What type of curtains would the Victorians have used?
The Victorians tended to use heavy living room curtains often in several layers – this was used as a protection from drafts in houses where there were gaps around windows and doors allowing cold air to enter rooms. Other reasons why the Victorians used the most heavy and thick curtain fabric they could afford is because they tended to try to keep their world private and valued this more than they valued seeing out of the windows. Curtains also protected what was inside the house from damage by bright sunlight. However above all, as you probably already know, the Victorians loved to show off their wealth and good taste and with the choice of colours, textures, patterns and designs, curtains allowed them to do this in abundance. Many modern vintage curtain fabrics aim to replicate this richness but in a toned down way. The Victorians would probably live in one house and keep the same curtains for several decades if not their whole life, hence would be willing to invest a large sum of money in Victorian curtain fabrics whereas nowadays this is very rarely done and vintage fabrics needs to be at a cost that enables them to be of more disposable nature.
The Victorian Emporium's Benson Fabric shown above.
Victorian curtain fabrics also encompassed the lightweight fabrics we would nowadays class within the category of a net type curtain for privacy where neighbours overlook your property. Fabrics such as muslin and dimity were used to create a fresh and clean design. The Victorians often combined these two curtain fabric types, with heavy curtains layered over frilly white net fabrics, all finished off with a massive curtain rod, and ornate brass curtain hold backs.
Victorian fabrics and indeed Edwardian fabrics mostly had brown or black backgrounds with smaller patches of different dark colours traditionally incorporated in a pattern. Upholstery fabrics were chosen for being hard-wearing and not showing up dirt so again were usually dark colours with dark coloured patterns, that complemented the rest of the fabric styles and wallpaper designs that were used in that room.
Curtains tended to use brass curtain accessories, most usually used with ornate brass holdbacks, brass or decorated wooden curtain poles or a sumptuous corded and beaded tie backs in sumptuous colours and styles.
The Victorian Emporium sells a varied collection of upholstery fabrics and curtain fabrics for your period home.