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How To Be A Decorator:
Principles Of Decoration
Painting Points
Wallpaper Points
Wall Points
Floor Points
Colonial Living Rooms
Veneered Paneling
The English Room
Spanish-Italian Living Rooms
The Living Room Without A Mantel
Living Room Points
Dining Rooms
Dining Rooms Points
Combination Living Room - Dining Room
Living Room - Dining Room Points
Halls, Sun Rooms And Porches
Points For Halls, Sun Rooms And Porches
Colonial And Modern Bedrooms
Bedroom Points
Colorful, Comfortable Nurseries
Nursery Points
New Fashions In Draperies
How To Make Curtains And Draperies
Drapery Points
Slip Covers
Slip Cover Points
How To Make Slip Covers
How To Paint Furniture
Finishes For Natural Wood Furniture

New Fashions In Draperies

( Originally Published 1930's )

How to Curtain Different Types of Windows

There are three reasons for the curtaining of windows. We want to exclude people from looking in, we want to diffuse the light which comes through the window, and we want to add to the room that decorative note which curtains alone can bring. These needs vary in each room. There are places where there is no need for privacy and we want all there is of a beautiful view. There are rooms where so little light enters that only the thinnest glass curtains are necessary to diffuse it sufficiently. And there are rooms which are so decorative in themselves that they need little assistance from draperies at the windows. But in the great majority of houses all these requirements must be met, and the livableness of the room depends upon the charm with which this desirable end has been accomplished. To do this most successfully the structural lines of the room must be studied, and these lines emphasized with materials that express the correct decorative note and are harmonious with the background of which they are to become a dominant part.

The modern tendency in window decorating is away from the elaborate swathings of the Victorian era. In the average home, the windows and doors no longer afford excuses for an over-elaborate display of rich textiles. Only those fabrics which best serve the three primary requirements-privacy, comfort and beauty-are necessary and in good taste. From the wide variety of textiles now available on the market, those best adapted to your individual needs should be selected. Fabrics that may be beautiful in one room may not be suitable in another, and those that correctly diffuse light as it comes through one window may be much too heavy for use in another room.

Sunfast Fabrics

For several years the manufacturers of drapery materials have been experimenting with the production of fabrics which would be both sunfast and tubfast. They have found that cotton and artificial silk will take sunfast dyes, but that pure silk will not. As pure silk not only fades, but also rots under the direct rays of the sun, its use is definitely limited where it must be exposed to sunlight. Dyeing the yarn in the skein is the most satisfactory method for making fabrics strictly sunfast and tubfast. But now there are available on the market many sunfast printed cottons. These include various patterns of chintzes and a few Americanized copies of toiles de Jouy. Some of these patterns have been glazed, and some made waterproof. As the manufacturers are constantly improving and developing the dyes and the printing, it will probably not be long before all of the chintzes and cretonnes as well as

artificial silk will be guaranteed sunfast and tubfast.

Glass Curtains

The curtains which hang as close to the sash as the roller shade will permit are commonly termed glass curtains. They are generally divided into two classes; those which merely temper the light and give softness to the edges of the overdraperies and those which are used without any over-curtains. The first class are made of the sheerest, most transparent materials, such as plain, dotted or striped net, sunfast gauze, silk or cotton, theatrical gauze, voile, marquisette, dotted swiss, organdy, or dimity.

The second type, which combines with its own function that of over-draperies, is made of somewhat heavier fabrics, as they are more important-casement cloths, pongee, taffeta, the heavier gauzes and medium-weight sunfast fabrics, colored voiles, cotton and silk poplins, madras, and unbleached muslin, which can be dyed and used in living-rooms, dining-rooms, or bedrooms. Colored swisses may be included and in Colonial bedrooms ruffled white swiss curtains looped back to either side are delightfully in keeping with the period. Glass curtains of other materials should hang in loose straight folds, and when only one set is used they can be finished across the top with simple shirred valances.

