Today's shopper has available a huge variety of drapery fabrics and patterns. Most of these are intended to give long, satisfactory service. However, some, like an article of fashion apparel, are created mainly for beauty rather than serviceability. It is wise to inquire about the durability of fabrics when making your selections.

In addition to the limitations of wearability in the fabrics themselves, there are various invisible enemies which are constantly attacking the fibres of the material and shortening its life. Curtains or draperies may appear to be in perfect condition when sent for dry cleaning. Actually, however they could be so deteriorated that even the moderate agitation necessary to remove soil would cause them to fall into shreds. When this occurs, it is not carelessness or incompetence on the part of the cleaner but rather the result of one or more of the following factors:

Sun Damage

Constant exposure to the bright, hot rays of the sun will damage the strength of most fibres. Sometimes this happens after only a few months of use. Indirect sunlight is also damaging but not to as great a degree.

Lined draperies naturally resist sun damage better than unlined. However, it is poor economy to line quality drapery fabric with an inferior lining which might deteriorate long before the drapery itself.


Loosely woven fabrics are affected by humidity changes. The amount of humidity in the air can cause drapery measurements to shrink or stretch.


Up to 5% shrinkage can be expected unless the fabric has been completely pre-shrunk. An adjustment hem that could be let down when needed could solve this problem.


Here again chemistry plays its role. Natural chemicals in the air will sometimes combine with high humidity. This forms a mild acid which causes curtain fabrics to deteriorate and discolour.

Sun fading

After the soil has been removed, faded or yellow streaks are often evident, a condition which dry cleaning will not correct. These streaks will be more prevalent in the folds exposed to direct sunlight. Upon inspection, some evidence of fabric weakness is usually found in the faded areas. The description of a fabric as "sunfast" is generally inaccurate as none is completely resistant to sun damage.

Effect of sunlight on certain dyes

When just one colour of a printed fabric is adversely affected, it is the result of the chemical action of sunlight on certain dyestuffs. Colours most frequently affected are yellow, red and chartreuse. Buying vat or solution dyed fabrics reduces this possibility.


When certain types of pigments are used in printing the pattern on draperies, the pigment or dyes do not penetrate the fibres on the fabric deeply enough to hold the colour securely. The serviceability of pigment printed fabrics depends on the fabric itself as well as the method by which the pigment is applied. Some of these colours can become considerably lightened or removed altogether in the cleaning process. Enquire about limitations of some prints of this type when selecting drapery material.

Fume fading

Gases and fumes in the atmosphere of the home often react upon certain dyes in fabrics containing acetate and generally cause a reddish colour. Blues, greens and colours.