Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Curtain Research

History of Curtains:
Drapery goes all the way back to the Middle Ages as a way of blocking out the light furs,skins and membrane were used to cover small holes in caves.
Until the late 16th century in England, window curtains were virtually non-existent. Instead, internal wooden shutters were used to keep out light and cold. When curtains did finally make an appearance, they were made from one piece of fabric hung on an iron rod from iron rings sewn onto the fabric, and drawn from one side of the window only.During the Middle Age, fabric was so expensive that only the upper class used it as curtains
But in the Industrial Era, the development of textile trade drove fabric prices down making fabric curtains available to the middle class. Window curtains were still rare in 17th century England, normally found only in important rooms in grand homes. Shutters were often used on the first and second floor windows of townhouses for privacy. Keeping out the cold was a constant worry, so that sometimes special window cloths were hooked into the window recess at night in order to keep out the draughts.
Yet when the Glass Industry came, houses were installed with glass windows and required fabric curtains or window blinds to protect the people inside from heat and drafts and prying eyes. Fabric manufacturers increased their production and lowered their prices as the demand for it greatly increased. This paved the way for the common person to buy their own fabric curtains. Drapery was the most fashionable type of curtaining in the Neoclassical period. It consisted of several pieces of fabric put together to give the appearance of one flowing piece. One or more swags would normally go at each end, with the joins disguised by trimming

Style in the 19th century:

Something used widely in the 19th century was to make a long pelmet of many swags and tails to hang across more than one window. Particularly in England this way of draping most of a window wall in fabric became very popular it framed the window and a sense of wealth was created instantly the original designs for Empire style curtains are incredibly complicated with swags of different colours we hope to recreate the elaborate style of swags and tail in our set.
The highly improved dyeing and printing techniques of the early 19th century resulted in more realistic colours for floral designs, as well as in vastly reduced prices as textiles were produced in bulk. This resulted in the decline of Britain’s silk industry.
From the middle of the century a number of new dyes were available for yellow, purple and blue-green.

Velvets, brocades and silks and satins were all used to frame a window and add drama to the parlors, salons and dining areas of the wealthy members of society.
Beautiful silk velvets had been produced in Italy since the 14th century, but by the 15th century the Italians found themselves competing with the French in the production of these exquisite fabrics.
Motifs on fabrics were popular, especially in France, and featured Napoleonic bees, swans, laurel wreaths, crowns, lyres, vases, eagles, and oak leaves. When the monarchy was restored in France, Empire ornaments on fabric designs were altered, with the Fleur-de-lis replacing the Napoleonic bees. Elaborate brocaded silks were no longer fashionable, although other silks were still popular, as were tulle, lustrous taffeta, velvets, damasks, satin, printed linen, sprigged muslin and printed cotton chintz.

Asymmetrical patterns replaced symmetrical designs during the early part of the Renaissance, with designs showing movement becoming popular, e.g., floral scrolls, birds in flight and running animals. Damask was a favourite material of the period. Although traditionally made of silk or linen, damask was also woven in wool or a mix of fibres. Linen damask evolved when the Flemish linen-thread weavers of Bruges copied the patterns of the Italian silk damask in linen thread.

Italian and Flemish weavers were established at Fontainebleau to weave intricate tapestries, and in Lyons to produce silk. Silk was woven in England from the early 1400s, but only the wealthiest households could afford it, so wool and linen remained the fabrics of popular choice. The first indiennes - brightly coloured hand-blocked and hand-painted calicoes which were colourfast - were introduced into France from India at the end of the 16th century, and were immediately popular. As dyeing techniques spread into the West from the East, the colouring of fabrics improved, although European block-printing techniques remained crude for some time

Accesories and Detail :
Trimmings were rich and ornate. Braid was large and stylised with a variety of decorative motifs. Gimp braid with clusters of bobble fringe was fashionable.
Fringes were usually deep and topped with braids bearing geometric patterns or appliquéd flowers. There were ornate bullion or ball fringes. Per
Tassel tops were arrow-head in shape or domed, with long skirts. Some tassels were severe and stylised, appliquéd with golden leaves or shells.
Contrasting linings, corded edges, dark silk fringing, embroidered panels and trompe l’oeil valances were all features of this period, and bell pulls with braided edges, appliquéd centres and tassels were very fashionable.

Jenny Gibbs, Curtains and Drapes: History, Design, Inspiration. Cassell Illustrated; New edition edition (9 Dec 1999)


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