Many varieties

There are so many variations of gathered fabric window shades that it's difficult to categorize them.

The Austrian or cloud shade is basically made like a curtain with double fullness, but pulls up instead of moving from side to side. The Festoon shade is a cloud shade with fullness in the drop as well as the width.

Definitions are made even more difficult because different countries have different ways of describing these sorts of window shade. (Indeed, in many countries shades are called blinds, whether they're inside or outside a house.) Cloud shades are often referred to as festoon, and festoon as Austrian!



If you're making your own fabric window shades, you need to decide on the method you use. There are many ways of making fabric shades, and it's best to get the hardware organized before you begin to cut and sew the fabric.

Festoon shades

There are basically three parts to the fittings

  • Headrail. The most practical method is to use Velcro® to attach the top of the shade to the rail. You can buy rails with the loop part of the tape already attached; you then sew the hook part onto the back of the shade.
  • Tapes or cords. The shade is raised and lowered by means of tapes or cords. Tapes come in reels which usually clip into the back of the rail. Cords are usually easier to install, as they just run through plastic eyelets which again usually clip into the back of the rail. The one advantage of using a tape system is that you can then operate the shade by means of a chain; cords need a cleat attached to the wall which you wrap the cords around to stop the shade moving.
  • Shade attachments. The shade needs to have special tapes sewn on the back which have loops attached at fixed intervals. Alternatively you can sew on separate loops. Either way you need loops which the tapes (or cords) run through.

Many stores have kits available for these shades, or if you're a real DIY'er there are books which give all the information you need.


Because they are set in windows, you should always make your fabric window shades with lining to protect the fabric. If you're using your fabric shade in a bedroom where you want to keep as much light out as possible, then use blackout lining.

Sheer festoons

An alternative for your window shade is to use sheer fabrics. You can put loads of fabric into them so they look great when down, but because the fabric doesn't take up much room they pull up easily. Festoons are ideal for using lace as the main fabric. Whenever these types of fabric are used the shades are normally made without linings.



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