When it comes to hanging draperies, there is an important consideration that many people forget. That consideration is what is known as fullness. Fullness refers to how much fabric you use when making your drapes compared to the width of the window. But what kind of fullness should you choose for your curtain panels? We've put together a quick guide to help you make a perfect choice.
What is Drapery's "Fullness"?
The fullness is the amount of fabric used to create a panel. The more material used, the fuller it will be. You need to know that if you have a wider window, you will most likely want more than 1.5X fullness since you will need extra fabric for the drapery to look luxurious.
Many homeowners choose a fullness factor of 2x because it creates an elegant gathered look when open or closed. When fully open, it achieves a luxurious plume-like appearance. However, did you know that other factors besides width can dictate the desired fullness?
For instance, if your windows receive direct sunlight during certain times of day or year (and there isn't any other way to block out the light), choosing a higher fullness may be necessary simply because there is more fabric blocking out the sun and providing privacy.
A higher ratio may also be desired if your windows are short and wide or tall and skinny because they require additional length or width to make them appear visually balanced.
Why is Drapery Fullness Important?
As discussed in the section above, fullness is the term used to express the width of your fabric in relation to the width of your rod. The amount of fullness you choose will affect your draperies look and function.
Why does this matter? Well, the amount of fullness directly affects how heavy the draperies will be, what they will cost, and how they will look. Generally speaking, the more fabric you use, the heavier the drapery will be. The heavier the drapery, the more expensive it will be.
Also, depending on how wide your window is, using less fabric may actually cause your draperies to look skimpy or cheap in comparison to the size of your window.
Things to Consider
Before you buy the first green-and-yellow striped curtains that catch your eye, take a moment to think about the purpose of your draperies.
How often do you expect to use them? Will they serve as a light and breezy cover for a sunny window or be employed more frequently in colder months to block out that same warm sunlight?
Do you want them also to help keep cold air from entering through your windows in the winter? Are they just there for their decorative appeal, or do you want them to block sound or light (or both)? If they act as an insulating layer between two rooms, how much traffic will there be in and out of the door(s) involved?
The answers to these questions should inform your drapery fabric choices. Do you want something thick enough for privacy but still thin enough for light and fresh air? Or perhaps something heavy like velvet could have a draping effect that will give your room a luxurious feel.
Ideally, go into any purchase with full knowledge of why you need it, what function it will serve, and how often you expect to use it. This is so that all your bases are covered when it's time for hanging.
Design is the first thing to think about as you consider the different drapery fullness options. The style of your room will determine how many windows you're dressing and what kind of fabric and hardware you should use. This will, in turn, impact your budget. Before you start shopping for fabric, it's best to consult with a professional interior designer to ensure that all the pieces fall into place well before you get started.
There are a variety of factors that will influence the amount of drapery fullness required:
Fabric type and texture - textured fabrics like velvet or embossed fabrics tend to have less fullness than smooth fabrics.
Fabric weight - heavier fabrics drape better than lighter ones and require less yardage.
Fabric pattern size - larger patterns can be more difficult to match up as they are cut from selvage to selvage and require greater fullness than smaller patterns.
Fabric pattern repeat - Fabrics with larger repeat patterns require more yardage or multiple panels.
Fabric color - darker colors tend to look best when given more fullness because they absorb light, whereas lighter shades reflect light back into a room, so they may not need as much volume to stand out from the window.
Fabric light fastness - the durability and fade resistance of fabric play a role in its ability to retain its shape over time.
How much can you spend on drapery? How many windows do you have to cover? Many of these factors will depend on what type of fabric you're looking at, but we'll get there.
If you're on a tight budget, don't think that means curtains and drapery are out of your reach. There are plenty of options for even the most frugal shopper. But make sure you don't skimp on rods and hardware! These will be in place for years, so buy something good quality.
Consider making the curtains yourself if you're good with a sewing machine and fabric! You can save a lot of money by avoiding the labor costs of having them sewn for you.
However, keep in mind that it's not always an easy process; as tempting as it might be to tackle this project yourself to save money, it is also worth considering whether having someone else do the work will end up being less expensive in the long run if it takes longer than expected or doesn't turn out exactly how you'd hoped it would.
In addition to the drape's fullness, the style in which it is constructed is also important. There are many different styles of drapery, including:
1.Pleated – The pleats can be sewn into the top of ready-made draperies or made on the rod using clip rings. Drapery hooks are then placed in each pleat.
