Draping a swag is a no-sew way to finish off a curtained window.

How to Arrange a Swag

by Benna Crawford

A window swag is a type of valance that's fixed to hang in a swooping curve over the window -- with or without matching curtains that actually frame or cover the view. A swag can be as simple as a pretty shawl draped over a curtain rod and as elaborate as a raw silk extension of the formal drapes. Try a burlap coffee or produce sack as a quick and casual swag in your country kitchen.

Tropics or Savannah

Hang a bamboo pole as a curtain rod over the French door to a balcony or the patio. Drape a length of camouflage gossamer or cheesecloth fabric over the bamboo so the center hangs down in a semicircle over the door and the ends fall in folds about three-quarters of the way on either side. Position decorative palm trees in natural clay pots on either side of the doors. Or reflect vivid tropical hues in the art and upholstery of a sunroom with a hot pink or turquoise patterned sari, draped over a green or black bamboo pole hung over the main window. Make roman shades for all the windows in the room using unbleached canvas imprinted with a faint pattern in the color of the sari.

Cloud Curtain

Decorate the nursery with blue skies and puffy white clouds by topping cerulean curtains with soft white swags made of cotton knit. Stretch the cotton over a dowel hung above the main curtain rod, and arrange it to completely cover the dowel. Catch the white cotton drape up at two points evenly spaced along the dowel, creating three rounded sections of swag. Tuck the ends behind the outside edges of the swag so you have three curvy "clouds" sailing above each window in the room. Suspend a sun-shaped sun catcher in each window so it can be seen when the curtains are pulled back during the day.

Center-Stage Swag

When the bed sits against the wall between two windows, underscore its position as focal point with dramatic swags that mirror one another. Silk window shades provide privacy and block the light. Above the window, ornate curtain rods hold floor-length faux half-curtains in heavy folds of silk. The faux-curtains sweep to the floor from the rod on only one side of each window. The silk fabric continues over the top of the window, wound loosely around the rods in one long, gathered swag that hangs in short folds on the other side of the window. The short ends of the swags are closest to the bed so both swags draw the eye to it. For pure, formal elegance, make a bed canopy and bed coverings from the same silk as the window fabric.

Faux-Formal Teen Windows

Let your teen frame a view of the world with an inexpensive but highly personal window treatment. After spreading plain canvas or vinyl shades out flat for a sketching or graffiti session, hang one in each window. Give the artist free rein -- the shades are easy to replace when tastes change. Decorated shades can display song lyrics, poetry fragments or favorite sayings when pulled down. Finish off the look with faux drapes made from a long swatch of lightweight material, chosen by the bedroom's occupant, and draped with a little help from you. Hang a painted dowel or a regular curtain rod over each shaded window. Start at the floor on one side and hang the fabric in a column of loose folds from the dowel, draping it over the dowel across the window to create one or two graceful swags and looping it once more over the dowel so it hangs to the floor on the opposite side.


  • White Hot; Tricia Guild

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

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