How Much Do Theater & Stage Curtains Cost?

The cost of theater and stage curtains ranges from a few thousand to as much as a hundred thousand. It comes down to the fabric you choose, the width and height of the opening you’re adding curtains to, and whether you are installing them or need professional installers.

How to Measure Your Theater Space

Make sure you get an accurate measurement for stage and theater curtains. If you have curtains currently in place, take measurements from the top of the curtain down to the floor. Measure from one end of the stage to the other. If the curtains have been taken down, spread them over the lawn or large area like a gym floor and take measurements that way.

Note those measurements and look into the type of fabric that’s being used. Natural theater fabrics like cotton or muslin will stretch over time. The old curtains may be several inches longer or wider than they were originally. Synthetic fabrics don’t stretch as much with age. You can consider those measurements to be pretty accurate.

If you’ve noticed that the curtains don’t cover as much area on the stage as you’d like, calculate the additional coverage you would like and make sure that’s added to your measurements. If you’ll be changing the ceiling support hardware, consider those changes, too. Chain support hardware may hang lower than a track system. Figure any difference in hardware and factor that into your measurements, too.

What Components Do You Need?

What are you planning when it comes to your theater and stage curtains? Some of the common stage curtain components are:

  • Backdrops – Solid curtain at the back of the stage that may be hand-painted with the stage scenery
  • Borders and valances – Used to hide lighting and equipment hanging above the stage and to the sides
  • Cycloramas – Plain muslin curtain that is lit up from the front for color and lighting effects
  • Main curtains – Primary curtains that open and close before and after each act
  • Scrims – Becomes transparent when lighting is added behind them
  • Travelers – Movable curtains that are placed in different locations as needed

The Best Fabrics for Stage and Theater Curtains

Every stage is different, so you may need a few basics or want other curtain components for complex stage designs. You’ll need to chose theater fabrics and stage curtain fabrics that match their intended use. These are the choices you have when shopping for the best stage and theater curtains.

Burlap: Burlap is cheaper than canvas and just as durable. It is a natural material that can be painted if desired. Natural burlap starts at $3.25 per running yard.

Commando Cloth: This fabric is heavier than Duvetyne but less expensive than velour. It absorbs light and is a good choice for a budget-friendly main curtain. Get Commando Cloth for as little as $8.95 per running yard.

Duvetyne: Has a velvet nap on one side of the twill. The fabric absorbs light and is flame retardant. Used frequently as stage skirting, to block out lighting located behind it, and for black backdrops. Get Duvetyne for under $6 per running yard.

Poly Silk: For fluid, luminescent curtains in the mid-stage area or for backdrops, poly silks are popular. It comes in more than a dozen colors and is flame retardant. You can get poly silk for as little as $9.75 per running yard.

Rip Stop Nylon: The lightweight nature of Rip Stop nylon makes it a popular option for backdrops and screens. It is the material that parachutes are made from, which means it doesn’t rip or tear easily. It’s also fire retardant and starts at $11.85 per running yard.

Scrim: Woven cotton fabric that is lightweight. It’s used to hide actors or props from the audience’s view until it’s time to reveal them. Lighting from behind the scrim can turn it into a see-through material for special effects. Find three kinds of scrim at Chicago Canvas for $7.90 (Theatrical Linen) to $135.50 (Leno Filled) per running yard.

Sound Absorbing Fabric: Block out sounds from behind the scenes using sound absorbing fabric. You can use it to hide the musicians or stagehands. It’s a fire retardant material made from cotton. Sound absorbing fabric starts at $18.80 per running yard.

Untreated Canvas Tarp: If you’re hand-painting a backdrop, untreated canvas tarps are a favorite for large art projects. At approximately, $60 for a 10 by 10′ square, it’s an affordable choice.

Velour: There are velour fabrics that are flame retardant (Marvel Velour) or inherently flame retardant (Encore Velour) that is washable but costs more. Velour is a popular choice for the main curtains as it is wrinkle-resistant and hangs nicely. Velour starts at just under $17 per yard.

