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Putting it Together
by Joseph Rice

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If you have chosen the style of your window treatment, and selected the fabric and hardware, then you are ready to put it all together. This last article in the series will deal with "putting it together"; that is, how to get the draperies that you want and points to consider when installing the hardware.

Draperies can be custom made, ready-made or made at home. Custom made draperies are specifically tailored to your windows. You are able to choose the style, fabric, and specific measurements. There are thousands of fabrics in all price ranges from which to choose. The custom drapery panels are made in very precise measurements to fit your windows perfectly. When they are designed and made well by meticulous people who have extensive knowledge of fabrics, they come out perfectly. The treatment will last a long time and provide many years of pleasure. Custom work is a more expensive option, but it is the one way to get exactly what you want.

Ready-made draperies are another possibility. They are made in limited sizes, styles and fabrics but can work in certain situations. The biggest problem is that they are usually made in either 84" or 96" lengths. These lengths are often not long enough, especially for larger windows that are popular in new construction.

If ready-made curtains are your choice, there are a couple of points to consider. The first of these is quality. The best quality ready-made solid panels are lined. These should be cut and sewn straight with the weave of the fabric in order to hang correctly. Also check to see that the panels are made to the measurements that are listed on the packaging.

The second, and most important point, is to be sure that you have measured your window space and calculated the correct size of drapery panels you are going to buy. Draperies are usually mounted at least a few inches out from the sides of the window frame. The top width of pinch pleat drapery panels should equal the total width of the space to be covered, plus 12" for returns ( the side section of the panels going back to the wall ) and a center overlap. Panels that are slightly wider may be able to be adapted but anything smaller will not fit. Length is also crucial. Be sure that the drapery panels are long enough to cover the top of the window frame. The bottom of the panels should be less than 1" off the floor ( or other surface, such as a window sill ) .

The last option for draperies is to make them yourself. This is a very tedious undertaking and even simple curtains can be difficult. Most of the work is not in the sewing. The hardest parts of the process are laying out, measuring, cutting and pinning the fabric. Professional workrooms have large padded tables where all of this is done. It is very hard to do this on a smaller table or the floor in your home. If you have the skill, courage, and the space to make your own draperies, there are many books on the subject. The most important piece of advice is to measure, re-measure, and measure again!

The final step to creating a window treatment is the installation of the hardware and draperies. In order for drapery hardware to fit properly and function well, it has to be bought and installed correctly. Carefully measure above and beyond the sides of the window frame for available mounting space. Don't forget to allow for finials if you are using them. Your first consideration is the rod size. Drapery rods are sold in limited lengths. If the window is particularly wide, you may need to connect several rods to cover the width. Be sure that the rods are able to be joined and buy the necessary hardware.

Having enough support brackets is also important. Most rods need a bracket in the center as well as at either end. Longer rods may need more support brackets to prevent them from bowing. This is especially true of the popular thinner rods. Brackets installed on drywall or plaster will probably need anchors. If you are in doubt about the best way to mount the brackets, consult an expert at a hardware store.

Some of the drapery rod systems are sold by individual components. Others are sold in kits, but may need extra parts for your particular situation. Thorough planning and anticipating all of the necessary parts before hand will eliminate a lot of frustration and trips to the store. Once the drapery hardware is installed, you are ready to hang the draperies. If you have made and followed your plans correctly, the window treatment will come out perfectly.

Hopefully this series of articles has been helpful to you in planning drapery treatments. I am pleased to announce that starting with the first November issue of Windy City Times, I will be writing a new column that will allow you to send in questions on problems in decorating your home. I will provide detailed information and solutions for drapery and other design needs.

Just e-mail your questions to: . In the subject box, fill in "WCT Design." I look forward to hearing from you!

Joseph Rice is an interior designer who offers full decorating services. With 21 years of experience, he specializes in "hard to treat" windows. You can reach him at Joseph Rice Interiors, Inc. ( 773 ) 271-2361 or e-mail Rice at .

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