Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pillows, no frills, just good workmanship

More and more, the pillow orders that come my way are unembellished: no trim and not even self-welt.  These pillows are usually made from fabrics that speak for themselves, like this embroidered beauty.
On first glance it seems that without self-welt, the pillow would be quicker to make; but when there's a pattern and no welt to separate the front and back, it's important to be even more meticulous in the fabrication.
A neat, trim, sophisticated appearance starts on the inside, with tapered corners clipped close to the stitching to prevent pointy pillow "ears", and overlocked seams.
Thoughtful cutting helps the fabrication: the top and bottom seams were planned for in between the embroidered teardrops to minimize bumpiness.  Seams are pressed flat before stuffing the pillow.
Theses pillows were well-pinned before sewing, to make sure the embroidery was aligned for mirrored motifs on the side seams.   You can see how the seam is tapering in towards the corner.

My favorite detail is a perfect color-matched invisible zipper!  The zippers in color Pearl come from The Zipper Lady.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I got to use my own Relaxed Roman class material!

You can imagine that I was amused when my own Relaxed Roman Shade class material came in handy for a relaxed shade project of my own!  I worked with Nicole Gray of Suite Dream to address the issues with this double relaxed roman shade.
You might not be able to tell at first glance that the left and right sides are different widths.  The swoop on the right is about 1" wider than the left swoop.
Last summer I was doing research in preparation for the class I was teaching at the Custom Workroom Weekend last October, and again at the Custom Workroom Conference coming up in May.  I made dozens of samples in order to compile data on the effect of swoop width on the droop length of relaxed roman shade.

To make the droop length come out the same on both sides of this shade, I knew that I'd need to manipulate the ring placement.  To make things more complicated, there is no return on the left, except for 1" to prevent hourglassing, and a 2.5" return on the right.
Normally the wider section would droop more, so I tapered the rings outward to allow a little more droop on the smaller section.
When the shade was hung in the workroom, I could see that I had overcompensated, because the narrower side was a little longer.  (To the left of this shade you can see a grey shade that was the last in the long line of samples I made for the droop experiments!)
I experimented with different ring positions, and in the end I didn't need to re-taper all the bottom rings; I just moved the bottom-most ring over and re-tied them.
That little adjustment was all that was needed.
During fabrication, I kept the sections labeled to keep from getting confused.
I also labeled the weight bar since the center wasn't actually the center.
To keep the interlining from drooping inside the return, I lockstitched it to the face before hemming the sides- a technique I learned from Penny Bruce's classes on English handsewn draperies.
I also basted a lot during fabrication since the shade had to be shifted on the table because it was longer than my 60" wide table.  Here you can see the basted board line.
To avoid pinholes of light coming through the blackout layer at the ring stitches, I overlapped the widths at the center.  Underneath you can see the basting line at the face fabric seam, so I could tell where to put the rings.
I used my two-layer no-pinholes ring sewing technique.
The overlapping layer was then glued down.  You might be able to see a row of fusible adhesive- which I tried first- but without blackout lining those tapes don't always adhere securely, so I switched to tried-and-true fringe adhesive.
We had a happy customer!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Presents for friends-

I was so excited to get two of Home Dec Gal's (aka Susan Woodcock) Presser Foot Art, printed on linen by Adaptive Textiles.  It seemed funny to make pillows for two extremely accomplished sewers, but I took a chance.

For Jen, I used one of my favorite trims to create a border.  I used a little Dofix to hold the print in place on the base fabric, then pinned the scroll trim, and sewed carefully.

For Camille, I cut a flannel plaid on the bias, reinforced it with fusible 2" lining from Dofix to keep the bias from stretching, and made a skinny flange behind contrast fabric welt.  I centered the red at the top then worked my around forward and backward so the colors were symmetrical.  You can't see it very well but there are little pleats in the corners.

It looks great with the little elephant pillow that our eight-year-old great-niece Maisie made for her.
Maisie's no slouch.  The elephant is reversible.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Coming up in 2017- all about education!

Well, will you look at that?  2016 is nearly over, and I haven't told all my stories yet!  I confess that for the past week and a half, I have been focusing on life, family, and rest.

I found this photo.  I guess you can tell which of these ladies is me:
I come from a lineage of makers on both sides of my family; here I am at 6 months with the maternal side:  my mother, her mother, and HER mother, in Fort Worth, Texas.

When I look at this photo, I realize why I have this blog, and why I have become involved in education in this Soft Furnishings industry.  These women who went before me were all self-taught at everything at which they excelled, and they all passed down their hard-won knowledge. 

Now that I've finished resting up, taking down our Christmas tree this afternoon, I'll catch up on the blog stories that didn't make it in this year.
I'll also be focusing on upcoming educational ventures.

I'm on the  D & D Pro Network calendar for February with a webinar on Sheer shades.
 I'll finish up my presentation on Streamlining Top Treatments for the Custom Workroom Conference 2017 in May.

