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The Ins and Outs of Custom Drapery

bedroom with custom drapery

I've written about my love for using custom furnishings before, and I definitely feel the same about custom drapery. There is just no substitute when it is tailor made for you and fits perfectly in your space. Now, there are many good retail options available these days but custom is what will elevate your space and give it the professionally-designed level of appearance and function. So what makes the custom options better than off-the-shelf drapery? Let's talk about it the elements of drapery and why custom is the best option for my clients.

living room with custom drapery

Design by Drake/Anderson

Length + Width

Drapery is typically offered in limited lengths and widths (though sometimes a "double-width" panel is available) that is as thorough as retailers can reasonably afford to be. Even still, they just won't work on every window in every room. I typically like to hang drapery several inches above the window trim, or even just under the crown moulding depending on the ceiling height of the room. Hanging it high draws the eye up and around the room and makes simultaneously makes it feel bigger and more cozy. How the fabric meets the floor is another consideration. I like my drapery to just "kiss" the floor and not "break" or fold at the bottom. Since some fabric will stretch slightly as it hangs, I can work with a seamstress to ensure that the length is exactly right.

bedroom with custom drapery

Design by S.R. Gambrel

Fabric + Linings

Of course, the obvious advantage of using custom drapery is that it is chosen specifically for your space and the fabric is included in the overall design plan. But the main fabric isn't the only consideration. I like all of my drapery lined, and even that is another opportunity to bring in another layer that will make the room really sing. In addition, I usually specify an interlining because it just helps the drapery lay beautifully. I like my drapery to look like it's just had a good meal -- hungry drapery just doesn't do it for me!

living room with custom drapery


My preference for the rod is a round or square French return, which means that the rod turns back toward the wall. This is the only way to truly achieve blackout-out without using a shade, and it joins the drapery to the wall in a way that feels really seamless. It also eliminates the temptation to include a fussy finial at the end of the rod. I typically specify a pencil or classic pleat at the top, which will hang from the rod with rings. Grommets can work in certain spaces, though I have found that unless they are stationary panels, the grommets do not hold up well over time.

drapery designed by Gail Davis Designs

One-of-a-kind Details

Choosing custom gives us the options to add details that will really take the drapery to the next level. I especially like to add a pretty trim to the leading edge of the drapery, and often choose a second fabric to create a band along the bottom of the panels. This detail has been very popular with my clients are seeking a more masculine, sleek aesthetic. Since not every window will call for full-length panels, when we choose custom, we have the opportunity to use roman shades or a cafe curtain the same fabric.

living room with custom drapery

Design by S.R. Gambrel


I have learned through trial and error that not every workroom will create the same level of product and I have sought out relationships with the very best that I can find. Many people can sew drapery, but the most talented seamstresses can work absolute magic with fabric and the way their draperies lay and fold is just beautiful. In my experience, custom drapery is often not all that much more expensive than the better ready-made options, so there just isn't a good reason not to use this option to create a special, one-of-a-kind space.

If you would like to learn more about my services, please get in touch by filling out a design inquiry.


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