Saturday, March 13, 2010

Portiere Draperies

This week has been busy with a job that is almost ready to be photographed.  There are several components, one of which is Portiere drapery panels.  These photos illustrate our portiere fabrication method, which has been used on the draperies that haven't been photographed yet.
"Portiere" drapery, traditionally, is heavy draperies hung across a doorway (derived from French "porte" which means door).  The fabrication method takes into account the fact that they are seen from both sides... there is no "back" or "wrong side" and therefore a regular rolled side border is not appropriate.  The lead edge of the drapery needs to be "knife-edged" or "pillowcased" and may or may not have a trim.
Nowadays "portiere" might refer to any drape where the lead edge is made this way rather than rolled and blind-stitched, even if the drape isn't going into a doorway.  Usually the lining is a decorative contrast fabric.
What bothers me about portiere draperies is when the fabrics gap away from each other at the lead edge, which might happen because the fabrics don't cling to each other, or because of the weight of trim applied on one side.  I wanted to find an attractive way to secure the lead edge to prevent that.
We devised a fabrication method for draperies with top-sewn trim that yields a beautiful edge on each side.  The face fabric is rolled around to the back about 1/8" and "stitch-in-the-ditch" topstitched.  The tassel trim covers the topstitching on the face side, and on the back there is the illusion of a microcording.  This method has been effective with a variety of applications.  The photo shows a workroom sample we made as a show-and-tell for clients.
The seamstress needs a good eye and a steady hand to topstitch perfectly!  No extra caffeine til the sewing is done.
I must mention here that the only song I've ever heard that contains the word "portiere" is Warren Zevon's "Disorder in the House."


  1. oooh, that's pretty smart ! It does look like micro cording.

  2. As always fabulous work Deborah. Those curtains are stunning and I love the braid. Is that piping I can see on the inside edge of the leading edge,that is a lovely finish to the seam.


  3. Thanks Tammy, thanks Penny-
    It's not microcord, it's the face fabric rolled to the back & "stitch-in-the-ditch" topstitched.
    Hey Penny, what's our time difference?- you're up late reading blogs! :)

  4. Deborah we are 5 hours ahead of you here in the UK.
    Love the inverted pleats too...
    well done you!

  5. It would be great to see a picture of the back side of these!

  6. Actually the top photo shows the curtain folded back to reveal the lining side- the pink silk- in the case of this workroom sample, the lining is actually a band about 10" or so; but often the whole curtain is lined in a contrast. I didn't want to use up all my pink silk! LOL And sometimes the contrast is there just so it can be tied back with a pretty contrast reveal and the whole thing doesn't need contrast, so a wide band is enough.