Fit swags for the ultimate effect

Nearly everyone I've ever spoken to about a swag window treatment have informed me that it's too complicated to be done at home.

"I'd have to get an interior designer to do it, and that would be very expensive!"

Read the next line very carefully. Ready? Here goes.

"It's something anyone can do if they go about it the right way."

You can use a swag window treatment for any window where you have enough space to take the depth of swags. And you can design and make your own swags and cascades.

Swags and cascades are ideal when used as a classic treatment in a traditional setting. They give the illusion of being draped casually in sweeping folds.

But don't be deceived! A great looking swag window treatment has to be carefully designed, assembled and fitted.

Are they difficult to make? No.

There are two things you'll need.

  1. Lots of fabric. Swags can greatly increase the amount of fabric you need for your drapery. This can be anything from a half to two thirds of the amount needed for the curtains, depending on the design.
  2. Lots of patience. Professional workrooms have patterns they use, but even they have to make swags from scratch from time to time. You'll have to make yours from the beginning. But it's fun, and you'll get a wonderful sense of achievement when you see the results!

The basic elements

swag definitions

The elements of swag treatments

  • Swags are the bits which are draped horizontally.
  • Cascades are the bits which hang down, usually on either side of the window. (Cascades are known as 'tails' in many parts of the world.)
  • Jabots are sometimes placed at the point where swags meet. They often take the form of a trumpet.

Usually you just have two cascades, one on either side of the window. You can have as many swags as necessary for your swag window treatment. If you have more than one they normally overlap. Jabots are an optional extra.

(Cascades and Jabots are two terms which are often used interchangably. A jabot was originally "an ornamental cascade of ruffles or frills down the front of a shirt, blouse, or dress". This most resembles the jabot as shown in the illustration, so that's the definition we'll use.)

Swags are of two basic types

standard swag

Staggered and standard pleats

  • Staggered pleats, where each pleat begins slightly further in from the previous one.
  • Standard pleats, where the pleats all come from the same point on the outer edges.

My preferred choice is to use very slightly staggered pleats, almost standard but not quite. This flattens out the top left and right areas of the swags so they are not too thick. They can then overlap nicely and not look too bulky. I think they look more graceful and natural.

How deep should they be?

As a rough guide, the overall depth of your swags should be about one fifth the overall length of your drapes. Jabots can be wide or narrow, simple or elaborate. They should be at least twice the depth of the swags. I prefer to make them at least three times the length.

The swag - round or shaped?

shaped swags

Round swag (left), more natural shape (right).

Many swags are made in the form of a semi-circle. I prefer to use a shape which to me looks more natural. You can see the difference in the illustration.

Because the curve of the swag on the right straightens out as it reaches the top, it produces a more gentle and subtle effect.

You can easily obtain this shape by suspending a length of curtain weight chain between two points. Gravity will make it hang into this natural shape.

Can you really make these treatments successfully?

Yes, you can! A swag window treatment is well within your capability. I'll show you how you can easily get the design right, and make swags which will be the envy of your neighbors!

If you want an easy way to make great looking swags, why not take a look at the patterns we've designed? This way you can use professionally designed patterns, and try out one of the designs for free to make sure it all works for you.