Monday, December 27, 2010

Knox Hill Project: Weekly Update: Period Drapery Design Part 1

Now we are still a long way from being done with the Knox Hill cottage so you may as what we are doing talking about drapes? Well the answer is simple. The front parlor is almost done. We only have the new flooring to put down at this point. Also the other formal room, the dining room is not as far away from completion either so getting in to draperies is not  that "far fetched", as draperies are a big project and you don't want to find yourself moving in someday and not have the right drapes.In total we have 5 Windows and 2 Portiers (door drapes) to do and this work takes time!
This is the initial design which of course I modified based on materials selected

Proper Period Design is the key.The Victorians reserved the Front Parlor for as elaborate drapery treatments as they could afford as this room was meant to impress. Similarly the Formal dining room would be given a similar if not identical treatment. Both the Formal Parlor and Formal dining have custom built ebonized and stenciled wooden drapery cornices that match the over mantle mirrors. The valance portion fits up inside the wooden cornice and the main drapes will will put in a rod located behind that one. Behind that will be lace panels or shutters . Victorian dressed their windows much like they dressed themselves , lots of layer and frills. There is a practical side to these heavy drapery treatments, they provide insulation from the cold windows. In a future blog we will cover how more private upper rooms like bedrooms were done.

So lets talk about how these are made and how they are installed. Valances are heavy and ours will be going in a wood valance that is securely mounted with Brackets and screws. What I like to do is rather than place these on a rod which over time can sag and would create wrinkles and creases, is to mount the drapery material to a 1 1/2 inch wide piece of wood that is 3/4 inch thick. What I do is "pin" everything to this Wood strip and then when I have a look I like I place grommets along the top of the material and screw the material down with flat screws into the wood. Some designers simply glue or staple this, but with our method the Valance can be removed for cleaning. The wood strip is then screwed up to the valance  (towards the front)and you have a tight fit with no sags. I will cover that when we get around to installing these.
If you are using a lighter weight material you will want to line it with a heavier material so it will drape properly

The valance is made up of panels and the first step is to select our material. I chose a damask/paisley design with a very dark black background and the pattern in done in gold. Depending on what is around it and the light it "reads' slightly green so I elected to use a green tasseled fringe. The material selected however is a fairly lightweight material and must be lined. I used a good weight red material for the back lining. This allows the  material to 'drape" properly and hold its shape.
The green tassel is attached to the lined fabric

The fringe is attached to the lined material with a fabric bonding glue (you could use hot glue/fuse tape or sew it)  I like to still take a needle and thread to it to be sure its properly attached But the bonding glue gets it into a perfect position and avoids the need to pin.
Heavier weight bullion fringe can be glued but I recommend sewing it due to its weight

Under the main valance is a  'secondary" fabric that is tan Damask that will be seen in the center. This is a heavier material that would not  necessarily need a lining but I recommend it. This a square cut piece of material. A two inch red bullion fringe is sewn to two sides. and the rest of the fabric is folded back on it creating the liner. A gold tassel is stitched and glued to the back of the fabric The tassel is 5 inches long.
The finished center valance

The Main valance is gathered with the use of a gold heavy ribbon material which has a large 6 inches red tassel attached . This ribbon is used to 'lift" the material in the center up and create the sway effect.  You may notice that the green tassels only go up the sides several inches and this transitions into just a green gimp? The area covered just in gimp will be covered by the two side drape panels. tasseling is expensive (5-7 dollars a yard) and you can save  money by switching to the gimp in those areas that do not show. I will cover the construction of the side panels later this week

Materials list:

1 Yard of your black fabric
1 Yard of your red back lining
2 Yards of the green tassel Gimp
1/2 yd of the green gimp
1 YD of 2 inch Ribbon  Trim
1 6 inch large red tassel

1/2 YD of the Tannish gold  'secondary" Back panel fabric
1 Yard 2 inch Bullion fringe
1 YD Lining Material (optional)

To make the drop side panels you will need more materials and I will cover that in the next installment but each window takes 3 yards of the black material. TIP: if you find a material you like always buy extra, in fact if you can afford a bolt that is the way to go as you get a discount per yard and you will have matching fabric to upholster side chairs or create  mantle scarfs of table runners. I recommend that you do the valances first then you can try different fabric samples under then (preferably in the room they will be hung in) to see what material works best with the valance and your room. If cost is a consideration, you can often use 'stock' pre-made panels underneath and add fringe

If all of this is simply too much work, or you are 'sewing challenged" Contact us about your custom drapery needs. We can custom create stunning window treatment for your home. Time frames depend on material availability,and our schedule. Custom Drapes can take 2-4 weeks lead time. Contact us at for quote. 

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