Linen for curtains & blinds

linen band

Subtle colours of our Linen Curtain Fabric

In the latest in our occasional series of posts about cloth the focus is on linen. Starting with the basics; linen is a fibre which is obtained by processing the ‘Linum’ or ‘Flax’ plant. ‘Flax’ has a pretty blue flower and is grown for both the fibre and the seed all over the cooler regions of the world, with high quality linen being particularly associated with Ireland, Belgium, Latvia and Lithuania.

Linen has a number of properties which make it really good to use in the home; it is cool to touch and can absorb up to 20% moisture before it feels damp, it is lint-free, does not pill  and is durable to abrasion although because it has low elasticity repeated ironing of folds will eventually cause the fibres to break (the cuffs of linen shirts bear witness to this) . It is not of interest to moth or carpet beetle and is easy to take care of washing well even at high temperatures and has only moderate initial shrinkage. It can be finished to maximise or reduce these properties and can be woven as a ‘union’ with other yarns to produce cloth with particular characteristics. Linen has been used by humans as a textile for at least 30,000 years and with such a long history and with it’s particular properties the uses that linen are put to are extensive; bed linen, tablecloths, napkins, dish towels, glass towels and bath towels, home and commercial furnishing items (wallpaper/wall coverings, upholstery, window treatments, etc.), apparel items like dresses, shirts and suits, luggage, artists canvases, it is used by bookbinders and bakers and for paper and banknotes. The Tinsmiths selection of ‘Linen Fabric’ has grown steadily over the years and we now offer linen in qualities from very fine sheers to the chunkiest 712gsm upholstery linen.


curtain making in linen

As curtain makers we have always been slightly dissatisfied by the drape achieved by some of the stiffer linens and we now offer ‘Washed Linen’ in a really good range of colours and stripes – curtains made with this ‘Washed Linen’ drape fantastically, falling heavily to the hem.

Washed Linen Curtains; with a super soft drape this curtain is made in ‘Washed Linen, Indian Ink’

Linen has always been the luxury choice for bedlinen in hot climates because it keeps cool and dry even in the most humid conditions, however we have always felt that natural unbleached linen for curtains and furnishings is an excellent option for bedrooms where a calm and relaxed environment is required.

Irish Linen Unbleached Linene

Natural Unbleached Linen, our Heavy Irish Linen drapes softly for these curtains, the valence is Ticking Large, cream and the cushions are from our folk prints selection, Rondo

Of course Linen is a good upholstery cloth, the heavier weights are required for durability and for ‘severe domestic use’ some linen unions stand up to wear outstandingly, achieving very high rub tests; our Irish Linen Union has a 40,000 cycle rub test putting it in this very durable category. For loose covers the stability of linen comes into it’s own, because it generally washes with a minimal initial shrinkage and takes washing and cleaning processes well, it is the ideal choice for loose covers.

A washable 100% linen loose cover on our showroom sofa

A washable 100% linen loose cover on our showroom sofa


Printed 100% Linen – Deerpark designed by Lewis & Wood






Sunny Todd – giving it some thought

There is something very inspiring about passion. In this case, I mean passion for one’s work. Sunny visited us with samples of his textile designs a few month’s ago and we were struck by his commitment, enthusiasm and drive. His designs are dramatic, bold and bright, they leap out and grab you. It is really good to have something that shakes us, something quite different and a bit daring for Tinsmiths.

printed cottons by Sunny Todd“Tinsmiths feels to be very much at the heart of the bustling community and it has been a real joy to begin working with them this year. I have particularly enjoyed collaborating with owner Phoebe Clive on unique colour combinations for the store; I have really appreciated her advice, support and belief in me as a new designer and I am very much looking forward to my show at Tinsmiths next summer.” says Sunny, who moved to Ledbury, with his young family, this spring (2013).Sunny Todd “I have been so surprised by the vibrancy of this small market town” remarks Sunny, whose energy and interest can only add to the life of the town.

