A Quick Guide to Drapery Terminology

14 April 2018
 Categories: Home & Garden, Blog


Custom curtains and drapes can be an especially good choice if your home has oddly-shaped windows, or if you can't find curtains in the store that match your home's furniture upholstery. Custom curtains can also be made with panels sewn into the back for more light blockage or added insulation. When you are ready to have curtains made for your home, note some terminology that might help you to better communicate your needs to the designer, so they can create curtains or drapes that are a perfect complement to your style. 


If a window has a piece of moulding that sits below its still, this is called an apron. If you're having shorter curtains made, you need to take into consideration the height of any apron, so the curtains don't seem too short against this piece.

Balloon shades

Balloon shades are large fabric shades with cords that run vertically down the length of the material. When you open the shades, this cord will bunch up the fabric at the bottom of the panel, so that it stays very puffy, like a balloon. Balloon shades are good for when you want to add depth and drama to your curtains, rather than having them simply lay flat against the windows.

Bishop's sleeve

A bishop's sleeve style is when a curtain or drapery panel is actually tied or cinched at two places, usually about one-third and then two-thirds down the length of the panel. The panel is then given a "poof" over that cinched area, so that the material looks very full, rather than hanging flat. This bishop's sleeve style is very traditional and can add depth and elegance to otherwise lightweight curtain panels.

Double fullness

Double fullness refers to drapes or curtains that are twice the width of the window. This keeps the panels looking very full even when they're closed, as opposed to simply hanging flat against the windows.


A finial is a decorative piece added to the end of any rod or bar; if you've ever seen a wrought iron fence with decorative knobs or pointed pieces at the top of each bar, those end pieces are finials. Finials are also often placed at each side of a curtain rod to make the rods look more attractive and to also keep the curtains from simply sliding off the end of the rod itself! Finials can be made of wood, metal, glass, or other materials and can be in any number of styles to match the curtains or other accessories in the home.