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Journal Insight #14: Measuring and Installation of curtains and blinds.
In a previous post I explained the importance of the installation process when hanging curtains to achieve the perfect look. Today I’m going to explain the measures we take in order to be able to quote on curtains and blinds and also set out the guidance we ask homeowners and clients to read before we attend. Let’s start with blinds, as they are far simpler. We measure for the finished size of the blinds, so what you want is what you get. The decisions needing consideration are where to fit the blind track, how you can achieve blackout/dim-out if required and to ensure we can make sure any chains and controls fully meet the child safety regulations. I was once told that during the 3-year Health & safety review into blinds, seven children in the UK died. To me, there is no need for further debate on whether this was just Health & Safety gone mad. We won’t install any blinds in a way that doesn’t meet the regulations, even if no children are planned to be in the location; the rules are clear and we have to follow them. Not just because it covers us for legal reasons, but more simply because we don’t want to harm children, or worse. That may sound like a mini rant, but you’ll be surprised just how often installers are asked to circumvent the rules to suite the client. It can feel very awkward in a client’s home saying you won’t do something, that to them, seems reasonable, so we ask people not to put us in that position. Measuring blinds For roman blinds, vertical, roller, really any type of blind we need two things – the width and the height. Firstly, for blinds within a recess - Plasterers in particular can sometimes leave us with little surprises where apparently straight walls are bowed. So, we take measures at the top, middle and bottom of the height and record the smallest measurement. This is called a recess size as it’s the actual space we have available to fit the blind into. The blind will then be manufactured slightly less than these sizes to fit neatly but with a small amount of room to manoeuvre. You can also take the finished blind size measurements, which is the exact size you want the blind to be. Sometimes, this makes more sense, especially if the recess is well out of square. Either type of measure is fine as long as we know which it is. The final measure we need is the Installation Height. This is where the top of the blind will be fitted from the floor (and not from the top a kitchen worktop). This is so any controls can be made to the right length for child safety and is required before any manufacturing can take place. We then need to decide which side chains or controls are to be; usually dictated by convenience. Curtains Regular readers of these Journal insights will already know this, but I think it's worth a short recap here. If a pole or track is already in place - this measure is easy. We take the width of the pole between any finials, and the drop from the bottom of the pole to the floor (or finished drop if you want them shorter such as above a radiator). The trickier measures are where there are no poles in place yet as you need to decide how far outside the windows you want them to extend. This goes back to our Journal insight on Stack-back and rather than regurgitate it, maybe pop over there and remind yourself. Sometimes you will want the tops of curtains in front of poles, and for eyeleted curtains above poles, so in these instances we get either centre or top of pole. If a pole or track is corded we need to know the installation height to meet the child safety regulations. A critical measure for a professional fitting is the return to the wall. This is the distance from the middle of the pole back to the wall, and allows the curtain maker to make the curtain fit perfectly and remove light bleed around the edges as the curtain is held back with a small eyelet hook on the wall. So, measuring isn’t so bad, certainly for quoting. Most designers ask the maker or fitter to do a check measure so the final exact measures have been clarified and the risk shifts away for the designer – quite right too, it's what I’d do if I were them. Not all makers offer a measuring service, so be sure to check what is in their offer and if you are measuring - the key is to be accurate and clear on what each measure is. Fitting When preparing for measures and fittings we send a document out which includes the following which we find helps everyone. Fitting curtains and blinds requires attention to detail and concentration to ensure safe, solid and accurate installations. If possible, it is helpful for our fitters to be left to work quietly on their own in the room. Curtains and blinds will be made to measure for the space assessed and quoted for. If you have any work undertaken after the measures are taken, please let us know. If you decide after ordering that you want them fitted in a different way then this may affect the look of the finished curtain or blind. Rectifying these issues will be charged for where required. To help us please: Advise us in advance of any parking and/or access restrictions. Remove any delicate or valuable objects from the vicinity of the fitting. Allow our fitters the space to lay out their tools and equipment safely. Keep children and pets clear of the work area until we are tidied away; for their safety and to ensure the products do not get damaged/dirty. Feel free to offer a cold drink or tea/coffee to our fitters. It can be thirsty work and they will appreciate it. We will: Use dust sheets and leave your home as clean as we found it Remove all of our waste and packaging at the end of the fitting. Wear clean over-shoes to protect your carpets and floors, enabling our fitters to wear appropriate protective footwear while using tools. Discuss and agree with you any details of the fitting locations that may be different to expected upon arrival. This may be due to structural issues with walls etc. While every effort is made to assess the walls we plan to fit to when measuring, there are occasions where while fitting we discover the structure of the wall is not good enough to fit to. We will endeavour to resolve this at the time of the fitting, but it may require extra work or fixings. Where this is beyond that which is reasonably expected we may charge extra to cover any additional time and/or costs. Some fabrics, particularly wool, are affected by moisture and temperature and there is a naturally occurring change in lengths throughout the year. This is to be expected and does not require re-hemming. As you can imagine all installers will operate in a Covid secure way. Masks can prove an issue when up a ladder drilling, so usually they ask to be left alone in the room with masked removed so they don’t have misted up spectacles. The work area will be wiped down with antibacterial wipes at the end. Finally… half way through a fitting it can look a LOT worse than you imagine. Curtains may be creased and messy after being carried up and down ladders, and slung over shoulders. Its only at the end when they have been adjusted and dressed in (and steamed where required) that they will look the business, so if you pop your head in half way through don’t panic. Let the fitter do their work and it will all look amazing when done. If you’ve found this helpful, please share.
Journal insight #13: Motorisation and Remote Control Curtains and Blinds
Get your geek on! Motors, apps, remote controls, Alexa… here we are living in the world of high-tech curtains and blinds. I have a bit of a strange relationship with tech. I love useful technology that I feel helps me – I call these ‘tools’, but tech for the sake of it, such as most apps and iWatches, seem to be to be ‘gadgets’, and I have a firm dislike of gadgets. They steal my time, sanity and make life ever so complicated and less under my own control. So, why do people want motorisation? For some people I liken it to cars. Nobody needs alloy wheels as far as I know, but most people buy them. It’s the same for many curtain and blind tracks – why not seems to be a good enough reason. They are fun as you can scare the babysitter by opening them from the restaurant (I’ve heard of this more than once!). The best ‘excuse’ I ever heard was the lady of the house explaining to her husband why she was investing in powered blinds. “Well, you bought Sonos for the entire house, so now when the kids ignore me screaming up the stairs to get up for school, I can not only turn on Radio 2 (loudly), but also open their blinds too, all from the comfort of the kitchen.” And that sounded fair enough to me. For some people it is seen as much more essential. If clients live away a lot or maybe travel regularly there is a good security argument for automating the opening and closing of window treatments. For others, with south facing picture windows, they can use the latest tech to automatically close the curtains when the room reaches a certain temperature. So, when they arrive home from work, the bedroom isn’t feeling like the Sahara. You probably know all that already, so I apologise for my getting that off my chest. But I do feel better. As makers, designers and installers what must we be aware of when considering automation? Firstly, the sooner you have the client decide on what needs automating the better. Chasing in wiring after the decorating has been done never goes down well. Some systems benefit from being hard wired. If the tracks are inaccessible this is a good idea and if the curtains are super heavy this removes the need for regular recharging of batteries. Some of the best automated systems are fitted up into discreet reveals or flush to the ceiling and installing these after the ceiling is in can be a nightmare – far better done by the constructor as they go. Adding wooden batons above any ceiling or reveal also helps get a solid fixing. Most blind systems now offer a battery powered option and these are great if the decision is made late or if the budget isn’t there for the mains powered systems. Some of these have batteries that can be manually inserted, either replaceable or rechargeable, while others have internal batteries that are recharged via a power cord just like a phone. A word of caution - if you have too many of these, please remember most need to fully charge overnight, and if you have 5 or 6 (or more) that can become a right old pain. For curtains, most systems are hard wired but there are a few battery-operated ones out there. Personally, I’d always go for mains powered where possible. Once installed it’s done and dusted, you never lose power and you don’t have to recharge anything. These work on tracks or tracked poles (see the last Journal insight for more on these), with the motor fitting snugly into the rail. Usually this requires a minimum of a 50mm pole and you can’t always put them in bay windows. Each motor will be rated for a certain weight of curtain, but be careful with this. If the curtains break onto the floor, or are more puddled, and if they are on bays, the friction that results markedly reduces the weight the motor can move as you are effectively dragging a lot more around. The technical specs won't always make this clear, but your frustrated client might! In terms of controls, there are a few options. Remote control is great – especially if fixed to the wall as they don’t then go missing. A remote works instantly, so I think it is a good starting point. The best tracks can now be operated by hand, and as you pull the curtain about 150mm it will sense this and start to move under its own power. There are a few of the more legacy tracks that don’t do this and trying to pull them can damage the system - so not a great option for guest bedrooms or high-end rentals where people aren’t used to them. The development of apps catches everyone’s attention and these have huge advantages but one major flaw. On the plus side, you can use the app to set up a whole lot of automated routines, such as opening at daybreak or closing when the temperature rises. Most people have their phone on them at all times, unlike that wandering remote. But, you need to open your phone, locate the app and open it, find the setting and then operate it – for me that’s a pain and too slow, so even if I have an app I would always team that with a remote for general day-to-day use. You also need a decent setup for the app system to work. Typically you communicate with the ‘hub’ that controls everything via Wifi, but many systems then use Radio waves to send the messages. In a large house, or architectural masterpieces of concrete, this can prove problematic. Like everything it’s solvable but often adds a significant cost and sometimes the services of those AV professionals with their extra kit. An unreliable system is really, really annoying so I recommend ensuring this isn’t going to be a factor before embarking on the automation journey. The apps can work with a whole range of other automation systems such as Alexa, Apple Home and IFTT (a generic tool you can do most things with via a series of logic statements – definitely for the geekier clients). With the help of an AV team you can also interface these with home control systems, and that’s the main solution for large properties and hotels. One last word on behalf of curtain makers. Be sure to decide on the tracks/system before ordering the curtains. Different tracks require different make up solutions to account for the motor position, and this isn’t something anyone wants to sort out later. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Installation
Journal Insight #12: Curtain poles and curtain tracks - part 2
Last time we looked into the world of curtain poles and discovered that as beautiful as they are, they aren’t always suited to the job in hand. I promised you I had a solution, and today I am going to try to argue for it and delve into the world of tracks and tracked poles. I think curtain tracks get a very bad name, and yes I admit they aren’t always the most attractive piece of kit to install in a home or office. Often, however, they aren’t really going to be seen much, or at all. In which case they should be your first port of call. When I am talking about tracks, yes I mean those white metal or plastic tracks with gliders. Those things sometimes people buy at DIY stores and fit themselves. But I am not really meaning the awful plastic ones. The quality aluminium ones are the way to go for a few reasons Being metal they are stronger, with less deflection on fitting and they last longer (forever really). They are surprisingly low cost, can be cut to size or ordered to size, and can be bent to fit into bays or other complex windows setups. Designed for performance over aesthetics so they work brilliantly, with the curtains gliders seamlessly along the length, even around the bends. Used in recesses, they are hidden from view, so why pay for extra decoration. On white bay windows with white painted architrave they can often seem to disappear yet give you that perfect open and close – all at a great price. From a design point of view there are also exceptions to the rule and Silent Gliss’ 6840 is a smart curved track that to my mind looks pretty cool in many contemporary locations or for panoramic bi-fold doors reveals. Because the tracks have gliders and not rings, the brackets fit either at the back or on the top of the track – this means you can have as many brackets as you require – great if the wall isn’t the best and you need to spread