Introduction to swags for windows

When beginners start to consider swags for windows they often wonder why there are no fixed 'patterns' or 'diagrams' available. The reasons are simple:

  • Every situation is different
  • Everyone's taste is different
  • Varying the shape of a swag pattern even slightly will have a marked impact on the way the swag hangs

But it's easy to design your own. Here are some broad guidelines you'll need to think about before you get into the detailed design.

Sizes of swags for windows

Accept this from the start: you will nearly always cut out some daylight when you use a swag window treatment. This is inevitable, because of the shapes.

How deep should the swags be?

A good guide is to make them about one fifth of the finished length of the curtains. This assumes you're having floor length drapes. If they are sill length, then you need to be very careful about their depth. This is because the idea of swags is to make them look as though the fabric is flowing in natural folds. Short swags can't do this.

How wide should they be?

Don't make them too wide, especially if this is your first time making them. I'd suggest you keep them under 3'0" (about 1.0m). Or practice making them using old fabric or lining, which is covered in this section.

How many swags?

The good thing about swags is you can use them on any width of window. As the window gets wider, you just keep adding swags to get the right effect.

Until you become more confident, I recommend you use an uneven number of swags. Having one swag in the center will give your design balance.

If you design your swags for windows so all the swags are the same size, it will save time because you'll be able to use the same pattern for all of them.

Designing for your window

Draw your window to scale on graph paper.

Determine how far your mounting board should extend either side of the window. (See this page for more information.)

On a separate piece of paper, sketch out initial designs for your swags for windows using an uneven number of swags. (You can include cascades as well to get the complete picture.)

Remembering the advice above to keep them under 3'0" (90cms) wide, work out how many you'll need to comfortably cover the width of your board. I'd also suggest you don't make them too narrow. I like to keep the width over 2'0" (61cms). Any smaller and depending on the fabric they don't look as if they are hanging under their own weight.

When you've selected the best design, cut out individual swags and cascades from paper or card, and lay them in position on your drawing to check everything works.

Once it's all looking good, you can now measure off the width of the swags.

To double check, make full size swags from old fabric or lining, and pin them in position over your window. (See the section on making swags.)

In conclusion...

Follow these few recommendations when designing your swag drapes and you'll have a much better chance in getting your proportions right.

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