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Chinoiserie decor

During lockdown many of us have taken pleasure from nature in our gardens and the countryside. If you want to know how to add nature into your home decoration then take inspiration from chinoiserie with sumptious wallpapers, fabrics and ceramics.

Chinoiserie drew inspiration from flowers, birds, animals and elaborate garden scenes.

The definition of chinoiserie, which comes from the French word chinois, or “Chinese,” is a style of art, furniture, decoration, etc. that has Chinese or East Asian influences. The style developed in the 17th century during Europe’s flourishing trade with East Asia.

Chinoiserie decorating styles have been around for centuries and there has been a resurgence in recent times. The classic chinoiserie was very bold and ornate. Today’s modern interpretation is much more toned down but can still add a touch of elegance and drama to a space. There are lots of pretty wallpapers with birds and blossom available that also work well in a bedroom.

The Europeans began using their own interpretations of Asia’s art and culture. Birds feature heavily in chinoiserie so you could add a modern print bird cushion to your decor.

Traders began importing tea from Asia which grew in popularity and the demand for elaborate tea tables, tea chests, tea sets encouraged the demand for chinoiserie.

Tea caddy 21st century



Chinoiserie is much more than just the delft blue and white china we have come to know. If you want to inject a little chinoiserie in your home try a few decorative ginger jars, vases or lamps

If you would like advice on fabrics for soft furnishings then please contact me on mobile 07747611160.

Enjoy the summer flora and fauna.

Sarah x

How to darken your bedroom and sleep for longer.

Want to darken your room and sleep longer? If you’ve been waking up early with the sun streaming in your room then it’s probably a good time to think about getting black out curtains, blinds or both. Of course we all want to sleep longer on sunny mornings especially at weekends or perhaps we just want to watch a favourite TV programme more effectively on a sunny day.

Parents of young infants want black out solutions for their bedrooms especially when they have infants needing afternoon naps or when it’s bedtime during the light evenings.

Here are a few of my suggestions to darken a bright window for a dreamy nights sleep

Buy a black out roller blind to fit in the recess. There will be more light seepage if fitted outside, so it’s more effective to fit this inside the recess. The brackets are 1.5cm from the edge of the fabric at each side so there will still be gaps of light.

If choosing curtains, a curtain track fits much closer to the wall or ceiling than a curtain pole. A pole sticks out more and will let in more light as you can see in the picture below.

If you don’t like tracks then try the Silent Gliss Metropole which is a track that has been rounded to look like a pole. The Metropole is good solution for bay windows. A popular choice is to have a white blackout roller in the recess and then have curtains or a roman blind with black out lining on the outside of the recess. If you have existing curtains that let the light shine through, you can buy pre-made black out linings which simply attach to your curtains. These are available in different sizes and widths.

You can also fit curtains under a pelmet or a covered lathe and fascia. This blocks off light at the top of the curtains.

Wooden pelmet

Roman blinds with a black out lining are more effective for eliminating light if fitted outside the recess. However there will be light seepage around the edges of the blind and possibly through the stitching.

Shutters are diffusers of light rather than blackout. There is light seepage where the louvre/slats meet and where the opening frame meets. The level of light seepage may very across the shutter.

Pleated blinds sit closer to the sides of the window if they are fitted in the recess. Opt for the honeycomb/duette blinds which have the cord holes in the fabric at the back of the blind. There will still be light seepage around the edges of the blind which is greatly reduced if fitted within a frame or side channel like Perfect Fit blinds.

No blind, curtain or shutter can give you 100% blackout but it will considerably dim the amount of sunshine flooding into your room.

If you would like further advice on darkening your room please get in touch on Mobile 07747611160 or fill in the contact form.

I hope you have a restful summer.

Sarah x

Bay Windows – Choosing the right pole or track.

Bay Windows – Choosing the right pole or track. If you want curtains then choosing the right track or pole for a bay window can be a bit tricky if you have never had to do this before, it can also be quite expensive. Bay windows can be the focal point of a room especially those which let in lots of natural light. When it comes to bay windows it is far better to have a bespoke product made to measure with the correct angles and curves than a do it yourself product off the shelf. Tracks and poles that you can bend yourself are generally not very durable. It’s all down to personal choice but here are some tips to help you decide.

