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    • Primrose
    • By Primrose 20th Jun 19, 4:21 PM
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    Summer & Winter curtains
    • #1
    • 20th Jun 19, 4:21 PM
    Summer & Winter curtains 20th Jun 19 at 4:21 PM
    I've been reading Nella Last's Diaries of World War 2, (known as Housewife 49 to the Mass Observation organisation which recorded the thoughts and habits of ordinary people during those times) and was intrigued to read of her doing her annual spring cleaning and changing to her Summer Curtains and Winter Curtains.

    As a small child I remember my mother making similar changes and am intrigued if this habit still survives? I put up new curtains once in a blue moon, wash them in a slightly more frequent blue moon but never change them.

    Is this another domestic habit which has died in the mists of time as women become more busy, work as well as running a home and don't have time for such activities? . Or was it done to show your neighbours that you were sufficiently well off to own two sets of curtains?

    I do recall my mother debating with her next door neighbour at the time on which side the pattern should show. My mother was of the opinion that the pattern should be displayed to the interior of the room where the family could enjoy it. Our next door neighbour displayed hers facing outwards so that the neighbours could see her taste !
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    • dreaming
    • By dreaming 20th Jun 19, 5:04 PM
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    • #2
    • 20th Jun 19, 5:04 PM
    • #2
    • 20th Jun 19, 5:04 PM
    I do have summer and winter curtains (and cushion covers too) although this year I haven't been able to take the winter ones down and put the summer ones up as I can no longer climb the stepladder without feeling dizzy. Mind you, as it has been so cold over the last few weeks the heavier, lined winter curtains have kept it a little cosier. My DD will be visiting in the next few weeks so I may ask her to do it, but part of me wonders whether it is really worth it. I don't actually wash/dry clean the curtains every year when I do change them though. On alternate years the curtains just get vacuumed, then put on the washing line for a good airing before I pack them away. DD thinks I am probably the last woman alive who does this (I am only early 60's by the way). My curtains are hung with the pattern on the room side.
    Last edited by dreaming; 20-06-2019 at 5:05 PM. Reason: spelling
    • MovingForwards
    • By MovingForwards 20th Jun 19, 7:23 PM
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    • #3
    • 20th Jun 19, 7:23 PM
    • #3
    • 20th Jun 19, 7:23 PM
    The winter ones were to keep the drafts out and the warmth of the fire in, before the days of central heating and double glazing.

    Summer ones allowed the opportunity of washing/drying the winter ones, kept the home cooler during the warmer months due to letting the drafts flow through the home.
    • MovingForwards
    • By MovingForwards 20th Jun 19, 7:29 PM
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    • #4
    • 20th Jun 19, 7:29 PM
    • #4
    • 20th Jun 19, 7:29 PM
    Sorry, I never said - I just have one set for each room; unlined for the lounge and blackout curtains for the bedrooms.
    • caronc
    • By caronc 20th Jun 19, 8:18 PM
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    • #5
    • 20th Jun 19, 8:18 PM
    • #5
    • 20th Jun 19, 8:18 PM
    Definitely something that was a feature when I was growing up in a house with drafty single glazing, poor insulation and no central heating. Winter curtains were very heavy & lined and as we had a big bay windows very wide too. They weighed a ton and it used to take both my parents to put them up and down. In winter they were kept closed whenever it was getting dark and it always marked the seasons' changing when the curtains were changed to/from the lighter unlined summer ones. I suppose now many folk have double glazing etc, so much less need to change over.

