Pelmet Precision

Pelmet Precision 

Hello everyone, 

                                well it has been a while, sorry to have neglected you but I have had my hands full with my new business. Also due to the restrictions on image sharing it has been increasingly more difficult to get examples of the type of work I rattle on about. So without further ado, a post about pelmets!!


Elsie Wolfe



O.K. lets just clarify what I mean when I say PELMET. 

Pelmets are hard flat box dressings that go across the top of blinds, curtains and even beds. They are usually made out of essex, ply or bucrum. (I personally would not recommend bucrum as it has a tendency to warp, especially on bigger items, also they tend not to have a sharp return to the wall ) . They can be shaped or flat. Interlined or padded using foam.

Traditionally they were attached to pelmet boards using tape stitched to the top back edge of the pelmet then tacked to the board (occasionally they still are). These days strong Velcro is used and additionally a panel pin is put in at the side to stop the returns popping out. The fabric can be lifted over the tack to disguise as best as possible. Thinner fabrics are obviously harder to hide the tack with. Tacks can sometimes be hidden with a trim such as a braid.

When measuring and designing a pelmet there are crucial things to take into consideration.

  • How much space have you got to play with above the window / door.
  • Does the door / window open in or out.
  • Is there coving, beams and / or a picture rail, how big and where are they positioned.
  • What is going under the pelmet.
  • The pattern on the fabric.


I will answer the above in order to clarify exactly how these points effect the style and design of the pelmet. 

How much space have you got to play with above the window / door.

This is an obvious one. You need this to help with the depth of the pelmet and also how the item will be fitted to the wall or even the ceiling when there is no “dead light” (name for wall above the window or door). This helps you to decide what brackets to use and where to position them or if you have to drill into the ceiling. Sometimes beams are in the way, a skilled designer / manufacturer can sometimes create pelmets to cut out and fit round beams, more than one measure is required at times for this so that templates can be created for accuracy.




 White Wolfe Interiors .


Does the door / window open in or out.

Again a really obvious one but one that can be easily looked over. If the window or door opens in, the pelmet has to be positioned so as not to hinder it opening.



White Wolfe Interiors.

Is there coving, beams and / or a picture rail, how big and where are they positioned.

In some cases there is coving you have to either shape round or cut out in order to position a pelmet where you want or need it. The same goes for picture rails. Exacting sizes need to be taken as well as templates of what to are shaping round. Also being very careful when fitting into a gap /dorma space.



Finishing touches interiors. 

What is going under the pelmet.

This piece of information effects the depth as well as the projection. The height of the pelmet as well as what is under it is integral to the balance and proportion the the finished article. Scale drawings may be needed to play around with this to get it just right. Work on fifths and thirds, then adjust accordingly. It is not an exact science, it is what looks right in the end. The projection is controlled by the size of item under the pelmet and the rail being used. E.g = curtain heading projection, stack of blind or is it just a pelmet dressing on its own in which case very little projection is needed to stop it looking like there is something missing.


Edward Grace Interior Design


White Wolfe Interiors

Finishing touches interiors.

The pattern on the fabric.

I have mentioned this briefly in the “Pattern Perfect” blog. Centralising a pattern can dictate and the depth of a pelmet, you can also shape around a pattern, or even turn the fabric on the side and run it across the pelmet. Can you use the fabric in a way so as to avoid seams on the fascia (a preferable look)? Centralising a pattern always enhances the look of the finished design.

One thing I strongly recommend is when putting a pelmet inside a bay window, please get it professionally measured and made. They can be very tricky and require more than one fitting in most cases. Boards first then a check measure, make the final item and fit.



Designed by K.White (White Wolfe Interiors)

When putting pelmets into dorma’s / recess of windows, I generally recommend having no returns on them. This is primarily due to the return stopping the item underneath fitting as close to the wall as possible. The extra bulk of a return increases the gap from item to wall (not ideal in my mind).


Shaping On A Pelmet

Shaping is to be carefully considered and I would recommend scale drawing before hand just to make sure it fits with the pattern, size of the window,  and is in keeping with the item underneath. You can do all sorts with pelmets beyond shaping. You can add trims, layers as well as additional padding (wadding) to add to the luxury of an item.


Items 1,2 & 4 = Fox Ridge Interiors@Foxridgeinteriors

Item 3 = Finishing touches interiors.

