Drapery Rod Styles
Thin rods (with slim clip rings), square rods, and twisted rods in silver or gold metals and wood,
paired with wide box-pleated draperies, pencil pleated draperies or tab panels are of-the-moment
Alternative Styles for Hanging Draperies
Panels on Pegs
Although stationary, flat panel drapery hung from pegs or hooks positioned in 5- to 6-inch intervals
across the top of the window, is an inexpensive, simple and attractive way to dress a window. If you
do attempt this style, be sure to install tie-backs or hold-backs so the drapery can be held aside.
Cabinet hardware, such as vintage crystal knobs, is an unusual and elegant option for hanging toile
or other sheer or thin-weighted fabric panels.
Lining a plain drapery fabric in a brightly coloured or patterned fabric will add a decorative element
to your window and the decor when the drapery is pulled over a tie-back. It also presents you with
the option of reversing the panel to transform the look of your windows. To prevent the reverse side
from fading, layer the window with a shade or blind to filter the sun's rays.
Hanging drapery takes a number of steps; the first is to install the rod.
Installing Drapery Rods
Before purchasing and installing a rod, it's important to calculate the width. To do this, measure the
width of the window frame and add at least 6 inches. The ends of the rod (not the ends of the
decorative finials inserted in the ends) should extend at least 3 inches beyond each side of the
frame. This will allow you to firmly anchor the rod into the wall. If the window is 48- to 86-inches wide,
it will require a central bracket for support at the top.
When ready to install, measure 4 inches above the frame for placement. This measure can vary
depending on the height of the room and the distance between the top of the frame and the ceiling,
but 4 inches insures that the rod will be mounted into the wooden framing header, beneath the wall.
Measure for Full-Length Drapery
To measure for full-length draperies, use a retractable metal tape measure and, starting from the
base of the rod, measure to the floor. If you've installed a rod with clip-rings, measure from the clip
to the floor.
To determine the width of the drapery panels, measure the width of the window frame and add 6
inches to each side. If you want a fuller, gathered effect, multiply the width of the window by two or
When ordering custom-made draperies, the measurements are always expressed in width first, and
then height; so the measure for a 4-foot-wide panel that is 9-feet high is expressed as 4 x 9 feet.
Determining drapery length is a personal preference. If you want the panels to touch the floor, allow
about 1 to 2 inches to rest on the floor. Should you want the draperies to puddle on the floor, add
anywhere from 6 to 18 inches to the length.
Measure Each Window Separately
If you're dressing several-similar size windows in one room, be certain to measure each one—slight
variations in width or height are not always visible. Write the dimensions down, and then measure
again to double check.
Measuring for Tab-Top Panels
Due to the deep "crenellated" pattern at the top of tab top panels, rods are generally installed
several inches higher than those with clip-rings: this ensures that the top of the window frame
doesn't show. Before installing, measure the panel and the height of a tab—tabs are usually about 4
inches. Combine the panel and tab measure, add ½ inch, and measure from the floor up.
Measuring for Shades
Shades can be hung outside the window frame to camouflage flaws in the frame, or inside the frame
for a clean, tailored look. For an inset shade, measure the inside of the window frame from top to
bottom and left to right. Also measure the depth of the frame to make certain it will accommodate the
depth of the shade.
For an outset shade, you need at least 2 inches above, and 2 inches on either side of the window
for mounting brackets — measure from this point to where it will drop below the frame. (Make certain
the shade will hang below the apron of the frame—the base—but only about two inches below).
Correcting Window Flaws with Drapery
If your windows are too small, mount the curtain rods just below the ceiling and use enough fabric so
that the drapery panels puddle onto the floor. Don't draw back the drapery completely—instead,
install tie-backs on either side of the frame, closer to the base of the window. Keep the panels
closed at the top; pull back the lower-third of the panels' length and drape over the tie-backs. This
style will frame the window while camouflaging its flaws.
To enhance the width of a narrow window, mount a rod twice as wide atop so that it extends well
beyond the window on either side; double your panel width, attach holdbacks close to the sides of
If Panels are Too Short
If drapery panels are too short, add a band of fabric to the bottom in a complementary color to
create a border: the deeper the border, the better—the depth of the fabric band should be about 10
to 12 inches.
