My signature window treatment has long been the floor to ceiling silk dupioni panel. It's a look I love and can't imagine giving up. What I don't love is softening those creases that occur when moving or installing these lengthy creations. Since I like dusting my panels from time to time, it has served me to learn how to properly care for them without sending them to the cleaners each time I decide to spring clean. Besides: all that dry cleaning fluid can damage delicate textiles and mistakes do sometimes occur. Thus, it pays to learn a few methods of cleaning and caring for these simple window treatments on your own so you can keep them clean and crisp on your own schedule.
This annual task used to befuddle me. Fortunately I've invested in a few tools of the trade and learned quite a bit about maintaining my silky creations. A commercial grade steam iron, for one, has made life significantly easier. Those cool new "crease release" sprays are another (high five for that one, scientists!). And let's not forget the good old iron. But caution: test all products or methods on a small area to ensure you aren't leaving spots or scorching your fabrics.
Silk may be tricky, but those of you rocking linen or cotton panels can relax knowing that steam can power out any wrinkles your little heart desires to force out. My tip: Iron the top on a classic ironing board. I actually like using crease release fabric in lieu of starch as it really encourages the fabric to let go of those folds.
I like to iron the back of the panels to protect the integrity of the front-facing fabric. It's also a great moment to mist with fabric freshening liquid with a light clean scent. The Laundress makes a great one I love using. Even if the window treatments are new, this is a rare opportunity to add a "clean" scent to the fabric before they are installed. Why iron the top? The top dictates how the bottom and "body" of the panels will hang. Eliminating wayward wrinkles and unruly folds is key to allowing the length of the panels hang how you wish them to hang.
Once you've achieved a few feet of flawless fabric at the top of the panels from the iron, hang those panels and hang them high. From there I move on to a professional garment/upholstery steamer. I use a Jiffy, but you can shop around to find what meets your needs. I gently pull on the fabric to "train" the folds of the panels as I go down to the floor. I like having a handheld option too for those hard-to-reach areas.
Again, work with what seems best for your fabric. Cotton and other natural fibers can handle the heat of an iron. Synthetics and delicate textiles like silk require more of a delicate approach and you'll want to experiment with heat settings and techniques to see what works best for you.
Then, for lasting gentle folds where you want them, grab some scarves or other fabric ties to train your panels to hold soft creases where you want them. Give them a day or so to "set" and voila! Fabulous, crease free drapery panels just the way you've always dreamed you'd have.
Finally...stand back, take a deep breath and admire your work. No need to think about these beautiful window treatments again for a year. And by then you'll feel like a boss when you tackle the task. ;)