Post 665  –by Gautam Shah



2.    STAGE CURTAINS -types Part III

3.    STAGE CURTAINS – Part 2

4.   STAGE CURTAINS Part 1 ● Performance Spaces






10.  WEIGHT and TRANSLUCENCY of fabrics for curtains






15.  VELVET – Fabric of Luxury






21.  Use of Barriers in Performing Arts

22.  FIBRES for Fabrics













Post 431 – by Gautam Shah



Translucency of a fabric for has been an important factor how curtains sensorially affect us. In ancient times when heavier tapestries including rugs were hung on openings, little light seeping through the weaving or worn out gaps was very much pleasing experience. Light through the woven material gets refracted by the surrounding fibrous texture of threads at the gap point. It not only diffused the glare of outdoor light but created a warm glow due to the unbleached warp yarn.


Nominally our experience tells us that heavy fabrics are more opaque, and light weave fabrics are translucent. Though there are many exceptions to these, due to the nature of fiber, its post spinning treatments, use of colourants and nature of the weave. For the favour of anyone (heavy-opaque or light-translucency) the others can be redefined. Fabrics are lighter, because the fibres are naturally thin, can be spun to a very fine count, filaments or long staples in nature, and woven with a single weave or similar techniques. Fabrics or fibres dyed to lighter shades seem less heavy. Fabrics with finer warp yarn tend to be tightly woven rendering it to be opaque.


The substantive determinants for perceptual and actual transparency or translucency of a curtain material depends on Treatments over a fabric, mode of hanging and pleating, presence or absence of a liner-layer and the secondary treatments over the opening itself.

Window_curtain_view_picture HK

The illumination conditions of the interior space, and the viewing position in the interior or exterior location, substantially affect the perception of transparency. A bright exterior or one that allows greater proportion of ‘sky component reflection’ (the reflected light from the sky) such as clear sky days, openings on sea coast, very vast open grounds, on the upper level windows in tall buildings, and very bright or highly a reflective frontage of urban streets, all contribute to the brightness over the windows’ plane (an exterior side). A bright exterior side and a glare-less interior, both add to the translucency. A curtain fabric shows the glow of exterior daylight when the interior glare is less dominant. Such conditions also arise when areas besides the curtain are not highly illuminated, or furnished in lighter shades. A direct sunlight exposure of the window makes the curtain seem opaque (at least from outside) where as a deep shade or awning makes a curtain ‘see-through’ entity.


The perception of transparency is governed by the construction of the curtain, such as design and density of pleats, presence or absence of back-layering, and the direction of the weave. The natural way of fabric orientation for curtain is the warp forming the vertical orientation (and the weft the horizontal position). A curtaining system, called Railroading, places the fabric, with weft forming the vertical orientation (and warp the horizontal position), which makes the fabrics seem more opaque. Curtains are also formed with multiple fabrics of synchronized colours or textures. The mid sections are formed with lighter (or white) fabric, allowing more light, feeling of lightness and view-through facility.

Fabrics of Filament yarn (very long fibres) such as of silk and synthetics and naturally have very thin and uniform section, allowing lighter density weaving. But filament yarns of synthetics provide fabrics with a glossy finish, which takes away the ‘glow from back’ effect. Compared to these yarns of natural staple fibres of cotton, jute, wool, etc. and Rayons, have variable section and micro fibres jutting out, after spinning. Such yarns create weaves with many small gaps, and the micro fibres diffract the light.

Balcony Early In The Morning Curtains Yang Guang

Silks have been the first choice for sheer curtains due to fineness and natural ‘fall’ it offers. Sheer curtains are known as privacy curtains. Some of the best sheer fabrics are of pure silk, but most of the commercial materials are made of synthetic filament yarn (long length fibres). Very fine count cotton yarn fabrics such as lawn, cambric, chintz, voile, Malmal, muslin, etc. are also translucent, but have a tendency to creasing, and the quality of ‘fall’ is not natural.


Fabrics in lattice or net forms are created through weaving, knitting, netting, crochet and such other constructions. Embroidered fabrics were used in Dutch and Swiss dwellings. Sheer fabrics flourish with their pleats and resultant folds, whereas the embroidered constructions brandish their self-patterns. Such constructions are very pliable and semi-transparent like a sheer fabric curtain.

Net woven fabrics of cotton and synthetic materials are soft and of substantial to flimsy body. It is net density (or lightness) and the pleat formations that add to its hazy see-through charm. Net patterns are created by singeing fusible weft or sections of fabric, or by selectively pulling out the weft yarns.


See-through curtains nominally form the first layer in multiple curtains’ system. Such curtains allow a fuzzy view of outsides during day time, but at night may require an opaque topping of a curtain. Such fabrics or constructions must not be used with a lining fabric, to maintain the translucency. Similarly such curtains not embellished and embroidered for patterns. Such extra work increases the weight of the fabric at the cost of graceful fall. These types of curtains are commonly heavily pleated or hung as a plain panel (such as a roller or horizontally folding curtain) and so the total quantity of cloth required for must be pre-considered.