Poles are more decorative. If you choose a pole with rings you will need several brackets to support this round the bay. The brackets are known as passing brackets. These need passing rings ( also known as C rings) which pass over the brackets. These are a compromise in my opinion as I have found that in order to get the rings over the brackets you have to do a lot of tugging on the curtains. This can stretch and distort of the fabric over time. Eyelet curtains are not suitable for bay poles unless you have a curtain in each section of the bay between the brackets.

Tracks are great for bays and can be corded or uncorded. Tracks can be top fixed or face fixed and are more practical than decorative. Electric tracks are also available but this depends on how many bends you have in your bay. Tracks are also available in a choice of colours. If you decide to choose a white track it can blend in with a white ceiling which is great if you want the curtains to be the feature and not the track. Some tracks can be bent on-site by a track fitter.

Pelmets are great if you need the curtains to clear the window sill. There is usually enough space to have roller blinds or sheers as well as curtains depending on the depth of the sill.

Wooden pelmet

The track sits discreetly under a covered pelmet and board which is cut to shape around the bay. The pelmet board is usually padded to give an opulent look and the board has many hidden fixings which can cope with heavy fabrics. The curtains are attached to gliders and sit under the track making them stack back well. This is good option if you have a bay window in your bedroom and you don’t want too much light seepage.

Covered lath and fascia.
This is like a mini pelmet however if you look at it from a distance it gives the illusion that the track is covered in fabric. The fabric is generally the same fabric as the curtains but you can choose a plain or contrast colour. The lath and fascia are curved around the bay and like the pelmet can deal with heavier curtains. Instead of covering the fascia in fabric it can be painted the colour of the walls. The curtain is attached to the gliders that slide along the bottom of the track and can be adjusted to hang below or above the fascia. A track fitter will do all this for you on site.

Bay window lathe and fascia

A popular choice for bay windows is the Silent Gliss Metropole, for me this product has been a great solution for many difficult bay windows. The metropole is a pole which has a track built in it, so instead of traditional rings this has gliders. The curtains sit underneath like a normal pole. It is minimal and modern and is available in a choice of contemporary colours and sizes. It can be top or face fixed, corded or uncorded. You can add finials to this at extra cost.

Whatever you choose, opening and closing your curtains should be reasonably effortless. I hope I’ve given you some extra knowledge on what might work for you. Sorting out the correct hardware can be expensive but it should last a long time. If you still need help deciding what pole or track system will be suitable for your particular bay window please feel free to call me on 01423 325301 for further advice.

Why we should all love wool

Campaign for wool week celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in October and held lots of events to promote the benefits of wool. Launched in 2010 by Prince Charles, the Campaign for Wool aims to educate and raise the profile of wool as the natural sustainable fibre for fashion and interiors.

Wool mostly comes from sheep but it also comes from goats and alpacas.

Each year a sheep produces a fleece which is 100% natural. The sheep is given a haircut to remove its fleece. The fleece grows back which then makes it renewable.

Wool is also biodegradable. It decomposes in the soil and takes a short time to break down releasing valuable nutrients into the ground. It is also very hard wearing.

Because of the structure of wool it is able to absorb and release moisture. This makes wool a natural insulator, reacting to changes in body temperature and helping to maintain comfort in both cold and warm weather. Wool is also used as insulation in the building industry.


Wool is easy to care for and can repel stains and dirt. It does not generate much static electricity so attracts less dust. It doesn’t need to be washed as often as man-made fibres and it is washed at a lower temperature than most textiles. When wool is washed any fibres that are released are biodegradable, unlike synthetic fibres that release harmful micro-plastics into the environment.

Wool is very versatile


Wool can be fun too!

Make a difference and choose wool.

Dressing bi-fold doors

If you have glazed external bi-fold doors you may have found that due to the size of them they are sometimes a bit tricky to dress. More and more homeowners are having them fitted and they are becoming a popular choice.

