Home Interior Design ideas: Fabric Finishes
Fabric-lined rooms are luxurious. There are paper-backed materials, which are applied like wallpaper, but more excitingly fabrics can be draped, gathered or shirred to create a soft, intimate atmosphere. Alternatively you can stretch fabric over wooden battens to give an upholstered look. All of these effects are particularly good at disguising poor surfaces and correcting proportional defects in a room.
Although covering walls in fabric is an extravagant way of using material, you do not need to opt for the most expensive. Inexpensive lightweight cottons, such as muslin or cheesecloth, are ideal for shirring or gathering.
Lengths of material draped over poles or rods can make decorative frames for beds, alcoves, mirrors, windows and doors.
Choose a fabric which is light enough to gather up easily. Calculate the amount required by first measuring the height and width of the wall. Allow 1-½ – 2 times the width for gathering, and add 10cm/4in to the height for hems. Then divide the fabric width (less selvedges) into the total width and multiply the number of widths by the total height to find the length of fabric you require.
1. Make casings at the top and bottom of each fabric length. Fold 5cm/2in of fabric over to the wrong side and machine stitch 2.5cm/1in below the fold. Then turn the hem under and machine-stitch in position.
2. Gather fabric by inserting rod, dowel or curtain wire into the casings at top and bottom. Rods, dowels or wires should extend to the full width of the area. Fix rods or dowels to wall with wardrobe (closet) or curtain rod brackets; wires can be tacked in position.
3. Short panels may be required over doors and around windows.
4. To hang fabric over an obstacle — such as a light switch — first mark the area and cut to within 1cm/1/2in. Then trim the edges and work a row of gathering stitches top and bottom. Unscrew the switch plate, pull up gathers to fit and fix plate back.
Making a Tented Ceiling
This method of tenting is suitable for square or nearly square rooms.
1. Decide where to position the tenting — level with a door frame, window frame or picture rail, for example. Draw a line around the room at this point and fix wooden battens at the required height. Mark the central point of the ceiling with a dot.
2. Make a paper pattern by cutting out a large triangle, with a base measuring the distance between two corners and two equal sides which are the distance between the central dot and a corner. Cut the triangle in half and insert a rectangular piece between the two halves. The rectangular piece should be the width of the base of each half triangle.
Cut out four fabric pieces according to the pattern, adding seam allowances.
3. Stitch pieces together. Press seams open and finish off, for example, by pinking. Make a casing around the central opening, insert drawstring and pull tight. Stitch two rows of gathering around the perimeter and pleat up fabric until it is the width of the battens. Suspend tenting from cup hook securely screwed into a ceiling joist at the central point. Fix the perimeter to battens and trim with braid or ribbon to finish.
Joining Fabric Wall Coverings
Some fabrics,such as hessian (burlap), are available paper-backed. They can be hung and butt-jointed like wallpaper. Unbacked ‘furnishing’ hessian can be stuck by applying wallpaper paste to the wall. To join, overlap edges by about 2.5cm/1 in then cut through the double thickness, down the whole length, using a sharp craft knife or scalpel held against a metal straightedge. Peel back both strips and remove the excess. Smooth back into place with a brush.