Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The best of both worlds

I love that these days, workrooms have a multitude of tools to choose from when fabricating, ranging from time-saving techniques and products to intensive, slow handwork.  I assess the fabric and product and use what I believe will yield the best results.
For two shades last week, I chose to use methods from both ends of the spectrum: hand-sewing, and Döfix adhesive.  (This shade, smaller than 2' x 3', is hanging in my back hallway in front of some draped chain weight I was using to help develop "droop" statistics for my Relaxed Roman shade class!)
To start off, I hemmed the side borders by hand.  I knew I was going to apply the trim with Döfix at the end, and I wanted everything to be secured as well as possible before turning the shade over, and in my opinion fusing the side borders would not give enough stability to flip the shade later.  I prepared the bottom hem according to my usual method, with fusible buckram and weight bar tube from Rowley, but did not finish the bottom at this stage.
I sewed all the rings, except for the bottom row, making sure that the edge rows would not interfere with the trim placement.
At the bottom, I basted the hemline.
At the top, I basted the board line, and cut out the bulk where the hem goes up over the board.
I measured and cut all the trim lengths and applied Döfix tape to the wrong side.
With the side hems hand-sewn, the top and bottom basted, and the body of the shades secured with rings, I felt the shade was stable enough to flip it over for the trim application.  I opened up the bottom hem so the trim could be applied to the full length.  A long straightedge provided a line for laying down the trim.
I carefully "zapped" the trim with barely any steam, just enough to sort of steam-baste it into place.
Then to really fuse it to the fabric, I used a pressing cloth (a strip of interlining) to protect the fabric from the steam.
The only steps remaining were to finish the bottom rings.......
...and insert the weight bar and finish sewing the sides to the bottom (which I forgot to photograph!)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Custom Workroom Weekend!

Hi there people- I'm back to work this week after a fabulous time in NC for Susan Woodcock's Custom Workroom Weekend, where I taught a class on Relaxed Roman Shades, and did a demo on using fusibles to facilitate sewing.
My co-instructors were Penny Bruce, Mary Rose LeBlanc, and Susan Woodcock.  Between us, we covered drapery topics (fascinating headers and a great new ripple product), shades (English roman shades and my relaxed), and demos on enchanting pillow and slipcover details, essential hand-sewing stitches, and my fusible applications to facilitate detailing.
I'm wearing my hand-sewn and hand-flower-dyed tank top
Susan and Rodger organized an intense educational weekend in a rustic mountain lodge, and I have already been able to use some of what I learned while writing up new proposals this week.

Now Susan has announced the October 20 opening of early-bird registration for the Custom Workroom Conference 2017 which will be held in Nashville next May!  I'll be reprising "Relaxed Roman Shades" so if you missed it last weekend, I hope you'll consider taking it in the spring.  I'll also be presenting "Streamlining Top Treatments"- all about workroom techniques and practices for efficient top treatment fabrication.  Check out the long list of classes- it's a comprehensive selection of workroom topics.  I'm glad I'm going to be there, and I hope you'll be there too!
I've spent my week back on fabrication and workroom organization.  We've gotten some new "toys" and this weekend we will be re-arranging the workroom to accommodate them and improve traffic flow in our space.  We are busy, busy, busy on shade and top treatment orders.  Here are a few shots of recent work:

 I love the look of multiple treatments marching around a room.  There were 9 of these in all.

Another geometric roman shade- pleated to pattern, OF COURSE!

We also made a bunch of stationary romans like this one, in various sizes.

This is my new favorite way to make stationary roman valances.  Lift cord is run through rings, just like on an operable shade, but it's secured at the top on the board, and at the bottom with orbs, which allow slight adjustment.  This gives the treatment a natural look.

It's impossible to describe just how impressive this sleek, ultra-modern fabric was as a roman shade.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pied-a-terre shades and pillows

Where to start after not posting for 3 weeks?  Shall I bore you with stories about the dead car battery in NYC; the equipment failures: band saw, Dofix boiler?  The unexpected modifications, re-stringings, repairs; and 5 installations in 2 days?............ nah. 
Instead, I'll show you my favorite project from these challenging few weeks.

