Draping Techniques

Windows decorated with lavish swoops of fabric add a sumptuous accent to an elegant room. Drapes come in several different shapes and sizes, and there are many possibilities for draping your curtains. The art of draping is selecting the appropriate draping technique to integrate window shape and size with a room's design and decor. Window swags and other styles may look very complex, but draping techniques are quite easy to learn.

Basic Simple Look

Drapes are lovely accents that can be changed up according to how you drape them.

To make a modern, sleek look with your drapes, you will need a single straight window panel and a single rod. Measure the width and length of your window to determine the size of drape you'll need. The drape will need to be 5 inches wider and 5 inches longer than the window. If you choose an opaque fabric, this draping technique will completely shut out light when you draw them. Install two hangers to hold your rod 2 inches above your window and 2 inches past either upper corner of your window.


The puddling draping technique is a more traditional, formal technique that gives a room a very elegant and quaint look. You will need a single or double panel curtain and a single rod. The fabric must be about 4 inches longer than floor length so that it creates a puddle effect on your floor. To avoid a fire hazard, do not use puddling drapes near a heating vent.


Use a pleating draping technique to make an accordion affect. This is common in traditional, rustic, rural-style homes. Measure the width of your window. You will need your drapes to be about double the width of the window. Space pleats about 5 inches apart from each other. The pleats can be as wide or narrow as you wish, but make sure you have enough fabric to cover the width of the window. You can have the pleats run the entire length of the drapes or just at the tops. Secure pleats using buckram, which is a stiff fabric adhesive used specially for pleating.

Single Swoop

If you want drapes that meet the floor exactly, you can use a single swoop drape, which is one of the simplest draping techniques. You'll need to mount a single rod. Fold a lengthy piece of fabric in half and hang it over the middle of your rod, folded end hanging in front and its two tails falling behind it. Pull your folded end down toward the middle of the window so that it forms a swoop. The middle of the drape should cover the top 1/4 of the window height. The two tails can be trimmed to your desired length.

About the Author

Lexie Zirkle has been a freelance writer since 2008 and is an author of both fiction and nonfiction. Zirkle is pursuing a B.A. in English and philosophy at Amherst College. She specializes in swimming and life-guarding topics, as well as literary analysis and current events.