Curtain Treatments: Headings, Tracks and Poles
The practical purposes of curtains are to provide privacy and warmth, to exclude light completely or partially, and to screen unwelcome views. But the type of window treatment you select for a particular location depends also on the window itself, the style and decoration of the room, and the amount you wish to spend on it.
Tailored formal styles extending to the floor suit large windows in living and dining rooms; sill-length curtains in lighter fabric can be chosen for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. In period settings, you can experiment with traditional pelmets (cornices) or elaborate swags and tails.
The heading defines the style of the curtain. It will determine the fullness of the curtain, how it hangs, and how it is suspended. If the curtain-top is not covered by a pelmet (cornice), the heading will also be a feature in its own right.
Deep, tailored headings which keep the fabric hanging straight in full folds include pencil pleats, box pleats and pinch or triple pleats. Narrower headings, which give a softer, less formal look, include standard gathered headings, smocked headings and cluster pleats.
Today all of these styles can be achieved by the use of special heading tapes sewn to the back of the curtain. Tapes are available in different weights to suit different fabrics. By pulling cords threaded through the tape the fabric is gathered into a particular pattern. Alternatively, the fabric can be gathered by inserting pleater hooks, which serve also to attach the curtain to the track or pole.
Simpler sewn types of heading for lightweight unlined curtains or sheers include cased headings and shaped headings. A cased heading is a sewn channel along the top of the curtain (or at both top and bottom) which enables a wire or rod to be threaded through, shirring the fabric. Also, fabric can be cut and sewn into scallops or castellations which are then threaded through rings or directly onto a pole or rod.
Types of Headings and Tapes:
gathered heading using standard curtain tape (1);
pencil pleats (2);
pinch pleats (3);
smocked heading (4);
box pleats (5);
cartridge pleats (6);
scalloped heading hung from rings (7);
cased heading on covered wire (8).
Hooks and Rings
There is a variety of designs of hooks and rings to suit different types of headings, tracks and poles. Hooks and rings are both available in metal and plastic; there are also wooden rings for use with wooden poles. Some designs are unobtrusive; others are meant for display.
Tracks and Poles
Tracks, which are available in plastic or aluminium, make discreet fittings for curtains, especially if the heading extends a little way over the top. They come with guide hooks into which curtain hooks are slotted, they can be shaped to fit around a bay or bow window, and they can be fitted with a cord set and pulleys so that the curtains can be drawn from one side.
Poles — either of metal or of wood — can be highly decorative. They come with supporting brackets, matching rings or inset runners and hooks. Poles can be mitred to fit around angled windows.
Other means of curtain suspension include fine metal or brass rods for attaching sheer curtains or curtains with cased headings, and plastic-covered sprung wire for the same purpose.
Putting up a Track
1. Measure the window or recess and mark the desired fixing height at intervals across the window. Join the marks, extending the line to the width of the track. Use a spirit level (carpenter’s level) to check that the line is straight and horizontal.
2. With a pencil, mark along the guide line where the brackets will go, spacing them evenly. Drill and plug the holes,the brackets in place and clip or slot the track onto the brackets.
* To position the track on the ceiling you must fix the brackets to joists.
Putting up a Pole
1. Construct a guide line, as for a track. To mark the positions for support brackets, measure in from the ends of the pole (note that thehole is often slightly above centre). Drill and plug the holes, and drive in , leaving the heads projecting. Fit brackets.
2. Centre the pole on the brackets, leaving one ring outside the brackets at either side. Push the finials into place. Drive a screw into the base of each bracket. The screws bite into the pole, and prevent it from becoming dislodged when the curtains are pulled.
Types of Tracks and Poles:
1) corded tracks with pulleys;
2) metal pole with finials and rings;
3) wooden pole with finials and rings;
4) plastic track with glide hooks;
5) plastic track with motif;
6) expandable pole;
7) fine rod for net curtains;
8) expandable wire with eyes.