Do you need a custom size or still aren’t sure you can meet your theater group’s budget while getting everything you need? Chicago Canvas & Supply has several sizes of theater and stage curtains available, but we also welcome custom orders. We also are happy to share our expertise in choosing budget-friendly theater and stage fabrics. We’ll help you find the right theater fabrics for your production. Complete the online form to get started.

Duvetyne for Photography

Whether you’re setting up a new studio or need to replace your backdrops, duvetyne is a fabric that’s been used in theaters for decades. It’s just as helpful in photography work. Have you discovered the reasons many photographers are turning to duvetyne for photography jobs?

So much goes into the right photography backdrop. Of course, size is important, but it’s not the only factor to consider. The color, the mounting system, and the type of fabric share equal billing to size. We have some tips to help you find the right backdrop for your photography needs.

Backdrop Size Impacts Photograph Quality

The rule of thumb is to have the subject of your photograph placed or sitting 3 feet from your backdrop. If you ignore this rule, shadows can appear in your images. You also want to keep items at least 3 feet from the backdrop to ensure your lighting is perfect. You also want a backdrop that doesn’t distract from your subject. Patterned prints can be hit or miss. Many professional photographers find that solid fabrics are superior.

To make sure your subjects are the right distance from the backdrop, you really need a backdrop that’s a minimum of 3.5 feet square. When you’re doing headshots with part of the torso showing, pick a photography backdrop that’s at least 5 feet wide and 7 feet long. For full body portraits, aim for a backdrop that’s 9 feet wide and 12 feet wide.

What if you work with a variety of portraiture? Sometimes your subjects are sitting, but sometimes they are standing. Consider purchasing different sizes of backdrops to meet your needs. If that isn’t ideal, choose a piece of fabric that’s 20 to 24 feet long and at least 10 feet wide.

The Fabric Must Be Durable and Absorb Rather Than Reflect Lighting

Fabrics used in photography need to have a few qualities. First, you want a fabric that’s durable. If it is going to rip easily, you’ll be wasting money replacing it. Second, it needs to withstand the lighting you’re using. If you work with a lot of lights, you don’t want the heat they give off to pose a fire risk to the fabric you select.

Another quality you need to consider is how easy the fabric wrinkles. If you need a smooth backdrop, fabrics that wrinkle easily during transportation won’t be appealing. You’ll spend time steaming out wrinkles before your shoot. It’s time-consuming and frustrating.

Duvetyne creates great photography backdrops. It’s fire retardant, thick, and absorbs rather than reflects light. It’s a durable twill material, but it has a velvet-like nap on one side. It’s also matte, so there’s no shine to the material to detract from your subject. Many filmmakers rely on duvetyne for backdrops and scenery.

The Benefits of Duvetyne in Photography

Depending on your project, duvetyne can do more than provide a backdrop. It’s a versatile fabric.

Use it to cover a person’s hand for close-up shots of items. If you want to display a product but not the model’s hand, duvetyne can block the hand from showing. Put the duvetyne over the hands and arms and have the person support the item from below the material. Those hands and arms will not appear in your shot. This is handy if you’re taking photos of an infant who cannot sit up alone.

You need to block out all of the sunlight coming in your window. Duvetyne can do that for you. Place a panel over the window and there’s no way the sun is getting through. At the same time, duvetyne absorbs lights from your photography equipment, so you won’t find shine on a subject’s face that’s being reflected off the backdrop.

If you photograph dioramas, duvetyne disappears into the background and allows your figures or other objects to stand out. It won’t draw the eye and get in the way of the scene you’re trying to capture.

We Sell Duvetyne in Six Colors

Chicago Canvas & Supply has duvetyne in 4.5-foot widths. A full roll is approximately 100 yards of duvetyne. Choose from six colors that include black, gray, royal blue, silver, white, and wine. We match competitor prices. If you find an identical material for a lower price, let us know and we’ll match it.