 For CWC17 I'm also updating my class on Relaxed Roman shades.

I'll be recording a podcast with Ceil Weiss DiGugliemo.
Check out her podcasts at Sew Much More Custom Sewing- they are wonderful and inspiring!

I'll be adapting my Efficient Shade Making presentation to become a hands-on class for WCAA chapters- or anyone else too!
Rosemarie Garner and I are collaborating to create an interactive presentation on challenges and solutions in shade design and fabrication.
Future classes are coalescing- for instance, techniques for working with blackout lining for shades and drapery to achieve no pinholes of light..

Last but not least, I'm playing with brand new ideas for crossing techniques from creative textile arts with professional soft furnishings fabrication standards, inspired by this applique-on-sheer shade we made a few years ago.
Stay tuned!  It's going to be a great year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pinch pleat valances

Last week I delivered 3 separate orders for simple pinch pleated valances.  The fanciest they got was matching covered buttons.  This fabric was railroaded, so the striated weave runs vertically.
For this valance, I didn't need to cut the sections and pleats separately; the width of the sections and the horizontal repeat worked out so I could simply join the widths.  The pleat had slightly more fabric in it than usual, about 10",  so I made a four-finger pleat.
One simple step turns a utilitarian pleat into a decorative pleat: instead of tacking through the pleat by machine, I like to hand-tack over the pleat, so the thread is visible.  I use fusible 4" buckram from Rowley Company for valances like this: it folds well and holds its shape without crumpling, and keeps the top line straight.
I also like a four-finger pleat when covered buttons are being added; the center fold is a good nestling spot for the button shank.  There is about 9" in these pleats.
There were three or four of these little shorties, for a kitchen, all different widths.  The buckram was split to create a dainty 2" pleat on these 10" long valances.  The sections and pleats were cut separately and joined, so the pattern matches from one to the next- standard operating procedure for me and my fellow workroom colleagues.  This step might be unavailable, or upcharged, from a factory workroom.
I thought a 4-finger pleat would look out of proportions on these short pleats.  There's about 7.5" in each pleat section- still generous for a three-finger pleat.
Some workrooms line all valances with blackout; some also interline everything.  Since I work to the trade, I lined these with plain lining as per the designer's specifications.
For those of you who have read this far, I will add an explanation of why I have not posted every day as I had hoped: an event occurred in our family and my attention was necessarily focused there.  But I'm back!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Heavy-weight French blackout shades

Upholstery fabrics make stunning shades, and I have a few techniques for working with the extra bulk.
These shades are extra bulky because they are lined with French blackout.
Double side hems, the default standard, would've been really thick, so I improvised to create a single hem.
 For French blackout, interlining and dense black cotton sateen are layered between the face fabric and white sateen lining.
I fold the layered lining, then cut while still folded, to grade the layers and avoid a blunt, thick edge.
To reduce bulk, instead of a double side hem, I sewed twill tape to the edges, then hand-hemmed.  (I always hand-sew side hems when I use interlining.)  One of the two shades was just 3" less than the width of the fabric, so I didn't have enough to make a good hem anyhow, without piecing it, which would've been even bulkier.  I kept the selvedge and sewed the tape over it.  For the other shade, I trimmed down the side hem and added twill tape to create a single hem.

  In this picture you can also see how severely I graded the bottom hem to keep the white lining from bubbling up from the bottom fold.
It looks pretty cool, I think!
I baste the layers before stapling bulky fabrics to a board.  This helps them grade themselves as they fold over the board edge.  Since a shade is flat all the way across, I don't cut out the inner layers of interlining as I would with a treatment that is pleated onto a board, where thick layers build up and look lumpy.
I'm loving the new grey lining.  It's available from both Angel's and Hanes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Catching up-

Oh I had the best intentions of posting every single day until Christmas, but really, the last two days got the best of me.  We made 19 shades and 7 valances, between Friday-Monday.  So I guess that's why I didn't have time to do a blog post!  Here is a sampling.
One of 15 relaxed romans, this one with dog-ears, 1" returns, and 1/2" top welt:
Antique satin makes a nice, drapey shade, and sleek top welting:
 Ten of the relaxed romans were machine-sewn, pillowcased with a 1" side hem.
We made all 10 at once, which speeded up the process.  Here are the other 9, waiting to be board-mounted and strung.  And guess what that cream-colored fabric is- yes, more antique satin......
This dog-ear valance was made a couple of weeks ago, same style, different proportions: about 45" wide, with 3 1/2" returns, rings set in 6" like the blue one above.
How about this embroidered beauty?
This is my way of making non-functioning flat roman shades to be used as valances.  Thank you Scot Robbins!   If you leave a bit of lift cord, the treatment is slightly adjustable with the orbs.
 This shade is part of a bigger story, to come later, but, this shot is useful for illustrating the kick-back of flat romans when they are hanging freely without a window to hold them forward.