Journal Insight #7: Embellishments


You’re a designer, you add value by being creative and coming up with more for your clients. You’re ordering hand-made curtains and blinds and trust me, they really don’t have to be boring or straightforward. To put it simply, if it can be sewn you can probably have it. So, while there are the most beautiful fabrics out there, you can apply your own stamp on top, and we call this embellishing; it’s a great way of tying different elements of a room together, adding layers and texture, or even just for fun. It gives you far more in your design arsenal than just the fabrics and curtain headings.

I personally think this Journal insight is really fun and I’m going to throw ideas at you, that you can use to create your own embellishments. I’m going to start with things you can do with curtains, other than wear them around the house…

Curtain Trimmings

Lets starts with trimmings. If you’ve been to the big Passementerie showrooms (I still think you can buy a Danish in them, or at least hope to) such as Samuel & Son you will have a good idea of the vast number of trims you can buy in every conceivable size, shape and colour. From simple cords to extraordinary gold thread applique braids. The choice can be overwhelming and also pretty expensive if you aren’t paying attention.

Placed down the edge of a curtains you can lift a plain fabric or define the edge of a big pattern. The current enthusiasm for maximalism means some are adding crazy trims to crazy curtains, and why not?

Pompoms are everywhere, they truly are. The last 12 months have seen us adding them to all kinds of curtain and pelmets. They can be a very affordable way to inject an extra layer, and both The Pompomery in England and Copper Fox in In Northern Ireland have great ranges at fair prices. Oh, and we all know how kids, big & small, love a pompom.

Piping is an under-rated trim that can really sharpen up the look of a curtain. Either placing right on the edge or set back a few centimetres it adds a tailoring detail that I am rather fond of. You can buy great piping cords in various diameters or have your own made up by your curtain maker.

Contrast Trims on Curtains

Contrast trims are what we call sections of fabric that are added to a curtains or blinds usually on the leading or return edges or top and bottom hems. Less fussy than a trimming, but with the power to really transform a curtain. You can use them to reflect a colour from elsewhere or to frame the curtains. In sunny south facing windows they are useful as ‘sacrificial strips’ that can be replaced when faded, at a fraction of the cost of new curtains. For heavily swagged curtains you can run the trim 50 cm around to the back of the curtains letting you really celebrate that contrast when held with a tieback.

More dramatic is the top and bottom hem, where you see it across the whole width of the curtains. From slim hems to big bold skirts, they are another great toy in your design toolkit.

A rarely used detail is to add a contrast trim to the middle of a pleat at the top of a curtain. A bit like the button hole detail on a jacket it can be a subtle nod to something else in the room.

Buttons sewn onto the front of curtain pleats don’t seem to be popping up so much, but I’m surprised as following the trends you’d think they would be everywhere. Buttons gives you a pin prick of detail. Adding a velvet button can add sumptuousness and we’ve sewn on more than a few Swarovski crystal buttons over the years.

Cushion Embellishments

You can have lots of fun with cushions too. Piping again, but also applying braids, or tassels to each corner. Plus there are fringes, flanges, box pleats, Oxford edges… Using far less than on curtains it is a good way to add embellishments to a room without blowing the budget.

Don’t forget pelmets, headboards and tie-backs can also be embellished. The world really is your oyster and I’d encourage you to be as playful as you can. Clearly it takes a good eye and a degree of control to manage all this properly and harmoniously within a scheme, but that’s why you’re a designer.

If you’ve found this helpful, please share.

Next time… hanging and dressing curtains

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Journal Insight #6: Calculate Fabric Quantities
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Journal Insight #8: Hanging and Dressing Curtains

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