It’s our goal to make sure you have the right material for your needs. If 54 inches isn’t wide enough, we also have commando cloth in sizes as long as 24 feet. Request a free sample or call 866-389-2218 to talk about the backdrop you need. You can also reach us by email or live chat. We’re happy to help you find the right material for your photography needs.

Tips For Painting Decorative Backdrops On Duvetyne

When you need a material that blocks out light, duvetyne is perfect. It’s the material you often see in theaters that forms the background at the back of the stage. It’s also the material that forms a stage’s skirting. It’s used as a backdrop in photo studios.

This fabric does block light, but it also cuts reflections. It can hide hands or arms when you’re shooting an advertisement where you want the focus to be on the product and not who is holding it. It is a soft, cotton fabric that’s bought by the yard, but you can get it in full rolls.

Duvetyne is affordable. It’s also flame retardant, which is important when there is lighting equipment nearby. As the fire protection is applied to the material, you need to be careful about getting it wet. That’s one thing to keep in mind when you’re thinking about painting duvetyne.

What if you need to paint it? Look into fabric sprays that add a new coating of fire protection. Test a small area to make sure it doesn’t affect the paint you’re using. Chicago Canvas & Supply has a few tips to help you create gorgeous decorative backgrounds on duvetyne.

What Are the Best Paints to Use on Duvetyne?

Which paint should you use to create your background? Acrylic paints are a popular choice, but you have to consider lighting. Paints fade when exposed to constant bright lighting or sunlight. You need to search for UV/fade resistant paints.

Fabric paints are softer in feel. They’re also easier to apply to fabrics for that reason. If you opt to use acrylic paints, you can mix them with gloss or fabric mediums for easier application and to cut down on reflectiveness.

What Techniques Are Used to Paint Decorative Backdrops?

You have two ways to go when painting backgrounds on fabric. You can paint by hand with brushes, sponges, and rollers, or you can use airbrushing.

Supplies Needed for Hand Painted Backdrops

If you want to paint by hand, have brushes in a wide variety of sizes. A roller is good for priming your duvetyne. Sponges are great for work that needs to be hazy like clouds.

Keep a bucket handy for clean up. Acrylic paints wash in warm soapy water. You should have disposable gloves to keep your hands from getting covered in paint. Damp towels will help with clean-up if any paint splatters in unprotected areas.

Fans set in the room help speed up drying times. You may want to have some floor fans available for this reason.

Try Airbrushing

Airbrushing is handy when you want to paint a large section of fabric. It’s done by creating the overall sketch and breaking it down into a grid and then using that grid as a template for painting the final product on the large portion of duvetyne. The benefit to airbrushing is that you can hang the duvetyne and paint vertically rather than stretching the fabric out on the floor.

If you decide to airbrush, you want to weigh down the bottom of the duvetyne after hanging it. This keeps the fabric stiff while you’re using the airbrush.

Prepare Your Surface First

Before you paint your background, use gesso as your primer. Gesso is typically found in white, but you can get it in black, clear, and a rainbow of colors. It is available in sprays or brush-on forms. It creates a surface that is smooth but has a slightly sandy feel that keeps the paint from absorbing into the canvas material. It also helps stiffen the material, which can be helpful when you’re going to be hanging the background.

As an alternative, you could use interior paint colors for your backdrop. PVA primer is the white primer you use in your home. This is ideal if you’re starting with white duvetyne instead of black.

Make Cleaning Up Easy to Handle

To ensure you keep the flooring from paint spills and splatters, purchase a large heavy-duty canvas drop cloth. When you’re done painting, leave your backdrop to dry while you wash brushes and other equipment used while you painted. Once the paint on the duvetyne is dry, move it and fold up the drop cloth for another use.