the load more evenly, which I find is sometimes the case above Victorian era bay windows, where the wall tends to be poorer quality, especially upstairs. They work, they are well priced and they cope with difficult installation environment, so what’s not to like? Yeah, ok, they can look ugly in the wrong place. In fact I’d go as far to say they will definitely look ugly in the wrong place. The good news is that my favourite curtain pole option is here to help. Tracked poles – I sometimes refer to them as hybrid poles – combine the best of tracks with the look of poles. There are many metal pole variants out there from Silent Gliss’s popular Metropoles, to the Evaglide and Distinction ranges from other suppliers. I regularly opt for The Bradley Collection’s Gliderpoles as they use high quality Silent Gliss internal components, but with Bradleys beautiful finishes and bracket options. Byron & Byron are our go to for wooden versions. A tracked pole works just like a track with gliders and pretty much unlimited brackets. They can be corded as well as offering Wave headings for your curtains. Designed to offer the option of being hung directly from ceilings they can resolve problems around light bleeding in from above or where there is limited headroom. Unlike tracks, they come within beautiful poles including for bays. Admittedly more expensive than tracks alone they are still sensibly priced and mean you can show off the pole as part of your design, without compromising the solution. Then downside? Well, to me there aren’t many. For those of you who love the clacking of rings as the curtains draw back and forth, you’re going to miss out. You don’t have the same level of customisation as with some of the best wooden poles, especially where finials are concerned, but there are plenty of options available for most design briefs. For that very contemporary look, flush end stops are a great detail to offer perfect minimalism. Tracked poles have been around a long time, so I’m not expecting you to wowed by this news, but I do urge you to have another look if they’re something you’ve steered clear of in the past. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Motorisation & Remote Control
Journal Insight #11: Curtain Poles - part 1
I think that on balance, the biggest area of confusion when ordering curtains are the poles and track options they can be hung on, and so in an effort to keep these insights to a few minutes light reading, rather than writing one long-winded essay I am breaking this down into 2 chunks. Next time I will be looking at curtain tracks and (my favourite systems) ‘hybrid’ tracked poles, but today let’s focus on traditional wood and metal poles with rings. The very first thing to think about is the size of the pole. Get this wrong and its all goes south; literally. Metal pole diameters will come in anything from around 19mm and wooden ones from 25mm upwards. The smaller the diameter the larger the risk of deflection once you either hang a (heavy) curtain on them or try to span a large distance with just a few brackets. The balancing act between the aesthetics of slim and sleek poles with the need to support the weight of the curtain is a constant challenge and at the end of the day decisions just have to be made. As a curtain maker I always err on the side of caution and prefer to beef up the pole so robustness takes precedence over the final look. For dress curtains that aren’t going to be pulled back and forth you can be less strict and if you are hanging sheers or lightweight curtains the options are also more open. For many curtains there is a lot of weight to manage (just watch the fitter heft them into the room before hanging) and it is critical to choose poles that are thick enough to take the weight and daily use. It is rare that we use anything less than 35mm for a wooden pole when hanging lined and interlined, preferring to go up to around 50mm if possible. In terms of cost, going up sizes can make a huge difference. Once you hit 50mm the price can jump significantly as the brackets, finials & rings also go up in size. If budget is an issue then you may need to balance things or wait for our next insight and look into the world of tracked poles. Next are up are brackets. If you open up most pole suppliers' brochures you will find a vast array of brackets and it can be a little overwhelming. They exist for broadly 2 reasons. First is the look - you want to be able to find just the right look for your project. The more cost-effective suppliers tend to limit options here as this clearly reduces their stock holding costs and logistics, but the more bespoke and higher-end firms will offer a wide assortment of brackets. Probably half the variety of brackets is to do with technical options. Are you face-fixing them or suspending from the ceiling? Do you need extension brackets to clear obstructions, how about double poles to hold both voiles and curtains on one system? For doorways we regularly use recess brackets that fit against the side wall. If you have limitation on space to fit brackets you may need versions with smaller back plates so you can squeeze them in between architraves and covings. It is vital to choose the right system to work in your environment, and so my advice is always to start here and then see what looks you can get within those restrictions. Bay windows offer a particular challenge that the pole industry is well equipped to solve. Some metal poles can be bent either on site by a suitably skilled fitter, and others in the factory with the angles and measures all supplied beforehand. If it is a wide bay you will require extra brackets that the rings can move passed and so specialist passing brackets and rings are available. A word of caution: In my experience passing brackets always need more care when opening and closing curtains, and so managing your clients expectations is vital to avoid return trips. If you pull the curtains too fast they can catch on the brackets and get rather annoying – a little care makes the world of difference. There are fewer options for bay windows when using wooden poles. Byron & Byron offer their Metamorph system that is built to order for you with angles added at regular intervals so rather than being curved it is faceted. The good news is that where these joints are created they are reinforced with a clever metal system that means they joints are at least as strong as the rest of the pole. Not cheap, and the delivery costs are significant (sent in a custom-built crate), but when installed they look fab! One issue with poles is that the rings can rub along the length of the pole, especially with heavy curtains where they ‘bite’ into the pole. There are two easy solutions. Add some polish to the pole once a year and you will see them glide far easier. A more permanent solution is to have a glide-strip added which means the rings sits on this rather than the wood and pretty much solves this problem. Don’t worry, it sits on the top of the pole and is virtually invisible. To cord or not to cord your pole? That genuinely is a question I have weekly with our clients. Some suppliers will add a track to the pole and this means you can cord the pole meaning you can open and close the curtains using the cords rather than pulling them with your hands. There are a number of practical benefits to cording: If you can't easily reach the curtains, perhaps you have a sofa or table in the way, then they solve an immediate issue. If you have linen or silk curtains you may be wary of touching the leading edges too much, Linen will crease every time and silk will show any grease marks. Some curtains are harder to pull especially if very tall and so cording overcomes this. Some clients simply like corded because it’s what they have always had, and that’s fair enough. There are also drawbacks (no pun intended) of cording. If you have weaker walls where fitting the brackets securely is an issue you probably want to avoid this as all the force when puling on the cords goes through the outside bracket and so exposes any weaknesses – although if this is the case look out for next week’s insight as alternative solutions are out there! Cording also adds probably 30%+ to the cost. In terms of finishes, wooden poles give you almost unlimited options as they can be finished to order for you. Byron & Byron offer a great finishing service. Many wooden and metal poles can be RAL coloured at extra cost, which can be a great way to make the pole an intrinsic part of your design. There are unfinished poles out there which you can then paint yourself. A nice idea, but remember that the pole suppliers will add many coats of specialist paint, bake them on and finish with special coatings. There is nothing worse than a heavily scratched pole after a few weeks of the rings running along it. A quick mention on hand forged poles. We use these regularly and they give a great look in the right environment. Using a specialist forged pole maker is, in my experience, more successful than engaging a blacksmith, who will have all the skills but perhaps lack some knowledge of the nuances needed for a successful solution. Made by The Forge are a good first stop. A style I go to more and more are French poles which curve back to the wall. They look fantastic and the curve back means you can lose some of the fullness when drawn back. The minimalist brackets make for a super clean look too. Finally – finials. I’m not going to say much as I’m sure you know all about them, just one thing to remember is to be clear when measuring whether the length includes or excludes the finials. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Tracks and Tracked Poles
Journal Insight #10: Hand-made curtains vs Machined curtains
I’ve spent a little time researching the topic of handmade vs machined curtains. It is one of those areas where it seems so obvious to the maker, but explaining why can be far harder – there are quite a few intangibles. Some of what I’m writing about today may be open to debate, with differing opinions even among professional curtain and blind makers. Firstly, what do I mean by handmade vs machined? It turns out I actually mean two different things; separate topics that I’m combining here today. Many people equate machined curtains with ready-made ones that you can buy off the shelf from department stores up and down the country, and they are definitely machined. The biggest benefits of ready-mades is that you can get them home the same day, solving an immediate problem if you are moving into a new build or an unfurnished apartment. They are also usually the most affordable option you’ll find for curtains – again, for many people a key factor in making their choice. You will have a limited range of fabric options in store, and choices of cotton or blackout lining, and they are typically manufactured with tape headings. The massive acceleration in online shopping has made this even easier for consumers. For efficiency, these will be made in factories at speed (often overseas - Eco Solutions?) and so the fabric types will be very limited. Factories won’t want the variety of setup and making issues that come with offering silks, velvets, cottons and linens in the same place. Machines have adjustments on them for various thread and foot tensions, but this is a mass production environment. They in no way match the micro-adjustments you can make with your hands and a needle. We often hear curtain makers complain about the quality of the lining materials used in ready-mades and after several years we are often asked what we can do to repair them. Customers are usually quire surprised at the cost to adjust them - its really not a quick job having to undo what was previously made on a machine, correct it and replace. Ready-mades come in set sizes - both width and drop, so you miss out on the benefits of made to measure. Very much like an off the peg suit, it will be fine and do a job, but the guy standing next to you in the tailored hand-made suit will just look the business. Ready-mades won’t usually come with interlining as its not possible to sew this into the curtains in the same step required for machining. Rarely do they have weighted hems and the fullness is often lower. Am I a ready-mades snob? Actually… no. I can see their place for speed and budget. I can’t afford a Saville Row Suit and its no reason to look down your Lorgnette at me, but in time, it is something I aspire to. For many customers it’s the same with curtains. They make do with ready-mades for years and then go for handmade if their circumstances change. Now we come to the second comparison which I would summarise as handmade Vs made-to-measure and this is where it gets a little more subtle. You can order made to measure curtains from many departments stores and independents on our high streets. Lead times vary but you can get them within 7 days and they will (as the name implies) be made to fit your measurements. More often than not, these will also be machined curtains, either in their own workroom, independent outworkers or outsourced to one of several large factories in the UK that supply the trade. It is important to supply the right measurements and most independents will offer a measuring service for this. My experience is that quality compared to ready-mades is improved and you get more options on linings and headings. You also get to choose interlining which is a key difference. In this case the curtains won’t be fully machined but a mix. Sometimes you will see the phrase ‘Hand Finished’ on curtains – which means at least one part of the curtain has been made by hand – not remotely the same as hand-made…those pesky marketeers at work again. Pricing will vary depending on the options you want and whether you add trimmings etc. Now we come to fully hand-made – which is where we sit, and its also where it gets trickier to explain. Why would I want to hand sew a 5m wide pair of curtains when I have a lovely sewing machine right here in the workroom? I feel a bit pompous even comparing us to those Saville Row tailors, but in principle much is the same. You get a fully customised product with the touch and feel of professional curtain makers who understand the nuances of each fabric. For example, velvets can be tricky to sew (and hard work) as the fabric easily rolls away from you, so knowing how to hold the fabric and how hard to tension the thread on each stitch is critical to get a smooth flat finish. Silks will show every stitch if you aren’t skilled and so picking up just 1 or 2 of the threads and gently tensioning the stitch as well as elongating or shortening stitch lengths to suit makes the world of difference. A hand maker will not want to you to see the stitches. Each width of fabric will be weighted with penny weights sewn into the corners and seams; helping pull the curtain down, combining with the weight of fabrics and linings to help give that beautiful and luxury drape when hung and dressed properly. Daisy Chain stitches are added to link layers together. There’s more… we can source so many lining and interlining options to suit each individual curtain, changing the finished weight and thermal properties you’ll get. We customise the leading and return edges so they fit neatly on the pole or track, tucking perfectly back to the wall on the outside. Of course, we can then add even more detail – want a contrast trim added to the leading edge? Piping cord set 8.5.cm in, the pleats made longer to suit the scale of the room – yes this is where hand-made really takes off. If you’ve chosen or supplied a beautiful £200 per metre embroidery you won’t want it puckering on the pattern matched joins but sitting beautifully together. Confession time… hand-made doesn’t mean we never use machines? 3m high curtains need joins and machining is by far the best option to add the required strength. We also machine in the pleated headings before hand-finishing them. Its about knowing your craft and knowing what tool to use and when, rather than being dictated by which is quickest. If you didn’t get a chance to read our insight into hanging and dressing curtains, then I recommend going back, as all this work and effort is instantly undone if they aren’t hung right. While there are decent choices to be made particularly between made to measure and hand-made curtains, I personally don’t like machined roman blinds. Again, they have their place, but I always wince when I see 200 machine holes across every fold in a blind – so maybe I am a bit of a snob after all. There are lots of hand-made curtain makers here in the UK and while the lead time clearly increases for this tailored individual service the result is chalk and cheese. If you have the client, the budget and the time, hand-made isn’t a choice you’ll regret. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Poles
