Nina Murden - The Lewes Seamstress

curtain maker Lewes

Goblet Pleat Pelmet

Making a set of goblet pleat headed pelmets for gentleman’s country house bedroom. He chose Markham’s Warwick Delft, and I suggested that we add an Ian Mankin cotton stripe, the ‘Ticking o1 Sky’, this being a good contemporary contrast to the formality of the Markham fabric.  Here are some photos of the different processes  of me sewing the goblets and inserting the buckram that keeps their shape. This customer also had the same fabrics for his dressing room curtains.

Reverse side of pelmet

Reverse side of pelmet

Reverse side  IMG_20190607_080554 IMG_20190607_080617

Machine Sewing Pinch Pleat Curtain Tops – tutorial

The Swiss Job…

The Swiss Job has started…. an ongoing large project , making all the curtains, blinds and other window treatments for a client living in a house in Küsnacht. Beautiful materials chosen for the first of three part project, and I have taken delivery of a Villa Nova fabric, @ £1042. It’s of a Chalky colour – always a dangerous thing to work with, so NO cups of tea in the workshop, NO chocolate until tea time, and god forbid that I should prick my finger. Tense times. There are not many curtains and so curtain makers in Switzerland apparently, and so she has come to me.

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Deep Pencil Pleat Heading for Wool Interlined Door Curtains

Lovely quality Tinsmiths herringbone wool in Moss, used for a door curtain project in a lovely brick paved but draughty old farmhouse hallway in Kingston.  This  type of heading works well as it controls the fullness really neatly Fullness for a door that has limited opening space for a curtain to pull back to, such as this had,  should be in the region of 2x fullness. It was hung from the fabulous solid brass poles from Charles Rowley – an old British firm still manufacturing in Birmingham.  The thing about using these poles is that you can get away with a 19mm pole with no bowing or bending, as they are of superb quality and not just the usual ‘antique brass’ finish that so many other poles sold as ‘brass’ are – they are actually  made of tubular steel. Insulated door curtains can really help to stop draughts, and provide a level of insulation for a cold hallway. They are really good for houses that have a door from the street that enters straight into the living room, but every older style house could benefit from these door curtains. Even internal doors can have them – in which case a portiere rod would be the pole of choice as it rises up and lifts up the leading edge of the curtain when the door is opened Ingenious. My grandmother had some grand velvet curtains hung from portiere rods on all her living room doors. Good sound insulation too.20170112_172922

SILK CURTAINS

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Curtain under construction, interlined, awaiting lining.

I have been making some 3m high beautiful silk interlined curtains for a Victorian house in Lewes.  Sumptuous and fab to work with if a little scary @ !!$$££ per metre fabric. (These– James Hare silks, can be bought via me and the sample books are to be found at Foam and Fabrics Seaford – I have a good deal with them so if you’re interested please contact me.

Silk curtains look particularly wonderful in a bedroom setting  There is nothing like silk, and all the synthetic copies in the world will not look like silk, feel like silk or behave like silk. AND are petroleum based so personally I am not in favour; if there is a choice to be made I would always choose a natural fabric.
These are quite theatrical in their look being salmon pink  and compliment the blue velvets of another guest bedroom for this client who works  in the music business.

The only downside to silk curtains is that they are really susceptible to ‘sun rot’ so it is essential to line and interline and to bring the lining as far over to cover as much as the silk as possible.  The windows for these curtains face north, north-east, so not too much of an issue, but in time though the leading edges -where the curtains meet in the middle and are exposed to the light- will rot and fray.  These can however be taken back to the undamaged silk relatively easily when the curtain is completely hand made like this one.

The header we used on these is one particularly suited to silk, a 1” cotton loose gathering tape, this gives a really casual but soft gather to the top of the curtain.

Brass poles and fittings from the long established Charles Rowley company complete the look, and are well made enough to the take the weight of these heavier curtains.

Vintage Givenchy fabric – upcycling old curtains

I have a wonderfully creative and very stylish customer who happens to be French, I think this can be no coincidence…!  Over the last few years we have worked together to adapt, alter, upcycle and re-engineer some of her older beautiful curtains and blinds, many made with  outstandingly lovely Givenchy fabric.  I have just finished one such project for her;  a pair of curtains with a contrast leading edge in the older fabric, and also a further adaption to a roman blind that has had some contrasting fabric re-cycled from the older curtains.  This Lewes lady has a very individual interior to her house, that honours some of the elements from her previous house in France, whilst weaving in some new linen fabrics.  It is a delightful project to be involved in, and it is great to see such lovely fabric continue its useful life in a new way.  What is also great is that the house interior has evolved, quietly and calmly, with pauses for reflection, appreciation of each stage and time for studied decision making, whilst also of course being I should imagine a financial consideration.  It’s all so gloriously unspoilt in manner and execution.  givenchy fabric

CURTAIN QUALITY = CURTAIN LONGEVITY, WWII CURTAINS STILL IN USE

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I can and do make curtains of quality that will last. The relationship between buying quality and the likelihood that such curtains will last is still attainable.    With other items such as white goods, the ability of actually finding something that is designed to last is actually really difficult if not impossible. Such is the nature of capitalism which is at odds with such a principle.  Fast turnover of goods is supposed to be good for the economy and for ‘growth’… an interesting term that has co-opted nature into an abstract concept that drives the world at present and that actually causes untold harm to the natural environment.  This is the dichotomy we face if we want to live sustainably on this one earth.  But it is possible to invest in quality curtains that will last a long time – if you want them too?  My grandmother  did just that in the 1940’s and invested in three sets of beautiful velvet curtains, that my family not only still have but still use, to the present day.  They are made from thick cotton velvet, and are lined – this being a must for preventing or allaying UV light damage, and dust and dirt damage.   They have had to be re-lined, twice in the last 70 or so years. Have been washed – yes washed, carefully with soap in the bath.  We pass them around our family according to our respective needs at the time, and personally I love and cherish the connection that they embody with our ancestors.   Of course what is it that comes with this choice – to go with something already made?  This will unnerve many, and there would be a degree of resistance to the very idea.  Why? – Because we are so wrapped up that our sense of identity being expressed mostly through the STUFF that we surround ourselves with.  There is disquiet because we haven’t exercised our choice in the matter; that these particular items were not expressive of us and our aesthetics, ( and I have known people who were literally disgusted to have something in their home that had belonged and been touched by someone else).  The décor might have to be built around the curtains, or heaven forbid they might not ‘go’ at all!  Perhaps last but not least by just going with what is means that a valuable shopping opportunity – the No. 1, leisure activity of us 21st people – would be lost.

 

Laura Ashley Fabric an amazing 50% until March 11th!

I quite often work with Laura Ashley fabrics, but always recommend to my customers that they wait for one of Laura Ashley’s regular ‘sales’.  There’s one on now and most of their fabrics are now a brilliant 50% off!  This particular offer expires on the 11 March. Just bought some of this one to make up into some bedroom curtains for a client.  It’s a woven fabric, with a good feel to it, I’m sure it’s going to make up really well, it’s called Silver Birch, Duck Egg.  The reduction is from £50 to £25 per metre. I’ve never had any problems with defects or faults in L.Ashley fabrics.

silver birch duck egg