Victor Mottez zeuxis -use of sheer curtain



Post 424 – by Gautam Shah



A drape is a way of hanging or placing an unstitched piece of fabric. The word drape derives from Proto-Germanic drapiz and drepiz (=a strike, hit, blow), (=intended for striking, to be beaten), it also relates to English drub (=to beat) and Swedish dräpa (=to slay). In ancient periods a drape-able fabric was heavily (beaten) washed, and so soft and pliable. A heavily washed fabric is dull or of unbleached natural colour. At places a dull cloth is described to be greyish to yellowish or light olive brown in colour. The loss of crispiness perhaps indicates use of Linen, which became soft after several washes.

The word drapery is of 14th C origin, but drape or equivalent usages must be very ancient. Unstitched pieces of fabrics were used for covering own self by ordinary people as well as priests and rulers. The draped fabric, if soft, hangs loosely. The fabric, if stiff or of heavier weave remains fluffy, and does not ‘fall’ gracefully. The fabric worn as dress usually has vertical folds, which change with body movements. On a performance stage, it creates an impression of ‘larger than life movement’, perceptible to the spectators in the last tier of the Amphi theatre.




Drapery refers to composition of fabric used for decorative purposes, around internal or external gaps or openings. It also means any arrangement of fabric used as clothing, backdrop, accompaniment or adornment for a work of art in the form of painting or sculpture. Each artist and each era shows unique techniques of rendering the drapery curves and form. The quality of fabric material never shown as actual, it only enhanced the form of drapery. The colour of the drapery as shown was the artists’ pallet requirement and may not be realistic. The transparency of fabric and body revelations were according to the artists daring and perhaps client’s dictates.

Gandharv Buddha 1-2nd C BC

Sarcophagus of the brothers 250 AD > Wikipedia Image > Farnese collection

Leonardo studies for draping

In interior Design all types of fabrics are used for draping the furniture, openings, gaps, parapets, railings, columns, brackets, steps and stairs. These are covered with many different grades of fabrics ranging from sheer silk, flimsy organza, sateen, damask, linen, velvet, starched cotton, and later rayon and polyesters. Drapery colour and pattern schemes were coordinated with wall papers, curtains, carpets and other tapestries. Fabrics have been hung with formation of gathers or unstitched pleats, of vertical, dropped or sagged curves and twisted horizontals. Tapestry like one-sided fabrics are also draped over architectural elements of buildings.

Portrait of Mrs Abington British Actress 1737-1815 ART by Joshua Reynolds

Draperies were inevitable part of beds and bedrooms. Bed was the most important chamber for the lady of the house, almost like a female drawing room. Beds were separated by draperies from the room space, and beds structures were covered with drapes. Back side of the bed had hung piece of tapestry fabric or some form of drape composition. Paintings and portraits were edged with draperies.

Reconstructed Royal Bed at Warsaw Castle Wikipedia Image by Giorgiomonteforti

Draped fabrics were great collectors of dust and soot. The shaped drapes if too articulated, fluffy and against the gravity, have a tendency to collapse. The drapes are generally static arrangement, but during the early part of 19th C began to be replaced by simpler curtains. The curtain required pelmets or open hanging rods, both of which began to be covered with scallops. Scallops are articulated drapes, with ropes and tassels. Word Draper is used to denote an expert tailor or an establishment that stocks various types of fabrics and paraphernalia items.

Scallops over curtain

In art forms draperies have been treated both casually and formally, with neatly delineated lines or free-flowing curves. This has depended on the person to be presented like, an angel, Lord, saints, or commoners. Hellenistic period art draping was white or light coloured translucent body touching, but form emphasizing fabric. Gothic period showed the restrained flow of lines. Post renaissances, the drapery presentation was theatrical. Drapery presentation in painting was such an important issue that it was first discussed with the sponsors. Specialist painters were hired to touch-up the drapery work.


ART by Frans Hals 1625

Unstitched Appearals



Post 192 – by Gautam Shah 





Curtains, in history have preceded formal construction of a door or window. Crude forms of cover over openings have served the functions of doors and windows. Primitive covers over the openings, the curtains, were of woven mats bounded by a stiffer edge staff or stick. These were placed over the opening for protection, to reduce light, obstruct the breeze and rain, and to obtain privacy.

Screenshot_2019-10-21 Pinterest - India

Woven fabrics and mats that were used as floor spreads, the residual pieces of which were also used as cover for the window like gaps. The system of mat covering over a window continued even when the doors and windows had wood planks shutters. The soft-covering were no different from the solid plank doors or windows’ shutters, except that it was easier to manipulate. The soft-mat was hung from top, so could be drawn up by withdrawing from a corner, or folding bottom edge upward. The soft-woven mat was a robust-weave similar to the floor spreads, and did not allow any light, in a closed position.