2.Grommet – These metal rings slide onto a decorative rod and hang straight down, creating a modern look. This style does not gather at all when hanging.
3.Inverted – The inverted pleat looks like a box pleat that has been turned inside out with cording attached to the backside of each pleat so that its shape stays intact.
4.Rod Pocket – A rod pocket drapery attaches directly to a decorative rod and hangs in soft folds without any fullness added through gathering or other methods.
5.Tab Top – Tab tops have loops extending from the top of the panel that slides onto a decorative rod where they hang without adding any fullness.
6.Gathered - Gathered curtains use fabric tape with hook attachments that are placed evenly across your curtain panel allowing it to gather together when hung from either a standard curtain pole or ring clips on a track rail system.
How to Calculate Drapery Fullness
Achieving the perfect amount of fabric fullness in your window treatments is a little tricky. If you get it wrong, your draperies may look skimpy, stiff, and uninviting, or worse yet, they may not open and close properly. Here's a guide to getting the perfect amount of fabric fullness in your drapery design.
Decide Where to Hang
First, you need to measure the space that you want your curtains to cover. Do you want them to hang inside the frame or outside of it? This will affect how much space they take up. If your window has molded, decide whether you want it to be covered by the curtain and if so, add in its width when measuring.
Next, consider whether you will have anything hanging above (or below) your curtains. Are you going to hang a valance or swag above them? Or a pelmet below them? These additions will also affect how much space your curtains will take up.
Finally, make sure that you measure from the top of where your curtain rod (or pole) will go down to where the bottom of the curtain should fall (this could be just above or below the window sill). Remember, not only do these measurements need to include the fabric but also any trimmings and headings which can really bulk them out.
Measure the Width
To achieve fullness, draperies are made wider than their actual width. There are two ways to measure drapery width: the flat and the gathered measurements. The flat measurement is taken when you want to hang your draperies without creating fullness. The gathered measurement is always taken when creating fullness in your drapery.
In calculating your drapery fullness, you'll need to take basic measurements. Start by measuring the width of the window. Measure about 6-8 inches above the window frame, and make sure to measure from side to side of the window frame itself.
It's important to note that if there is any molding on either side of your window frame, do not forget to include that in your measurements. Also, remember that when calculating fullness, it is important to consider both the width of the curtain rod and its placement within the window.
Measure the Length
The next in calculating drapery fullness is to measure your window frame length. For a floor-length drape, start from the top of the window frame and measure down to the floor. Then add 2 inches for a hem allowance and 5 to 6 inches for fabric that will puddle on the floor.
If you want an above-the-window look, start at the top of your window's outer trim; this generally gives you a more tailored look and lets in more light than full-length panels.
Find the Perfect Curtain Rod
Once you've chosen how much fabric you want, it's time to find the curtain rod. You'll need a sturdy rod that can support your chosen length of fabric and keep it in place. Aim for one that is at least 1 1/2 times the width of your window; use a wider rod if you have very heavy curtains or prefer to stack your panels near the outer edges of your window.
The perfect curtain will only look finished when paired with the right hardware. As with anything else in home decor, take time to shop around for various options until you land on something that looks great in your home and suits your style.
Drapes vs Curtains: Are They the Same?
You've probably heard the term "drapes" used to describe the curtains that hang on a window. But are drapes and curtains really the same thing?
Drapes are generally defined as window coverings that hang from a rod or pole and fall along both sides of a window.
They're often made of heavier fabrics such as velvet or brocade and are lined – and sometimes interlined to provide insulation, block out light, or protect against UV rays. Drapes are usually formal in style and may be used with tiebacks and other decorative accessories to create a specific look.
On the other hand, Curtains tend to be lighter in weight than drapes and can be made in a wider variety of fabrics, including sheers, voiles, cotton, linens, polyester blends, silk, and more. They're usually unlined or may have just a simple lining. Their primary purpose is to add style to a room and coordinate with other decor elements; they're not intended to provide insulation or light control as drapes do.
The fullness of your drapery fabric is a very important decision you will make when purchasing custom drapes. The fullness of the drapery, or the percentage of extra fabric added to the width, determines how full and luxurious your drapes will look. A full look also gives your home a warm feeling by giving it an intimate look. You'll feel like you're in a cozy cabin with soft, round edges that envelop you with comfort. If you have kids and pets running around your house, a full-looking curtain also protects against accidents.