Over 4 metres

Bi-fold doors can take up the whole space of an external wall and are generally very wide and tall. There is sometimes very little space above the door or to the sides, so it is important to choose a dressing that does not hinder the movement of the door.

You may want to add curtains or blinds for the following reasons :
For privacy if your window is overlooked.
You don’t want to live in a gold fish bowl especially at night!
For shade if your window gets the midday sun.
If you want to watch the TV and are worried about the glare of the sun.
If you want to close off another room (internal bi-fold doors) and make a room feel cosy.

So which to choose, curtains or blinds?

It all depends on your windows, some companies have bi-fold doors with built in blinds.
If not, is there enough space at the top to fix blinds?
Do the doors open outwards or inwards? Will blinds, if attached to the frames of the bi-folds prevent the doors from folding back neatly?

If you are thinking of fitting curtains, your hardware needs to be up to the task as you are going to need a lot of fabric to cover all that glass. Lots of curtain fabric can be heavy and thin flimsy poles or tracks will bend in the middle.

50mm stainless steel pole with recess brackets


If the door opens outwards you can fit a track in the recess. You will lose some light as the curtains will stack into the glass at either side when open. However if you fit a track or pole outside the recess the curtains will fold into the room and can make it feel smaller.

White 1280 track top fixed in the recess. This is a discreet heavy duty track that can cope with the weight

The left curtain above is unhooked at the end so that the curtain can be moved over to right side if the door is in use.

Single curtain on a pole with passing brackets and C rings

If you decide to choose a pole be careful when choosing off the peg pole kits. They generally only have 3 brackets which may not be adequate if the pole is over 4 metres.

How about having some light linen, sheer or voile curtains, these can soften dark grey window frames. When the doors are open they will gently blow in the breeze. Linen and Voiles come in a variety of colours with white being the popular choice – very Scandinavian.

If you would like some advice on dressing bi-fold doors, please get in touch and I would be happy to help. Sarah.

Some tips for buying interior shutters.

If you would like to have plantation shutters this year you need to be thinking about getting a survey done now if you would like them before Christmas. Scary to mention the C word when we are still in late summer but the lead time is approximately 8 weeks from the date of order. Due to the high demand for shutters there is also a longer lead time in the run up to Christmas. The cut off date for most pre-Christmas shutters is the first week of October. You can also have your shutters delivered by air freight which makes the lead time much shorter but the cost is higher. There are some shutter companies that do have shorter lead times, but I would advise that you check.

Window shutters have grown in popularity in the last few years and can be a stylish and contemporary solution to dressing your windows.

Shutters allow you to control light, create privacy and are child friendly with no hazardous chains or cords.
They come in a range of colours and styles and are available in café style, full length or tier-on-tier. Shutters are sold by the square metre.

Café style shutters cover only the lower part of your windows.

Full length shutters are available with a horizontal mid-rail across the middle, allowing you to control the upper and lower louvres separately. This gives flexibility as you can also have one full length shutter without a mid-rail. This gives you control of the full length of the shutter in one movement.

Tier-on-Tier shutters allow you to open the top section of shutter panels independently from the lower section of shutter panels.

Tier on tier shutters

What ever style you decide on, shutters will create a clean look to any living space. Shutters also provide heat insulation during the winter months.

If you would like further information on shutters please click onto the shutters section on my website or follow this link to The Shutter Gallery www.theshuttergallery.co.uk

I hope you find my tips helpful, Sarah

.

Laminated roller blinds

Did you know that you can make roller blinds using your own fabric?

You can use a soft furnishings fabric which is normally used for curtains, cushions and table cloths to produce roller blinds.  In order to get the fabric to stay in position and move up and down without slipping or puckering it has to go through a process known as lamination.

Lamination is a process in which the fabric is treated to become stiffer and stable. The lamination process goes through different heat and pressure stages and a lining is fused/bonded  to the back of the fabric.  It also seals the edges and makes the fabric suitable for precision cutting. The lining can be white or cream and also has a black out option.