    • Artytarty
    • By Artytarty 20th Jun 19, 8:20 PM
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    • #6
    • 20th Jun 19, 8:20 PM
    • #6
    • 20th Jun 19, 8:20 PM
    Aw, you've reminded me of my dear neighbour, now lost to dementia at an early age.
    She was soooo house proud. She changed the bedroom curtains to match the clean duvet cover every time!
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    • Primrose
    • By Primrose 21st Jun 19, 7:55 AM
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    • #7
    • 21st Jun 19, 7:55 AM
    • #7
    • 21st Jun 19, 7:55 AM
    Aw, you've reminded me of my dear neighbour, now lost to dementia at an early age.
    She was soooo house proud. She changed the bedroom curtains to match the clean duvet cover every time!
    Originally posted by Artytarty
    Oh my gosh. What extra work some people create for themselves! Life is just too short ! If you're really fanatical about things toning, probably better to stick with a plain colour duvet cover and patterned curtains or vice versa.
    • wort
    • By wort 21st Jun 19, 8:24 AM
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    • #8
    • 21st Jun 19, 8:24 AM
    • #8
    • 21st Jun 19, 8:24 AM
    Absolutely. I have a cosier warm curtain and a matching set cushion colours for winter. Then in spring /summer lighter brighter curtains. I love to change them it gives the room a whole different feel,and reflects the seasons. I have more than 2 pairs though!! I clean them when I take them down. At the moment mine are white with shades of grey and a splash of yellow. They are lovely and summery! !
    I can't remember wether my mum used to do this.
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    • Eenymeeny
    • By Eenymeeny 21st Jun 19, 3:16 PM
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    • #9
    • 21st Jun 19, 3:16 PM
    • #9
    • 21st Jun 19, 3:16 PM
    I remember my mother doing this and my father complaining about her putting dark curtains up just when he felt that we should be having light, cheerful ones! I can see his point but as others have said it was about warmth and insulation.
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    • Spendless
    • By Spendless 21st Jun 19, 4:37 PM
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    You've stirred a memory in me but it's not my mother I can remember doing this. On reflection I think it must be one of my grandmothers. She's still alive aged 93 and living in the same house, but it's not something she does anymore, so I'd say it was definately to do with the weather and keeping the house warm or cool.
    • Primrose
    • By Primrose 21st Jun 19, 4:48 PM
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    Yes I think the thicker lined curtains were for winter use, and perhaps even had blackout material as linings in some cases. . They may have helped keep the rooms warmer in winter before central heating arrived but when you opened them in the morning the glass was streaming with moisture and condensation, sometimes from ice which had frozen on the inside of the windows overnight, which would collect in little pools on the window ledges and "mopping up" was a daily morning chore.

    If you didn't do this regularly a horrible layer of black mould would start to appear at the base of each window frame, the paint would flake away and and the wood slowly start to rot. Thank heavens for double glazing ! It has certainly reduced the amount of house maintenance and woodwork repainting needed.
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 21st Jun 19, 4:54 PM
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    The pattern is for ME, so it's inside. If people outside want to admire nice curtains they can go off and buy their own, I'm not paying for their enjoyment.
    • tori.k
    • By tori.k 21st Jun 19, 8:31 PM
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    I kinda do, less so in this house than the last one.
    I have winter curtains for the patio doors into the conservatory and front door that comes down around March/April
    The last house was a massive industrial conversion designed as a summer let so minimum insulation thick granite walls acted like a refrigerator 16c was the warmest we could get the open planned living area with the stove full blast, we added curtain poles to the ceiling beams in the lounge area, it looked ridiculously like curtains round a bed but did the job, but left you risking meeting Scott of the Antarctic in the Kitchen.
    That house was evil summertime you didn't want to be anywhere else in the world but the winters were so miserable.
    • thriftwizard
    • By thriftwizard 21st Jun 19, 9:12 PM
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    I had the ideal mix at one point - detachable curtain liners! Same curtains all year, but thermal-lined in winter; just a matter of popping the liners' header-tape over the curtain hooks. Couldn't be easier...

    I've never yet lived in a home with double glazing, though I have lived with (and loved) original shutters, which are nearly as efficient and only deployed when actually needed, i.e. in winter & bad storms. We currently live in an Edwardian house complete with elderly single glazing & original drafts; we have good curtains at most windows (from an enormous old old L. Ashley set, cut down to fit, lined but not interlined) and I've made lined Roman blinds for most of them too to stop the drafts in their tracks. The curtains that were here when we arrived, 27 years ago, were probably originally winter curtains, lined, in heavy mustard-coloured cotton velvet, floor to ceiling; I can't imagine anyone loving those in summer! (If at all...) But they were good when OH was working nights; no stray sunbeams could penetrate and they cut down any noise from the road too.

