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What Is Drapery

Drapes, also known as drapery, are a type of window treatment characterized by fabric panels that hang vertically and can be drawn open or closed to control light and privacy and provide insulation.

Unlike ready-made curtains, drapes are custom-made to fit your window dimensions and design preferences.

custom drapery
Custom Drapery by Fresh Design Blinds

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What Are Drapes?

When you upgrade your home with custom drapery, the process involves selecting fabric and customizing the design to fit perfectly in a space. 

Technically, drapes consist of 5 key components:

1 - Fabric

The material chosen for the drapes, which can vary widely in texture, weight, and opacity. Common fabrics include cotton, linen, silk, and synthetic blends, each offering different aesthetic and functional properties.

2 - Pleating Style

The method by which the fabric is gathered at the top to create folds. Popular pleating styles include ripple fold, single pleat, double pleat, triple pleat, and European pleat. Each style provides a distinct look and influences how the drapes hang and move.

3 - Lining

An additional layer of fabric is sewn to the back of the drape, which enhances light control, privacy, and insulation. Linings can also protect the fabric from sun damage and improve the drape's overall appearance.

4 - Hardware

The fixtures used to hang and operate the drapes, such as rods, tracks, and finials. Custom drapery hardware often includes internal rollers or gliders that allow for smooth, effortless movement. Depending on the desired aesthetic and functionality, options range from non-decorative ceiling tracks to decorative channel rods.

5 - Returns

Fabric extensions on the edges of the drapes that wrap around the sides to block light and provide a finished look. Returns help eliminate gaps between the drapes and the wall, enhancing light control and visual appeal.

Custom drapery is professionally measured and crafted to ensure a perfect fit for each window, providing a tailored solution that maximizes both form and function.

Custom Drapery Process

Homeowners choose their fabric, pleating style, hardware, and the amount of light they want to come through.

Professional measurements ensure that the drapery fits perfectly around windows or from floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall. 

Unlike ready-made drapes from stores like Home Depot, which come in standard sizes and often lack the ability to block light effectively due to gaps, custom drapery provides a perfect fit.

It creates that finishing touch that make a significant difference to the look and feel of your home.

When getting custom drapery, it's important to work with an excellent service provider who can help you to select the perfect fabric and drapery style. After you've selected the fabric and style, service professionals will visit your home to take measurements that will ensure your drapery is absolutely perfect upon installation.

It usually takes 5 weeks or more to have your custom drapery made.

Finally, find out if your service provider will steam and tie the drapes for you. Typically, you'd want to leave your drapes tied back for 1-2 weeks to train them how to hang properly. This is called training your drapes. When you train your drapes, they'll look perfect for years to come! So it sounds weird, but it's worth it.

What Are Returns on the Edges of Drapery?

The term "returns" refers to the fabric on the edges of the drapery that wraps around to cut the light from peaking through. 

This creates a more finished look because you don't have a big gap between the fabric and the wall. Instead, you’ll have a soft finish on the edges.

This customization depends on the style of the window.

What Are the Different Pleating Styles?

The most popular pleating style right now is called the "ripple fold."

Other popular pleats include single pleat, double pleat, and triple pleat. There are also quite a few old-school pleats that we are not done very often. For example, more traditional pleats include the French pleat, goblet pleat, top tack, and European pleas.

The most popular pleating styles for drapery right now are:

  • Ripple Fold

  • Single Pleat

  • Double Pleat

  • Triple Pleat

Ripple Fold 

Ripple Fold is particularly favoured for its modern and elevated aesthetic, offering a fresh, contemporary take on drapery that moves away from the traditional styles of the past.

The ripple fold style features a continuous, wave-like pattern that runs the length of the drape.

This modern pleating style offers a sleek and minimalistic look, making it a popular choice for contemporary interiors. Ripple fold drapes are known for their smooth, flowing appearance and ease of operation.

Close up on gorgeous ripple fold pleats.
Close up on gorgeous ripple fold pleats.

Single Pleat 

A single pleat, also known as a tailored pleat, features one fold of fabric that is stitched at the top of the drape. This pleat style creates a clean, streamlined look, offering a contemporary aesthetic. Single pleats are suitable for modern interiors where simplicity and elegance are desired.

Double Pleat 

The double pleat, or pinch pleat, includes two folds of fabric that are stitched together at the top. This style provides a bit more fullness and texture compared to the single pleat. The double pleat is versatile and works well in both traditional and modern settings.

Triple Pleat 

A triple pleat, also known as a French pleat or three-finger pleat, features three folds of fabric that are sewn together at the top. This pleat style offers the most fullness and a rich, luxurious look. Triple pleats are often used in more formal or traditional interiors, adding a touch of opulence to the drapery.

Choosing the right pleat style depends on the desired aesthetic, the amount of fullness, and the functional needs of the space.

Ripple folds in action at Altea Gym. Project by Fresh Design in Vancouver
Ripple folds in action at Altea Gym. Project by Fresh Design in Vancouver

Why Is the Ripple Fold So Popular?

Instead of being pleated, it's more of a wave that creates a soft yet modern look in your home.

For years, drapery was stuck in the '80s, and all the options were too traditional for modern homeowners.  Then, the ripple fold came out, and all of a sudden, people saw drapery through a different lens. 

The ripple fold provides a tall, wave-like appearance that differs significantly from traditional pleated styles. It’s a popular choice for those seeking an updated and stylish look in their home decor.

What Are the Different Hardware Choices for Drapery?

Hardware selection is crucial and often depends on the pleating style.

If you purchase high-quality custom drapery, find out if your service provider will use rollers in their ceiling tracks. Rollers in the ceiling trackers are quite smooth and work much better than typical ceiling tracks.

With rollers, you can fling your drapery open easily. It’s easy to move them back and forth. 

This modern hardware design eliminates the need for traditional rods and rings, which can be difficult to move. Homeowners often think they want grommet-style drapery or a ring over the rod, but moving your drapes with that style of hardware is very cumbersome. 

So, if you're getting custom drapery, we recommend selecting a ceiling track with internal rollers.

Summary of Key Points

  • Custom drapery involves selecting fabric, pleating style, hardware, and light control, with professional measurements ensuring a perfect fit.

  • Returns on the edges of drapery enhance light blocking and provide a seamless look.

  • Popular pleating styles include ripple fold, single pleat, double pleat, and triple pleat.

  • The ripple fold style offers a contemporary, minimalist, wave-like appearance.

  • Choose ceiling tracks with internal rollers for smooth operation.


Live in Vancouver? Take the Next Step

You can turn any room into a sanctuary of style and comfort when you find just the right window blinds or drapery. If you live in West Van, North Van, or Vancouver, let the blinds and drapery experts at Fresh Design help you find the perfect window covering solutions for your space.

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Get more design inspiration for your next project. 

Visit Our Vancouver Showroom

With over 25 years in business, we can help you with any custom window blinds and drapery project. From one window to 100 windows, we help homeowners and designers bring their visions to life. Providing professional installation services, we ensure your window coverings fit perfectly - even if you have unusual window sizes. 


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