Journal Insight #9: Eco Solutions for curtains and blinds
Today’s journal is less about hints and tips and more a reflection on our industry. I’d love to hear from anyone who can point me in the direction of answers to a few of the questions that arise regarding eco solutions for curtains and blinds. I recently turned the wrong side of 50, so I’m not going to claim here that I have the same innate focus on ‘eco’ as those much younger than me. I think its something they now think of naturally whereas for me its certainly a more conscious effort, and I hope in time this will really make an impact as younger people move upwards in their careers and exert a positive influence on all of us. As an industry we still have a long, long way to go before I can write a detailed blog about the environmental options available to us as makers and designers. As I write this the Suez Canal delays are highlighting the freight miles so many of our fabrics and interior products endure to get to us. There is, however, some good news and I detect more and more interest from our suppliers in the environmental impact of their products, shipping, and waste. Whether it is to do with Brexit delays/increasing costs, a focus on UK manufacturing or even an awareness of Greta T’s campaigning, many of our suppliers seem to be looking for UK based mills to produce more and more of their stock. I’m super happy if it is creating jobs and reducing the distances products are shipped, but we do need to be aware of the sourcing of many of the raw materials, which may well lesson the environmental plusses seen at 1st sight. Abraham Moon & Sons maintain, I believe, the only vertical mill in England – its all made on the same site - which hugely reduces shipping between manufacturers in the production process. Wool is a real strength and the likes of Johnstons of Elgin, the Harris Tweed weavers and Bute fabrics add to this rich tapestry of native manufacturing. I remember once buying some gorgeous purple tinged tweed from the Isle of Harris and thinking that it was pretty cool when Callum's wife was cycling to the post office to send it to us. The following video is more about their clothing fabrics but oh boy! if you are anything like me, you'll be wanting to use Johnston's fabrics... Linwood fabrics now highlight UK produced fabrics with clear labelling, and they recently launched a recycled woven cotton collection called Verde, which further benefits from being chemical free. I believe this is an area the team there are keen to expand, and as ever they remain a big favourite of ours. Romo have long produced Leaf recycled wools with their Kirkby by Design brand, and it’s been a popular choice for our customers over the years. Salvaged yarns from the fashion industry make this appear to me to be a great product, and the colours are fab too. There is a definitely a balance to be considered for some fabrics that make greater use of chemicals in their production processes. Many of the stain resist fabrics don’t tick the eco boxes per se, but will wear far better and so their ‘shelf life’ needs to be taken into consideration as they can be replaced less often. Martindale and rub tests are also worth thinking about here, as they also add longevity to a product. In the blinds world, 2020 saw the launch of Decorquip’s Sweetwater Range of roller blinds, manufactured from 100% recycled ocean plastics. I really like this initiative and for commercial projects I think this has great potential as companies look more and more at their own impact on our world. Decorquip have estimated that a typical roller blind recovers the equivalent of 13 water bottles, 55 carrier bags or 730 drinking straws from our seas. Writing this brief blog has made me realise even more what a lot I have to learn and how many more questions I should be asking of our suppliers. Where is the wood sourced for our poles? What initiatives are they taking to offset their carbon footprint? Don’t get me started on packaging… We get quite a kick out of reusing older, treasured heirlooms to remake or rejuvinate. I remember 2 pairs of antique silk curtains we managed to rescue into a new single pair, retaining their fading and history, delighting the customer who remembered them from her childhood home. Recently we made a headboard incorporating our client's mum's GP & J Baker fabrics - it looked as good as new. We are soon to sign a lease on a larger workroom and it is already on our mind to look into green power, whether bought in or self-produced from our rooves. I think, on balance, I might spend some more time looking into this. We already have plans to replace some car journeys to London with trains trips, both to improve our environment and help us keep on top of our admin (if we can get a table) - it's gotta feel better too? We live in a rural community and while it isn't a specifically eco solution, we are hoping to create new jobs in this area, including some apprenticeships next year. Our impact on our communities, our planet, and working lives - they all matter. Small steps they say... lets all try take a few in 2021. If you’ve found this interesting please share. Next time… hand-made vs machined
Journal Insight #8: Hanging and Dressing Curtains
As ever, if you are an experienced designer you may have this information stored away in your head and what will follow won’t be anything new. But, for those of you with less experience or perhaps those who have never needed to know about hanging and dressing curtains, this journal insight may prove helpful - we hope! It's amazing how often a customer comments on how we hang and dress curtains. Many say they have never seen this and with previous packet curtains, they just hang them up and hope, not realising there is an essential process to undertake in order to finish off those handmade, and probably expensive curtains. Let’s start with hanging curtains, which goes back to the initial specification you will have provided to your curtain maker. Where do you hang them in relation to the pole or track? What are the pluses and minuses of those choices? I’m not talking here about the aesthetics of where you hang them, I’ve seen beautiful curtains hung in every conceivable way, but there are often compromises between methods that are useful to be aware of. Curtains under the track or pole With hand-headed curtains my 'go-to' position for hanging them is so the top of the curtain sits just beneath the bottom of the pole. If you look at the curtain headings there will be a pleat of some kind and then a gap before the next pleat. By hanging beneath the pole we are able to push the fabric in the gap backwards behind the pole. The pleat then comes forward. The benefits are 3-fold: 1. The stack back is reduced as about half the fabric quantity is going backwards and half forwards, vastly reducing the bulk when fully open. 2. The pleats align neatly next to one another and present a great and united front when open. 3. The fabric won't rub against the track or pole, meaning they are easier to open and close – this is particularly helpful with a bay window where the rubbing (friction) is increased much more due to the curves. On a corded pole this means more force needs to be applied to the cord to move the curtains. A Wave curtain has to be hung under the pole in order to form the wave effect as it moves back and forth. Curtains in front of the pole Some people like to bring the fabric up high to cover the track or pole (when the curtains are closed of course) which is quite popular with basic looking tracks that are more function over form. You will need to bring the heading gaps forward, which