Is Polyester OK for Draperies?

Updated February 21, 2017

Draperies are lined fabric window coverings hung on a rod by rings or hooks that open and close horizontally. In addition to being a major design element in a room, they provide protection from the UV rays that damage the furniture and floors, that keep heat out in the summer and that keep heat inside the room during the winter. List all the qualities your drapes should have, and select fabric that meets all of the criteria. Polyester has very specific properties, and knowing how they act in drapery fabric will help you choose the best fabric for your drapes.

Properties of Polyester

Polyester is a man-made fibre, a product of the petroleum industry. Polyester drapery fabric is fade resistant, does not absorb water readily and, depending on the weight, may drape well. It is less expensive than most man-made fibre fabrics and can be dyed to any colour. Polyester fabric can be made to look and feel like silk, rayon or cotton, but it will retain its own properties. Polyester is wrinkle resistant, but should it wrinkle, removing the crease may be difficult. Because it is a man-made fibre, it is also prone to pilling and static.

Polyester Blends

Polyester is often blended with other fibres for qualities that will make the fabric more suitable for specific applications. Cotton is added for softness, absorbency and breathability. In drapery fabric, the addition of cotton enhances what drapers refer to as the "memory" of the fabric. Pleats will stay in place better, for example, if the fabric contains some natural fibres. Polyester is most often blended with cotton but may be blended with rayon, silk, nylon or elastine.

Drapery Lining

The lining in the drapery must also be considered. Cotton lining is static resistant and creates a lining that retains the memory of the pleats or drapery treatment. A polyester or poly/cotton lining, with polyester the dominant fibre, may cling or repel polyester or polyester-blended fabric. The drapes will either flare away from the lining or appear to be stuck to it in random spots. Polyester lining tends to fray and is difficult to iron without creating static.


Choose the drapery style before choosing the fabric. Some styles can accommodate a polyester blend fabric, such as soft pleats or gathered valances or curtains. If the style is structured, such as a tailored valance, or is draped elaborately, such as swags and jabots, a predominately natural fibre blend would be more suitable. If washing the drapes is a must-have quality, a polyester blend fabric will work well. Drapes must be removed from the dryer while still damp to prevent setting wrinkles.

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About the Author

Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.