Thursday, June 7, 2018

350 pounds of roman shades

What I've been doing: 350 pounds of window treatments packed for UPS.
These shades are no-pinholes-of-light ribbed blackout flat romans with Easy Spring Plus cordless lift systems.
That's all I can say and show- but you get the drift.  A very busy time in the workroom!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A wedding dress skips a generation

I spent some time on a personal project that holds great meaning for me.
My beautiful niece Angela is marrying soon, and she will be wearing her grandmother's- my mother's- wedding dress for the ceremony.
It is impossible to overstate how much it means to Angela's mom- my sister Betsi- and me and her other aunts, that Angela made the  choice to wear the dress of the grandmother she never knew, but who would have loved her beyond description.
My own grandmother made this dress for her daughter's wedding, 66 years ago.  The dress was originally white; though professional cleaning helped brighten it, it is now ivory, and some darker discoloration was impossible to remove.  It fit nearly perfectly and needed only minor alterations.
I didn't have the expertise to make the alterations myself, but I sourced lace-covered buttons to replace the badly discolored originals, and laid my hands to this dress which was made by my grandmother's hands for my mother, and will be worn by my beloved niece.
No spoilers, so no photos of the dress or my mom's wedding pictures, until after Angela's wedding day.  But here's a peek at the button replacements.

Friday, May 25, 2018


The workroom's key to managing a large volume of projects at once is organization.
When possible, I like to cut and prep as much like work together, even if it's for different orders, if they're due around the same time.
The other day we set out to cut linings for about 31 widths of drapery.
Since nearly everything in the workroom is on wheels or glides, John had the brilliant thought to roll the shade trusswork away from the wall......
 and re-purpose it to store the lining cuts for easy access as we work.
We prepared ahead 29 Easy Spring Plus systems and dustboards and stored them under the rolling machine.
Awhile back I saw a cool idea on one of our workroom forums- I can't remember who posted it.  She sliced large cardboard tubes for vertical storage of long items.  We pre-cut all the ribs, weight bars, and hem bars for the 29 shades and stored them in short tubes near the worktable so we can reach them easily during fabrication.  Each tube has the materials for one room's shades.
And to help keep track of cutting, we rolled the whiteboard over to the cutting table and wrote the cut lengths and checked them off as we progressed.
Back to work now!
Holiday weekend- see you next week.......

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Super-fun fabrics

I love the trusswork John built for hanging and leveling our shades! 
Take a good look at it, because tomorrow I'll show an alternative use for the apparatus.
The following shades, for Crosstown Shade and Glass, are blackout with our special no-pinholes-of-light method.  This sunny yellow with appliqued circles and embroidery was fun to work with.  At first we thought there was no way we would be able to join the widths and get a good pattern match, but once we saw the trick to the match, it was easy. 
Are those folds pleated to pattern??- ah, uh, um, YES!  Of course.   And the 4" padded fascia is pattern matched to the shade.
All of our blackout shades have internal ribs.  They prevent the folds from losing their definition, and prevent the homeowner from losing her mind, since she won't have to dress these folds every time the shade is raised.
This whimsical embroidery was equally delightful to work with.
Again with the pleat to pattern.... in this case, every other fold matches.  We assess the pattern repeat to determine if we can match every fold, every other, or every third.  In fact, I'm presenting a live webinar in June (to the WCAA Virtual Chapter) on this very subject.  Once you get used to pleating to pattern, whether on shades or draperies, you won't go back to random!
The attention to detail is especially effective with side-by-side identical shades.  I love how the pattern flows from the fascia to the shade. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Masterclass at Workroom Tech!

A trip to the Custom Workroom Technical Center is as much a treat for the instructors as it is for the students. I'm so happy that I'll be heading to North Carolina in July to teach a Masterclass on Hobbled and Austrian Shades, and I hope you will consider joining the group. It is a fantastic place to hunker down with other professionals and zoom in on specific skills in a hands-on class. I want you to bring beautiful, challenging fabrics for your samples so we can do a lot of brainstorming and creative thinking!  Designed for experienced fabricators, this class will give you tools to approach these more complex shade styles with confidence.  Come join me in the beautiful North Carolina hills in July!  

Friday, May 18, 2018

84" tieback

The story of the 84" tieback is the third installment of the oversize ripplefold project for Crosstown Shade and Glass.    Though it looks simple, it was anything but- to create the smooth, sleek crescent I envisioned, I decided to hand-sew it.
The first step was getting the correct proportions.  Obviously if the panel was just 8' long, the tieback would've been much narrower.  Steve from Crosstown measured and determined that the wide point should be 8" and taper down to 4" ends.
It was up to me to draft the boat-shaped pattern.  The tieback was 84" wide in all,  and the fabric widths were joined so the seam would be in the back.  This was the only machine sewing.
I thought that buckram was necessary to help the tieback keep its shape, and I also knew that machine-sewing right sides together and turning was not going to give me the sleekness I envisioned, so I made the tieback sort of like I make a soft cornice, layering the face fabric, interlining and Skirtex. 
The interlining was trimmed close to the buckram, the curves were clipped in the face fabric, and Jewel tape applied to the buckram.
The face fabric was folded over, secured with the tape, then gently steamed into shape.
The self lining was layered on, the raw edges turned under leaving a little edge that I could sew to.  Then the entire perimeter of the tieback was hand-sewn with tiny ladder stitches to secure the self lining to the face.
This gave me exactly the look I wanted to achieve.
I think it's perfect :)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fitted valance with cutout

Following up from yesterday's post about the 13' one-way 175" long ripplefold panel for Crosstown Shade and Glass- that valance!
The tricky part of a 13' valance, inside mount with a fitted cutout, isn't actually the fabrication.
 It's making sure that it will fit when it gets to the installation site.
We worked closely with Jeff from Crosstown Shade and Glass, discussing every detail, to ensure that installation would go smoothly.
The basic fabrication was simple.  The valance was self-lined and interlined.  If you remember from yesterday, the fabric is a lightweight 100% linen.  To keep control of the fabric while stapling, we basted across the top at the board line.  And instead of moving the pressed valance to the sewing machine, we just ladder-stitched the sides closed by hand.
At the cutout end, we marked the board line and basted.
The excess was cut away and the fabric snipped down to the board line at the pleat.....
And at the cutout corner.
The corner was also staystitched with small backstitches to keep it from stretching out of shape.
The face fabric was folded back and the interlining was basted to the back of the valance then trimmed away.
The board was assembled, and the corners reinforced with angle irons, which Jeff could remove at the installation.
Stapling the valance was a breeze.  We added top welting to disguise any possible irregularities in the ceiling line.
NEXT UP..... that gigantic shaped tieback looks simple, which was the goal, but fabrication was anything but!  Tune in tomorrow......