Into The Window

Be very aware ( especially when shaping) that the wall is still covered, particularly in the situation of curtains being used. Ideally you do not want wall showing. Unless there is a restriction I recommend a minimum of 3″ going into the window / past the reveal. It is also worth mentioning that depending on how tall you are or where you are stood in the room effects how far the pelmet can go past the reveal to cover the wall and underside of the inside of the window. I recommend holding a tape measure up, standing back and seeing where you are happiest the pelmet ending.


Curved (bow ) pelmets are particularly difficult to measure and construct. Different manufacturers work differently. Some score the back of the board so the ply bends and some use flexible ply.  You must be very aware that the more curved the bay the more the fabric can ripple. Some people construct on site and some don’t or only do partial construction. But all bays and bows need more than one fitting / measure.

Designed by K.White @ White Wolfe Int

It is amazing how a pelmet is constructed. Once you understand that it is a highly skilled craft to design and create a pelmet you then appreciate the cost involved.                            The manufacturer is actually upholstering a shaped construction, many accurate measurements are applied, the craftsmanship of a wonderful pelmet is simply sublime.

Multiple window sizes and shapes must also be taken into consideration at the design phase. Balance and unity of the design must at all times be considered, with the consideration of the overall look of the room at the heart of the design. In the design below the bottom of the contrast on the curtain is designed to be in line with the base of the pelmet on the other window, also the pattern on the blind is level with the pattern on the curtain

IMG_1249.JPG Designed by K.White @ White Wolfe Int

I do hope you have enjoyed this post and want to thank all the designers who have contributed their beautiful work.

Kind Regards and please look out for my next post.



Get Your Swag On

Get Your Swag On

Happy New year all,

What will the world of interiors bring in 2016?  Many designers are making predictions. I refuse to, all I will say is I am sure it will be a wonderful and interesting year, and I look forward to all the surprises to come with bated breath.

For a while now many things have been forecast to be the next “in thing” or “coming back“. one of which are Swags and Tails, of all things. They made a big resurgence in the eighties. Probably urged on by bouffant hairstyles and Dallas sized shoulder pads. And lets not forget the crazy poly-cotton prints that were used in their creations!   So you can imagine my surprise when I heard on the interiors grapevine that these Marmite blasts from the past were going to grace our windows once again.


There are plenty of books, on-line guides, great templates and systems available to help you create a plethora of different types of swag and tail or just swag variations. I aim to show you a cross section of my favourite designs using some of my esteemed colleagues images as examples.

Sonia Dowsett  .Kent. England

I am a lover of the flamboyant, swaths of fabric and a smorgasbord of trims. I am a girl who loves the term “More is More“. Elegance abounds with the calossus of the curtain world.

Elaine Sealey

Elaine Sealey Handmade Curtains, blinds and soft furnishings. The fabric is from Rubelli with bespoke trimmings by Wendy Cushing.

No one sits on the fence with these bad boys. You either love or loath them. Some designers will say they are gauche, old fashioned and even baroque. Quite recently someone commented directly upon this style of drapery as

Horrible !!!! “trés cul cul la praline ” désolé “.

How rude! Oh well, each to their own I suppose. This in truth is what prompted this first blog. I felt I needed to challenge this attitude. In the least I wish the unbeliever of the style to re-asses their negative opinion of this window treatment. Fingers crossed.

Rachel Robinson fabric and lace from james hare and trim by price and co.

Negative comments aside, I am glad to say there are designers who love them in all their flamboyancy. They find them a great way to indulge and flex their muscles in the sumptuous world of cloth . They enjoy their elegance and undeniable extravagance. 2

In this day and age (especially for the young designer), they pose a huge technical challenge. This is manly due to their complexity and the fact that you don’t get to design them often these days. You need to plan and draw them to get it just right.  They also require high ceilings to compensate for the loss of light. Lets face it we don’t all have Victorian houses.

Beechwood Curtain Design4


Beechwood Curtain Design2 Prestigious Textiles Bamboo

This aside, they do not have to have ooodles of trims or be made with heavy damask fabrics. They can be stripped down, simplified and with a bit of care even used in a modern setting.