At Chicago Canvas & Supply, we offer duvetyne in several colors. Choose black if that’s ideal for your production, but know that you can also pick grey, royal blue, silver, white, or wine. It’s easy to create stunning backdrops when you trust in us to help you find the right size and weight. Need help? Message us through our live chat or call (773) 478-5700 to ask an expert.

4 Simple Patio Shade Ideas

Looking to beat the heat this summer? Now you can, without having to stay cooped up inside! We’ve put together 4 patio shade ideas that you can use to DIY your own summer shelter and make a backyard oasis.

Create a Patio Awning

What it is: An awning is essentially a roof cover which can be made of fabric, wood, aluminum, or vinyl. We recommend using tear-resistant, waterproof and flame-retardant vinyl for fabric awnings since it’s the most durable fabric up for the job. Vinyl laminated fabrics are recommended for awnings because they cover these properties. If you’re looking for all that, plus stain resistance, opt for vinyl coated fabrics instead.

Why use it: Creates full shade for your deck, patio furniture, etc., plus it’s easy to clean.

Ideal for: Complete shade, plus additional privacy.

Tutorial: DIY Awning Tutorial (Simple Details Blog)

4 Simple Patio Shade Ideas - Vinyl Awning
Customer Photo

Build a Garden Pergola

What it is: A pergola is an outdoor roof structure that’s supported by columns. They can be wooden, vinyl or even aluminum.

Why use it: Garden pergolas often feature vines and flowers growing on the top and sides, which not only makes them a beautiful addition to any patio but can also help provide more shade.

Ideal for: Some shade over small seating areas in the garden or yard.

Tutorial: How to Build a Wood Pergola (HGTV)

4 Simple Patio Shade Ideas - DIY Pergola

Get a Shade Sail

What it is: A shade sail is a piece of triangular or square mesh fabric that’s made to be hung, in order to block out the sun and protect against harmful rays.

Why use it: People like to use shade sails because you can get creative and make your own custom design. You can even dress up the actual fabric with fabric scraps, ribbons or other materials. They can be hung from any tall structure (building, tree, pole, etc.).

Ideal for: Protection against harmful rays plus partial shade with air circulation for patios, decks, children’s’ play areas, outdoor entertainment areas, etc.

Tutorial: How to Install Shade Sails (Bunnings Warehouse)

Patio Shade Ideas - Shade Sail

Use a Shade Cloth

What it is: A shade cloth is a mesh fabric that provides sun/wind protection, plus reduced temperature for your outdoor area, plants and more.

Why use it: Some prefer using shade cloths instead of shade sails due to the rectangular length. Shade cloths can be hung from the ceiling as a shade curtain, attached over a fence, draped over your pergola and more. You can set shade cloth up in strips for some cool (no pun intended) and innovative designs! They are also super easy to put up and take down.

Ideal for: Portable or temporary shade (plants/crops, animal shelter, parties, kid’s play areas).

Tutorial: How to Install a Shade Cloth (Bunnings Warehouse)

Do you have any creative DIY shade ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Patio Shade Ideas - Shade Cloth Rolls

Save 50% on DIY Shade Fabrics

Select Shade Sails & Shade Rolls - Sale Ends 10/1/17!

GG Knows – A Dictionary of Textile Terms

Meet GG, one of the beloved founders of Chicago Canvas & Supply. Although she’s no longer with us, her vast knowledge of industry terminology lives on in this textile dictionary! Each month, we’ll pull from GG’s personal collection of terms—don’t miss out by subscribing to our blog over on the right-hand side of this webpage.

Ready to learn something new? Let’s get started!
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Understanding Cotton Duck Classifications

What is Cotton Duck?

Cotton duck is a handy and versatile woven cotton canvas fabric. Also known as duck cloth, duck canvas, or natural canvas, cotton duck is known for its durability and has historically been used for a diverse range of heavy-duty applications, including boat sails and work clothing.  With a variety of types available, it can be confusing to determine which type of cotton duck canvas to use. Read more