Interior Design Window Treatments: Curtains
A window is a natural focal point, and so a window treatment can set the whole style of a room. The range of effects you can create is very wide: from the delicacy of lace panels to the crisp, contemporary look of Venetian blinds; from tailored, pleated full-length curtains to soft, billowing festoons; from grand, traditional swags and tails to the natural charm of split-cane blinds.
Curtain fabrics come in a variety of fibres and in different weights, finishes, textures, colours and patterns. In general, the shorter the curtain, the lighter the fabric can be; curtains which hang full-length in straight folds need heavier fabric. Simple cased headings and loose gathers and ties work best if the material is lightweight; tailored pleated headings are more successful in a stiffer, thicker fabric.
Cotton is still the principal fibre used in furnishing fabrics; today it is often blended with artificial fibres such as polyester. Cotton prints well, wears well and comes in a wide range of weights, weaves and finishes. In addition to plain weave cotton, you can obtain cotton brocades, lawns, damasks, chintzes, ginghams, sateens, satins, and velvets.
Linen is sturdier than cotton and more loosely woven. A blend of linen and cotton, known as ‘linen union’, is the most common linen furnishing fabric.
For furnishing use, wool is usually blended with other fibres. Both light wools and tweeds can be used to make curtains, especially if extra warmth is desired.
Other fabrics involved in curtain-making include linings, interlinings and buckram. Cotton sateen, in colours as well as neutral shades, is the most common type of lining material. Thermal lining comes either in a cotton and acrylic blend or in an aluminium-coated form. Black-out lining, which excludes all light, comes in neutral shades. Interlining consists of a layer of padding stitched between the lining and curtain.
Calculating Fabric Amount
Before measuring, fix the track or pole in position. Use a metal rule to take measurements, as a fabric one can stretch.
Curtain length is a matter of taste. The three standard lengths are to the sill, to the floor or to just below the sill (to the top of a radiator, for example). But curtains can also look luxurious if they are allowed to fall onto the floor in rich, deep folds or flaring like the base of a column.
To establish the length, take the following measurements from the base of the glider or ring: to 5mm/ 1/4in above the sill; to 1cm / 2/5in above the floor (or lower if desired); or to 2cm / 3/4in above a radiator. Add 2cm/ 9in for hem and heading, plus extra for any pattern repeat. Remember to make allowance for headings which stand up above the track.
A curtain’s width is a function of the style of heading used. Measure the length of the track, rod or pole (not the width of the window) and multiply by the required fullness for the heading. Add I 5cm/6in for side turnings, and account for any overlap in the middle. It is important not to skimp on fabric width — certain types of heading demand more material than others to work successfully. If you need to economize, choose a simpler style of heading.