The prospect of buying curtains and blinds can be daunting. After all, they’re a big investment and it’s understandable that you may worry about making the wrong decision. Should you opt for curtains or blinds, or both? Which offers the better blackout? What style should you choose? How do you measure?
We’re here to help guide you through the decision-making process and ensure you end up with curtains or blinds (or both!) that you’ll love for years to come. You can contact our friendly customer team here but here are answers to some common (as well as not so common) questions:
Why do I need curtains or blinds?
An obvious answer is that curtains and blinds provide privacy but they offer a whole lot more besides. From a practical perspective, they enable you to control the amount of light coming into a space, diffusing it during the day or shutting it out completely when required. They are great draught excluders, reducing heating bills by blocking cold air from outside whilst ensuring warm air from inside doesn’t escape. And in the height of the summer, they can keep rooms cool by blocking heat from outside. They also help the acoustics in a room, absorbing sound and reducing echoes.
Aesthetically speaking, curtains or blinds ‘dress’ a room, softening a hard space and making an interior scheme look finished and considered. Curtains in particular can frame a beautiful view or equally disguise a less attractive one. And both are a way of adding texture and interest to a space.
If that wasn’t enough, curtains and blinds can work magic too. If hung well above a window, they can increase the sense of height in a space. Curtains hung well to the sides of a window will make both the window and the space feel larger. And the same curtains or blinds hung on mismatched windows will unify a scheme, bringing order and elegance to an otherwise awkward space.
When are curtains not a good idea?
You may feel that blinds will look better than curtains in a particular room and common sense will often tell you when blinds are a more practical choice. Our advice is that curtains are best avoided:
What style of curtains should I choose?
The heading will largely determine the style of the curtain. Headings gather and control the fullness of the curtains, and at Stitched we have headings to suit all settings. As well as the look you’re going for (relaxed, contemporary, tailored or traditional) a key factor is the space or ‘stack back’ you have available either side of the window. Some headings enable curtains to stack back into a much smaller space than others, a key consideration in rooms with small windows or little natural light. The fabric and lining (or interlining) also have an impact on the space curtains take up when open. Heavier fabrics such as velvets and interlined curtains will inevitably take up more space than lighter fabrics and unlined curtains.
The most versatile heading is probably the pencil pleat which is created with a tape to provide a crisp, elegant look to curtains that can be hung from tracks or poles. The fullness provided by the pleats lends an understated luxury to a room and the heading looks particularly good with fabrics such as silk that catch the light.
Double and triple (or ‘French’) pleat headings provide a very classic, tailored look. They require more fabric than a pencil pleat with the result that they are fuller and more luxurious when drawn. However, the pleating means they stack back well, taking up less space than you might imagine. This heading will suit any fabric.
If you’re looking for drama, go for curtains with a goblet heading. Made in a similar way to a double or triple pleat, the ‘goblets’ are formed by securing the base of the pleats and stuffing the tops to pad out the full shape. The resulting curtains can be hung from tracks or poles but require more space either side of the window to stack back effectively.
A cartridge heading creates beautiful, even folds in a fabric and a contemporary feel. This is a useful heading where the space either side of the window is limited; the cartridge doesn’t require as much fabric as some other headings and enables the curtains to stack neatly when open.
Where space either side of a window is very limited, an eyelet or wave heading is the best option. An eyelet heading creates a contemporary look where the curtain pole is threaded through metal eyelets in the top of the curtains. Curtains with eyelet headings are very easy to operate so a particularly good choice for children’s bedrooms.
A wave heading is another cool, contemporary option, perfect if you want to create a simple, modern and elegant look. Wave curtains have no gathering across the top, just a continuous, sinuous curve. The curtains stack back neatly and the heading suits fabrics that drape well such as sheers, cottons and silks. Both eyelet and wave headings are a great way of maximising natural light in a space.
What fabric should I choose?
Many fabrics are suitable for blinds and curtains and at Stitched we have a great range to choose from. Our Cotton Twill and Cotton Weave fabrics are great all-rounders, suitable for most spaces and available in myriad colours.
Pure linen fabric has a slightly rumpled appearance which is great for a relaxed look but not to everyone’s taste. That’s where our Linton range comes to the rescue, a blend of linen and cotton that preserves the beautiful qualities of linen whilst being a more crease resistant and therefore practical choice.
Silk epitomises luxury but needs to be used with care as it can quickly fade and disintegrate in strong daylight. Pure silk curtains and blinds should always be lined and are best avoided in South facing rooms. A great choice if you’re looking for the lustre of silk but concerned about durability is our Upcycled Silk range, available in 8 gorgeous, fresh colours, which blends silk with wool and flax to beautiful effect.
