Sandburg's Hometown

November 4, 2013

Lace Curtain Stretcher Newspaper Ad - Churchil & Wetherbee, Galesburg, IL

Lace Curtains

By Barbara Schock

Lace making began in the late 15th century in Europe. Linen, silk, gold and silver threads were knotted, looped and twisted to create a design. It was used to trim royal, ecclesiastical and military costumes as well as decorative items for the home. Men as well as women enjoyed lace decorations on their garments. Young women were trained in lace making so they could support themselves. Today the handmade creation of lace is generally regarded as a hobby.

Machine-made lace was made possible after the invention of the jacquard loom and was combined with the bobbin net machine in 1837. This led to unlimited possibilities for creating lace and increased production vastly.

With the advent of machine-made lace, decorating windows with lace panels in homes became very popular. The curtains looked lovely when first put up to the windows. But dust, gas fumes and coal smoke gradually had their effects. The curtains became dingy and limp over a period of time.

Every homemaker with lace curtains had to wash them several times a year. After washing, the curtains were dipped in cooked starch to stiffen them. Then, the panels were put on curtain stretchers to dry.

The curtain stretchers were wooden strips with metal pins set in them at one inch intervals. At the ends of the wooden strips were open spaces through which thumb screws and wings nots were inserted to tighten the frame. The boards could be adjusted to the exact finished measurement for the curtain. The numbers were printed on the board so the homemaker could be sure she had each panel the correct size.

The frame with the attached curtain would be set outside to dry. A sunny day with a light breeze was considered best for drying.

The above advertisement from Churchill and Wetherbee, 220 Main Street, in Galesburg, shows how the curtain stretcher was assembled as well as the way it could be folded into a smaller bundle for storing in the attic.

Surely, Clara Sandburg had lace curtains at the windows of the Front Room in her home on Berrien Street. She may have had her own set of curtain stretchers or she may have borrowed them from a neighbor or a member of the family. She wanted her home to look as nice as the neighbors.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
November 4, 2013 Lace Curtains
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity