Wave curtains are a cool, contemporary way of dressing windows, ideal if you want a look that is simple, modern, and elegant. Wave curtains have no gathering, bunching or pleats across the top, just a sinuous curve, falling in fluid folds directly below the track or pole. The curtains stack back neatly, and it’s a look that works in both contemporary and traditional interiors. Like all window treatments, they need attention to detail to look really good. Here’s an essential guide to success with wave curtains.
1 First, get the right fabric. The soft curves of wave curtains are never going to look as good with a stiff fabric, one with heavy embroidery, or metallic threads. (A fabric with an obvious vertical stripe design may also be difficult to position nicely over the fixed waves along the top.) Suitable fabrics are ones that drape well: soft sheers and voiles, most cottons and many silks. Test your fabric by bunching it up at the top and allowing it to hang. If it falls in straight-ish folds it will be fine – if it tends to stick out like a party skirt at the sides, then it probably won’t work well. Some manufacturers specify an upper weight limit for curtains to work successfully on their tracks – look out for this if you are planning interlined wave curtains. Working out the weight of curtain per foot of track is tricky.
2 How much fabric? Most wave curtain systems specify a fullness of two to two-and-a-half times, but it is critical to pay attention to the instructions given by the manufacturers in each case, as there is little flexibility, unlike with ordinary taped curtains.
3 How do you get the soft waves in the top of the fabric? Firstly, you can use a combination of specialist track and heading tape. Top of the range is the Silent Gliss Wave System, using their Metropole or other dedicated tracking, along with a pocketed tape that is specifically designed to work with the track gliders. These gliders are corded together, which limits the amount the curtain fabric can travel and creates the wave effect. (You can’t use their tape on anything except their Metropole or equivalent tracks.) Two types of spacing are available: a standard Wave, and WaveXL designed for high or large windows, giving a more generous wave at the top. If you want the full Workroom Guide to the Silent Gliss Wave System, you can download it here.
4. If you don’t want the expense of buying a whole new tracking and tape system, and want to hang your wave curtains on an existing track, or under a pole, then you can try using a wave heading tape on its own, such as Universal Tempo tape from Rufflette, which is pulled up with cords to create the waves. It’s not quite as tailored or smart, but a good budget option. Pulling up the tape so that the folds are even will take some time and patience! – but there’s a bit more flexibility on the fabric amounts with this method, as the gathering can be tighter or looser, as you wish. As with the other systems, you still need to plan out the tape position carefully to make sure the edges of the curtains don’t lie in the middle of a fold – you might want to position the tape across the top of the curtain before you turn in the sides. It comes in two versions: Universal Tempo tape for ordinary curtains, and Translucent Tempo tape for voiles and sheers. Rufflette have a guide to getting the best out of this tape which you can download here: Universal Tempo
5. A slightly more casual alternative to any of these, is back tab or hidden tab curtains, which slide onto a pole. The tabs create the spacing for the folds, but unlike the wave systems above, the curtains overlap the pole, not hang from underneath. The folds produced are more casual and irregular, and tab tops don’t slide that easily along a pole, so it’s not a great version for curtains that need to be pulled back and forth on a daily basis.
Info sourced from The Curtain Guru