Friday, October 5, 2018

Custom Workroom Conference

Hi blog people!
I have been out of town at the Custom Workroom Conference in Spartanburg, SC, the workroom industry's premiere educational event, packed with inspiring instructors, eager attendees, and the most attentive and helpful vendors imaginable.
I was honored to be chosen to present my class "Set Yourself Apart," addressing ways in which a small workroom can set itself apart by offering the best in service, collaboration, and fabrication.
Thanks to Penny Bruce for the photo xoxo
Before heading to CWC we were busy in the workroom- besides fabricating for our designers and their clients, we were doing new quotes for future projects, research for product sourcing for current projects, and having a blast making class samples.
The last customer product that we finished was a roman shade with grosgrain ribbon banding.  I think this little shades is a great example of "setting ourselves apart."  We used the ribbon to cover the board ends as well as the ends of the weight bar.
 We made so many samples- I love this one, showing 5 different ways to make a top tack.
I left a day early so I could spend some time exploring South Carolina.
It was hard to choose what to visit, but I think I made the best possible choices for me.
I headed first to Middleton Place National Historic Landmark, one of the early rice plantations in the Low Country.
The tours showed me a perspective of history that I had never considered before.  I think that the Eliza's House and Beyond the Fields tour should be required attendance by every American.  I could've stayed all day, listening and learning.  I hope to return to the Low Country area and visit more historic sites and natural areas.
I was determined to get some sun on my face and dip my toes in the Atlantic Ocean, so I randomly picked what turned out to be the best beach choice I could've made for me- Folly Beach, off of James Island, just across from Charleston.  I traded $10 admission for a mere but highly satisfying hour walking in the ocean and collecting shells.
I was thrilled to find plenty of Thai food in both the Charleston and Spartanburg areas.  This is one of my favorite cuisines, so I got my fill, and for awhile, at least, I won't have to pester anyone at home to go to Thai restaurants with me!
In Charleston downtown, there are so many beautiful sights, I couldn't imagine what to pick to show you.  Just google Charleston, and you'll get an idea.
But what really sparked my imagination was this: the Karpeles Manuscript Museum.  What on earth is THAT?  I don't know, yet, but I know that I want to go back and visit it.
Well, I was so busy during the conference, there's not much I can show you in the way of pictures to give you an idea of what it's like.  Our workroom community is vibrant and exhilarating, and at the conferences and trade shows the excitement spills over until you think you just can't take in any more.  

The days were filled with meeting up with old friends, meeting new attendees and even brand-new rookie workrooms, attending the extremely moving and inspiring Keynote speech from Lonnie and Kelly from Weave Gotcha Covered!, sitting in on classes with other instructors, and networking with our awesome workroom supply vendors.  

Promoters Susan Woodcock and Rodger Walker are our workroom heroes and they put on an event for us that is unmatched.

If you've never been, and think that a few days of intensive industry immersion can improve your workroom business, let me know, and I'll keep you informed as details about next year's conference are settled.  

Now I'm home, in the workroom, and supplies that I ordered are beginning to arrive.
Time to get back to what I love to do- working with beautiful fabrics!  Stay tuned!

Friday, September 7, 2018


Hey people!  For some reason, I have not been being notified of pending comments for, like, months.  So if you've left me a comment, I didn't reply, because I never saw it, and I'm very sorry!  I am going to go through them gradually and answer, though it'll take a little time. 

Many bloggers require comment moderation- we get a notice when there is a pending comment and we can either have it published or deleted.  This is because even a little blog like mine, on an esoteric topic, will get stupid spam or troll comments, and I want those to not be published.

Today I had an email asking me if I wanted comment moderation turned back on- but I had not realized that it had ever been turned off- I guess I simply thought that people were commenting more on Facebook and not on blogs anymore.  But that's not true, you've been leaving comments, and I never got them.