increases the stack back. This setup helps improve blackout as more of the light gaps are covered by the curtains. A pole with a large diameter presents a challenge when hanging either in front of or above the pole as the hooks will be sitting directly underneath, meaning the heading will have to kink forwards as it gets level with the pole. For thick interlined curtains this can start to look awkward. Curtains above the pole Occasionally, clients want the curtains to come right up and above the pole. This may be purely aesthetic, or to help further with blackout. Its pretty much the same issues as with setting them in front of the pole, just a little more exaggerated. A good alternative when wanting to control the light coming in above a pole, is to switch to Eyelet headings as these are designed to go above by about 1-3 inches, without impeding the opening and closing of the curtains. Not everyone is a fan, but in the right place and for the right solution they are great. There are various tracks on the market with gliders in them that sit forwards under the track to assist with curtains that rise up in front and above tracks and I’d recommend using these when looking to hang in this way. The Silent Gliss 1280 is a good example of this kind of track. Curtain returns and leading edges When measuring for curtains we take two important measurements, often forgotten by home-owners. The leading edge is the vertical section on the inside edge of the curtain, which overlaps in the middle when the curtains are closed. We will allow for about 8cm+ for this, and it is affected by the fabric choice. If the fabric is too floppy then a smaller overlap stops it falling downwards and misaligning with its opposite curtain. If the leading edge is too slim, then you could get light bleed. You may have noticed hotel rooms often have 2 tracks with one sitting behind the other by a good 12”, allowing the overlap to be greatly exaggerated and ensuring extra effective blackout. This is rarely seen in homes, but the example emphasises the role a wider leading edge can play. Return edges are the side that sit on the outside of a window and as standard we measure the distance from the gliders to the wall. It varies by pole and track type, as a well as the brackets that have been used. If there are radiators behind the curtains you will often see extended brackets to clear this, meaning the return needs to be a little longer. When hanging the curtains we fit a screw eye into the wall on the outside to hook the edge of the curtain to. This return creates a super neat finish, hides the lining and reduces light bleed around the outside. Dressing curtains This is where we sometimes get funny looks as we may steam and tie them up. No, it’s not Christmas and we don’t think they are Turkeys. Do we steam all curtains? Definitely not. We only steam curtains if we need to, as the steam will often affect the length and for some fabrics, such as velvet, it can damage the face fabric. It is also time consuming and hot work, so if not necessary, why do it. We do steam some curtains to remove creases and help them settle into their pleats, but even then we often find some creases remain, particularly with linens, and in these cases time is your best friend and eventually most will drop away over the following weeks. However, if you’ve chosen 100% linen don’t expect crease free curtains. Tying the curtains up serves two purposes. The first is to set the curtains neatly into corrugated pleats down their entire length so that they look fabulous and draw back neatly when opened. The second is to help the various layers of fabrics sit together. When hanging curtains the lining and interlining will have a tendency to try to work apart. Experienced curtain makers will have added a daisy chain stitch to the bottom hems and added in locking stitches at regular points across the widths, both of which serve to keep the layers together. Even with these some coaching is still required. You will often see a fitter gently stroking the curtains as they smooth each layer together and into their pleating. Usually a single tie towards the bottom of the curtains is enough to keep them together overnight or a few days to settle. On longer curtains or fabrics that really don’t want to play ball, you may see extra ties. The ties are not tight but loosely encouraging good behaviour. Once the curtain maker or fitter leaves its so tempting to untie them to have a closer look, but I caution you to have a little patience as this process and the time it takes to settle pays back big time. Without this dressing process you are likely to end up with ballooning curtains that never look the money. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Eco Solutions
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
Journal Insight #6: Calculate Fabric Quantities
I've never fancied myself as a professor, or a teacher of any kind. I never considered a career in torture either, so it’s all the more surprising I've elected to share some details on how we calculate the fabric quantities for curtains. Many of you will know this, and so this isn't really written for you, but for anyone after a reminder or for who it is new... here goes. Why might you care about calculating fabric quantities? I'm often asked why a certain amount of fabric is required or if we can make with what the customer has already. As the answer isn't always what they want to hear I thought a few pointers would help so you at least get the gist, even if you decide not to do the full calculations yourself - and why would you? Surely you'd prefer a gin and tonic instead, and in my experience gin and maths are rarely complimentary. Curtains use lots of fabric, obviously, but sometimes much more than people think especially when the cost of the fabric tends to be the biggest expense when having curtains made. For starters, we need to allow enough fabric to give the curtains fullness. This is what we call the allowance that stops them being flat sheets when closed and is affected by the curtain heading you want. Double pleats are our most popular heading and we use a fullness factor of 2.25 to 2.5 x the width of the window (plus the stack back = the length of the pole). For triple pleats this goes up to 2.75 to 3 x as we need more fabric to form the 3 pleats. Either way, this gives us the number of drops of fabric we need. For a 2m-wide pole we will need: 200cm x 2.5 fullness (for double pleat) = 500cm This is then divided by the width of the fabric. Most fabric comes 137cm wide, so... 500 ÷ by 137 = 3.6. They don't sell it by parts of widths so we have to round it up to 4 widths. Still with me? Its not so hard after all. Now we need to account for the drop (or height) of the curtains. If it’s a plain fabric - the maths is easy. Just add the hem allowance - to allow for turnings top and bottom. We use 23cm. So if my curtains are 230cm high then the total drop I need is 253cm per drop. Remember we had 4 widths (above) so the calculation is... 4 widths x 253cm (height) = 1012cm. You can usually buy fabric in 10cm increments (above 1m) so you'd need 1020cm or 10.2m. Now you can see why us curtains makers don't like working in millimetres, like you clever designers like to. Fabric Quantities in summary: 1. Calculate how many widths of fabric you need to cover the pole, taking into consideration the heading type and stack back. 2. Work out the total length of each drop, remembering to include the heading and hem. 3. Multiple them together to get the total metres required. Coffee break? It's more complex if you have a patterned fabric - just like with wallpaper you need to allow for pattern matching. You will need to find the vertical pattern repeat of the fabric. As before you take your finished drop + the turnings. We had 253cm. You now need to know how many pattern repeats fit into that drop. Divide 253 by the vertical pattern repeat - lets say its 60cm: 253 ÷ 60 = 4.22. To match everything when you join the fabrics you will need full pattern repeats so we round up to 5 repeats. 5 x 60cm = 300cm, and that's you drop per width. 