Curtains & Blinds: Exploring The History Of Drapery
Here at Kensington Design, we offer a huge range of made to measure and ready-made curtains online, as well as blinds, poles, fabrics and cushions. Having been around since 1984 we have gained a vast amount of knowledge and expertise in specializing in curtains and blinds for our clients. From the fabrics, styles and manufacturing methods, to the additional features of tiebacks, trimmings and linings, we can answer or solve any curtain query you may have and know the history behind curtains and their especially their importance in Britain.
Curtains have been used for thousands of years, but they are hardly like the product we know of today. Before textile was made quickly and easily, animal hides were used for warmth and privacy. Suspended from doorways and any gaps in home, the hides would stop drafts. As early textiles began to emerge in ancient Egypt, starting with linen and flax, and then closely followed by cotton and silk. By the Middle Ages all of these woven textiles had eventually found themselves being used in the home. Although there is little evidence, it’s assumed that the fabrics were more used in order to combat the cold, like blankets, bed hangings and then curtains.
When glass making occurred in Italy during the 13th century, previously there had been no other way to prevent drafts aside from wood or draping fabric. Naturally, whilst successfully keeping out the cold, the thick draping’s stopped any light from entering the home. This issue was resolved during the Renaissance period when glass-paned windows emerged. After that, curtains then became changed curtains from being sources of privacy whilst also shielding out the cold drafts. Until the latter part of the 16th century, window curtains were virtually non-existent. Instead, internal wooden shutters were used to keep out light and cold. When curtains finally made their entrance into nearly all homes they were made from one piece of fabric and hung on an iron rod, from iron rings sewn onto the fabric and drawn from one side of the window only.
Drapery was, however, used to partition off parts of the great hall in which lives of the larger households centred. The hangings would be both practical and decorative; they were very useful in reducing any cold draughts during the winter months. Curtains over doors were more common than window curtains and were frequently made from tapestry to match the wall hangings and give some decorative cohesion to the room.
During the mid-1800s, mass machine machinery was developed and allowed household textiles to be more readily available. The most popular type of window dressing was lace curtains, and just alike to clothing and accessories, this fabric was chosen to demonstrate social ranking. Effectively, the more complex the curtain was, the better off you were in life and finances!
As time progressed, so did technology and fashion, and so silks, linen and bold prints began making their entrance, along with use of trimmings on both blinds and curtains. By the early 20th century the advancements in synthetic fabrics completely changed the landscape of the textile industry, and so more attention was the paid to the cheapness and easy maintenance of fabrics.
A few years down the line from the early 20th century, WWII had begun, and along with food, clothing and petrol being rationed – so were fabrics. Instead of costly lace fabric, old duster fabric and parachute silk was used for curtains. If there was enough material spare, tiebacks were fashioned also. However, due to the nightly bombing air raids, curtains had now become an essential and vital part of the home.
Throughout the rest of the 20th century curtain fashion began to change just as often as the current hairstyle of the moment! Department stores then started to then offer ready-made curtains, meaning it was so quick and simple for the customer to purchase a new pair of curtains for reasonable prices. In the 19050’s florals were very popular fabric choices, along with abstract prints that were largely inspired by science and technology. Further along into the 1970’s, customers preferred pastel coloured fabrics or ethnic print, whilst in the 1980’s stripes and checks were the most popular textile design of choice.
Curtains and blinds play many roles in our households, from light and air control, insulation, fashion to essential privacy. The multitudes of available designs and styles now ensures that you will always be able to find the perfect pair of curtains or blinds for any space in your home.
There is so much choice with designs and fabrics and here at Kensington Design we aim to guide you to make the right decision. We then make the curtains and blinds and install them. All bespoke and unique to you. To have a browse of the various ranges, styles and designs we have made for clients be sure to see our design services page here.