When a customer calls us to request a quote on a custom stage curtain, there is certain information that we need in order to provide that quote – size, fabric, finishes and fullness.  Today, I thought I’d give you a little information about fullness.

The term “fullness” is used in relation to the amount of pleating in a curtain, and is typically described with a percentage.  A flat (unpleated) curtain is said to have zero fullness.  A pleated curtain would typically have anywhere from 50% fullness up to 200% fullness.

The fullness percentage refers to the amount of additional width of the drape in its flat condition, prior to pleating the curtain down to its finished width.  A curtain with 50% fullness will initially be sewn flat at 50% wider than the desired finished width, a curtain with 100% fullness will start out as an unpleated curtain that is 100% wider, and so on.  The extra fabric on the width is used to make the pleats.

Let’s say that you want a box-pleated drape, 20 feet wide, with 50% fullness.  Our sewing staff would start by sewing together widths of fabric until they have a flat drape that is 30 feet wide.  They would then pin the fabric to create the pleats. The top finish is then sewn and, with it, the pleats are also sewn in, and the finished width of the drape ends up at the desired 20 feet.

The percentage of fullness determines the size of the pleats.  With 50% fullness, the pleat is usually about 3″ wide.  With 100% fullness, the pleat is usually about 6″ wide.  In both cases, there is typically 12″ from the center of each pleat to the center of the next pleat.

The amount of fullness that is recommended depends on several factors, including budget, fabric type, and desired appearance.  Budget is a consideration because the lower the pleating percentage, the less fabric that is used on the drape, and therefore the lower the cost of the drape.  Fabric type and appearance also affect the choice in fullness.  Traditional theatre curtains made from velour are typically made with anywhere from 50% to 100% fullness, whereas specialty drapes made from voile (or similar lightweight fabrics) are usually made with between 100% and 200% fullness.

Want to find out more about fullness?  Check out the Pleating and Fullness page of our website, where we have photos and drawings for you to review.