One of the things I like to cover in my blog are topics that are only rarely covered elsewhere (perhaps for good reason LOL). In my recent book downloading efforts, I found one with a chapter on portiéres (room door curtains), so I thought I would do a blog post to convey the information they provided. This is a word-for-word transcription of the chapter.
The book is called Art and Economy in Home Decoration
and was written by Mabel Tuke Priestman and published in 1908. If you'd like to see the original text, you can download it here
at Internet Archive.
WHAT TO USE FOR PORTIÈRES AND CURTAINS
IN THE COUNTRY HOUSE
IN many country homes curtains that suggest the modern trend of thought would be out of harmony with their surroundings. If a parlor is furnished in Empire style, what could be more incongruous than hangings of coarse canvas, ornamented with art-nouveau designs? The curtains must be in harmony in tone and design with the Empire period, and would need to be made of rich-looking materials, overtopped with the fitted valance ornamented with Empire designs.
Georgian and French styles must be treated with the same restraint, if the rooms are to be faithfully carried out in any one period, and the curtains must conform to the general style of the room.
In going into houses of well-to-do people, it is surprising to find that draperies that have been made by reliable firms have lost their shape and sag. This should not happen, and would not if sufficient care had been taken when the curtains were made. When they are laid out on the cutting table the interlining must be sewed or basted to the material, so that when in place the curtains keep their shape. Sometimes the bastings are caught only here and there, and after a while they give way: the result is a sagging, lumpy-looking curtain. If the curtains had been made properly in the beginning this trouble would have been avoided.
The draperies of a room should always harmonize with the walls, but should be stronger and richer in tone. Hanging in soft, straight folds, they soften the hard lines and add much to the beauty and dignity of a well-planned room. In providing portières for a double door, the portière can be made by lining or sewing two separate materials so as to form one curtain. The curtain itself will look well, but either one side or the other of the opening will show a blank space of woodwork; also when the sliding doors are closed, one room will be without its portières.
The most usual way is to make the portières to suit each room, the lining of one matching the front of the opposite portière. It is best to use sateen as a lining, as this is made in a wide range of colors. Wherever possible, the lining should match the curtain, but if the heavy curtains at a window are hung wide enough to come in front of the cream or white curtain, and will be seen through the sheer curtains from the outside, then they must be lined with cream. To my mind curtains lined with the same shade are much more attractive than those lined with white or cream, but they should not be more than twenty-four inches wide when pleated up, and not be brought forward to go in front of the window.
An abomination constantly seen is a pair of heavy curtains meeting in the middle of a window and then held tightly back by a cord or band. They give a feeling of uneasiness to those who appreciate the fitness of things, and are in themselves a contradiction. Why hang them forward if you want them back? The same fault may often be seen in sash curtains. They are hung on a rod at the top and bottom of a window, and then a foolish white band or cord holds them back in the middle.