You sew, don’t you? So why can’t you fill my order for some window drapes?
If I had a dollar for every explanation that I have offered new callers who were in the market for economical house drapes, I’d be cruising the Med right now. It seems logical enough. Indeed, we do know how to sew, we sell fabrics, and we make curtains and draperies. But there are so many differences between residential-style draperies and those which we produce for the concert stage and theatre. Here are just a few of those differences:
Types of Fabrics: We are very limited in our fabric range compared to that of a retail fabric store. Our materials must all be of very durable fibers, must come at least 54″ wide, must be available in large runs and have little or no dye lot inconsistency. Many of the materials milled for our purposes are made in very commercial and utilitarian color lines. There aren’t a lot of choices in cotton velour colors, for example – just three blues in total, 4 red tones, and one very ugly god. Good luck finding carpet to match.
Flame Retardancy: We typically deal in materials which are flame retardant – or treated to be such. The laws in the United States require that we put only positively tested FR materials into public spaces such as theatres and concert halls. In fact, the same requirements apply to all public spaces with drapery style textiles! Many of our materials have lots of chemical flame retardancy applied to them. Don’t know about you – but I would not want those chemicals hanging at my windows or on my bedspread or upholstered onto my sofa.
Cutting and Finishing Tolerances: Our drapes are all hand cut and typically very big. We once made a 1200 lb drape – it took a forklift to get it out of the building. As you would imagine, the sizing tolerances are loose in pieces that big! Even in a standard theatrical drape, acceptable industry tolerance would be within an inch to an inch and a half. Of course, that would never work in a home kitchen window. In comparison, residential tolerances would be within 1/4 to a half inch.
Sewing Machines: We use walking foot upholstery machines to create our durable and economical stage draperies and backdrops. No blind hems, no invisible seams. When it comes to thread, we use heavy spun nylon that is as thick as fishing line, and we stitch right through the face of the fabric! No – just because it seems less expensive does not make it look any better in your dining room. Trust me.
Pleating Styles: We box pleat. And knife pleat. We even shirr occasionally. But no – French pleating, triple pinch pleating, and other such fancy top finishes aren’t our forte.
So – where should you go for home drapes? For off the shelf drapes in a variey of very nice materials and fashion colors, I personally think Restoration Hardware has the best selection. The prices are fair for the very elegant textiles that they offer. The sewing quality of their pre-made panels is also very good. If you want something custom – try a local residential drapery and upholstery provider. Ask for references first and be prepared to pay a 50% deposit (at minimum). Let them measure and, if at all possible, let them install, too – it will be worth it to have the pieces hung and installed “just so.” Hey – it is your HOME.
Happy house hunting!