How to Make a Festoon

Written by martha adams
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How to Make a Festoon
These ornate draperies have three festoons -- one on top and one on each side. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

A festoon is a decorative garland draped between two anchor points. The garland may be of chain links, flowers or fabric. The anchors can be loops, hooks or other fixed points. Festooning as a technique is used frequently in holiday decor around the home, such as stringing paper chains or popcorn on a Christmas tree, swagging a stair rail or mantle with flowers and greenery for a home wedding or draping red-white-and-blue bunting on a balcony for the 4th of July. The most common use of festoons in home decor is in window treatments. Festooning can be as simple as draping one curtain across a window or as ornate as using fully festooned window shades of lace behind swagged draperies.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Fabric
  • Curtain rod and brackets
  • Curtain holdback hardware
  • Curtain holdbacks
  • Pins

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  1. 1

    Install the curtain rod across the top of the window to fit the window casing, or extend it past the window casing as far as desired using the hardware included.

  2. 2

    Use a straight length of fabric of any width and at least one and a half times the length of the window's width or as long as desired. This may be anything from heavy brocade or velveteen to filmy sheer or delicate lace.

  3. 3

    Match the centre of the fabric to the centre of the rod and drape the fabric lengthwise over the rod so that it hangs equally on the front and back side of the rod.

  4. 4

    Pick up the end of the fabric from the front side of the rod and loop it over the rod again from back to front between the centre of the rod and the right end of the curtain rod, leaving some slack in the fabric. This forms a festoon or swag, with the anchor points where the fabric crosses the rod. Bring the edges of the fabric from the front and back of the rod together under the rod and pin them together, concealing the pin in the fabric. This will stabilise the swag and allow a second festoon to be made. If only one festoon is desired, pin the fabric together at the end of the curtain rod and adjust the drape of the fabric.

  5. 5

    Make further festoons on that side of the rod if desired, securing the anchor points of each by pinning the fabric invisibly. Secure the last anchor point at the end of the rod. Any extra fabric may be left hanging at the side of the window.

  6. 6

    Creae an equal number of festoons on the left side of the rod with the remaining half of the fabric, bringing it from the back of the rod to the front and over.

  7. 7

    Distribute the fabric evenly among the festoons, or vary the depth of them in mirror image on each side.

  8. 8

    Use a festoon topper with or without curtains.

  1. 1

    Install the curtain rod across the top of the window.

  2. 2

    Install the curtain holdback hardware on one side of the window casing at the level of the windowsill. If the window reaches the floor or near to it, place the holdback hardware at a higher level as desired.

  3. 3

    Thread a curtain panel onto the rod and spread it evenly across the window.

  4. 4

    Grasp the curtain panel at the level of the window sill on the side opposite the holdback. Gather the curtain fabric evenly into the hands until it reaches the holdback, leaving an angled hemline at the bottom and ending at the full length of the curtain on the holdback side.

  5. 5

    Raise the bunched curtain fabric until it swags to the degree desired. Place the fabric into the holdback and adjust to taste. The anchor points of the festoon are the curtain rod and the holdback. Use matching or contrasting fabric tie-backs, chains, beads or ornamental cords with or without tassels to secure the fabric if the holdback hardware is not displayed.

Tips and warnings

  • Drape a large window or two small windows close together with matching festooned curtains in mirror image.

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