There are many different types of stage or ‘theatre fabrics’ that serve different purposes. Below is a list of the standard fabrics used in the theatre industry along with their most common purposes.
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Main Curtains, Masking, Travelers, Acoustical Curtains, Scenic Covers, Austrian Curtains
For theatrical drapery, velours are known for their luster, durability and versatility. Velour is a napped, opaque fabric that has a lush feel and appearance. The pile texture is a result of the weaving process where the loops are cut off at the ends. The direction that the nap, or pile, is placed will create lighter or darker looks, depending on the specific velour and the design needs. Theater velours can be cotton (FR-Flame Retardant) or synthetic fibers (IFR- Inherently Flame retardant), and are available in a wide range of weights, colors and price points. Velours can be used for most theatrical drapery installations.
Commando Cloth (Duvetyne)
Masking, Scenic Covers
Commando cloth (Duvetyne) has a brushed matte finish and comes in two weights, 12 and 16 ounce. It is generally used in black for masking because it is very opaque. Commando is an economical IFR alternative for velour when not being used for long term installations.
Masking, Scenic Covers
Wool serge is a tightly woven, dense IFR fabric that is durable and versatile. The density makes this a very opaque fabric that is often used for masking and sound blocking. Serge fabric does not have nap direction and is generally used in black. Serge can also be painted for backdrops very effectively.
Back Drops, Translucents, Cycloramas, Scenic Covers, Ground Cloths, Rags
Muslin is a tightly woven fabric that can be used for painted backdrops, cycloramas and translucent drops, as well as ground covers or for a wide range of uses. It is available in natural or white. When muslin is used for painted scenery backdrops, it is necessary that it be NFR, due to the reaction of paint with the FR chemicals. The wide range of widths available ranging from 118” to 39’, make it possible to cover large spaces without the interruption of multiple seams. Some widths may be available in a small range of light colors. A lighting designer will use a seamless cyclorama lit with different colors to create certain moods on stage.
Scrim Drop, Masking Covers
Scrim is an open weave fabric that is used for special lighting effects on stage. Often called Sharkstooth Scrim, this net like fabric can be opaque or translucent, depending on which side of the fabric is being lit. If used to cover a unit, it can make the object covered appear as a flat color piece. Generally used in Black and White, it is available in a wide variety of widths, and FR, NFR or IFR, depending on color and widths.
Cycloramas, Scenic Cover
Leno, or Filled Scrim, is based on the traditional scrim fabric weave, but the spaces are filled with fibers. Leno has a soft, textured surface that reflects light very well that makes it an excellent choice for cycloramas and bounce drops. Generally used in white and is an FR fabric.
Cut Drops, Pit Covers
Netting is exactly what it sounds like. It is a nylon netting that is a series of nylon twisted strands that cross each other and form knots at those points. Netting typically comes in ¾” or 1″ openings. Netting is frequently used for cut-drops. Another use for netting can be orchestra pit covers. The one unfortunate part of netting is that it is not a flame retardant material and currently can not be treat with chemical either.