The curtains open slowly, swooping up from the center as they draw, revealing the stage, waiting for the players. Life on the stage is over when the drapes close and the swags fall free. The swags that form when stage curtains draw open is the result of Italian stringing. A cord travels through rings which, when pulled, draws the drapes into the swag position. Used in stationary drapery vignettes, or in functional drapery in a home, Italian stringing once fell within the purview of master drapery makers only, but new methods and materials have made this technique available to the advanced home decor sewer who can use it on home or stage curtains.
Things You'll Need:
- drapery cord
- fabric tape measure
- safety pins
- 1/2-inch plastic roman shade rings
- sewing needle
- small fabric bag
- 8 drapery weights
- cord cleat
If in doubt, use more rings rather than fewer. Fewer rings creates a larger, looser swag; more rings creates a tighter, shorter swag.
Hang the drapery wrong side out, the right side toward the window, for ease of sewing. A better result is achieved if the stringing is done while the drapes are hanging.
Pin one end of a 20-foot piece of drapery cord to the middle of each center edge.
Drape the cord away from the center, toward the curtain rod. The drape of the cord will mimic the shape of the swag formed as the drapes open. Adjust the drape of the cord until the desired swag shape is achieved.
Pin the cord to the top of the drape at the desired position.
Mark the positions of the guide rings. Start at the middle of the center edge of one curtain half and fasten safety pins, through all layers of the drapes equidistant along the cord, every 4 inches. There will be excess drapery between the pins that falls to the front.
Sew a ring to the drapes, through all layers, at each pin position. Sew a ring, every 4 inches, along the top of the drape toward the outer edge from where the cord is pinned to the top edge.
Unpin the cord from the drape. Tie it to the center edge ring, run it through all the rings and up to the curtain rod. Thread the cord through the rings along the top, to the outside edge.
Let the excess cord fall toward the floor along the outside edge of the drape.
Make, or purchase, a small fabric bag to hold 4 drapery weights. Sew the bag to the inside of the drape at the position of the first ring. This provides weight to help the drapes fall correctly when being closed.
Rehang the drapes, wrong side to the window. Draw them by pulling the cord; the swag will form, and they will open. Secure the cord by wrapping it around a cord cleat fastened to the wall.
Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.