4 widths x 300cm = 1200cm or 12m. Its an extra 2m just to allow for the pattern in this example. BUT... Don’t assume a big pattern repeat always means more fabric – so many people shy away from them because of this, but it all depends on the window height and the size of the repeat and you need to do the calculations to know for sure… If the pattern repeat above had been just 9.5cm less at 50.5 cm, you have needed exactly the quantity as for plain fabrics. Drop patterns and pleating to pattern add another level of complexity and I don't think it's fair to add this here too, For our purposes now, assume that it may well mean even more fabric. Roman blinds are much easier, and for plain fabrics you need to add 20-30 cm to the drop of the blind, and if its over around 130cm wide you’ll need an extra width (or 2). If there are patterns on multiple blinds its good practice to match the patterns across the top of each and again this takes a little calculating. A word on standard fabric widths vs room high fabrics The vast majority of fabric is standard width and sold approximately 137cm wide and by the linear metre. Sheer fabrics and a few other fabrics are sold room high – this means that they come approx. 3m high and sold by the metre wide. So, standard width fabric is sold by 1.37 sq/m, whereas room high is around 3 sq/m. The great benefit of room high is that there are no joins. The bad news is that this doesn’t usually translate into lower making costs as the fabric is harder to control and keep flat so its swings and roundabouts for the maker. Can you cheat on fabric quantities? Yes, you can! You can shorten the hem allowance if a pattern repeat is killing your budget. Sometimes when its really tight we add false hems to save that extra few metres – this is fabric added to the face fabric that gives us enough for turnings, yet you won’t see it as its hidden away in the finished curtain. You can reduce the fullness ratio and end up with less drops… meaning less widths of fabric. But, you are compromising, and if you go too low in your fullness it starts to hurt and you’ll regret it - the pleats start to look rubbish. As a rule of thumb, we rarely go below 2x to ensure a great look. Wave curtains are different – of course they are. Nothing is ever that easy. Rather than making up in widths of fabric you make these to the exact length of the wave tape. There are a few options on how to configure wave curtains, but our most popular set up uses 2.1 x fullness. If you are still with me, remember, curtains makers are here to help you work all this out, but having a least the basics in mind will be a great start for you when planning ahead and outlining budgets. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Embellishments
Journal Insight #5: Fabrics
How long have you got? We used to own a retail showroom and still have several hundred fabric books. So, trying to distil the topic of Fabrics, is going to be very interesting. I’m guessing that you are all pretty clued up on plains vs patterns and their aesthetics, plus next time I write, we’ll be covering the issues around calculating quantities, so for now let’s focus our attention on the impact different types of fabrics have on window treatments. Do you get what you pay for with fabrics? Well, kinda - sorry, but it just depends. As a curtain maker, handling and touching the cloth, I really appreciate the quality of a fabric and how it hangs, but being totally honest most people may not be aware of the subtle differences between basic and quality fabrics. As much as I may drool over beautiful wools from Scotland or Italian silk velvets, most people don’t cuddle their curtains very often and so the choice of fabric is far more open than some may imagine. (Confession: I do stroke curtains… regularly!) In this insight I’m talking much more about the issues for curtains than roman blinds, which are less affected by fabric choice. 1. Thickness of fabrics. Its entirely possible to use many thicker upholstery fabrics for curtains, even some that come treated for Fire Retardancy (FR). Thick fabrics can hang beautifully, with the weight helping the drape, however if it is too stiff then maintaining the pleats down their length can start to prove difficult, and over time they will become more and more ballooned. If you want to achieve thickness, then it’s better (and often more cost effective) to use an interlining as they enhance the drape. If they are FR treated then they will definitely be stiffer, but even so, can often work. It’s a discussion we always have with our interior designers, to ensure the finished curtain is what they expected, and for them to check we are willing to get the painful fingers when sewing. 2. Fabric type In generally I would recommend more natural content is best, unless you are looking at velvets or where cost is a particular restraint. Velvet Fabrics Velvets have specific properties that need to be thought through carefully. Broadly, there are 3 types: Polyesters Cotton Silk. Polyesters are the lowest cost and nowadays many are treated for stain resistance, so if there are children about with chocolate or ice cream fingers, then this is a great option. Close up they aren’t AS great, but from a just a few feet away they look good and you have the confidence that you can save them from the toddlers best efforts (or the grown up’s red wine). Cotton velvets tend to go up in price and are susceptible to damage from water, and once they mark there is very little you can do to rescue them. Compared to many of the other velvets, cotton’s are a flatter, more matt finish. Some will disagree - but I feel they can be the compromise that gives you few of the benefits of either - the budget and safe polyester or the stunning quality in Silks. Yes, silks are the Dom Perignon of velvet – gorgeous, lustrous sheens and they feel amazing – but with a price tab to mean you may need an extra champagne flute or two. Wool Fabrics We curtain makers do love a wool. It’s just so lovely to sew, and we are blessed in the UK with a great choice of British mills, so they often tick the eco box, being totally natural and relatively local. But… beware of central heated homes and especially those with underfloor heating. Wool will grow and shrink with the seasons and changes in temperature. In the summer they may become ankle swingers, and in the winter they grow overlong. For that reason, we tend to recommend them slightly puddled on the floor. Customers should always be made aware of this natural property or else you’ll be back and forth making seasonal adjustments. If you haven’t already, take a peek at Bute Fabrics, who’s wools are stunning, with the most vibrant colours you can imagine. There are a few recycled wools around, and we’ve found them to be really popular with the growing awareness of climate change. We really like them, and have had no issues with quality. Sheer Fabric Lightness and floatyness (is that a word?). Sheer curtains and blinds are always popular, both for playing with light and offering a degree of privacy. Many sheers come in room high formats, but usually no longer than about 320cm – this can prove a problem for rooms with higher ceilings, so be sure to check the finished dimensions before setting your customers heart on a particular fabric. Thicker sheers can be lined and create beautiful lightweight curtains and sometimes this can bring out the pattern in the fabric which can be lost when the sun shines through. When asking for roman blinds to me made, the very, very light sheers can be hard to work with and you may find a degree of ‘relaxation’ that goes too far if you are not careful. Silks and satins Silks and satins can be super thin and for the right window are stunning, giving a richness and lustre that’s hard to beat, but they can easily look limp and underwhelming if not interlined. We’ll stop here or we’ll need another bottle, but my strongest tip is to have a good dialogue with your curtain and blind maker when choosing types of fabrics – their experience can prove invaluable and help you make the best choice for a given situation. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Maths
Journal Insight #4: How to slow the process of your curtains fading.