Trimmings for Glass Curtains

There are innumerable smart and fascinating varieties of trimmings and finishes for glass curtains. They range from the two and one-half inch hemstitched "handkerchief hem"so-called because it is the same width on all four sides and finished at the corners like the corners of a handkerchief-to the frivolous little ruffles with picoted edges both top and bottom, which can be set on with tiny headings. These are particularly youthful when looped back at the sides with sashes of the fabric tied in full, fluffy bows which are trimmed across the ends with a trio of similar ruffles. The shirred valances may be finished in like fashion. Crisp transparent materials should be chosen, such as organdy or dotted swiss. Ruffles of a contrasting color may be used effectively, for instance, mauve on turquoise, yellow on blue, or two tones of rose pink. Probably no finish is daintier or in better taste for the bedroom than half-inch lace, preferably hand-made cluny or filet, applied to the inside and bottom edges. Narrow fringe also makes a very attractive finish.

When the glass curtains are made of a moderately heavy material, as pongee or casement cloth, the edge is sometimes finished with a matching fringe, or one in the predominating hue of the over-draperies. If over-curtains are omitted, the monotony of the neutral tinted curtains may be relieved by a vividly colored fringe or simple stitchery matched to some of the minor furnishings. With pongee color, effective combinations are rich cardinal red, strong Chinese blue, or brilliant emerald green.

Other suitable finishes, expecially where only one set of curtains is used, include shirred ruchings with pinked edges, box-plaited quillings, narrow bindings or applied hems of a contrasting material, and puffed bands corded on either edge. These may also be applied, with equal propriety, to overdraperies of an informal type.

Length of Curtains and Over-Draperies

Glass curtains always end at the sill whether used alone or with side hangings. The latter may either end at the bottom of the window casing, or continue to the floor. They may hang in straight, loose folds, or be looped back; and the wood trim of the window may be covered, or left exposed, according to individual conditions.

Double Dutch curtains of gauze, net, or English casement cloth are desirable for rooms that are inclined to be dark. These are like two sets of sash curtains, the upper set just overlapping the lower. Both pairs may be pushed back to the sides, or one pair pushed back and the other drawn together according to the amount of light desired.

By the use of this type of curtain it is often possible to dispense with roller shades. The material used should be semi-transparent, and the curtains should be hung on rings or with draw cord attachment to permit of easy adjustment.


Of materials which may be used for over-draperies, there literally is no end. Those which do not require lining include the heavier casement cloths in a variety of tones, colors and weaves-madras, plain and in self-tones, silks, sunfasts, cretonnes, poplins, and glazed chintzes, not to mention such charming "poor relations" as checked gingham, calico and unbleached muslin. A new fabric, or rather an old one in new guise, is mohair in many excellent designs and colors. For dens, camps and bungalow living-rooms, monk's cloth and the new figured denims make delightful hangings.

For the more formal rooms the lovely sheen and coloring of damask cannot be surpassed, and it is surprising to note that the patterns and colors of many exquisite French silk damasks are now reproduced in cotton at less than a third of the cost. There are also increasing numbers of mixed and mercerized fabrics, reasonable in price, which are scarcely less beautiful in texture, color and design than their aristocratic rivals whose every thread is silk.

Damasks, of course, must be lined, and so must velours, but the large family of poplins-cotton, mercerized, and silktogether with the reps and armures and plain linens are amenable to less formal treatment. Printed linens, however, hang better when lined.

Velours draperies should also be interlined. Those of other materials may or may not be, depending upon circumstances. Draperies which are interlined very effectively keep out cold air and drafts, an important consideration in certain climates.

Excellent effects can often be produced by finishing the over-hangings with applied hems of a contrasting material and color, or by making the hangings of one material and the valances and tiebacks of another. Thus, taffeta hems may finish cretonne hangings; or draperies of any figured material may have plain valances and tiebacks, and vice versa. Taffeta and cretonne, and velour and taffeta or silk poplin may be combined with agreeable results. Among less pretentious fabrics, curtains of organdy, voile, or dotted swiss may fall from beneath valances of gingham or chambray. A particularly smart idea is to edge a plain, straight chambray valance with two tiny, bias ruffles of the same material, and to use a narrow strip of the chambray to bind the edges of the muslin ruffles that adorn the curtains.

Decorative Window Shades

When walls and draperies are plain, the decorative note may be introduced in the form of window shades of Austrian cloth or puffed shading, cretonne, or glazed chintz. Gathered shades are ornamental also, and may take the place of both the customary roller shade and the glass curtains.

With any of the materials enumerated, scallops may finish the lower edge, and fringe is frequently added. A long tassel hanging from a short length of cord is the favored shade pull.