Roll up cover for opening

Roll up cover for opening

Curtains of lighter fabrics material draped on a stick or taut rope provided a functional option to otherwise either open or shut opening system. Curtains have been traditionally mounted on rounded wood stick or metal rods with side brackets. Hanging was through vertical leather or inter-woven stripes seamed in the body of the curtain or over stitched as hanging loops.


For very long or heavy curtains, the straps were extended to the bottom edge of the curtain. The extended straps were covered either by a second layer of fabric or through pleating. The inner layer of fabric was thinner (sheer material like silk) and fluffed, or velvet like flocculated fabric providing simultaneously a glossy and dull interior surface. Outer fabrics were stronger but of a simple weave or decorative jacquard weave.

Over the wall mounting with pelmet

Over the wall mounting with pelmet

It was possible to accommodate a hanging rod within the wall thickness, but this gave dominance to the opening’s ‘surround’. During mediaeval and renaissance periods walls were comparatively thinner and internally fully panelled, which did not accommodate the hanging mechanism within the thickness or body-depth of the walls. Hanging rods were required to be mounted over the walls, now encased within heavy cornices, or head level bands (pelmets).

Maria Anna of Austria praying - heavy drapery

Maria Anna of Austria praying – heavy drapery

Good quality production of lace and tapestries encouraged curtains with decorative borders. Borders in a curtain occurred not only at the edges and seams but were extended as drapes.


A fringed valance, cascades, festoons, ruffled trims were used in addition to many elaborate styles of covering the pelmet sections. Curtains began to be of very thin fabric allowing heavier pleating. Sheer (or see-through fabrics) curtains allowed passage of light, but more importantly occluded the manufacturing defects and rings in the then available ‘flattened disc or cylinder ‘clear glass’.

Meister von San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna

Byzantine curtains in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo,

Tapestry or velvets like material were used as gathered or partly compressed form as the over-curtain (draperies). These were also mounted over very thin translucent (sheer) material for under-curtaining.

Under and Over curtaining

Under and Over curtaining

When large sized distortions free clear, glasses were available, the rectilinear divisioned sash windows were replaced by large glass face windows. The curtain styling now became much simpler, dependent more on the quality of light permeating through a textured fabric and the mode of pleating. Curtains over clear glass windows were designed in consideration of colour seen from exterior as well as interior side. Heavy curtains of old times made a room acoustically very quite, compared with the thin body modern curtains.

Cafe curtains on Russian Train

Cafe curtains on Russian Train

Curtains are mainly used in places of residences and commercial offices. In trade and commerce establishments, the curtains at the street are entirely of different nature. Café curtains are double curtains, where the bottom one is hung by strapping. Parlour curtains are hung on the lower half of the opening. Roll curtains fold or roll upwards. The bulk of folded or rolled-portion, limits the height of a curtain and torque or twist in the rolling mechanism governs the width of a curtain.




Post -by Gautam Shah

A sheer fabric is very thin material which make it very translucent. Sheer curtains are also known as privacy curtains. Sheer curtains have ‘good fall’ or very soft bearing.


Some of the best sheer fabrics are of pure silk, but most of the commercial curtain materials are made of synthetic filament yarn (long length fibres) like organza, polyester, nylon, etc. Many of the lattices like airy or net-woven fabrics are so pliable, flimsy and semi-transparent that they behave like a sheer fabric curtain.


A sheer fabric has a natural graceful fall and allows light to filter through. Sheer fabric curtains nominally form the first layer in multiple curtains system. Such curtains allow a fuzzy view during day-time, but at night may require an opaque topping of a curtain. Sheer fabric must not be used with a lining fabric to maintain its translucency.

Curtains Urban Hotel Bedroom City Condos Window


Sheer fabric comes in a wide variety of colours, but white and natural shades of whites such as off-whites, cream, and ivory are popular. Sheer fabrics are also embellished and embroidered for patterns.  Such extra work, however, increases the weight of the fabric at the cost of graceful fall. Sheer fabrics are commonly heavily pleated and so the total quantity of cloth required for a sheer curtain is little more then a curtain of regular fabric. Sheer fabrics, due to their thin body and the lattice like weaves, offer very little insulation.





Sheer effect is due to Diffraction of Light spreading out as a result of passing through a narrow aperture or across an edge. In case of curtain fabrics sheer effects are formed by latticed or net weaving. Similar effects occur due to the fuzzy transparency of materials like glass, acrylics, etc., and also due to the environmental conditions like rains, fog, sand storms, etc. Another remarkable sheer property for curtains occurs due to the pliable nature of fabric that adds to suppleness or fall.

Sudare screens

Sudare (簾 or すだれ) are privacy and illumination filtering screens. These are sometimes called Misu (御簾 or みす). The screen are featured in The Tale of Genji. Sudare have green fabric for hem. Sudare are made of slats of wood, bamboo, and other natural materials woven with threads. These are stiff but movable panels, or rolling-folding up screens of horizontal or vertical slats.