Draperies come in endless sizes and types, especially when it comes to custom draperies. Your imagination is the only limitation you have in your own drapery design.
But you might be wondering, what are the different types of draperies that are available? Professional designers and tailors tend to divide draperies into simple, pleated, and specialty. Simple draperies flow freely and are casual, pleated draperies are tailored thanks to their deep folds on top, and specialty draperies have rare features like accent fabrics and attached valances.
Let’s take a look at these three types of drapery styles to inspire your own window design.
Casual Custom Draperies
Casual draperies tend to have less fullness since they don’t have deep pleats. In other words, a 50-inch wide casual drapery will be able to cover a wider area than a pleated drapery that uses the same amount of fabric. Although, keep in mind that this will also depend on the thickness of the fabric and the type of lining used.
The most commonly found drapery style is a rod pocket drapery. This style simply gathers on a drapery pole. A 3-inch rod pocket is best with a drapery pole that’s 1-3/8 inches in diameter.
A floor-length rod pocket drapery in a living room.
A pair of floor-length draperies on dining room patio doors.
Many designers also like to add an additional header above the rod pocket. Once gathered, this creates a natural ruffle on top of the drapery. This is commonly done with French country designs, but it also isn’t unusual to pick a solid cream or white fabric to create a feminine, Hollywood glam drapery.
A blue and yellow toile drapery with a 3-inch ruffled header. The drapery generously puddles on the floor.
A ruffled header on a drapery. The more the gather is, the more pronounced the ruffle becomes.
Rod pocket draperies are great as decorative panels, but if you’d like to draw the draperies open and shut on a regular basis, you may wish to consider a drapery that’s hung on drapery rings or traverse tracks. Some casual draperies can also be hung on a drapery pole using matching curtain rings without any pleating.
These draperies are referred to as flat panel draperies. They have a tape in the back so that stainless steel pins can be inserted in the back. Depending on where the pins are positioned on the drapery, the drapery can be hung on a decorative pole like the one below or on a traverse rod.
A flat panel drapery is simple, yet sophisticated because of the use of wooden curtain rings. An extra 3 inches was added to the drapery to create a modest puddle on the floor.
The top of the flat panel drapery.
Some other styles of simple draperies you may consider are:
- tab top draperies
- back tab draperies
- grommet draperies
- tie top draperies
You’ll notice that the simplicity of many of these drapery styles gives them a modern design. View and shop more simple draperies »
Pleated Custom Draperies
Pleated draperies have a tailored look because of their unique headers. The richness of these window treatments makes them a popular choice for formal dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. But by selecting a playful fabric print, pleated draperies can also become casual and modern. Some common pleats you may come across are:
- pinch pleats
- Euro pleats
- goblet pleats
- cartridge pleats
- pencil pleats
- inverted box pleats
You may notice that there are variations on certain pleats. Some workrooms also use different words to describe the same type of pleat but know that generally speaking, there is very little difference. For example, a butterfly pleat, French pleat, and pinch pleat are almost indistinguishable and that there is very little difference between the pleats.
A double-wide goblet pleat drapery over a door opening.
Euro pleat draperies on adjacent windows.
Pencil pleat linen draperies with relaxed Roman faux shades underneath.
Specialty Custom Draperies
Beyond simple and pleated draperies, consider specialty draperies if you want window treatments that are a rare find. Some examples designers commonly offer are:
- Add contrast fabrics. The inverted box pleat drapery, for example, can be made even more special by inserting a bold, contrasting fabric inside the pleats.
- Add embellishments. Consider adding tassel fringe or acrylic bead fringe on the leading edges of your draperies. A ribbon trim is also commonly added and is often inset a few inches from the sides of the drapery. Greek key trim is very popular nowadays. Also, consider adding buttons or decorative accents at the base of each pleat.
- Attached valances. Pleated draperies are often made with attached valances. The bustle swag valance is often used, and some valances can even have long jabots hanging off the side of the drapery. Have the valance made in a different fabric to design a truly unique drapery.
- Upgrade the installation to a board-mount or medallion mount. Any window treatment that’s upgraded to a board mount immediately becomes special. Instead of hanging the drapery on a decorative pole, have your drapery mounted on a heavy lumber board. That way, the drapery can start falling from behind the board to create a waterfall effect.
- Hang the drapery on medallions. Medallions are just decorative knobs that are evenly spaced out. To use this type of installation, the drapery needs fabric loops to be sewn into each pleat. A single wide (50-inch) drapery will usually require about 4 or 5 knobs.
3-inch tassel fringe sewn on the leading edge of a light blue drapery.
Pleated drapery hung on wrought iron medallions.
Pinch pleated draperies with attached valances. The valances have beaded tassel fringe with decorative balls.
Pinch pleat draperies in blue and green. Notice the interesting trim in light blue on the leading edge of each drapery.
A bustle swag valance attached on an extra long silk drapery in old gold.
Cuff top draperies on bay windows. Draperies were made with green contrast fabric and hung on medallions.
A pinch pleat drapery on a traverse rod, embellished with buttons and tassel fringe.
Custom drapery with a ruched attached valance. The crisp silk fabric is perfect for styles like this.
Features Found in High-Quality Draperies
Hopefully, I’ve shown you some styles to inspire your own drapery design. Before I finish this post, I’d like to leave you with a few features that are an absolute must for a high-quality drapery. If a drapery is missing any of these features, you may think twice about paying full price for it:
- Drapery must be fully lined with a good quality lining. The lining should look like a sheet of copy paper when you put it up against the light. If it’s flimsy or has light coming through in between the fibers, it’s not a good lining.
- Blind-stitched hems. The side and bottom hems of the drapery should have minimally visible stitches. If the drapery has visible stitches running on the sides, it’s a poor quality drapery and is absolutely unacceptable.
- Weighted bottom hems. Custom draperies must have small metal plates that are inserted on the left and right sides of the bottom hem. These are sewn into the drapery, but you’ll notice that they’re there because of their weight. Without weights, the drapery fabric will start curling up from the bottom and won’t be able to drape properly.
- Floating bottom hems. The lining and face fabric must be sewn separately at the bottom of the drapery. In other words, you have to be able to look inside the drapery when you look at it from the bottom. Floating bottom hems are necessary. Otherwise, the drapery will just bunch up at the bottom in an awkward way.
- Large, deep pleats. There is great variation in how pleats are created. Some workrooms create very small pleats in order to save on fullness. The truth is that pleats require a lot of fabric. Don’t be surprised to find that a 50-inch drapery can only cover about 20 inches of your window once it’s properly pleated.