The most elaborate form of window shade is variously known as the French, Austrian, or puffed shade. The material of which it is made must not be too heavy to shirr well. Casement cloth, both silk and cotton, lightweight sunfast, and silk or cotton taffeta are the most popular fabrics for the purpose. This type of shade is effective in sun-parlors where no curtains or draperies are used, and in rooms whose furnishings are somewhat elaborate. The use of French shades presupposes hangings of sumptuous fabrics, such as velvet or heavy silk, except in the case of sun-parlors as mentioned above.

French Windows and Doors

French windows and doors, and casement windows that open in, may have the curtain fabric shirred top and bottom on small brass rods fastened to the window or door, or it may be allowed to hang loose at the bottom, the lower edge being finished either with a plain hem, a ruffle, or an edging of fringe. To admit more light the top row of panes is sometimes left uncovered, but the whole effect is not so good as when the entire door is covered. If there is a fan-light above, the easiest method of dressing it is to have a rod bent to fit the arch, and run this through a hem in the upper edge of the fabric, allowing scant fulness, and then gather the lower edge, drawing the fulness to the center so that the folds radiate like the spokes of a wheel.

Generally speaking, side draperies on French doors are out of place in the average small home today. When they are used, the problem is to mount them in such a manner that they will not interfere with the operating of the door. This requirement has been met by a special rod whose outer end is fastened to the casing at the usual height by means of a hinged device which permits it to swing freely. The opposite end rests on a small fixture attached to the inside upper corner of the door itself, and high enough to hold the rod in a horizontal position. Thus, when the door is closed, the effect is much the same as when the ordinary type of rod is used; but when it opens, the drapery, rod and door swing in unison.

'When to Use Valances

The use of valances is governed in part by architectural limitations. If the room has a low ceiling, valances will make it appear still lower by opposing a strong horizontal line to the vertical lines of the room. Again, if the windows themselves are too small, valances mounted in the usual manner will exaggerate their faulty proportions, besides cutting off a portion of the light. When properly employed, however, they give a sense of finish and completeness which is lacking where draperies alone are used.

Plain, gathered valances, being easily laundered, are best adapted to bathrooms and kitchens, and to bedrooms unless these are furnished in a sumptuous and formal manner which demands formality in the dressing of the windows. Fitted or shaped valances, on the other hand, suggest permanence and dignity, and, hence, are better suited to the more formal rooms of the house. Midway between the two extremes are the boxplaited valances-which are particularly smart in plain or flowered glazed chintz-and those made with French headings.

Hiding Structural Imperfections

When planning window treatments, it is well to remember that they can be made to hide a multitude of structural errors.

A window that is too large will appear much smaller if the valance and hangings are allowed to extend well over the glass; and one which is too small can be made to look larger by using rods long enough to project beyond the framework on either side, and fastening them to the wall some inches outside and above the window. If the top and side casings are then barely covered by the valance and hangings, leaving the glass fully exposed, the effect will be that of a large window. The same method can be employed to give an appearance of uniformity to windows of different sizes, the smaller one being draped in the manner above described, and the larger in ordinary fashion. The rods may be hung on long hooks screwed into the wall or attached to small square wooden blocks finished the same as the woodwork.

Casement Curtains

Generally speaking, there are three types of casement windows-those which open out, those which swing on a pivot, and those which open in. For our convenience the last two really belong in the same group, as they are treated similarly. French doors also bear a striking family resemblance and belong to the inward opening group. Obviously the window which opens out is mercilessly exposed to the sun and the weather. For that reason the curtains on that type of window should not be fastened to the sash so they swing out, but to the frame quite free from the window itself. Just the opposite is true of the second group. Because they open in it would be awkward to have them always brushing or sliding against the curtains as they would if they were detached. So for convenience's sake on this type of window, the curtains should be fastened directly to the sash, using either one rod, or rods at top and bottom as desired.

Roller shades may be dispensed with if for the glass cur tains semi-transparent material like casement cloth, pongee, silk or cotton taffeta, sunfast, heavy gauze or even unbleached muslin is used and mounted either on rings or with a draw fixture to permit of easy adjustment.

Because casement windows are usually low the question of whether or not to use a valance is a vexing one. Undoubtedly a valance does finish and complete a window treatment as nothing else does. Also the long rods necessary for group windows are often very unsightly when no valance is used. At the same time in a low room with a series of low windows another horizontal line might be very objectionable. If a valance is not used an effort to conceal the rods should be made by painting them to match the woodwork.

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