Mary Grice Villa Nova Naples fabric

 Mary Grice Soft Furnishings Jones Monaco beaded trim and Villa Nova Naples fabric which gave them a bit of a contemporary twist


Helen Greene Suit

 From the Helen Green suite at the Berkeley.


Petterson’s Magazine Fashion Plate

France in the XIX century saw some of the first swag designs, even the clothing of around this time and later bare similarities to the window treatments. Right from the beginning fashion and interiors have been inexplicably linked.

Mary Grice 4

Mary Grice Soft Furnishings

Fiona Tait 4


There are so many variations of this style of window treatment that I struggle to understand how any one can hate them ALL!                                                                                     From single swags with or without pelmets, on poles, on valances, under pelmets, with or without tails, with jabots, on lambrequins, multiple swags, overlap swags, tip to tip, with trims, without trims and on, and on.                                                                                                   The only thing you ideally need is the space above the window. I simply loath it when swags are really shallow, the deeper they are the better they look so naturally you need the space .


Geraldine Cockerell

Geraldine Cockerell

Bev Spencer2

Bev Spencer

Suzanne Scott

Suzanne Scott


Dawn Ellis-Brown

Dawn Ellis-Brown


American Horror Story

Unfortunately you can only just see the side fixed swags on this image taken from the set of American Horror Story. I think they look wonderful.

Susan Kirk Designs

Susan Kirk Designs

A lovely contemporary approach to this style. Tastefully done I feel.

I have barely skimmed the surface trying to show a cross section of the variety of styles of swag and tails that are out there. You can find lots more inspiration especially on  where you can also find mine and Susan Kirk’s Designs boards.

Well that is the first blog of the year. Hope your interior design year is a great one.

A big thank you to all the designers that have contributed their work to this blog and thank you for reading.


THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Pattern Perfect

Hello All,

I recently received a message from a reader concerning pattern matching and curtain headings. This I feel is a valid point and one worth investigating. Thank you in advance to Jane Fiddian of Fiddian Interiors for inspiring this blog

Hope you enjoy the read…….

Pattern Perfect

When selecting a fabric many things are taken into consideration.

  • Colour
  • Coordination
  • Texture
  • Drape
  • Suitability
  • Pattern

Pattern is only one of the many choices made when selecting a fabric. Whether that be for curtains, cushions, bedspreads, blinds, pelmets or headboards.


The English Curtain Company

When a pattern is picked THINK!

If working with Goblet Pleats for example will the pattern land on the goblets ?                                   Can the heading be altered so that the pattern will fit on the goblets ?

This needs to be worked out BEFORE the fabric is confirmed.

The pattern spacings need to be measured width ways and married up to the pleats mathematically. It can be fiddly but you should be aware before you proceed, even before fabric is ordered. Most fabric companies are very accommodating in providing the necessary information for you to work this out.


A client should be aware if the pattern cannot be married up with the pleats, pinch, goblet, box, whatever the heading. This will fundamentally effect the look of the end product.


If a pattern match on a heading is not achievable (as sometimes is the case) there are alternative options available.


Here the button nicely draws your eye away from the fact that, the same part of the pattern cannot land on the goblet every time.


♦A contrast top border eliminates the problem and can enhance a design. Even though you can’t see it in this photo clearly, I lined the pattern up on the blind with the curtains. These little details are the reasons why people go to interior designers.

♦You or your client can just simply live with the random landing of the pattern or change the fabric.

♦Sometimes you can set the pattern down so that the most distinctive section is below the pleat level,     therefore drawing your eye away from the random section of pattern that lands on the pleat. (In the same way the buttons above does)



This Harlequin fabric is beautiful, but things must be considered before it is selected. It has an off set pattern which needs considering. (The pattern is different on the left selvedge than the right)

♦Can it be lined up ? (By trimming the fabric)

♦Which part of the pattern do you want at the top, or central in the case of a pelmet.

♦Do we centralise the pattern on romans in a bay or does the pattern follow on from blind to blind?

10580161_922334231150883_2620173325494605798_nLJ curtains

This pattern is centralised so therefore is less of an issue.

