How to Choose Your Portrait Background

When we think of good photographs, we usually defer to the lighting, shadows, the emotion it evokes, and so on. But the background of your photo is what pulls everything together, with the ability to enhance or detract from some of your photos best qualities. To find out which fabrics to consider for portrait backgrounds, keep reading.

What to Consider Before Choosing a Photography Backdrop

The background of your portrait or studio photo helps draw attention to the subject. That being said, a backdrop can really make or break a photo. When it comes to choosing the best portrait background for your shoot, here are a few things to consider:

  • Fabric size and weight: Something that’s too heavy or bulky isn’t ideal. What’s going to be easy to carry around?
  • Location: Your fabric size and weight must accommodate your location. Will you be inside or outside? How much room will you have? Will it be windy? Will there be humidity? All of this may have an effect on your fabric.
  • Your subject: Are you shooting a person, or an object? Product photography requires clean backgrounds. You can get more creative with texture if your subject is a person. When shooting people, your background works to add emotion and context to what you’re trying to convey.
  • Color and texture: Remember to emphasize, not draw attention away from, the subject. Your fabric’s color and texture will help create the look and feel you want for your photo shoot.
  • Lighting: Your lighting technique will vary between dark and light backgrounds. Understand your fabric’s light reflecting qualities beforehand!
  • Budget: Are you looking for a short-term fix or a long-term reusable solution?


Muslin Backdrop

Muslin is a finely-woven cotton fabric with multiple uses. Used heavily within photography and set design, muslin is a favorite among creatives for its versatility, light weight and flat, “clothy” effect and feel. The durability of the fabric helps too (it won’t rip like vinyl or paper).  Muslin can be hung as a solid backdrop, or easily draped over chairs or other items.

 Why Muslin?

  • Non-reflective cotton absorbs light
  • Light weight; portable and compact
  • Durable and reusable
  • Washable; can be steamed and ironed
  • Versatile; different styles and colors
  • Less expensive than canvas

Canvas Backdrop

Some photographers want a heavier background, in which case canvas would be a good choice. Canvas backdrops provide a high-quality look for clients. However, if your project has tight budget or weight/portability restrictions, we would recommend muslin, vinyl or paper instead.

Why Canvas?

  • Professional look
  • Compact
  • Durable and reusable
  • Doesn’t wrinkle like muslin
  • Versatile; different styles and colors

Two Backdrops for the Price of One

Quick Guide: What is Velour?

If you have an upcoming theater production coming up, you’re probably debating which theater fabrics you’ll need. We understand that every production, team and budget is different. But if there’s one fabric we recommend to any size theater, it’s velour. What is velour? Keep reading to find out.


What is Velour?

Velour is a knit, napped fabric that’s memorable for its lush feel. Velour gets its signature soft feel from what’s called a pile knit texture (which comes from a weaving process where the loops are cut off at the end).
In the theater industry, velour is beloved for its rich luster, fabric durability and clean appearance. Velour fabric can be made from cotton or synthetic material, and has a range of qualities depending on the weight and type chosen.


Difference Between Velvet and Velour

Velour is not to be confused with velvet. Although similar, velour is a pile knit fabric, whereas velvet is a pile weave fabric (yarns are looped into one direction). The difference? Velvet is a lot softer and more luxurious, but also more delicate and better suited for lighter applications like clothing.

Velour Stage Curtains

Velour is a tried-and-true theater fabric. Known for its light-absorbing qualities, velour is most commonly used as stage curtains.

Uses for Velour Stage Curtains

Velour fabric is super durable and versatile in use. Plus, the crush fabric looks great, making it a smart investment for small to large theaters.  Any high school, college, church, community or national theater can use flame-retardant velour fabric for:

  • Professional looking stage curtains
  • Acoustical sound absorption
  • Pole and drape applications
  • Mid-sized main settings
  • Cyclorama curtains
  • Theater backdrops
  • Stage borders
  • Stage skirting
  • Upholstery

Black Velour Fabric

Example of black velour curtains - customer photo
Black Velour Fabric (Customer Photo)

Choose from many weights, naps, colors and styles!

Comparing Stage Curtains

If you’re looking to get some stage curtains for your production, this chart will help you compare the many fabric options you have:

FR Fabric Weight Light absorbing Wrinkle-resistant Opacity Sound absorbing
Duvetyn FR Cotton 12 oz. X
Commando Cloth FR Cotton 16 oz. X
Encore Velour IFR Polyester 15 – 22 oz. X X X
Sound Absorbing Material FR Cotton 20 oz. X X X
Marvel Velour FR Cotton 21 oz. X X X

Drop Cloth Upholstery 101

Drop cloth is a versatile fabric that can be used for countless home and DIY projects. But did you know that painter’s drop cloth is also an ideal fabric for upholstery? We’ll show you why drop cloth upholstery has been so popular over the past few years, plus offer a few ways to upholster your furniture at home.

Why Use Drop Cloth for Upholstery?

So, with all the fabric choices out there, why use a drop cloth for your upholstery project? There are a ton of reasons why drop cloth is a great fabric, but here are just a few:

  • Very affordable
  • Durable cotton material
  • Good for beginners and for practice
  • Fabric comes with selvage edge (saving time on hemming)
  • Neutral color will fit many styles of room décor
  • Fabric can be painted on or dyed to desired shade
DIY Drop Cloth Upholstery - Customer Photo
Customer photo via Sandy Welsh

Convinced? Great! If you’re ready to purchase quality fabric for drop cloth upholstery, we recommend our 8-oz. cotton canvas drop cloths.

How to Prepare Drop Cloth for Upholstery

You can prepare your drop cloth for upholstery in 3 steps:

1. Soak fabric in a mixture of bleach + hot water + hydrogen peroxide for a few hours.
The hydrogen peroxide helps neutralize the bleach so it doesn’t ruin the fabric. recommends a 1:10 hydrogen peroxide and water ratio. About 2 cups of bleach should do it.

2. Wash in washer with hot water + laundry detergent, then dry.
Washing with laundry detergent helps soften the fabric. Plus, because canvas drop cloths are 100% cotton, you need to wash/dry to preshrink the material prior to cutting.

3. Iron the fabric.
This prevents wrinkling and helps for a neat-and-tidy end result.


DIY Drop Cloth Upholstery

There are several different methods of using drop cloth to “make over” furniture. You could either upholster your furniture or make a slipcover for it.

Tools to Upholster Furniture

Here’s what you’ll need for your drop cloth upholstery project (via HH&TW blog):

  • 8 oz. canvas drop cloth
  • Cardboard
  • Double-sided tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pliers
  • Staple gun with staples
  • Scissors
  • Screwdriver (flathead)
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Upholstery needles and thread
Chicago Canvas Drop Cloth Upholstery
Chicago Canvas Drop Cloths

Let us know how your projects go in the comments below. Have tips on drop cloth upholstery, or your own tried-and-true tutorial you’d like to share? We’d love to know! Email us your tutorials for a chance to be featured on our blog:

Happy DIY!