Choosing Fabric for Curtains or Backdrops

Making curtains or a backdrop? Here’s a guide to the many fabric choices that would work well for your home or event décor project.

If you are looking for a fabric with a design, our selection of home décor drapery fabric includes thousands of options in many colors and styles. They are specifically made for curtains, swags, and other window treatments, though drapery fabric can be used for many other projects! They have a beautiful drape but for a more traditional look, drapery fabric is also available.

If you are looking for inspiration and ideas check out our curtain and drapery tutorials!

Drapery fabric is not the only material you can use to make a curtain or backdrop though! You can use just about any fabric that has some drape depending on the qualities you’re looking for in your curtains, draping, or backdrop.

Burlap Fabric

Burlap is a coarse, loose weave fabric that was originally used for utility purposes. Now its rustic look makes it popular for decorative uses and wedding décor. The heavier the weight the tighter the weave and stiffer the drape. While the fibers are opaque, the looser the weave, the more you can see through the fabric.

Color burlap made for decorative purposes and is dyed, finished, and sanitized to remove natural oils and odor. It also has a more consistent weave than typical burlap, but if you want an authentic look, natural burlap is what you’re looking for.

Burlap is used for curtains, bed skirts, decorative pillows, wedding backdrops, and other event décor.

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customer-photo-white-burlap-drapery Customer Photo - White Burlap Drapery

Linen Fabric

Linen is a classic choice for curtains and looks good with lots of different styles. It has a medium drape and comes in a range of weights. Choose from lightweight sheer linen, medium weights like Irish linen, or heavier weights like Belgian linen.

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linen-band Linen Curtains

Muslin Fabric

Muslin is a cotton fabric with a medium drape. It comes in a variety of widths and is available in natural or bleached white. Both can be easily dyed. This basic fabric can be used as a drapery lining or as inexpensive standalone curtains or backdrops. Unbleached muslin has characteristic darker specs in it, giving it a natural, rustic look.

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muslin-3 muslin

Upholstery Fabric

Use drapery lining for more light blockage and temperature control!

Upholstery fabric can be used for heavy, formal draperies. These heavyweight fabrics have more body and less drape than drapery fabric but these properties can create volume and drama.

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upholstery-fabric-being-used-for-drapes Customer Photo - Upholstery fabric being used for drapes

Broadcloth Fabric

Broadcloth is a lightweight cotton fabric that’s completely matte. In certain lighting you would be able to see shadows through broadcloth. It has a nice drape and is very easy to work with. It works well for casual curtains.

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broadcloth-2 broadcloth

Cheesecloth

Mixing lighting and cheese cloth is a really fun way to create super dynamic draperies.

Cheesecloth is a loose weave cotton fabric that is available in several grades. The higher the grade, the tighter the weave. It drapes very easily and is usually used to make rustic swags or backdrops. Its gauzy look is popular for weddings. It is also used in theatre productions and can be layered to make a backdrop that is a little sheer with a great texture. It’s 100% cotton so it dyes well.

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cheese-cloth-drapery-customer-photo Customer photo - cheese cloth drapery

Gingham Fabric

Gingham is a lightweight, checkered cotton fabric. It has a medium drape and can be opaque in certain lighting or made to see the outline of whatever is placed behind it. It’s popular for casual kitchen and café curtains with a bit of a vintage look.

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gingham-drapery-customer-photo Customer Photo - Gingham drapery

Quilting Cotton Fabric

Quilting cotton and cotton prints are lightweight fabrics similar to broadcloth with a medium drape. They are perfect for making quilts, apparel, and accessories but they can also be used for light curtains that can be lined. The patterns are often smaller in scale than drapery fabric so they work well for café curtains or other short curtains.

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cotton-prints cotton prints

Poplin Fabric

Poplin is a medium weight polyester or poly-cotton fabric with a tight weave. At an affordable price, Poly poplin drapes very nicely and is affordable, making it great for backdrops and tablecloths for events when large quantities are needed.

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customer-photo-poly-poplin-drapery Customer Photo - Poly Poplin Drapery

Voile Fabric

Voile is a transparent fabric that’s perfect for sheer curtains, window scarves, backdrops, and event and wedding décor. This see-through fabric lets light through but still provides some privacy. Our selection includes 118” wide voile in a number of colors, as well as Hanes voile and crushed voile.

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konica-minolta-digital-camera-5 Voile

Batiste Fabric

Batiste is a lightweight fabric for semi-sheer curtains. Hanes batiste is polyester and sheer while imperial cotton batiste is a cotton polyester blend that’s a bit less transparent. Both are great for curtains and draping. With several shades of white and cream and an extra wide width, Hanes batiste is particularly good for weddings.

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customer-photo-voile-drapery Customer Photo - Batiste Arbor Drapery

Outdoor Home Décor Fabric

Designer outdoor fabric can be used indoors or out. It is typically stiffer than designer drapery fabric so it doesn’t drape as easily but can still work well for curtains. It comes in many patterns and colors to suit all sorts of styles. It is water, stain, and fade resistant.

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customer-photo-outdoor-fabric-being-used-for-drapes Customer Photo - Outdoor fabric being used for drapes

Scrim Fabric

Scrim is a loose weave fabric. Visually it looks a lot like cheesecloth but has a crisper hand. It’s a popular choice for wedding draping with its sheer, airy look. It’s also used in theater productions for special lighting effects. When lit from the front, it appears opaque but when the set is lit behind the scrim, it becomes transparent.

