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How to estimate pipe & drape needs when planning an event.

Drapery 101

Things To Consider Before Ordering

Author - Dazian

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Congratulations! You are ready to order new Theatrical Drapery, or perhaps replace your existing ones. However, as exciting as all this can be it may seem like a daunting task to those who have little to no experience dealing with Custom Fabricated Curtains. What are my fabric options? What style do I want? How am I going to install them? There are a lot of factors to consider, but do not panic, we are here to help get you through it.

Step 1 | Measure Twice. Order Once

If you are looking to replace your existing Stage Curtains first look for a maker’s label. Black Sheep Enterprises is now part of Dazian, both companies put their labels at either the top stage right corner or bottom stage left corner. Others may put them inside the bottom pipe pocket (if able). The label identifies the FR (flame retardant) classification of the fabric, curtain size, fabric name, and construction details. If there is no label, you have some work to do to get the measurement, but it is pretty simple.

We recommend that you first start with the height. If you are measuring existing curtains measure from the top of the curtain at the webbing to the floor. Make sure that curtain is hanging straight. If you are measuring for new curtains take the measurement from the track or pipe the curtain will attach to. Helpful tip: It is a good idea to take measurements from multiple locations as the floor maybe unlevel.

The next measurement you will take is the width. If you are measuring existing curtains take the measurement from the top, as it can be difficult to get an accurate measurement from the bottom, especially if the curtain has pleats. If you are measuring for new curtains use the length of the pipe or track it will attach and/or the width of the floor it will cover. If this is a bi-parting curtain, make sure to account for curtain overlap in the width. Also, take into consideration how much space you’ll have off stage for the curtains run off to when opened.

Step 2 | Make It Look Good

Now that you have your measurements its time to figure out which fabric and style of drapery you want. Most start with color and style, then from there they see which fabric options are available. Keep in mind that you will want to look at fabrics that are IFR. Fabrics that are IFR (Inherently Flame Retardant) do not need to be retreated with Flame Retardant. This is an important feature that will save you time, money, and a headache for years to come. IFR Fabrics are the preferred choice for; Public Schools, Auditoriums, Theatres, Universities, Studios, Rental Drapery, Live Events, Film & Television Productions, and Movie Theatres. You can view our full collection of IFR Fabrics here: Fabrics.

Next you’ll also want to make sure you select the right fabric that can execute your style of drapery. Not all fabrics drape alike. Many Stage Curtains like; Grand, Main, Legs, Boarders, Teasers and Travelers are made of a pleated, medium to heavyweight Velour as they provide greatly needed sound absorbent and light blocking qualities. Austrian, Contour, and Tableau curtains are popular choices for those looking for a stunning, classic look with a made for dramatic reveals. These are curtains are typically made from Velours, Voiles, Satins, and Silks. Some may require lining to mask the operating components and improve or create opacity.

You will also want to keep in consideration how the curtain will be installed. This will affect how the curtain is sewn. Curtains that are going on a track system will be sewn with what are called Snap Hooks or Track Snaps. These attach the curtain to the curtain track

carriers, allowing the curtain to move on and off the stage. If the curtain is attaching to a pipe the top is typically finished with either a pipe pocket, grommets, and ties, or both. The bottom finish of a curtain varies, but the most common are; an open bottom hem (also known as a Pipe Pocket), a weighted bottom hem, where chain or weight tape is used to keep the curtain straight and taut minimizing the amount of movement, creating a more uniformed tailored look. Or a simple bottom hem maybe a choice. Helpful Tip: The size of the pipe pocket is based on the diameter of the pipe being inserted into it. For example, a 4” pipe pocket will support up to a 2” diameter pipe.

If you are undecided on the style you want or which fabric to use contact one of our project managers. They will guide you through the decision-making process and deliver a curtain that is right for your space and needs.

Step 3 | It’s Not So Hard(ware)

So, by now you have your curtain measurements, and know the style and fabric of your curtain. Now, lets talk hardware options. The type of hardware will be decided on a few factors; How will the curtain operate? Is it dead hung, or will it move? Will the movement happen manually or through automation? What is the hardware attaching to? How much weight can it support? Ultimately the hardware you choose is based on the expectations of the curtain and what the infrastructure can support. Pipes are used for dead hung drapery, meaning the drapery does not move. It can be attached to a fly system, where the curtain flies in and out, on or off the stage, but the curtain itself remains still. The next most popular hardware choice is curtain track. There are many styles of curtain track, but to choose the right one a few things need to be considered.

First, you’ll need to know the weight of the curtain(s). This is critical to ensure that the correct curtain track, components, and the installation are all to spec. If the curtain is too heavy for the track system it will affect the operation, creating damage and possible injury. Second, you’ll want to determine how the curtain will operate. Is it a manual or automated system? Will the curtain open in the middle (bi-parting), splitting from right to left? Or, is it a one way system, opening from left or right? Will the track be suspended from a beam, pipe or truss? Or, will it be flush mounted? All things you’ll need to consider when deciding which hardware to use. Lastly, you want to confirm the infrastructure can support the track system and curtain(s) you choose. Our project management team is here to support you with any questions you may have to ensure the right hardware is chosen for a safe and successful installation.

So, that about overs the basics. Hopefully this provided you with enough insight, leaving you feeling a bit more comfortable about the process. We love talking about drapery, so know that we are a resource for you no matter what stage of the planning process you are at. Contact us today!

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