Lining drapery adds weight to the drapery fabric, but it also prevents the fabric from fading and
developing water stains (the lining blocks the sun's rays and shields the fabric water condensation
on windows). A lined panel also helps to regulate the temperature of a room, keeping it cooler in the
summer and warmer in the winter.
There is a measure—called The Golden Mean—that is used as a guideline for the placement of
tiebacks or holdbacks (to hold back the drapery panels) on either side of the window. This measure
is approximately .618 of the way down from the top or up from the bottom of the window treatment.
Creating an Illusion of Height
You can add the illusion of height to a room with window treatments; install floor-to-ceiling panels by
attaching the rod to just below the ceiling moulding.
Correct Floor Length
Window draperies that stop short of the floor look like they are floating—avoid this by adding 1 to 2
inches of extra length so that the panel just "breaks" when it reaches the floor.
If you have arched windows, and don't want to disguise the arch, you have several options with
draperies. Either run the curtain rod at the base of the arch to expose it, or run the rod just below
the ceiling and above the arch. Although the drapery panels will partially conceal the arch, if tie-
backs are installed high up, on either side of where the arch begins, the curtains can be drawn up
and back to expose most of the arch.
Vary Window Treatments
When dressing several windows in one room, matching treatments are not necessarily required, but
do help keep the look of a room uniform and sleek.
Austrian Shade: A fabric shade that, when raised or lowered with a cord, scallops from top to bottom.
Balloon Shade: A fabric shade with billowing folds along the bottom that raises with a cord and ring.
It balloons or puffs as the shade is raised.
Balloon Curtain: A single panel curtain with three or more scoops at the bottom that create a balloon
look. Adjusts with cords strung through rings on the backside of the curtain.
Box Pleat: A style of crisp, deeply inverted pleats generally used in valances and other short window
treatments, but increasingly used as a decorative header for drapery panels, giving them a much
more interesting, contemporary look.
Curtains: Curtains have traditionally been defined as lightweight, unlined panels- unlike heavy, lined
drapery—suspended from a rod by simple tabs, rings or rod-pocket casing.
Café Curtains: A single pair of short or panels, cafe curtains cover only the lower half of the
window, allowing light and a view through the top half.
Canopy: A projected valance over a roller shade.
Cascade: Another term for a festoon or swag, a cascade is a curved, draped valance or scalloped
top window treatment.
Cornice: Serving the same function as a valance, a cornice is a boxy, shallow wood covering
fastened across the top of a window to conceal drapery hardware. Although it is often covered in
fabric, it can be left un-upholstered and carved, painted or antiqued.
Combination Traverse Rod: Used with pleated, lace, sheer or lightweight panels. The pleated
drapes are hung on the outer traverse rod. The lace, sheer or lightweight panels are hung on the
inner rod. The outer rod normally projects 5" to 6 1/2" from the wall, while the inner rod projects 2"
to 3" from the wall.
Concealed Track Rod: A combination of a decorative and Traverse Rod: the concealed back of the
rod contains a track system for opening and closing drapery.
Cornice Pole: A pole with rings attached for hanging heavy draperies.
Curtain Drop: The length of a drapery, from the hanging system to the bottom edge of the panel.
Cut Drop: The finished bottom of a drapery panel, plus allowances for hems and headings.
Cut Length: The length of the drapery plus allowances for hems and/or headers.
Cut Width: The width plus allowances for a panel's side hems.
Double Fullness: This term refers to drapery panels that are twice the width of a window so that,
when gathered together, the drapery has a much richer, fuller appearance.
Double-Hung Drapery: A double-layered window treatment consisting of an over-drapery and an
under-drapery; these hang from separate hardware or from a double-track rod.
Double-Track Rod: Double-track rods, comprised of an inner and outer rod, are used to layer
window treatments. Its design allows each treatment to open and close, or rise and fall, separately.
Drapery: The traditional term for heavyweight, lined, pinch-pleated fabric panels hung by hooks
along a traverse rod and drawn by a cord and pulley system. Contemporary drapery is less rigid in
its definition and, although pinch pleats are once-again popular, traverse rods and hooks have
been overtaken by clip rings and decorative rods. For a list of interesting alternatives to pinch-pleat
headers for draperies, see the options offered in the Drapery Styles and Trends section.