So keep 'em coming, I'm here!  I love having conversations with you guys.  And I'll work through the ignored comments over the next few days.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Mocking up a skinny shade with spring lift system

We hastily mocked up a skinny shade to test the smallest (1.2) Easy Spring Plus cut down for a 16" shade. There's no room in the tube for a stop on such a narrow shade, but since the spring is so small it doesn't have much "oomph" so it just naturally stops on its own. John adjusted the rotations so it stops right where we want it, without an actual stop. We mocked this up because we had a half dozen skinny shades to make and wanted to test the parameters first. FYI, I lined this sheer with a grey voile, just for fun. The shade has only two lift lines, and a self-fabric pull tab is sewn into the permanent fold in the back. I spent way more time than I should have, trying to level this stubborn little guy. Shades with two lift lines take a lot of fussing because you can't average the cord tension over a series of lift lines. I also discovered that the wavy pattern created a disparity in the fabric "give" and I didn't quite hit the center of the wave so it has a permanently wonky look. And...... that's why we make mock-ups!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Our new dig: front pull tab for spring roller romans

We are diggin' this front pull tab, hidden under the permanent bottom fold.
This is an outgrowth of the back pull tab, which I've been using all year instead of a pull ring.
Spring roller shades do not strictly require, but work much better with, a permanent fold at the bottom, to make it easier to engage the spring mechanism and not over-pull the shade.
We used that permanent fold to hide a pull tab, made of self-fabric with a bit of flat bar inside so there'd be something rigid to grab hold of.
We made the shade our usual way, adding 6" for the permanent bottom fold.  This shade is interlined and has ribs sewn in.
We turn the hem into a machine-sewn weight bar pocket which provides security and stability, and that is where the pull tab is sewn in.  Here, the shade bottom is folded back so you can see where we pinned the tab.
The bottom row of rings are held by tiny twill tape tabs for even more security.
The raw edges of the tab are trimmed after it's attached.
The hem is folded back to encase the tab.
The second stitch line is sewn to complete the weight bar pocket.
The weight bar is slipped into the pocket, and I also added a rib to keep the bottom hem perfectly straight since this fabric is a little loosey-goosey.
When the shade is strung, the bottom two rings will be pulled up close to each other with an orb and then tied.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hobbled shade valance

Stationary shades used as valances is a hot trend right now.  To achieve the order specifications from Crosstown Shade and Glass, this shade required a different approach.
They're sometimes made just the same as a functioning shade, except without a lift system- the treatment is adjusted on-site to a chosen finished length.
They're popular on doors, so I've developed a method for door windows, to get them nice and snug to the door.
 Fixed shades using luxury fabrics such as this wool require just as much attention to detail during fabrication as a functioning shade.
 A shaped frame was built for this bay with an arched window.
I have half a dozen ways of making fixed shades, but sometimes a request requires a different approach.  This order came with exact specifications as to the depth and spacing of each fold, the bottom reveal, and the top picture area, and I realized this treatment would be best made as a mock hobbled shade, with tapes.

This 16.75" long shade required about 55" of heavily embroidered fabric to make all those folds to the specified depth.  It was interlined with black flannel to reduce pattern wash-out when the sun shines through it.
Horizontal lines denoted the back fold lines where the tapes would be sewn. 
Tapes are marked to 1.25" increments to meet the unusual order specifications.  When there is anything out of the ordinary, I avoid getting confused by making a careful sketch using the worksheet I've developed for myself, and sometimes I'll even make a mockup of a selvedge to be sure I've got it right.
The tapes are sewn at the lift areas across the width of the fabric.
It gets a little bulky under the machine arm by the time the top row is sewn!
I was happy that I could machine-sew the layered trim. 
When I mark the tapes, I use disappearing pen for the horizontal lines, except for the board line where I use pencil so that the line will not have disappeared before it's time to staple it to the board.  In this photo you can also see the backstitching at the tapes- extra security in case there's any trouble during transportation or installation so the tape won't ever come unsewn.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Tapestry to pillow

An opportunity to improvise always makes my day, especially if it involves basting.  Crosstown's client brought in a beautiful tapestry to be made into a pillow.
The tapestry had finished edges and the client wanted to keep them- the goal was to make them look like welting.
Felted navy Ralph Lauren wool was chosen for the pillow back- an excellent choice because it is stable and doesn't fray.  We put an invisible zipper a couple of inches up from the bottom of the pillow back, then folded and pressed the long horizontal edges to the size of the tapestry.
 Using an easy-to-see contrast thread, we basted the tapestry to the backing.
You know how much I love to baste!  
The tapestry was sewn with a zipper foot very close to the woven edge detail.
The pillow was turned inside out, and the ends were sewn top to bottom.
When turned right side out again, the back topstitched seam was barely noticeable.
This is one project I would love to have been able to keep for myself :)