Ever looked at the gorgeous Bi-Parting Grand Drape at a theatre and thought “that’s the look I want for our theatre (or school auditorium)”, but you didn’t know what the fabric was? Most likely, that Grand Drape was made of theatrical velour. In the past, there were limited options for theatrical velour, but today there are many different theatrical velours to choose from when purchasing a custom stage curtains. Today I thought I would tell you a little bit about the two principal categories – Cotton Velour and Synthetic Velour.
Cotton velour has been the primary option for theatrical drapery for many years. Topically treated for flame retardancy, cotton velour is a napped fabric available in a variety of weights, from a lighter weight 16oz per linear weight to as much as 32oz per linear weight. Most theaters, however, will choose a midweight velour, such as 21oz Marvel Velour or 25oz Memorable, depending on their budget. Cotton velour is typically chosen as it offers the most “traditional” look and feel and is available in a wide range of color options. However, one drawback to cotton velour is that it can be less durable than synthetic velour. Also, as topical flame retardancy will dissipate over time, the fabric will generally need to be retreated for flame retardancy at some point during the life of the drape.
Over the last ten years or so, synthetic velour options have become increasingly popular for Grand Drapes. As with cotton velours, synthetic velours are also available in a variety of weights, but again the most popular are the mid-weight options. Synthetic velours may be napped (similar to cotton velours) or, as in the case of 22oz Encore, may have a brushed surface that mimics the appearance of a nap. As polyester fibers are less impacted by normal wear-and-tear than cotton fibers, synthetic velour will typically be more durable. In addition, synthetic velour is permanently flame retardant, meaning that, with proper maintenance, the fabric should remain flame retardant for the life of the drape. Color options for synthetic velours also tend to be slightly more limited than with cotton velours.
There are other fabrics under the general category of “theatrical velour” that might be used for stage curtains – from lighter weight synthetic velours (such as 13oz Apollo Velour), Crushed Velvet, and velour alternatives such as 8oz Super-Vel, these fabrics are more often chosen for alternative Grand Drape styles, such as Austrians, Brailles, and Contours, which work better with lighter-weight fabrics, rather than for Bi-Parting Grand Drapes.
Want to learn more about theatrical velours and velvets? Click here to open a printable pdf version of our White Paper, “Wondering about Velour and Velvet Fabric?”