Festoon: A festoon is similar to a valance, but rather than hanging straight down from a horizontal
rod, it is draped from one corner to the opposite. Not really intended to be used on its own, try
coupling with jabots or panels in a matching color to create the effect of a single piece of fabric
which has been artfully arranged on a curtain rod.
Festoon Shade: A decorative shade that looks like scalloped curtains when lowered. When raised,
the shade is full and billowy.
Finials: The decorative carved pieces of metal or wood that adorn the ends of curtain rods.
Golden Mean: The golden mean—in drapery terms— is a calculation of approximately .618 of the
way up from the bottom or down from the top of a window treatment. It's used as a guideline for the
placement of tie-backs.
Jabot: French for "bird's crop," a jabot is a small fabric panel pleated at the top and cut on an angle
at the bottom so it drapes, exposing the front and back of the fabric. A jabot is hung on either side
of top of a window and complements a swag or festoon, on each side of a window.
Hold-backs: Installed on either side of the window frame, and typically in the shape of decorative
knobs, pegs or large metal hooks, hold-backs allow the drapery panels to be held open to reveal
more light. The "look" of the drapery is more dramatic with hold-backs if the panels are kept
together at the top of the window.
Leading Edge: The two vertical edges of the panels that meet in the center of the window. These
edges are commonly embellished with trim.
Pinch Pleat: A drapery heading or top that features a basic pleat divided into 2 or 3 smaller, equal
pleats which are sewn together at bottom edge on right side of fabric. It is this style of drapery
header that was popular in the mid-20 century, paired with polyester sheer curtains, and attached
with hooks to a plastic traverse rod.
Plantation Shutters: On this style of shutter, slats are usually 2 1/2" to 4 1/2" wide, set into 12" to 19
1/2" wide panels inside the casement of a window.
Pleated Shade: A window blind usually made of solid or translucent fabric that stacks accordion-
style when raised.
Puddled Drapery: This style of drapery is achieved when the fabric length of each panel is sewn
extra long (by as much as 10 to 18 inches), so the base of the material elegantly pools or puddles
into folds on the floor.
Roman Shade: A tailored fabric blind traditionally designed with wooden slats inserted horizontally at
intervals down its entire length. When lowered, it hangs flat; when raised with pull cords, it gathers in
Scarf: A long piece of fabric or a curtain panel that is looped and draped around a decorative
curtain rod, through two decorative wall sconces or hooks.
Sconce: Sconces are decorative hardware made of plaster, wood or metal, and used to hold a scarf
of fabric draped along the top of a window frame.
Sheers: Panels and curtains made out of translucent or see-through fabric including thin cotton,
muslin, polyester, voile and silk Sheers are often layered with other fabric drapery panels.
Stack-Back: When drapery panels are attached by hooks to traverse rods, the panels can never
fully open. The "stack-back" refers to the amount of space a drapery panel will take up when it's
pulled back as far as it can go. Thicker, lined fabric will take up more space when bunched together,
so it will have more stack-back than a light-weight fabric.
Swag: This term refers to a one-piece valance which is cut longer on either end so that it frames the
entire top half of the window.
Tab Top: Panel curtains with strips of fabric sewn into loops at the top of the panel. The loops take
the place of rings and slide on a rod.
Tie-Back: Similar to a hld-back, a tie-back is a fabric strip, ribbon, tassel or cord designed to hold
panel curtains back on either side of the window.
Tier Curtains: Similar to café curtains, tiered curtains consist of four panels, each the length of 1/2
the height of the window in which they are to be hung. One pair is hung at the top of the window and
the other pair half-way down.
Tension Rod: A spring-activated rod with rubber tips on either end, it uses tension to hold the
window treatment inside the frame of recessed windows.
Traverse Rod: A utilitarian, single-track rod housing plastic carriers into which drapery pins are
hooked so that pinch-pleat drapery panels open simultaneously when a cord is pulled. Because of
the nature of the traverse rod, and the thickness of the draperies, a "stack-back" or width of fabric
remains partially covering either side of the window.
Valance: A valance hangs across the top of a window but doesn't usually hang below a third of the
window frame. Its purpose is as much decorative as it is functional: it's one way to hide drapery
hardware. Valances are used with or without a curtain underneath, and can be draped, gathered or
Woven Shade: Woven shades can be constructed of bamboo, jute, raffia or grasses.