Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mastering the Miter, one corner at a time

A miter queen I definitely am not- I know a miter queen or two, but I'm not one of them!  I have to carefully think my way through it every time.  As with many fabrication tasks, such as installing zippers in pillows, the only way to become proficient is to practice, practice, practice.
For these pillows, precision was key.  The Samuel and Sons 2" woven braid had to be turned into a 1/2" mitered flange.
When I made a trial flange, I immediately discovered that the soft braid would not hold its shape.
This was not the precise, tailored look I needed to achieve.
I made another experiment using fusible fabric stabilizer from Rowley Co. 
When I trimmed and turned the corner, there was the look I was going for!  The stabilizer gave me control over the shifty tape.
So I got out my rotary cutters and cleared my mother-of-all-cutting-mats tabletop.  I needed a sharp blade for the stabilizer, so I put a fresh one in my cutter.
I cut the strips just shy of the trim width.
I learned the hard was that the tape should be ironed on OVER the stabilizer, not the other way around.  A few miles of ironing later.....
Nothing for it but to plunge in and get started.  Once you get the hang of it, this is actually fun.

Maybe the Miter Queens can do the rest of this job with math, but I can't!  I pinned the flange to the table to mark the exact spot for executing the next corner- another use for my can't-live-without gridded table canvas from The Workroom Channel.
The pressed fold helped make it easier to be precise.
 I completed the corners one at a time, going back and forth from table to machine (it's only 3 feet away, LOL) for each step.
When they were done I laid the trim out to cut and pin the join, in the center at the bottom.
 The last step before applying to the pillow face was to stay-stitch the entire perimeter just inside the final stitching line, to keep the layers from shifting.
The completed trim was sewn to the pillow face as if it were a lip cord.
I just barely tapered the corners, to help avoid pointy pillow ears.
The pillow was finished the ususal way- right sides together and a color-matched zipper.  The rule for color-matching with a contrast zipper: match the trim, not the fabric.  This holds true 99% of the time in my experience.  Now they're ready for their new owner!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Austrian shade

Fabrics just want to have fun.  You know, they want to drape and swoop, swish and sashay, and look smashing.  That's why Austrian shades will never go out of style, like swags: they allow fabric to look and perform at its absolute best.
So I thought I'd show off my latest Austrian shade, for Crosstown Shade and Glass, letting its fabulousness detract from the fact that this is my first blog post in a month (I'm sorry!).
While sheer fabrics swoop languidly, dupioni silk drapes in a delicious, crunchy way.  This shade is unlined, so we allowed more than triple fullness vertically.  The shade needed two cuts of 54" fabric.  We folded and pressed along the separate swoop lines to provide a stitching guide for the tapes.
We prepared the two cuts, sewed three rows of tape onto each, then joined the widths in the center and sewed the final tape.
 The sides were folded with a single hem and the tapes sewed over the raw edges.
In the old days, I would tie the tape strings to a post in order to shirr them up.  For this shade, I got to use my new Drawmatic clamp bar to secure the bottom of the shade, one clamp at each tape.
I began shirring the shade down the table. 
The printed grid table canvas allowed me to keep track of the length.
With the bottom securely clamped, it was easy to ensure that all the columns were shirred equally.
I use safety pins at every third ring as visual guides to check that the swags are distributed equally.  Once the shade is dressed, the pins are removed.
The rod pocket style is an unusual- perhaps old-fashioned- but effective way to manage the horizontal fullness.
This was fun to tackle this unwieldly project in the new, more spacious workroom!
I hope to have many more Austrian shades in my future.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sleeping on it

