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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good Old Swags

Back in the 80s I taught classes on making draperies,cornice boxes and swags. The book that you see in the photo is my bible for all things to cover windows and lots of info on draping beds and vanities in the Victorian style.

It was written in 1889. Someone re issued it in 1979. I grabbed it and guard it with my life. It has patterns and diagrams for every form of drapery and curtain known to man from that time back. I don't think that it is in print anymore unless someone has re issued it again. If you ever run across a copy grab it!

Anyway, I decided to re draw my patterns for swags this morning. The old patterns were actually turning yellow and had age spots! It's scary that I drew them that long ago.

Now for the directions. The patterns that follow are for the swag and jabot. If you sew, you can line the pieces by machine. I did them this morning with Wonder Under. I ironed two contrasting fabrics together(about 12" square) with the WU bond in the middle.
****Additional note since yesterday when I wrote this! I used the Wonder Under yesterday thinking that it would be a time saver. It was. It worked like a charm. I glued the pieces together with my favorite Elmer's glue. When I got home from Wednesday Witches mini meeting I picked up the curtain and the three pieces fell apart. Evidently the WU releases chemicals into the fabric when heated that prevent Elmer's from sticking. I went back and tried Tacky this morning. It is a heavier bodied glue. The Tacky worked. When I got back from town a couple of hours later they were stuck together just fine. I guess Wonder Under just likes heavier glue! ****

Here is the pattern. It is two simple pieces. You do have to make sure that you cut mirror images for the jabots so that they will slant towards the center of the window.
Remember that all of the pieces should be cut lengthwise of the grain of the fabric in order to match.
I cut the sides of the jabot 1/2" narrower since I didn't need a seam allowance. Five inches is a good length for the outside on an average window. You can vary that to suit tho. I didn't change any measurements on the swag.
I always do my curtains on a pin board with graph paper on it. It makes getting things even much easier.
Start with the swag. Turn 1/2" of the top edge over a 1/4" strip of wood and glued it on the front and back. I pinned the top and wood strip to the board. Put a pin in the center of the fabric about 1/2" down from the top of the board. Now bring about 1/3 of the fabric edge on either side up in a pleat and pin it in place. Again, put a pin in the center about 1/2" down and bring up another third of the fabric and pin on the ends. Do it a third time and it should look like the photo. The edges will naturally draw into the sides as you pull the center down with the pins.
Now take a jabot and pin the long side to the board with the pins slanted away from the material. Put a pin 3/4" away at the top and bottom. Bring the lose fabric back in a pleat. This should be 1/2" wide over the preceding fabric and there should be 1/4" of the edge that isn't covered. Pin this. Make a last pleat. The whole thing should be about 1" wide. Do it again with the other side. It doesn't have to be exact.
Spray all of the pieces with heavy duty, unscented hairspray. Let it dry. Do it again. Now gently release the pins and put some glue in all of the pleats and re pin. Let that dry. Do it carefully if you are sewing. With wonder under the glue is not likely to bleed through the fabric.
The last step is to fold the jabots over the top of the rod and glue. Let them dry. You can either cut off the rods so that nothing shows or put some fancy beads on the ends to represent finials on the rods.
I forgot to mention that this will fit a standard single Houseworks window. You can just glue it to the wall over the window and hold it down with painter's tape until it's dry.
There are a lot of variations on these curtains. I didn't trim them because I wanted you to be able to see what was happening with the folds. You can fancy them up with braid or other edging.
This is all you get for today. I am thinking that this needs to be more than one entry. I will put up a version for a double window and some different patterns for valences tomorrow.
See you then.

1 comment:

Star said...

I'm just dying to know (this isn't all that mini related) what did curtains in 1800s look like? Did they look a lot like modern curtains with swags? Or where they more simple and straight cut?