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cotton-scrim-2 cotton scrim

Gauze Fabric

Gauze is a lightweight cotton fabric with a nice drape. It’s mostly opaque and has a gentle crushed texture. It’s used for airy curtains, draping, and backdrops.

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gauze Gauze

Chiffon Fabric

Chiffon is a lightweight sheer fabric that has a slight sheen but is not reflective. It drapes beautifully and has a uniform weave so it does not look textured. A single layer of chiffon can be seen through but when layered it becomes more opaque with a stronger color. Besides clothing, chiffon is very popular for soft, airy draping and backdrops at weddings and parties.

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chiffon Chiffon

Georgette Fabric

Georgette is a lightweight sheer fabric that is very similar to chiffon. Unlike the smooth appearance of chiffon, georgette as a bit of a crepe texture. It drapes beautifully and has a matte finish.

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georgette Georgette

Organza Fabric

Organza is a lightweight, sheer fabric that has a crisp hand and body but not a lot of drape. In certain lighting, organza can be made to look like it’s barely there or the color pigment in the fabric can be made to stand out, however, it is sheer in all lighting.

There are several different kinds. Mirror organza has a highly reflective surface, while crystal organza has a sparkly appearance. Organza is good for layering in backdrops when you’re looking for volume.

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organza Organza

Taffeta Fabric

Taffeta is a medium weight fabric that has a lustrous sheen but is not highly reflective. It is known for its crisp drape, body, and formal look. It’s often woven with two different color threads to give it an iridescent look that has beautiful depth when draped. Silk taffeta is a top quality choice for drapery, but if you’re looking for a less expensive option that works well for backdrops too, try polyester taffeta or crushed taffeta.

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taffeta taffeta

Silk Shantung Fabric

Silk shantung has a similar appearance to silk taffeta with the most noticeable difference being the slub texture of the shantung created by varying thicknesses of the thread. With an easier drape than taffeta or dupioni, shantung is ideal for formal draperies and fine dresses and gowns.

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satin-shantung Satin Shantung

Velvet Fabric

Velvet is a medium weight opaque fabric with a soft pile texture and a luxurious look. It has a light sheen but does not reflect light. For medium weight curtains, Fairvel micro velvet is a good choice that drapes well. It’s great for stage curtains too. Upholstery velvet can also be used when you want heavy velvet curtains. It often has a backing which makes it stiffer.

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velvet-drapery-customer-photo Customer photo - Velvet drapery

Satin Fabric

While commonly used for formal garments, satin fabric is also popular for weddings and event décor like backdrops, draping, and tablecloths. There are many varieties of satin which have different properties.

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black-satin-drapery Customer Photo - Black satin drapery

Bridal satin

Bridal satin is a classic mid-weight polyester satin. It has a high luster and smooth feel with a nice drape and a little body.

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Crepe back satin

Crepe back satin is a light to medium weight fabric that’s shiny with a crepe texture on the back. The front also appears slightly textured and it has a soft drape.

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customer-photo-crepe-back-satin-drapery Customer Photo - crepe back satin drapery

Matte Satin

Matte satin is a bit heavier in weight with a slight luster. It has a crisp hand and more body than other satin.

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Jacquard satin

Jacquard satin is a medium weight, mostly matte fabric with shiny roses woven in as a pattern. It is not incredibly crisp but it does not drape easily and is very full bodied. The fabric is texturally the same as most other satin’s but has beautiful patterns woven in.

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jacquard-satin Jacquard Satin

Rosette satin

Rosette satin is unique because of its textured appearance. The roses are made of individual strips of satin sewn onto a satin backing. It does not reflect much light although it does have a beautiful sheen. It has a very full bodied drape and would make a good backdrop.

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rossette-satin Rosette Satin

Charmeuse Fabric

Charmeuse looks very similar to satin but it’s a bit more lightweight. It has a lovely sheen and drapes easily. It’s also popular for backdrops and event draping.

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charmeuse Charmeuse

Lame Fabric

Lame is a lightweight, metallic fabric that’s highly reflective. Slipper lame and liquid lame drape beautifully while satin lame and tissue lame don’t drape as fluidly. In direct light lame can be complete opaque but can be lighted to show shadows. It can be used for backdrops and event decorations.

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lame-fabric-2 Lame fabric

Habotai Fabric

Habotai is a crisp, lightweight material with a moderately reflective sheen. It’s commonly used for apparel and linings but can also be used for backdrops and event draping.

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habutae-drapery habutae drapery

Sequin Fabric

Sequin fabric is highly reflective with plenty of eye-catching sparkle. It is often backed with a lightweight, sheer mesh that is adorned with metallic sequins. It is popular for event and party backdrops. Our 3mm sequin fabric is lightweight with flat sequins that don’t cover the entire surface for a more sheer appearance. Glitz sequin fabric is embellished with many sequins that are sewn on for a textural, lux look.

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sequin-drapery Customer Photo - Sequin Drapery

Lace Fabric

Lace is a lightweight completely sheer fabric. You would want to add an additional fabric, like broadcloth or habutae, if you are hoping to block the view of whatever is behind your lace drapery. It generally has a mid-range drape and a slight sheen.

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lace Lace

Still unsure? Shop for fabrics by design!

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