Arielle of Paris Interiors designed this oasis in Greenwich Village.  The black and white scheme is unbroken except for the brick wall, and is restful in the most modern way.
I enjoyed every aspect of fabrication of the Missoni sheer shades and the 11 pillows using 12 different fabrics. 

The sheer was a special challenge.  The pattern match was about 5" in from the selvedge, and I didn't think I could accurately join the widths by machine.  Instead, I basted then hand-sewed the seams using a ladder stitch.
I flat-felled the seam by pressing it, but did not sew it. 
After tabling the face fabric and laying out the double-wide semi-sheer lining, I lock-stitched the sheer to the edges before folding and pressing the hem into place.  This is a technique I learned from Penny Bruce of Denton Drapes (albeit in reference to interlined English curtains!) adapted to my own fabrication process.
I intentionally made the side hem wide enough to reach the face seam.  As I ladder-stitched the hem, the thread caught the felled seam to secure the fabric.
The rest of the shade fabrication followed my standard procedure for sheer shades, stabilizing the bottom with translucent buckram, and enclosing the weight bar pocket into the hem.  You can see one of the three horizontal basting lines I ran before beginning to sew the rings. 
This is one of my top three favorite projects of the year so far!  


Friday, September 9, 2016

Blackout shades with no pinholes of light

They might look plain, but these blackout shades for Monica Plotka Interiors are some of the best shades I've ever made.  There are no pinholes of light sneaking through the blackout.
The fabric is a thin, blueish-grey linen sheer, with a chambray feel to it.  The first step, as usual, was to pull a thread to get a line for cutting on the grain.
The inner blackout lining is Bella Notte Silky "Duette" which has an interlining bonded to one side.  The outer layer of blackout lining is "Silky" blackout.  The bottom hem is reinforced with fusible buckram, and a weight bar tube is run at the top of the hem and lightly secured with Jewel tape.
My No-Pinholes method is constantly evolving, and this is my best version yet.  All stitches are staggered so no light can peep through.
 Ribs have been sewn in, in between the rings, so they fall at the fold lines as the shade is raised.  The side hems are secured with Dofix and reinforced with the sewn rings.
The resulting shade is substantial and important-looking.  It's hard to believe it started as a delicate semi-sheer!  The method and materials used are perfect for the project, but I can also imagine how beautiful this linen would be as hand-sewn semi-sheer cafe curtains.
The shades were left up for days so the folds would train.  The linen has a memory of the folds, and the ribs in the front of the folds keep the fabric from buckling, so no dressing is needed.  I'm super happy with this job!

Friday, September 2, 2016


I've had a run on banding lately.
Decorative woven banding is by far the simplest to fabricate.  More often than not, I use Dofix Bortenfix to fuse this type of trim to the fabric.  I love the combination of patterns and colors on these shades:
I especially love the backs.....
These shades are banded vertically on each side in the same coordinating fabric in the bottom section of the color block drapery panel (not made by me.)  This is more complicated than simply applying a ready-made trim.
Much more difficult is applying contrast fabric banding on three sides, with mitered corners.
I use painter's tape to mark my band edge.  This allows me to table the shade and know exactly where the side turning should fall.  Thanks to Scot Robbins for this great tip!
I am definitely miter-challenged, so I find it easiest to just hand-sew the miter, using a tiny ladder stitch (thanks to Penny Bruce). 
At the bottom, I keep the band neat by applying fusible buckram to the hem to make a crisp fold line.
Not bad!
For Katherine Stern Design, we used two different banding styles in two different rooms.
In the dining room, a double contrast fabric band with mitered corners- oh my!  This was not easy.  Yes, the banding is two different fabrics.  More on this project another day.
Decorative banding was applied to the matelasse draperies in the master bedroom.  Sometimes you get lucky and are able to machine sew a trim- that worked out well for us on this project.
I did this post last week about this twill tape banding- well, actually binding:
And in July this 4-sided mitered-corner decorative geometric banding (whew!) was featured here: