Although they have the appearance of a single fluid drape, the elements are cut separately and assembled at the window on a pelmet (valance) shelf. The swag can be cut on the bias, which gives it a naturally graceful swathe. The amount of fabric required varies enormously between a simple swag and one that hangs in deep voluptuous folds. Companion to the swag are the tails that fall to each side of the window and sometimes at intermediate points when there is more swag.
There is a wealth of tail designs from which to choose: spirals and flutes, asymmetrical tails that fold in from each side, or the more familiar form cut as a modified triangle and folded into a series of staggered pleats that reveal the lining, often in a contrast color and pattern.
The considerable area of wall above this sash window gives scope for a draped heading that extends well beyond the window frame in upswept swag. Tails overlay pleated curtains that tie back to flank the window seat. A plain white roller blind allows the careful lines of the curtain pleats to remain undisturbed.
ABOVE The molded plaster cornice around this bay has been employed as a decorative pelmet (valance) with swags and tails fixed behind it. Full length curtains hang between each window and end in a hemline cascade.
RIGHT The stunning rhetoric of double curtains takes Jull account of the shape and scale of these tall French windows which are flanked by lower windows on either side. The different heights are strongly maintained by the individual curtain poles from which hang outer curtains of dramatically somber shot silk in laurel and brown.
WINDOW DRESSING HAND SEWING CURTAINS For pleated or draped curtains tailored precisely to your windows, with the pleats or drapes positioned to suit their size and shape, hand-made curtain headings are essential. Particularly’ interesting erlects can be achieved with vertically patterned fabric if you plan the size and spacing of pleats to match pattern repeats across the curtain.
Triple pleats are appropriate when curtains are hung with rings from an exposed wooden or brass pole. By positioning a hook in the back of each pleat, the curtains hang so that the rings match the pleats. Lining and interlining are essential; linings may be made from plain chintz, rather than standard lining fabrics, which will create a flash of color where the tails hang in folds. Extravagant, draped effects require careful sewing.
The detailed measurements depend on the size of the window and the type of fabric you are using as well as the finished effect you aim to achieve. It may be necessary to experiment so that you can be sure the measurements you plan to use will suit the window and create the effect you want. It is easier and more economical to make pairs of curtains from an exact number of widths of fabric. It also reduces the amount of sewing and pattern matching. Each curtain will require anything from 1 to 3 widths of fabric, unless the windows are unusually small or wide.
Before you buy the fabric, do all your sums: you have to work out roughly how much fullness you need, decide on the number of widths of fabric, and then multiply that number by the total length required for each drop of fabric (including hem and turning allowances, and pattern matching). Then work out the precise spacing allowance (and the space between the end pleats and the edge of the curtain) before making up the curtain.