Fabrics play such a HUGE part in Victorian decorating! The opulence and “over the top” approach of the time was partially created by the lavish use of fabric. Draperies often used at least three layers, and often times up to eight or nine layers of fabric. In my many visits to Historic Victorian Homes, I have seen three valances, two layers of outer draperies and three layers of under curtains on their windows.
Draperies, valances and under curtains were also used to surround the Victorian bed. In addition to making a grand statement, they were used to keep out drafts and to add to the warmth and comfort of the sleepers. Coverlets and several layers of quilts, spreads and sheets were also used. Most were heavily embroidered or edged in fine lace. Then, there were the pillows of silks, satins, damask, velvet and lavishly embroidered cottons, most with heavy edged trims of fringe, lace, binding or tassels. Window fashions and bed draperies would often puddle on the floor by more than 12 inches.
Parlor chairs, chaises and settees would be draped with wraps and quilts in the finest fabrics, many of them imported from Europe and the Far East. The furniture items would often be covered in the same fabric as the draperies and sometimes, the walls would be softened with the use of fabric or padded insets of fabric.
Throughout the 18th century, Americans depended almost completely upon imported fabrics. British fabrics were most often used because they were protected by the high tariffs imposed by England on goods imported into the colonies from other countries. Indian goods were also imported under the protective arm of the British East India Company. The qualities of British fabrics varied, but for the most part, were far superior to anything made in Colonial America at that time.
Remember to use fabrics lavishly in your Victorian decorating. They will give that illusion of grandeur to your home.