Pelmets and Blinds can be tricky items

Thimbles and Threads

Excellently executed pelmet to blind pattern by Thimbles & Threads

Consider the following with a patterned fabric

  • Position of pattern at top (the section always on view with a blind).
  • How much you see of the pattern on the depth of the pelmet or on the top panel when a blind is open.
  • Where the stitching hits the pattern (on a blind)
  • What section of the pattern hits the sides and is cut off.
  • On a pelmet, bay or row of blinds do you centralise the pattern on the blind, on the width.
  • On a pelmet, bay or row of blinds does the pattern continue from one blind onto the next.
  • Does the continuation of the pattern effect the position of the joins on the blind(s) or pelmet(s).

I know it is mind boggling what a designer thinks of before and whilst designing an item for a client. They are questions that become a natural mental check list after a while.


Once you have decided and are happy with the pattern position. You then need to consider how other items may be effected.

I prefer to follow a pattern on from a pelmet. I also like to have continuation on position of pattern as previously shown.


Harlequin Fabric

When you follow a pattern on from the pelmet to a blind be aware that, depending on how tall you are there is a slight fluctuation of the pattern lining up. Realistically you can only line it up with a direct eye level, then live with the variance. I also do the same with curtains under pelmets where the same pattern is used.

You must remember to factor in the depth of the pelmet, track, spacers etc, when making your calculations on where to start the pattern on the top of the blind or curtains. This way the correct part of the pattern appears at the right point past the base of the pelmet.


Stripes are a lovely, eye-catching defined pattern. Positioning needs to still be considered. Or can you turn the fabric ?

Standard roman with pelmet

Prestigious Fabric

There is also the interesting situation of lining the pattern up on a cascade Roman blind. It is fantastic when a designer / manufacturer, takes the additional time to marry the pattern up when the blind is in the up position. This is the sign of a true crafts person.

Jules Austin-Leppington The English Rooms.

Perfect example of a pattern matched, cascade blind by Jules Austin-Leppington at English Rooms Interiors in Stone, Cheshire, England.

Pattern Run Out

For those that do not know. When a pattern runs out it means it is not positioned squarely on the cloth. Sometimes you can see it straight away and sometimes a run out only becomes apparent when you start to make the item required. Some subtle run outs can be adjusted so you do not notice them. However some cannot be hidden. It is at this point you contact your client, and make them aware of the problem and how this will effect the look of the product. In some cases the manufacturer of the fabric needs contacting to be made aware of the problem. Discussions can then occur on how it can be resolved. New Fabric? Extra Fabric?

When a check pattern runs out it is always obvious! Pre-emption of this fact can be dealt with when selecting a check. I would recommend making the client aware of the potential issues.


Found on Pintrest

This is a great use of a pattern to create the shape of the pelmet. I have seen and created this effect quite a number of times. It always looks amazing.


The final point I would like to make is that all the above is a pointless exercise if your JOINS are bad. This is where a skilled seamstress / upholsterer comes into their own. The idea is to match up the pattern on the edges of the cloth in such a way, that when sewn, the item assembled comes as close as it can be to “SEAMLESS”. 

I will with my lovely friends at BITA Trade Forum on Facebook demonstrate this through a gallery of examples.


Charl Oberholster on Facebook

Embroideries cause an added problem when pattern matching. Some are hand loomed, therefore the pattern is not a perfect match. With some embroideries the pattern goes into the selvedge, giving you nothing to sew with. At this point you can sometimes move in a repeat on the width, but you can lose a lot of fabric and need to order extra. These designers have done a great job with hard fabrics. Jane Churchil fabric



Curtains Bespoke Ipswich. On Facebook

Upholstery comes with a whole host of issues depending on shape and style. Pulling the fabric over the item and buttoning can distort the pattern making it hard to match up. Then you have all the component parts to marry up. This is before the pattern is right way up at one point then changes direction as it moves across the item!! A good upholsterer takes all this into consideration, before calculating the cloth and starting the job.

upholstery done in Harlyn curtain Fabric in Beige [Curtains & Fabx] --- Email

Upholstery done in Harlyn curtain Fabric in Beige Email

I love it when a designer makes sure this happens in the middle of a curtain on the leading edges.



Pleats and joins looking great here.


Thank you to all who have contributed to this blog edition. Great work by wonderful people, showing the art of pattern matching is alive and well. In some of the photos you struggle to even see the join! 

My hat is off to you all in our trade.

If you want to learn more about “pleating by design” go to where you will find Clive Pennington. Britain’s leading authority on this craft and its process.

Keep up the good work.

Till next time


THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.