Laminated Roller blind which has been reverse rolled so you don’t see the tube. Fabric is ‘Monkey business’ by Clarke & Clarke

A laminated roller blind is a good option in children’s rooms instead of roman blinds.  Laminated roller blinds can also be spring loaded and you can add a single short pull cord in the centre with an acorn which eliminates chains.

However not all fabric is suitable for lamination.  Velvet, silk, embroidered and highly textured fabrics are not recommended as the laminate can bubble.  Also checks and thin stripes can sometimes move and become wonky.   If you are unsure if your fabric is suitable, a sample piece can be sent to me for testing.

Wide blinds can also be laminated.  The fabric is pattern matched and joined.  Seams are symmetrical on wide blinds and a seam will never be down the middle of the blind.

The roller blind tubes come in different sizes depending on the width and drop of your blind.  You can have standard or reverse roll options.  I would always suggest the reverse roll option on a laminated blind, this is because you will always see the back of the blind on the tube if you choose the standard roll option.

If you are unsure how much fabric you will need to laminate your blind please call and I will be more than happy to work this out for you.  Best wishes Sarah

 

Shweshwe

On a recent visit to South Africa and knowing of my love for fabric, I was taken to a shop selling the beautiful fabric known as Shweshwe.  There was only a small selection but it was all so nice it was hard to chose which one to buy.

Shweshwe is a printed dyed cotton calyco that is used to make traditional clothing like dresses, wrap-arounds and aprons in South Africa.  It was originally only available in indigo but is now a available in many colours.  Shweshwe has been descibed as the denim of Africa.

A brief history of the fabric

  • was originally only available in blue which is why it is known as ‘indigo cloth’.
  • once printed in Manchester, England in the 1930s.
  • worn by South African women including many brides since the 1800s

Who makes Shweshwe?

The Three Cats brand produced by the company Da Gama is currently the largest producer of original shweshwe. They are based in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. They have evolved the fabric by employing talented artists and designers.

The company imported large patterned copper rollers, used to print designs on the material, which was washed with weak acid to produce its intricate white patterns.

Limited Designs

Limited designs are also released to commemorate certain people or events.   There is a Nelson Mandela shweshwe. It is from the ‘Madiba’ range by Da Gama to celebrate the life of the former president of South Africa.

Shweshwe is now used in contemporary fashion design, upholstery, quilting and is also used for making accessories.

Best wishes and thanks for reading.  Sarah

Upcycling curtains

I have noticed an upcycling trend in the work I have been asked to do recently.  Customers are asking for their existing curtains to be remade into other soft furnishings.  Not just alterations like lengthening and shortening but making a new item from the existing fabric.

Most of my customers had moved house and their existing curtains did not fit any of their new windows.

So this month I have spent hours unpicking very heavy and very long curtains mostly from Victorian houses.  They have been transformed into soft furnishings to fit windows in their new houses.

I have created new curtains using a variety of fabrics from embroidered linen, embroidered silk, silk taffeta and cotton prints.  These fabrics were good quality with classic designs. Dressing windows can be expensive so this is a great way to extend a fabric’s life and also reduce landfill.

Curtains made shorter and narrower.

Any left-over fabric or wastage from the old curtains can be made into cushions.

Sanderson Fabric made into shorter black out curtains to fit a new window.

Tips to upcycling your curtains

  • Ensure they are clean.  You can have them dry cleaned as it won’t matter too much if they shrink slightly.  You can always add a contrast border if you don’t have enough fabric.
  • Check for fading and wear and tear.
  • Measure carefully before cutting as the fabric cannot be replaced.

My own experience of upcycling curtains. 

The curtain fabric (shown below) was from some curtains at my husband’s family home.  It is a Sanderson fabric in a denim colour with cream roses.  Surprisingly it had not faded despite hanging in their dining room since 1959.  The curtains have been re-made into shorter narrower curtains with new lining and interlining.  Hopefully they will hang in our home for another 50 years!

Call me for a chat if you want advice on upcycling your soft furnishings.  Sarah