Have you ever realized that the rug on your floor, the curtains at your windows, and the sheets and blankets on your bed are all textile materials? Each of these materials is made in a particular way so that it is suitable for its purpose. Would it not be queer to have a curtain at your window that is made like the rug on your floor? You will find it interesting to study how to select these textile materials from the standpoint of attractiveness and durability.

Selecting Your Curtains

Curtains in Harmony with the Room. - It is impossible to select the curtains properly without thinking about the rest of the room. Curtains should be of a color that is in harmony with the general color scheme of the room. They should be particularly harmonious with the color of the wall and woodwork because they really form a part of the wall. A figured curtain material is generally in harmony with the wall if the background color of the curtain material is the same as that of the wall. In using plain-colored materials a violent contrast of color is best avoided. In a room where there is no other white used, the white curtain makes a violent contrast. The curtains are staring and out of place. Often in bedrooms the very light walls and white bedspreads make it possible to use white curtains with very good effect.

Figured curtain materials, such as cretonnes, are not well adapted to use in rooms where the wall paper has a definite, clearly marked pattern. If both the curtains and the wall paper have definite patterns they "fight" with each other for attention. It is easy to see in Fig. 143 that figured curtains are more attractive with plain walls.

The design in figured curtain material should not be pictorial. It is no more in good taste to have roses and flying birds pictured in your curtains than on your walls. Of the two cretonnes pictured in Fig. 144, which is pictorial and which is decorative?

Fig. 143.

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An Experiment to Try. - The class should practice combining curtain materials and wall papers. Sample lengths of curtain materials and a wall paper sample book furnish an opportunity for practice.

A Study of Standard Curtain Materials. - You can not very well purchase your curtain materials unless you know how to recognize good and poor qualities in materials. Appoint a committee to go to the stores and get samples of curtain materials. The committee should get samples of cretonne, dotted Swiss, scrim, marquisette, casement cloth and net. Perhaps the other members of the class will be able to help the committee by getting samples of materials at home which they can bring to school.

Curtain Materials Contest. - It makes the study of curtain materials more interesting if the class decides to have a contest to test their ability to recognize curtain materials. This will consist of being able to recognize twelve curtain materials and being able to spell their names correctly. The contest will be conducted in the same manner as the cotton cloth contest described on page 38.

Fig. 144.

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In order to conduct this contest it is first necessary to collect samples of twelve curtain materials. Six of these materials are described in the following paragraphs and the other six may be selected from the samples which are brought in. After there has been, sufficient time for study of the samples you will be ready for the contest.


It is necessary to have real samples of materials in order to learn anything about kinds and qualities.

Cretonne. - A good quality of cretonne is firmly woven and does not have a sleazy, thin appearance and feeling. Examine your samples for a firm weave by feeling, pulling and holding them up to the light. What weave is used in most of the samples of cretonne that you have? Another name often used interchangeably for cretonne is chintz. However, when a distinction is made, the chintz has a smaller pattern and is a lighter weight material. Is this true of your samples? Most of our fine chintzes come from England, where they are very much used for draperies.

Dotted Swiss. - What words can you think of to describe this material? Since dotted Swiss is a sheer material, permitting considerable light to filter through, for what kind of a room will it make a suitable curtain material? In the best qualities of dotted Swiss the dots are woven in so that they will not ravel or pull out when the material is washed. In the cheap grades the dots are pasted on and come off when the material is laundered. Can you find any samples where the dots are pasted on?

Scrim. - This material always has a plain weave. How does this plain weave differ from the plain weave used in cretonne? How does scrim compare in price with dotted Swiss? It is very durable and launders well without stretching out of shape. How can you always recognize scrim after the study of the samples?

Marquisette. - At a little distance scrim and marquisette look very much alike. Examine the sample of marquisette closely to see how the weaves differ in the two materials. The weave used for marquisette, which is shown in Fig. 145, is called the gauze weave. You will note that in place of each warp thread used in the plain weave there are two warp threads in the gauze weave that are twisted around each other. This makes it possible to have a material that is very open in weave and yet strong. Do you think scrim or marquisette is a more durable material? Why? How do prices of marquisette compare with those for scrim?

Net. - Examine your samples of net and see if you have the three varieties of meshes, round, hexagonal and square. The square mesh is called filet net and is the most desirable for curtains, because it launders well without stretching out of shape. If you have net curtains at home that stretched out of shape when they were laundered, examine them to see what shape mesh was used in making them. You probably will find that they were made with a round mesh, because the round mesh stretches most easily in laundering. How does net compare with scrim and dotted Swiss as to the amount of light which passes through it?

Casement Cloth. - How would you describe the color of your samples of casement cloth? Most casement cloth is made with a plain weave. Do you have any samples with stripes or figures woven in? Most people consider this a particularly good material for curtains because it is durable, launders well and affords privacy without keeping out too much light and air. It is sometimes used in the place of roller shades.

Fig. 145.

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Which of the curtain materials that you have studied permit the least amount of light to enter? Which permit a great deal of light to enter? Which permit a medium amount to enter?

A Problem to Do. - In order to be economical in the purchasing of curtain material it is necessary to consider the width of the material in relation to its price. For example, is it cheaper to buy curtains for a window six feet high of material that is fifty inches wide at seventy-five cents a yard or of a material that is thirty inches wide at fifty cents a yard?

Buying Curtains Ready-made. - If you plan to buy your curtains ready-made you should consider the following things. First, is the quality of workmanship good? Are the edges firmly and neatly finished in the ready-made curtains? Second, is the quality of material in the ready-made curtain as good as the quality of material bought by the yard? Third, is the ready-made curtain the right size and shape for the window without altering?

Standards for Judging Curtain Materials:

1. Is it artistic in design and color and suited to the room in which it is to be used?

2. Is the general appearance one of good quality or is it cheap and sleazy?

3. Is the material durable? Are there thin spots where the threads will break and holes appear ? The tests which you learned for underwear material can also be used for curtain materials.

4. Will it launder well without stretching and pulling out of shape?

5. Will it fade in the sunlight? When laundered?

6. Is the material of the right weight so that it permits the right amount of light to enter?

The Problem of Selecting Your Curtains. - Select the sample of curtain material that you think is best suited to your own room. Write your reasons for this selection, according to the six standards listed in the preceding paragraph. Estimate the cost of your curtains explaining whether it will be cheaper to buy them ready-made or to make them at home. Girls who need new curtains at home may be able to actually buy their curtains.