If windows serve as the eyes of a home, the curtains are like your fringes or the hair framing your face as what they do is frame and give shape to a room. And just like hair, curtains come in various designs, cuts and colours.
Unlike other window treatments like drapes (their window treatment next of kin) and blinds, curtains can be made of thinner fabrics as in the case of sheers.
Sheer curtains are sometimes overlooked as a window treatment because they are pretty much seethrough and might not offer much in terms of privacy. However, when used in combination with blinds or shades, even sheer curtains work to provide privacy whilst allowing some sunlight to filter in.
So, if you’ve only ever used blinds, shades, or drapes and have typically shied away from sheers, this guide might change your mind. Moreover, after reading all about sheer curtains, you’ll get to know the different curtain headers, including S-wave and pinch pleats.
Benefits and Uses of Sheer Curtains
The lightweight nature of sheer curtains allows for the subtle transition of light from outside. Even as
sheers allow more light through, they add a softness to the light that penetrates into your home interior.
How much light is filtered in can also be influenced by the colour of your sheer curtains.
Being light and airy, they not only diffuse light but also allow a soft breeze into your home without the
need to sacrifice privacy. Moreover, sheers can be lined to block out light without appearing too heavy like drapes. Sheers also provides UV protection and can help protect your drapes from premature fading due to sun damage so they last longer.
Sheer curtains are also incredibly versatile. Depending on the effect you want for your home interior, you can get sheer curtains in various materials, depths, style, prints, and colours, so they help you achieve the tone and theme you want in a room.
You can also use sheers to provide a soft relief in a room that’s cramped with busy patterns. You can use
them to ‘tie together’ mismatched windows or to bunch panels together to break up large continuous
windows into sections. Sheers can also be used as elegant room dividers in large open-plan spaces.
Sheer Curtain Header Types
The top section of curtains, called the ‘header,’ may be pinched or strung through the rod itself. There are various types of pinching that create different types of pleats, which, in turn, define the fullness, shape and volume of your sheer curtains.
Below are the main types of pinches with the pleats they may or may not come with:
- Box Pleat: These look formal and classic and come in the form of angular, clean, and wide pleats.
- Goblet Style: In the goblet style, the pinch drops down a few inches from the top end of the curtain.
- Grommet: These are curtains with holes at the top so they can be strung on the rod directly. Grommet curtains typically produce larger, softer ripples.
- Pinch or French Pleat: This type of header is pinched at the top and creates fuller pleats. It has a gathered look extending down the curtains and can be hung using pockets or rings.
- Ripple Fold, S-Fold, or S-Wave: This type of header is usually installed on a track. It makes curtains incredibly easy to open and close and produces a soft flow of folds.
- Rod Pocket: If you want a rod that’s totally obscured, choose a rod pocket header. However, rod pockets tend to be more difficult to manage when opening and closing them, and they typically require tie-backs to stay put.
- Tab Top: These curtains have loops that can be pulled right over the rod. Although much of the rod is exposed with tab tops, the rounded pleats are usually narrower.
- Tie top: Tie tops look quite similar to tab tops, except that the curtains are attached to the pole by means of tying bows or knots at the top. These look great if you’re after a relaxed, bohemian, or romantic ambiance.
Choosing Between S-Wave and Pinch Pleats
The choice between ripple fold (aka S-fold or S-wave) and pinch pleats is usually a dilemma reserved for designers and hotel owners. However, even homeowners have difficulty choosing between these two options that have become very popular guestroom treatments.
Since we’ve provided basic descriptions of both types of headers in the previous section, we’ll focus on the pros and cons of each type of pleat here.
Ripple Fold, S-Fold or S-Wave
Pros: The ripple fold is known for its refined, classic complex look and middle ground costs. This type of pleat works exceptionally well with curtains that feature a printed image because it is produced on a flat treatment.
Cons: People who want hardware concealment may shy away from this type of header as the pole is not concealed unless a top treatment is applied. Adjusting how the folds or pleats fall can take extra time. Also, this style can be about 20% more expensive because of the hardware and installation cost.
Pinch or French Pleat
Pros: The pinch pleat is preferred by homeowners who want a traditional look. This type of header also has an adjustable pin location once it is installed. Since the drapery hangs in front of the hardware, the drapery track is obscured, creating a seamless look.
Cons: People who want an interesting or unique look may not like it because it has become too popular or common. Curtains with a printed image would be distorted because of the effect of the gathered pleats.
When it comes to choosing between the S-wave, pinch pleat, or any other type of curtain header, your choice largely depends on the effect or look you are after.
Materials Used in Making Sheer Curtains
Being thin and nearly see-through, sheer curtains are made with materials that are lightweight.
- Voile: This sheer fabric comprises a blend of cotton with linen and polyester. These fabrics are woven together to create a stronger material with a higher thread count. Voiles come in an assortment of colours. Extremely lightweight, voiles impart a breathable feel to your home and are popularly used during summer. They can also be layered with heavier or blackout drapes.
- Lace: The open weave of lace makes it suitable as a sheer curtain. Lace comes in various patterns and colours, but it can be quite expensive.
- Linen: Linen is sourced from the flax plant. Although much stronger than cotton, linen is lightweight, breathable and cool. However, linen tends to wrinkle and becomes stiff as dirt accumulates, so linen drapes need regular maintenance. Linen sheers are not machine washable and require dry cleaning.
- Faux Linen: Faux linen is not linen. It is made from a blend, mostly polyester mixed with small amounts of cotton to make it softer. It is low maintenance and less expensive.
Other sheer curtain fabrics worth considering include gauze, muslin, nylon net, chiffon, and silk. Available in solid colours and in prints and embroidered designs, sheer curtains allow you to pick and choose your options based on the look you want for each room.
The Right Sheer for You
Sheer curtains provide many benefits and are versatile enough to suit different purposes and looks.
Hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be using sheer curtains more and appreciate the unique advantage they offer, especially in complementing your other window treatments.