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What Fabric to Use for Stage Curtains?

When it comes to stage fabrics, it’s easy to be confused by all the options to choose from. We are spoilt for choice; cloth or gauze, velvet or hessian? In this article, we will take you through some of the most common. Helping you understand each fabric, its characteristics and best uses so you can choose the perfect fabric for your project.

Stage fabrics come in a wide range of styles, weights, fullness’, sizes and colours, each different and more suitable than others for specific curtain requirements for drapes, backdrops and costumes.

When you order your fabric, it can be confusing to understand the different measurements. We usually request the width, drop and fullness of the fabric needed. Not sure what this means? Read on.

Width – the length across from left to right when the fabric is flat, normally taken in metres
Drop – the length from the top or curtain rail or track to the floor
Fullness – the thickness required, there are 6 categories of fullness (0%, 50%, 75%, 100%, 120%, 150%+)

Fabric fullness can be “flat” or “full”, each are referring to the requirements of extra fabric. This is used when you are wanting a pleated, gathered effect. Customers wanting to create drop curtains for cycloramas, for example, will require 0% fullness, whereas a customer wanting box pleat will need a minimum of 50%.

Next onto the fabrics themselves.

Filled Cloth

Filled Cloth has a textured surface and crease-resisting properties. It is stretchy, which gives the seam-free finish and makes it ideal if being used as a projection surface. Also, ideal when you want to create a softening light effect on the stage. If you’re looking for a fabric that covers a large surface with a seam-free finish then Filled Cloth is a good choice. It’s textured weave diffuses light, making it a good projection surface. Similar to Sharkstooth Gauze to the naked eye, the difference is that the hexagonal holes are filled in, its these that make it great for gently softening the light.

Key traits:

1. Stretchy
2. Ideal for being projected on
3. Ideal for cycloramas
4. Popular for lighting designers

Sharkstooth Gauze

Sharkstooth Gauze, also called Sharkstooth Scrim, is alike to Scenic Gauze but has a smaller, rectangular weave. Because it is so dense, it is often dyed and used to paint a scene. One of the distinctive properties of the fabric is that it appears to be solid when light is projected onto the front, but when light is shone from behind it becomes almost transparent. Very popular in the theatres and lighting industries because of its multiple uses.

Key traits:

5. Dense appearance
6. Ideal for dye
7. Popular for backdrops

Dimout Curtains

Dimout Curtains are one of the most popular blackout fabrics, and they are widely used in and beyond the theatres. They are sophisticated, and hang well, making them ideal for stage backdrops. They are also durable, and come in a range of different weights and weaves.
Dimout curtains can block out light from entering a room, they are typically made from polyester fabrics fibres.

Key traits:
1. Block out light
2. Come in many styles and colours
3. Hand well – making idea for backdrops

Ticking

Ticking is a tightly woven fabric, and is used as curtains due to its durability and ease to work with. It’s widely recognised for its classic striped design. Its timeless appearance makes it a perfect choice for adding to props and stage centre pieces.

Key traits:
1. Famous for striped design
2. Strong and durable

Lame

If you are after something a little different, then lame is for you. Its woven with ribbons of metallic yarns, which gives a glistening glittery effect. It reflects light brilliantly on the stage. The most glitz and glam of fabric choices – choose this is you want your show to sparkle!

Key traits:

1. Metallic effect
2. Reflects light well
3. A special eye-catching fabric

Casement Cotton

A sheer fabric that is great value for money and comes in a huge selection of colours. Because of its sheer properties, its super light-weight to touch. The ‘casement’ finish makes the fabrics texture heavier than regular cotton. It is a great option if you are looking for a one-time use fabric, that is going to be painted or altered for a specific show, it’s a good value option. You can get it in neutral or bright colours, from banana yellow to ice blue.

Key traits:

1. Sheer fabric
2. Value option
3. Many colour ways

Cotton Velvet Velour

The star of the show, cotton velvet is widely known and used in theatres across the globe. Cotton velvet is a beautifully soft, luxurious and versatile fabric that dates back to the ninth century. The richness of the fabric means it’s ideal for masking light and sound as well as looking stunning on the stage.

4. Classic fabric for stage curtains
5. Masks light and sound well
6. Show-stopping appearance

Polyester Velvet

The synthetic counterpart to cotton velvet. Polyester has similar traits to cotton velvet, a rich, soft, strong fabric. Velvet, red especially, is a very popular choice for stage curtains. Polyester velvet is a value option where you can still achieve the wow factor with smaller budgets. As a fabric, Polyester Velvet is also extremely durable and stain resistant making it an ideal drapery choice for schools, clubs, churches and theatre.

Key traits:

1. Value version to cotton velvet
2. Durable
3. Stain resistant

With 20 years of experience in making stage backdrops and curtains, we are well established in the textile community and our comprehensive fabric line is manufactured to the highest of quality and standard. We have been trusted by brands across the globe, including Governments, theatres, town halls, education systems and clubs. Our products are completely bespoke and can be tailored to your design, style and budget.

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