Last night I dreamed of a way to make sheer hobbled shades without pockets.  I have numerous methods for making hobbled shades.  Mostly I use ribs without pockets, but I still sew pockets for sheer hobbled shades.  You know how things you dream seem so logical in the dream, and are clearly absurd when you wake up?  I'm not sure, but I THINK my dream method might actually be feasible and useful.  I'm going to think about it today as I work on other products, and decide whether or not it's worth an experiment.
Meantime, I made these sheer hobbled shades a few weeks ago, using one of my regular pocket methods.
 I sew the translucent twill tape on as I sew the pocket.
The pocket fold line is marked with disappearing purple pen.  I have to work quickly, before the ink disappears!
I dread sewing pockets because it's not easy to keep the fabric grain lined up.  But I have always felt that sheer shades need the pockets for stability.  This happened to be a well-behaved fabric, so the process wasn't too painful.  I didn't even have to pin the fold- which kept my arms and midriff free from pin gouges! 
After all the tapes are on, I sew on clear rings which are shrouded with clear ring locks- both from SafeTShade.  The ribs from Rowley Co are clear plastic.  
 The shade safety standards determine the maximum spacing allowed on hobbled shades, just as on flat romans: 16.9" of combined loop.  With hobbled shades, the loop includes the fabric and tape, so the row and ring spacing must be calculated to fall within that range. 
I wonder if I should see a therapist to analyze me and my dream-method for making sheer hobbled shades without the pockets?  Perhaps in a few months I'll have a whole new technique!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cafe curtains

"The timeless appeal of cafe curtains."
"Show off your best sewing techniques on cafe curtains."
"Impeccable details make fine cafe curtains."
"A very special pleat showcased on cafe curtains."
"For privacy AND a view, use cafe curtains."
"Cafe curtains, the under-appreciated solution. "
These were all possible titles for this post, but they are too long.  But all of them together comprise a perfect summary.
I was going to write about a different project today, but when Monica Plotka sent photos of these cafe curtains installed, I wanted to post them right away.
The 118" fabric was cut with the stripes running horizontally.  By the most serendipitous chance, the finished length worked out to be exactly the distance between the outer edges of two of the embroidered stripes, which allowed the embroidery to define both the top and the bottom of the curtain.
We used 4" clear fusible buckram from Dofix to reinforce the header, and a 4" bottom hem balances the top.  The embroidery is layered almost exactly over itself, eliminating shadowing. 
A semi-sheer lining from ADO adds body and more privacy.  After the sheer was layered in, the entire curtain was hemmed by hand.
The pleats are tacked by hand with pale grey button thread from Wawak.  The 3-finger pleat is tacked 2" down, right in the middle.  I don't know if this pleat has a name, but I'm calling it a "butterfly pleat." 
Cafe curtains are a great place to show off excellent workmanship.  A special pleat is especially noticed when it's at eye level. 
Cafe curtains afford privacy from the street, but leave the view of the sky and trees.  I wonder why they're not used more often.

There's another detail I wonder if you noticed, too.  The inside of the window frame is painted blue, the wall color.  I love it!  I'm putting this observation at the end of the post to see if anyone reads all the way to the end :) so if you have read to the end, I hope you comment on the inside blue!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hobbled shades: ribs, no pockets

Several designers I know really love hobbled shades, so I've been making them regularly for years.
I used to dislike making them because the old way required sewing horizontal rib pockets.  The stitching lines had to be heavily pinned for the pockets to turn out well, and that meant ending the work day with scratches, stab wounds, and gouges in our arms and abdomens.  Right?
Also, it's not easy to sew straight lines.  More often than not, the lines want to distort during sewing; and later the ends have to be closed tightly to keep the ribs in.
There are other annoying steps to making a hobbled shade the old way, but the real clincher is, I think they just look cluttered, like this:
So...... over the past 2 years I've been experimenting with ways to eliminate the pockets and other unnecessary steps, and improve the look of the shade.  I have several methods I like now.  In my favorite version, I place ribs inside the shade, and with a three-step process I simultaneously tack in the rib, attach the tape, and sew the ring.
As I work, the shade piles up on my lap, but the pins are gone at that point, so I don't go home with wounds!
The result is a perfectly neat shade without those tightly stitched pocket ends I used to hate making so much.  If you're wondering about the safety standards, this shade was shrouded with ring locks during the stringing phase.
The side view reveals a sleek silhouette with no pinched pockets.
Hey, I wanted to point out something else.  For the arched part of the window, we made a wood frame and stretched a single layer of batiste over it to provide a little privacy and light filtering.  The shape was somewhat uneven, so a microcord of ivory fabric helped fill in any small gaps.