    I work with old fabrics, and there were some enchanting, delightful, stylish & highly entertaining designs out there in times past; most curtains were handmade, many of the best painstakingly stitched by hand rather than machine, and sometimes I look at what's out there to buy now and despair!
    Last edited by thriftwizard; 21-06-2019 at 9:14 PM.

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    • phoebe1989seb
    • By phoebe1989seb 21st Jun 19, 10:37 PM
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    No double glazing here in this 400 year old stone cottage either - in fact we've only installed it (and not hideous plastic!) in one of the eight (all old/character) properties we've owned - so have thick, mainly interlined curtains at most windows, patterns facing inwards.

    I recall my parents having Winter and Summer sets for the large 1920s north-facing bays in the house where I grew up, but it's not something we've ever done.

    We have a mix of vintage velvet, newer velvet, heavy linen (all thermal lined) and interlined silk curtains that have moved house with us several times. Many were made by me - I've a background in fashion design so old/interesting fabrics are a passion of mine - but I've forced myself to stop looking at fabric websites/shops or I'd end up with sets for every season, not just Winter/Summer, lol

    Edited to add - we've 50+ cushions throughout the house.....there's no way I'd be swapping those out, DH would kill me!
    Last edited by phoebe1989seb; 21-06-2019 at 10:42 PM.
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    • luxor4t
    • By luxor4t 21st Jun 19, 10:48 PM
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    I remember mother in law changing her curtains/ cushions with the seasons. She seemed surprised and even slightly shocked that I didn't aspire to two sets.
    However, she had a coal fire so by the Spring the curtains needed to come down..... so much dust! (despite regular shaking, brushing as vacuuming - a weekly chore back in the day).
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    • Primrose
    • By Primrose 22nd Jun 19, 6:38 AM
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    Yes, I do think curtains probably got much dirtier and dustier "in the old days" when coal fires were the norm. I remember the performance when the sweep came for the annual chimney clean and the supposed improvement when the Vac Sweep arrived. Furniture would be moved out of the room as much as possible and our piano had to be covered with a large dust sheet.

    Thank goodness those days are over ! Central heating has made life so much easier and vastly reduced the amount of dusting and cleaning which needs to be done (not that I'm a martyr to that activity anyway!)
    • Primrose
    • By Primrose 22nd Jun 19, 6:51 AM
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    The pattern is for ME, so it's inside. If people outside want to admire nice curtains they can go off and buy their own, I'm not paying for their enjoyment.
    Originally posted by PasturesNew

    It always seemed bizarre to me that people would have the patterned side of curtains facing outwards where you couldn't enjoy them in the home. . Apart from anything else, it would be exposing them to fading and sun damage. I think our neighbour's argument was that the curtains would only be drawn at night so the sun wouldn't damage them. Of course it still would because the sun damage and fading would be worse on the exposed parts of the material and cause fading in streaks. Still, she always was a rather peculiar lady.

    Incidentally we have moved house three times and when curtains have been made I've always had extra long hems included so that they can be let down to accommodate deeper windows if necessary. On more than one occasion this has allowed me to re-use curtains that would otherwise have had to be discarded.
    • suejb2
    • By suejb2 22nd Jun 19, 9:39 AM
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    I change mine, when we change the clocks in October and March yet donít know anyone else in my family who does
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    • TheBanker
    • By TheBanker 22nd Jun 19, 11:31 AM
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    My mum (early 60s) still does this.

    When I was a little boy I remember her and dad spending a weekend putting the winter or summer curtains up, then spending the next few weeks washing and drying the ones that had been taken down. Changing the curtains is something I remember, a bit like putting the Christmas decorations up on the first weekend of December.

    When we had single glazed windows with wooden frames there was a clear benefit in having thicker curtains in the winter. Probably less so now.

    Mum is surprised that I only have one set of curtains for each window. When I took my bedroom curtains down to be cleaned, I borrowed the set from the spare room (which was not in use). Mum asked me if I was in financial difficulty - clearly not able to comprehend someone not having spare curtains!

    Big change for me is that mum used to wash the curtains in the machine and dry them on the line. Can't do that any more. I tried once and ruined them
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