Get Victorian Style with Authentic Lace Curtains, Part 3

The most frequent question asked by those contemplating hanging Victorian style lace in their homes is, “How much lace do I need for my window?”

There are basically two approaches to consider: the Victorian and Arts & Crafts treatments. Victorians preferred fuller, more fanciful window dressings, and their lace curtains were typically gathered more fully than the later Arts & Crafts period. At the time, the typical ratio for selecting widths of lace was one-and-a-half to two times the width of the window–in other words, a 30 inch wide window should have a lace panel(s) that is 45 to 60 inches wide. Victorian style lace treatments were also quite long, often extending well past the sill and near (or even onto) the floor. Today, the preferred length is around the height of the baseboard. Window treatments were also hung on the outside woodwork moldings of the window (or casing), although lace, by itself, could be hung inside the casing as well.

victorian style

Photo: Thinkstock

In contrast, the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th century that extended into the 1910s espoused a simpler treatment. Lace curtains were laid “flatter” with less gathering. In this case, the ratio was one to one-and-a-half times the amount of lace to window sash. The curtains were also shorter; it was typical to have them simply “dust” the window sill and rest on it–or perhaps just a little longer, extending onto the window frame’s apron. It was common to hang the curtains inside the window frame and not have the rod mounted on the woodwork.

These are not rules, simply guidelines; there is not one right way or wrong, but your way. Do whatever you feel looks best in your Victorian style home.

To give you options, Cooper’s Cottage Lace offers curtains in two widths: 20 and 47 inches. The narrow panels are perfect for sidelights or to be paired together in a single window, while the wide panels are intended to be used as a single panel per sash. Lengths range from as short as 54 inches up to 90 inches, although the company will take custom orders for longer lengths. The company also offers a custom-shortening service to adapt their lace products to any size window.

To learn more about the genesis of Cooper’s Cottage Lace, see our back posts . If you need to restore your Victorian home’s wooden windows before you deck them with period-perfect lace, click here.

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by Benjamin Waugh

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