12 Best Fabrics For Curtains [Sheer & Opaque]

Are you thinking about updating the window dressings in your home? You might be wondering which type of fabrics are ideal for your new curtains. There are many options out there, and it can be overwhelming when you are in the store faced with all of the different colors, textures, and materials!

Luckily, we have looked at different curtain fabric options for you and broken them down into two main categories: Sheer Curtain Fabrics and Opaque Curtain Fabrics. The main difference between these two types is that sheer fabric is transparent and will let the most light in, while opaque fabric is heavier and will let less light in (or none at all!) Here's a breakdown of the different types of fabrics for curtains:

  • Sheer Curtain Fabrics
    • Chiffon & Voile
    • Lace & Netting
    • Muslin
    • Linen
    • Gauze
  • Opaque Curtain Fabrics
    • Damask, Brocade, & Jacquard
    • Velvet & Velveteen
    • Taffeta
    • Cotton & Cotton Blends
    • Linen
    • Satin
    • Thermal & Blackout Curtains

When planning your room decor and aesthetic, it's important to consider all of the options available and what they can and cannot do for your space. This article will explain the benefits and some of the drawbacks of the many types of fabrics that curtains can be made from.

Blackout thermal curtain hanging on a large bedroom window, 12 Best Fabrics For Curtains [Sheer & Opaque]

Choosing fabric for curtains - What to Consider?

When shopping for curtain fabric, you may want to do a little bit of homework first. If you want to match the curtains to your walls or the furniture in the room, bring along a paint sample or a fabric swatch if you have it. If you don’t have those, you can try taking a photo of your walls or furniture in good lighting. If you have custom curtains made, bring a swatch of the curtain fabric into the room to compare it to the walls and furniture.

As far as size, curtains should be double the width of your windows and should be long enough to reach the bottom of the windowsill or all the way to the floor for taller/longer windows. Take measurements of your windows before you go curtain shopping so you can get the right size the first time!

Consider what you want your curtains to accomplish in the room. Take stock of your decorating needs. Do you want the light to show through the curtains? Does the room need to look bigger? Do you want more privacy? Do you need to block out the light? Do your windows need insulation? Making notes of all these factors will help you when faced with overwhelming options in the stores. 

Sheer Curtain Fabrics

Spacious and bright bedroom interior with beige decorations, hardwood floor and a book on the window sill

Sheer fabrics are a great option for curtains if you desire a light, flowy, ethereal aesthetic for your space. But there are a few downsides to sheer fabrics – namely, they don’t offer much privacy, light-blocking, or insulation. Several fabric types are appropriate for sheer curtains.

Want some more ideas for styling sheer curtains? Check out "How To Layer Curtains And Sheers [6 Suggestions]."

Chiffon & Voile

Airy voile chiffon curtain hanging on a window with sunlight coming through

Chiffon is usually made from silk or polyester, and voile is very light cotton. These light, almost transparent fabrics will add a softer, airy feel to the space, and they will let in most of the sunlight. 

Lace & Netting

Close up of white lace curtains decoration on window in home

Lace and netting are also very light-allowing, and sunlight coming through lace can lend a dappled look to the area. See how the lace pattern of the curtains comes through on the wall?

Are lace curtains outdated?

No way! Nothing is outdated if done tastefully and with intention. Additionally, vintage aesthetics are immensely popular lately, so you shouldn’t let something being somewhat dated stop you from having lace curtains if you really want them. Here are a few ideas to illustrate that lace curtains are a truly timeless style!


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Muslin is a light cotton fabric that usually comes in white or off-white/beige and can offer privacy while allowing lots of light through. Muslin is an affordable alternative to linen.


A popular fabric for millennia, linen is durable, washable, and looks so classic and timeless. Linen curtains are available in lighter weights that will let the sunlight in, especially in lighter colors. Something to remember when washing 100% linen curtains, they should be re-hung immediately to avoid wrinkles.


If you wish for that floaty, ethereal look, try a set of gauze curtains. These will allow lots of light in and lend a soft, shabby chic feel to the room.

Click here to see semi-sheer single panel curtains at Amazon.

Opaque Curtain Fabrics

Opaque curtains over a large window in a contemporary living room

If sheer curtain fabric is not for you, there are many heavier fabric options available out there! Opaque curtains have the benefits of greater light blockage, insulation, and privacy, and you can increase these attributes by adding a lining. Here is a rundown of the most commonly seen options for opaque curtain fabrics.

Damask, Brocade & Jacquard

Classy damask brocade jacquard curtain over a large window

These are fabrics that have a design or pattern woven into them. These fabrics are usually on the heavier side and may have a satiny finish. An eye-catching damask or brocade would make a wonderful focal point in a room!

Velvet & Velveteen

These heavy fabrics have a soft, fuzzy texture and are ideal for keeping out light and insulating the windows. Velvet will make any room feel instantly posher and more luxurious.


Taffeta is a crisp, smooth fabric traditionally made of silk, though synthetic fibers are common nowadays. Because of its weight and crispness, taffeta makes a good choice for heavy, simple drapes without a lot of frills.

Cotton & Cotton Blends

Aside from muslin, curtains can also be made from heavier kinds of cotton such as poplin, chintz, or twill. Cotton is available in a wide variety of colors, prints, and weaves and is can be more affordable than linen while still providing a clean, simple look.

Click here to see white cotton curtains at Amazon.


Light shining through open linen curtains in a bedroom

Yes, you did see linen up there in the “Sheer Fabrics” list – but don’t worry because, like cotton, linen is available in heavier weights as well. Heavier linen in lighter colors may still let some light through while offering privacy, while darker colored linen with a lining will add more light blockage and insulation.


Also traditionally made of silk, satin is a woven fabric so that it has a sheen to it – it catches the light at the right angle and feels exceptionally smooth to the touch. Heavier satins such as dull satin can be great for light blockage and insulation – especially with a lining added.

Thermal & Blackout Curtains

If you need to block out light especially well, try a pair of blackout curtains. These are heavy fabric, sometimes lined, that is specifically for blocking out light. Similarly, if you have drafty windows, thermal curtains are made to insulate your windows, keeping the outdoor chill or heat from getting in.

View blackout curtains at Amazon.

Should I line curtains?

Whether you should add a lining to your curtains depends on several factors. Some curtain fabrics benefit from having a lining if you want to add extra weight or light blockage. Adding a lining will also help keep your curtains from fading in the sunlight and protect the fabric's back. Furthermore, certain fabrics must be lined – silk, for example, will decay if it does not have a lining to protect it. Some curtain fabrics should not be lined, for example, sheer, gauzy, or lacy curtains - a lining would negate the light and flowy effect they are meant to have.

Should curtains be lighter or darker than walls?

The answer to this depends on your situation, the existing colors in your room, and what you want the curtains to accomplish in the room. If you want the room to look larger, try curtains in a similar color to the walls since the continuity will draw the eye around the room and create an illusion of larger space. If you’re not worried about maximizing visual space, try a sharply contrasting curtain color to create a focal point in the room – it should be either much lighter or much darker than the walls.

Are you also shopping for new throw pillows for your room? Read our article "Should Pillows And Curtains Match?"

In Summary

Now that you have learned about some of the many options for curtain fabrics out there, are you ready to start shopping? We hope this article is helpful to you when you are picking out your new curtains, and good luck with your search!

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