Right! If you think this insight is going to help you avoid fading, I am about to disappoint. We are working with fabrics at windows, where light comes in, so we can’t stop fading – sorry. But… we can certainly manage it. Pretty much everything fades eventually. After all, putting things in bright windows hardly helps. Do things fade if they are cheap? Often, yes. You certainly pay for quality and if you want good fade resistance you are likely to have to pay for it, but that doesn’t mean a higher price gives you lower fading. We are an industry led by designers and creatives, so there are always going to be designs that just look fabulous and to hell with the technical properties. Clever scientists have gotten all excited by this topic and someone produced a rating. Here’s a table for you to get hyped about: Grade Degree of Fading Light Fastness Type: 8 No fading Outstanding 7 Very slight fading Excellent 6 Slight fading Very good 5 Moderate fading Good 4 Appreciable fading Moderate 3 Significant fading Fair 2 Extensive fading Poor 1 Very extensive fading Very poor OK, maybe not, but a handy reference all the same. You should be able to get this rating for any fabric you are looking at, and for mechanical binds like rollers its readily available. Selecting the right fabric is the first step in managing fading. In terms of fabric material, the big one to worry about is silk. The higher the silk content the greater the likelihood of fading, even in north facing windows. Light will kill the integrity of the fabric as well as the colour, so it’s a double whammy. Now, get your compass out as window direction is a key factor. A south facing window is going to be your biggest challenge with the most intense light coming in that way. Conversely you can have a lot more choice when looking north. Shaded windows help, where a gorgeous tree in front of a south facing window will make a significant difference. When you know you’re going to have a problem there are a couple of tricks to call upon. We regularly use a trim on the leading edge as this is the bit of the curtain that sits in light when open and takes the most beating from the sun. It can be a great design detail but, in this instance, also think of it as a sacrificial strip. A client buying expensive handmade drapes will be happier if they know they can replace just a small section of the leading edge after a few years rather than the entire curtain. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper and if you advise them of this up front we find it’s a good tool to build trust and their confidence in you. Protective window films are readily available and there are few firms on the market they will measure and fit for you direct to your client. The films range in styles, but you genuinely can get invisible films that block out the most harmful UV rays. Plus, you’ll be surprised how inexpensive it is. Finally, there is a really easy option. Sheer, protective blinds, often roller blinds but sometimes Romans behind a curtain can make a massive difference, not only limiting the light hitting the curtains but also helping the homeowner manage the light coming into the room and also offering them greater privacy. If you’ve found this helpful, please share. Next time… Fabrics
Journal Insight #3: Curtain Linings
There is often some confusion when the subject of curtain linings is raised, although there isn’t really all that much to know. A quick review should do it. There are two types of linings. The first is the actual lining on the back of a curtain, which can be simple cotton or blackout. The softness of a cotton lining helps it drop effortlessly, with some light glowing through. In rooms where you want to play with light, or emphasise the openness of a particular face fabric, linens or cottons for example, this kind of lining works perfectly. Blackout lining is not actually black – so many people assume it is and we often have to disarm people of this preconception when asking if they want it. It does however block the light. This is done with the way it is woven and has the added advantage of adding some degree of thermal gain too. So, if you are looking to darken a bedroom at night or block out that annoying streetlamp immediately outside a window, blackout lining is a must. However, while the lining may be blackout, it won’t in itself guarantee a light free space, as light can bleed around the edge of curtains and blinds and over the tops of poles. Think of this lining as one tool in your room darkening armoury. Blackout is also a great help with fabrics that fade (more about this in the next Insight), and it helps protect the bulk of the face fabric from the harmful UV rays). All linings tend to come in a white and a variant of cream, and some have other neutral hues. The second type of lining is called interlining, and is the fluffy, thermal, thick fabric between the face fabric and outer lining. It has two purposes. 1. To thicken the end result, which can add a huge amount to a curtain, stopping it hanging limp and looking a little deficient. 2. To add warmth. We recommend anyone with single glazing to add interlining and reap the benefits of a far warmer room. For really cold windows and especially for doors there is super thick interlining, commonly called Bump. Our home is a c.1800 cottage with original leaded (leaky) windows, so we employ a combination of bump interlining and blackout lining at all the windows, and we feel the benefits every winter, especially as our face fabric is a thick printed velvet – toasty! Before we let this go, there is a final option – self or contrast lining. Using a face fabric to line a curtain adds impact from the outside looking in. It doesn’t have to be plain old off white for your neighbours to stare at. Sure, you need to think about fading, but the right choice at the right window for the right client can really add some ‘’wow’’! If you’ve found this helpful, please share via email or social media. Next time… Fading.