Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A lambrequin is a style of pelmet or cornice with long ends that extend down the side of the window, often to the sill or even to the floor.  Lambrequins were popular in the early to mid 19th century and were made with stiffened buckram, paper or wood.   The red, silk lambrequin above, c. 1850 is featured in the book Upholstery in America & Europe from the Seventeenth Century to World War I (1987 The Barra Foundation) where designs for lambrequins are "first being seen in The Workman's Guide in 1883, where they are praised as being 'very simple and may be cut to any shape'..."
Another interesting historical reference and a sound piece of design advice can be found in The American Woman's Home (Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Beecher,1869) "...the patterns of these can be varied according to fancy, but simple designs are usually the prettiest.  A tassel at the lowest point improves the appearance."

Miss Beechers housekeeper & Healthkeeper, Catherine Esther Beecher, 1873

Early lambrequins were made with buckram, paper or wood.  These option are still available to the modern workroom as well as new materials such as FirmaFlex, a lightweight polyester fiberboard that allows for large, shaped projects with less weight than wood.  Before upholstering the structure batting or interlining should be added for softer edges and a  more uniform appearance.  The reverse side is usually lined (or painted) and a gimp braid covers any tacks or staples.

Lambrequins can be combined with draperies, shades or shutters.  The length of the sides helps to control light when blackout is desired.

Adding trims such as braid, fringe, banding or upholstery nails helps to outine the shape and give added texture and dimension to this flat style of window treatment.

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