After training at the Royal College of Art, graduating with an MA in Printed Textile Design, Sunny Todd worked as a freelance designer in London for various companies including Topshop, Topman, Levis, River Island and Urban Outfitters, predominantly customising garments with Silk Screen prints.

Passionate about producing designs that are clean, bold and graphic, Sunny intuitively and obsessively draws with pen, scissors and scalpel to create repeats that are confident, dynamic and full of movement. Scale is explored, reducing and exaggerating to experiment with composition and the impact of the repeat.

Sunny PrintingAll his designs are cut by hand which gives the art work beautiful irregularities, and so when fabrics are digitally printed by British company Smarts they retain the hand printed aesthetic. Sunny gives a good deal of thought to how his textiles will be used and his latest wash bags and shoulder bags are good examples of this – his large shoulder bags should be considered part of one’s apparel, not merely a necessity.

Sunny's Voluminous Diamond Shoulder BagSunny’s show at Tinsmiths runs from 6th September to 4th October, 2014 and there will be an opportunity to meet and talk to Sunny about his work at the opening on the evening of Friday, 5th September. If you would like to receive an invitation, please e-mail with your details.

Sunny's washbags




Harry Potter and ………

We stage artist and printmaker, Andrew Davidson’s solo show here next month. Andrew has just completed seven covers for Bloomsbury’s next edition of the complete series of Harry Potter books, the first four of which have just been released. Andrew, who works almost exclusively to commission, will exhibit his prints and textiles, here, at Tinsmiths next month (7th September to 12th October) and we are delighted that this very rare solo exhibition will include the Potter series of wood-engravings.

Bloomsbury's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Wood engraving by Andrew Davidson for Bloomsbury’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Bloomsbury really couldn’t have selected better for J.K. Rowling’s work.  “I wanted them to look as if they had come straight from the pages of a book taken from the library at Hogwarts (the boarding school for wizard’s where the books are set)”, explains Andrew.

The project took around two and a half months to complete, and each of the images describes a key scene, character or setting from that novel: designs for first books in the series feature the Hogwarts Express train and Gothic castle, while later covers have a darker feel and feature ghouls, skulls and serpents. The complexity of Andrew’s work, hand engraved on English Boxwood measuring no more than 9″ x 7″ and printed on Japanese paper, really suits the genre. Andrew’s commission from Bloomsbury allows him to hand-print 20 of each of the illustrations from the wood-engravings for his own use and it is these that we will have on display.

Hogwart's Express by Andrew Davidson

Hogwart’s Express steams into view. Wood engraving by Andrew Davidson.

If you would like to come to our opening evening, please e-mail for an invitation (letterpress printed with engravings taken from Andrew Davidson’s textile design, Royal Oak, for Lewis and Wood in Stroud, Glos.)





Bulkhead Lights

Large Brass BulkheadWith their roots back in industrial, and particularly maritime history, bulkhead lights have a rugged appeal. Developed in the early part of the twentieth century for use on ships and in marine settings the rigorous demands of these environments have lead to common features – robust cast metal casings,  galvanised finishes, watertight seals and protective metal cages all serve to give them a robust, solid and utilitarian feel that looks great and serves well in interiors that have an emphasis on the raw materials of their build.

Bulkhead aluminiumAs a point of interest, bulkhead lights get their name from the upright partitions dividing the hull of a ship into compartments and serving to add structural rigidity and to prevent the spread of leakage, fire or in the event of a collision to contain water flooding into a hold. To seal these partitions doors hang higher than usual to leave an upstanding section to step over and through into the next partition. Traditionally, bulkhead lights were fixed on each partition to light the tripping hazard and the compartment. Lights like these had to be really robust and completely waterproof.

cast aluminium bulkheadThe bulkhead light fittings supplied by Tinsmiths all have an IP44 or higher rating which make them ideal for exterior use, however they can work well in bathroom or utility environments and interior designers specializing in restaurant and bar interiors often use them to very good effect in interior schemes with a strong ‘factory’ feel. We have made a whole section for industrial lighting on our site and are always looking out for lights that are designed and made to last.



