Typically a rectangular section of thin wood, metal or stone set into a wall, door or ceiling; used in reference to a decorated area within a whole; also referring to the individual pieces of fabric that make up a sewn piece. In soft furnishings, fabric panels are used variously for a range of key effects:

1. Design

Where fabric has a printed or woven pattern across the width, often with structured borders, it is best used in panels, where the design is shown in its entirety. This is particularly suitable for ROMAN BLINDS, curtains with no fullness, wall hangings, backdrops, screens, within fixed panelling–and scale allowing, for big cushions, and chair seats and backs.

2. Joined

Flat, straight or tapered, panels of fabric can be made up and joined to fit more complex shapes, say for the bed valances, pelmets and upholstered furniture.

3. Inserts

Panels may be used to create separate areas of colour and/or shape. Using separate pieces of fabric creates a decorative opportunity for subtle or marked changes of colour, and/or texture. Practically, panels help create a good fit, e.g. for lampshades, where they can accommodate the slope by ensuring the lower edge is fuller than the top one, or vice-versa. Inserted panels can be patches, strips or gores. Gored panels are a design intervention, driven by style or the need for a better fit. They can be used in curtains and loose covers, anywhere requiring additional fullness, incorporated over the whole length, at the centre backs only–of chairs for example–on a side, or lower hem area.

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