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How to Make Ready Made Drapery Look Custom on Tuesday Tidbits

Typically, I do custom drapery for my clients, but there are times 
when clients want rooms done so quickly there isn’t time to order fabric and get
custom made window treatments made by the time we need them.  Don’t get me
wrong, given the preference, I choose custom window treatment every time, over
ready mades, but if time is of the essence, or  the budget doesn’t allow,  there
are good options out there for a variety of budgets.  The trick is to use trade secrets to making the ready mades look custom.
First, let’s discuss places to buy ready mades options.
 Restoration Hardware offers some good options.  Their drapery are made from good quality fabrics and are available in many different fabrics from sheers and burlaps to silks.  Their styles range from rod pockets, which are the cheapest to french pleats, which are the most expensive and some options in between.  The colors available are based on paint colors, that have proven to be popular, so typically you can find something that will work for your room. Most of their options are solids or tone on tone, but there are a few stripes in the mix. 
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Restoration Hardware

Pottery Barn also offers some good options for ready made window treatments.  They also offer blinds in a variety of fabrics as well.  Unlike Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn offers prints.  Like Restoration Hardware, their fabrics are nice and seem to be well made.

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Pottery Barn

Ballard Design also offers well made options in a variety of  fabric options and styles.  Their drapery range from very traditional to  updated options would work in a variety of rooms.  I think it helps to see the drapery hanging in a room to give you a visual of what the product actually looks  like in a space.  

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Ballard Designs

I especially like the options available from The Shade Store’s Robert Allen Collection.  Let’s  face it, Robert Allen fabrics are really great and  the options are endless.  If you can’t find one here that works you aren’t trying.

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The Shade Store

The list can go on and on.  I am only listing a few that are readily available to the public.   Now there are many companies selling ready made panels.  There are  some “to the trade” options that designers knows about,
 that I am not even listing.  
If  ready made drapery are used, how do we keep
 them from looking ready made?  
  First of all, you must measure properly for your window treatments.  Most companies selling ready made window treatments, give directions for  measuring on their websites if not you can call them or google how to measure. Getting the measurement of your window is the first place to start.  There are issues they don’t mention that can make a world of difference in the finished look of your window treatment.  Let’s discuss these issues first, because they must be considered before ordering your panels.  
1)  Want to make that window treatment look custom?   
Don’t skimp on the fabric.
Once you measure your window’s width, let’s say your window is 100″ wide.  Do you need a drapery that will cover 100″?  
Did you know a custom workroom  typically  measure a window and then either multiplies by 1  1/2 or 2 times the width of the window to determine how much fabric to use?      Taking this into consideration will mean not just “covering” the window. There is nothing worse than a thinly made drapery panel stretched across a window.  (Cheap!) Consider using double the amount of panels you think you need.  If the company you are purchasing from offers double width panels, this is best, but if not, buy double width and sew the two panels together to get the fullness needed.  
2) Consider your stack back space.
What is stack back?  It is the wall on either side of your window where your drapery can hang.  Click here for a couple of standard stack back formulas.  This is a guide but you can vary depending on preferences.  Stack back makes the window appear larger, which can create a great illusion, especially in a breakfast room or bedroom, allowing more light into the room.   Make sure you take the stack back into account when ordering your rods.  Again, no skimping!
3)   Rod Pockets do not belong in living rooms, dining rooms or any space you want your drapery to look really professional!
There, I said it!  If you want to take the cheaper route, and buy rod pocket panels, at least buy the rings and attach via drapery hooks, for a more finished look.  Take these two photos for example:
The first example is a rod  pocket panel from Ballard Design, straight out of the box, hung directly on the rod….
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Ballard Designs

The panel below is made just like the one above, but instead of just running the rod pocket on the panel, they used the hidden tabs on the back.  (Ballard offers the hidden tabs on some of their panels)  If you panel doesn’t have the hidden tabs, you can get this look by buying drapery rings and hooks.  You simply attach the hooks on the back of the panel and hook through the rings.  It is amazing how this will make your panels hang  better and look more custom.

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Ballard Designs

Here is what is needed to achieve that look if your panel doesn’t have the hidden tabs:

You can buy rings without clips or rings with clips depending
 on the look  you want.  Typically the rings with clips are more 
casual and a little more contemporary, while the rings without
the clips look a little dressier and more traditional.
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These are the drapery hooks you attach to the panel if using the rings without hooks.  They are attached on the backside of the panel so they are not visible.

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4) Make sure your drapery rods will hold your panels. 
If you buy heavy panels, make sure your drapery rods will hold them!
Nothing is worse than having a dinky rod that is weighed down in the middle. 
If you have to buy extra brackets to re-enforce your rods, do it!
5)Make sure your panels are long enough
Nothing is worse than high water drapery, floating mid-way your wall!
Again, take into consideration where you want your panels to hang.  If you want them to be wall mounted or trim mounted, if you want them 4″ above the trim or 6″, also what type of rod and ring you are using.  Do the Math!  Add all these together.  If you are using holdbacks add 4″ to the overall finished length.  You might think you need 90″ panels, when actually you need 108″
6) Mount above your windows
I know I said above to decide if you want wall mount or trim mount but actually I feel that there is only one way….Wall mount!  Don’t you want those windows to feel taller?  I am a big fan of mounting as high up as you can, especially if you have 8′ or 9′ ceilings.  Of course this changes if you have vaulted ceilings or really tall ceilings.  Look at your windows and decide how high you can go, then add the inches to the equation.  You will be happy with the results.  
7) Customize the Ready made Panel
Adding a trim, fringe, braid or band of fabric to the edge of your panel will instantly elevate your ready made to custom level.  No longer are you staring at a plain panel that anyone can purchase.  You suddenly have something that co-ordinates with the rest of your room and fabrics.  You can be creative with this too.  If you want, you can paint a border on or cut fabric apart as the designer did below on the panel shown.  
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Trim added at the bottom of the panel.  This can also work if you happen to buy panels that are not long enough.  You can always cut the bottom off the panel and insert a band of fabric to length the panel while also making the panel look custom by matching other fabrics in the room.

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Add caption

Ball fringe and paisley tie backs were added to make these ready made panels perfect for a little girl’s room.
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All in all, drapery add a finished look to a room.  If you can afford custom drapery, by all means opt for that!  However, if your budget doesn’t allow and you can only afford Target drapery, take into consideration the suggestions I have given you.  I used Target Drapery in my beach house bedroom and everyone always wants to know who made the drapery, so
it is possible to get a custom look even with Target drapery.  
The secret is to following tricks of the trade.  
 Have you used ready made panels?  Any tricks you care to share?
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