Upcycled Silk along with fabrics in our Wool, Flax and Revive ranges are perfect for kitchen or bathroom blinds, where there’s likely to be a lot of moisture in the air. Our Revive fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles offers the ultimate in practically as it can be cleaned with a damp cloth and upholstery shampoo. A good bet then for children’s bedrooms where mucky fingers might play havoc with less forgiving fabrics!
If you’re looking for maximum impact and drama, then soft velvet curtains have no equal. Our range comes in 12 colours with something to suit every setting. Velvet is timeless, sumptuous and brings instant sophistication to a room.
Do I need a lining or interlining?
Occasionally, curtains and blinds are deliberately left unlined to filter the light but a lining will help protect against sunlight, dust and general wear and tear resulting in curtains and blinds that stay looking good for much longer. A lining will also add extra weight and body enabling curtains to drape and blinds to hang more effectively. A blackout lining will have the added benefit of blocking out light - perfect for children’s bedrooms or indeed any bedrooms during the long days of summer.
An interliner is a soft blanket-like layer of cloth which is inserted between and stitched to the main fabric and the lining. This ‘locking in’ ensures that the fluid movement of curtains and blinds is not affected. Interlining really helps curtains and blinds to retain heat and exclude drafts as well as making them look particularly sumptuous. But interliners will add bulk to curtains so, as we said previously, they need to be used where space either side of the window is not in short supply.
How should I fit my curtains?
Most of our customers opt for a curtain track which can be fixed to the wall (known as face fixing) or the ceiling (known as top fixing). Lined and particularly interlined curtains can be surprisingly heavy so a heavy-duty, good quality, metal track should be used. The choice of curtain tracks is increasing all the time with some attractive, contemporary options available that are designed to be on show. However, less attractive tracks can be painted to match the wall (or ceiling) as long as the gliders can run freely. They can also be covered with a pelmet attached to a pelmet board.
The great thing about curtain tracks is that they can bend, by as much as 90 degrees, with some able to bend in two directions to create an ‘S’ bend. This makes them perfect for bay or bow windows where the track can follow the curves of the window.
Curtain poles are usually straight but styles that bend to follow a bay window are also available. Poles come in a variety of thicknesses and a huge range of finishes - wrought iron, wood, perspex, covered in leather to name a few. As such they can make a dramatic statement in their own right especially when combined with decorative finials. Curtain poles are usually fitted directly to the wall above the window but may need extension blocks or brackets if a number of layers of curtains, or a combination of curtains and blinds are being used.
If you opt for an eyelet heading the curtain rod will be threaded through the curtains. Otherwise, the curtains will be hooked onto rings at regular intervals.
If you’re contemplating short curtains, then the track or pole should ideally be fixed the same distance above the window as the distance the curtains will hang below the sill. With floor length curtains, the track or pole should be positioned at least 10cm above the window top to provide effective blackout and ensure heading tapes are visible from outside.
Finally, make sure your track or pole is sufficiently long to extend either side of the window, enabling the curtains to be pulled well back and allowing as much light as possible into the room.
What’s the difference between a roller and a Roman blind?
A roller blind consists of a single piece of stiffened fabric wrapped around a hard casing that most commonly fits into the top of your window frame, either within or outside the window recess. It’s invariably operated by a side-winding chain mechanism attached to the blind casing.
At Stitched, our roller blinds are processed which means the fabric is stiffened with a type of glue rather than laminated with a backing fabric. This ensures the inherent beauty of the fabric is not lost - something that’s particularly important with translucent fabrics such as our Oceana range.
If, however, you’re looking for blackout, we can provide roller blinds that offer that too. These work particularly well in combination with curtains, offering maximum light control and a softer look.
Roman blinds are made from a flat sheet of fabric with vertical strings and horizontal rods fixed behind that pull up in a series of horizontal folds like a concertina. They can be made to look formal or informal depending on the fabric used but are particularly effective in a weighty, interlined fabric.
Roman blinds are a good solution for windows or French doors where there is little room to draw curtains back as well as windows above a radiator. Although they don’t provide as effective blackout as curtains, they do offer a understated, contemporary look.
So how do I measure for my curtains or blinds?
The style of the curtains and blinds, how and where you choose to hang them, and the look you’re going for will all have a bearing on the way you measure. Fortunately we’ve produced a fail-safe measuring guide to ensure perfect results every time. Click here to find out more…