Blinds and Curtains Guide, Part 1

Roman Blinds or Roller Blinds?

Blinds are the obvious choice for the hardest working areas of the home; kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms etc. they also suit the unfussy contemporary home or the smaller rooms in the house (the downstairs loo!) – but which type of blind?

Roman Blind in Mark Hearld's birdgarden (red)

“Birdgarden” designed by Mark Hearld for St. Judes’ fabrics makes a strong and joyful statement in the sitting area of a large country kitchen.

Roller Blinds

Taking into account your specific needs and the characteristics of the room in question the following pros and cons may be useful:


  • in the up position roller blinds take up very little space and therefore don’t reduce the daylight coming into the room.
  •  when made in lightweight and light coloured linen they will still let in light yet act as a screen to the outside world – this is especially useful in rooms where screens and monitors are affected by sunlight/glare.
  • roller blinds have a crisp, no nonsense look which works well with bold prints
  • roller blinds can be used in combination with curtains where extra blackout is required or for decorative effect


  • roller blinds will not help with the acoustic problems sometimes found in kitchens or other rooms with a lot of hard surfaces.
  • roller blinds do not give such a dressed feel to the window.
Roller Blind in up position

Roller Blind in up position

Roman Blind

Roman Blind in up position


Roman Blinds


  • roman blinds provide a more “dressed” look to the window and room
  • as they are soft, roman blinds can provide benefits in terms of the sound quality – reducing echo in rooms with a lot of hard surfaces
  • Tinsmiths roman blinds are interlined with a blackout, thermal interlining so that they are lightproof and provide good thermal gain.


  • when in the up position roman blinds require some space to stack, 14-28cm depending on the blind length, the stack therefore reduce the daylight coming into the room
roman blinds in painswick

Roman blinds in Painswick, blackout interlined and hand-sewn at Tinsmiths, Ledbury are perfect for this mellow country sitting room where chunky radiators below the windows make blinds a sensible choice

One very important consideration with both types of blind is to ensure that cords and chains are kept out of the reach of children. Tinsmiths supply a safety device which should be fitted to the side control chain of each roller or roman blind.

For further advice and information about blinds and roller blinds consult Tinsmiths’ Made to Measure.

Jute – really is a beaut.

An unsung fibre, Jute, is something that we have become increasingly aware. It is Jute’s eco credentials which are really outstanding when compared to other fibres; Jute fibre is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable, in it’s growth it requires very low use of pesticides and fertilizer and the processes involved in the conversion of plant to fibre are relatively low polluting. Traditionally used for feed sacks, carpet backing and door mats, we now stock a variety of products which use jute in a more decorative way.

Diamond patterned Jute Floor Rugs

Diamond patterned jute floor rugs - two sizes and colours

Jute has excellent insulation properties both for heat and sound, these together with it’s antic-static properties make it an ideal choice for flooring. When blended with other fibres, as in the Valley Stripe cushions where the composition is 58% Jute and 42% cotton, added softness and drape can be given to the durability of the jute.

cotton and jute valley cushions; jute pouffes

cotton and jute valley cushions; jute pouffes

Jute’s unique combination of properties have been noticed by other industries; in tree nurseries it is used to contain young trees, which can be directly planted with no disturbance to the roots, the jute rotting away as the tree grows; for stabilising soils prone to erosion it is used as a “geotextile” that supports the growing vegetation which will eventually halt erosion. The jute covering biodegrades by the time the plants are mature enough to hold the soil in place.

Soft Jute Floor Rugs

Soft Jute Floor Rugs - two sizes with fringe

Now, with a fuller appreciation of Jute’s qualities, we are looking out for interesting jute products to add to the Tinsmiths’ selection. Do tell us if you come across any.