Stencil Design for Window Curtains
In decorating old house windows in a period home, sometimes less is more - try a simple stencil pattern. In selecting the material for the window curtains that you intend to decorate you must consider the purpose of the curtains and the demands of the medium in which you intend to carry out your design. Presumably you want the curtains to admit as much light as possible; therefore you will not use a heavy material. A soft, fine scrim— a durable, loosely woven cotton or linen fabric used for curtains— satisfies the requirement of admitting light, and also adapts itself admirably to stencil decoration. Other suitable and inexpensive materials are cotton crape, net, and even cheesecloth.
In order to have as much light as possible in the room, use two curtains and let them hang from the top of the window to the sill. Stitch rings to them that you can slip on a rod; then you can have the curtains at the sides of the window, where they will keep out no light, or you can draw them together if you wish.
The daffodil is a pretty motif for a design for window curtains in a girl's room. You will notice that its most striking characteristics are its suppleness, its grace of contour and its freshness of color. You must strive, therefore, to suggest those characteristics in your design.
The design for window curtains shown was carried out in green and yellow on ecru scrim. The curtains themselves were made with a hem four inches deep at the bottom and two and one half inches deep at the top and the sides, and were double hemstitched—with four or more threads drawn—at the bottom and along both sides. The wider border (shown above), eight inches high, was put at the bottom of the curtain because it suggests greater weight. Since the entire curtain could be seen from every part of the room, some decoration seemed necessary at the top to correlate the design below and to repeat the two tones. Hence the border (shown below) five inches high was placed five inches from the top of the curtain.
After allowing for the hems, the space to be filled by each border was twenty-eight and one quarter inches wide. Accordingly, the unit of each was made seven inches wide and was repeated four times.
If you use a fabric of neutral color for material, the colors in the design must also be neutral. In the curtains for which this design was planned the green was made grayer than in the real leaf and the yellow less vivid than in the real flower. That is generally a safe rule to follow in rendering a conventional design, for the natural colors, however charming they may be in their normal surroundings, assert themselves a little too emphatically when used in a design.
The two borders shown are a good example of how the character of your design should determine the degree of conventionality with which you must render it. The lower border, suggesting the edging of a flower bed, is more naturalistic than the upper border. In the lower one the flower stands erect and the leaves waver. In the upper border such a suggestion of an upward growth would be undesirable, for the space above it is cut short and so limits ascent. Therefore in the upper border there is no attempt to give the suggestion of growth, and although the same elements are used, they are combined more conventionally; the flower is detached from the stem and the leaves form a running interlacement.
When you have made the design that you wish to use on the curtain you are ready to prepare your stencil. Pin a strip of stencil paper flat on your worktable and lay a sheet of carbon paper face down upon it; then fasten your stencil unit with thumb tucks over the carbon paper, and trace heavily round the outline of the design with a sharp lead pencil. When you have lifted the pattern and the carbon paper from the stencil paper you can cut out the design with a sharp penknife. In cutting, keep the blade of the knife perpendicular, and take care not to tear the edges. It is well to repeat the unit at least two and a half times on the stencil, for you will need the half unit us a "key" when you move the stencil forward. The "key" fits over the figure last painted on the fabric.
Chrome green and chrome yellow are good foundation colors for this kind of work. If a color is too bright and you wish to "gray" it — that is, to make it a little duller — add a touch of black. To lighten a color, add white.
From The Youth’s Companion, 1917.