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Pre-made or Custom Drapes: Which Is Right For You?

Curtains on windows in a living room.

Pre-made Panel Basics

Everyone is familiar with pre-made drapery panels—sometimes called curtains—that you find in stores. They generally come in very limited sizes (an 84” length is the most common) and limited colors, which tend toward conservative. For hanging, most pre-made panels utilize either large grommets or a sewn rod pocket. Blackout fabrics are sometimes available, but for the most part, these basic curtains are unlined.

The Custom Drapery Difference

Custom drapery can be customized to fit any window. Privacy, light control, rod type, pattern, color, length, fullness, and other design elements can all be tailored to fit your needs. The list of Bali Custom Drapery fabrics is remarkable: colors range from calming to energizing—to downright daring. Linings are available that can provide privacy, control light, and insulate against heat and cold. Use drapery to create a whole new look for your room—or just match your existing décor. Custom drapery isn’t just a window treatment, it’s a style statement.

The Primary Reason for Pre-made Panels

The biggest reason people choose pre-made curtain panels is they’re relatively inexpensive. The uniform sizes, thin fabrics and limited features keep manufacturing costs down. People also find pre-made curtain panels convenient—you just grab them off the shelf and go.

Problems With Pre-made Panels

The problem with one-size-fits-all curtain panels is that homes and their windows come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. Rarely does a pre-made panel fit just right. That standard 84” curtain length can be made to cover most windows, but it requires the rod height be at or around 84”—which looks a bit odd or even ridiculous with some lower windows when the curtains are open. And if the window is situated significantly higher up the wall, that 84” curtain will give a sort of “high-water” impression—like a pair of baggy pants that inadvertently reveals the wearer’s ankles.

Another issue with pre-made panels is window width. Often, two pre-made curtain panels are not wide enough to adequately cover a wide window. When the panels on each side are pulled closed, they either leave light gaps or become stretched nearly flat—which effects the curtains’ light-blocking and privacy functions. Worse, a window that isn’t adequately covered lets in heat, cold, and drafts. The width of the panels also effects stack back—the amount of gathered fabric that stacks at either side of the window when the drapery is open. If not enough fabric stacks on each side, the window looks unbalanced.

Advantages of Customizing Drapery

Traditional drapery that is customized for a specific window will account for all these variables. The window measurements you use when ordering Bali Custom Drapery are used to construct window treatments that perfectly fit your window, resulting in a finished look that is pleasing to the eye, easy to use, and fulfills all the functions a drapery should: privacy, light control, and insulation against heat and cold.

How To Measure For Custom Drapery

Measuring your windows for custom drapery is easy. In a few simple steps—explained in the above video—you’ll come up with the three measurements you need to order the perfect set of drapes. The first two measurements are easy to determine: face width of the curtain rod and the projection of the curtain rod from the wall. The third measurement—length—involves a bit more thinking because this measurement will vary based on the look you are trying to achieve. For example, are you looking for light and casual sill-length drapes or regal and dramatic puddle-length drapes that pile up on the floor—or something in between? Once you’ve decided on that, you’ll have your three measurements—and that’s all it takes for Bali to custom craft a set of drapes that perfectly suits your window. The above video walks you through the simple process of determining these three measurements.

Possible Pitfalls of Pre-made

Installing pre-made curtain panels presents some pitfalls. The first is finding all the right components for hanging the curtains. A common experience for consumers is arriving home to find that the panels require a different type of rod, drapery pins, bracket, or other component—which means another trip to the store or several stores. And once installed, the curtains still might not look right—either the color or the fit is wrong for the window or the room. The inexpensive solution the buyer was hoping for has just become a drain on time and money.

Get Something Perfectly Made for Your Window

When you order Bali Custom Drapery, all those problems go away. Order from Bali and you can expect a window treatment that looks great. The final product does cost more than a simple pre-made curtain panel, but the result is a window treatment that looks attractive and works exactly as it should.

To learn more about drapery—and every other window treatment option—visit