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:

Friday, August 26, 2016

Silk and jute sheer shade

I've worked with this silk and jute fabric before and it is always a pleasure. 
Designer Monica Plotka shares my love of twill tape binding and we've used it to bind this fabric which really cannot be hemmed.  This shade is lined with voile.
When working with sheer fabric, my first step is to pull a thread so I can cut along the grainline.
I basted the voile around the perimeter of the silk, both cut to the exact finished size.
Before finishing the edges, I sewed the clear rings to the shade.  This stabilized the layers further.
To apply the twill tape, I started with the bottom edge, on the back.  I nestled it up next to a row of jute and basted it in place.
Then I flipped the bottom up and hand-sewed the right side, making sure that the twill tape was caught on the back as well.
I turned the corners and started working the miters into place.
After securing securing the corners on the back, I folded the twill tape to the front and pinned it.
I finished hand-sewing the tape from the front side, catching both sides with one row of stitching, and ladder-stitched those pesky mitered corners.
For the weight bar pocket, I used a piece of translucent buckram, folded in half and stitched, and inserted a piece of 1/2" acrylic rodding, which was nearly invisible from the front.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shade stories after a long break!

Hi there people- wow, I really took a long blog break after returning from vacation.  We've been hard at work, however, and I'm going to ease back in slowly with some of the wonderful shades we've made for Monica Plotka.

This casement fabric is lined with poly voile.  I prefer some sort of lining with even the sheerest shades, because a lining gives another layer of fabric for the thread to hold onto, thus reducing the stress on the face fabric.  And even voile adds a bit of privacy.
 I love using Dofix translucent buckram in the hem. 
The trim was "basted" on with Dofix, then hand-sewn.  I did not think that the fabric could support without distortion the weight of the glass bead trim without actual stitching that went through all the layers.
This little powder room silk shade is lined with a poly-cotton semi-sheer.
This heavy glass bead trim was hand-sewn- the tape portion of the trim is barely 1/4" wide.
Translucent buckram is used in this bottom hem.   I love how neat it is!
We put plenty of fabric into the bottom of this silk relaxed roman to make it nice and full even when lowered. 
The lace on the bottom is a fashion trim.   It was carefully hand-sewn right to the very edge of the fabric.
We often think of interlining silk, but the poly-cotton semi-sheer lining allows the light to filter through, casting a warm glow, and revealing the fabric grain.  The delicate lace trim is beautiful with the light behind it.

Friday, July 22, 2016


I'll be here......
I'm leaving in the morning for a week by the sea with family and friends, so this page will be quiet, unless some awesome textile events take place during the coming week!
However- August will be a busy month!
Here are a few things we have to look forward to:
I will be finalizing my material for my presentation on Relaxed Roman Shades at Susan Woodcock's Custom Workroom Weekend in October in North Carolina.
I'll be finishing my presentation on Sheer shades, to be recorded for a D & D Professional Network Webinar, scheduled to run in February 2017.
I'll also be on pins and needles to see which class topics Susan has selected for the Custom Workroom Conference 2017 next May in Nashville, and hoping I'll be on the roster!  So many great topics have been submitted and I hope something of mine makes the cut.
I will be spending some weekend time working on a personal creative project combining my love of sheer natural fiber fabrics with my love of applique, piecework, and embroidery.
On August 4 I'll be attending August meeting of the Central New Jersey chapter of the WCAA at Designer's Resource in Lodi NJ, to see their impressive new showroom.
Work?  Oh, right!  Besides all those activities and projects, Leatherwood Design Co has a great lineup of work orders ready for fabrication upon our return, for our favorite steady clients as well as some new faces that I'm looking forward to working with.  New projects, beautiful fabrics, and plenty of fabrication to blog about.
See you back here in August!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mock Hobbled valance

There are so many ways to make mock hobbled valances!  I've looked back over my photo archives and discovered that if I've made 30 of these, I've made them 30 different ways.  But this one, for Paris Interiors, is my favorite method, so far.
 I've made them with flat backs, and with tapes.  I've made them with pockets and without; I've made them with ribs and without.; I've made them like actual mini-shades.   I do not like seeing the rows of stitching on the flat backs; I hate seeing pockets and ribs; and I even more don't like seeing tapes.  A pet peeve with tapes is the potential for a little hint of sagging in between the tapes.  I wanted a clean back and substantial, even folds.
I sent 4 photos to Liz with various pattern placement options.  This is the layout she chose.
I wrote all over it so I wouldn't forget.
Because the interlining created take-up and dimension, the finished length turned out a little less than the flat folded mock-up: an important point to keep in mind when the exact finished length is critical.  In this case, keeping the pattern true was of greater importance than the precise length.
After trimming the face fabric to size, the interlining was laid in, cut to the exact finished width and length, and locked in place with little catch stitches to the face.
The piece was turned face up over a half-width strip of lining, and the first fold line marked with purple pen.
This fold line was hand-sewn with a back-stitch.  I have in the past sewn these lines by machine, but I do not like having to shift the piece back and forth, smoothing and measuring every time, and worrying about take-up with the long horizontal sewing line.  Instead of shifting, smoothing, and measuring, I just left it on the table and used the time to sew by hand and keep the piece true.
The next fold was laid in place, the vertical pattern alignment checked with a straightedge against the printed grid canvas.
After doing this three times, I had a treatment ready for finishing.
At the top the layers were secured with another catch stitch.
I flipped the valance over- there were my lovely lines of backstitching.
The lining was tucked in and trimmed.
A fresh, flat piece of lining was layered over the stitched lining and tucked in.
The bottom was hand-hemmed.  As you can see, the sides remain unfinished.
At the top the layers were folded over so they would be graded as they would be over the board, then staple-basted.
Legs were cut from 1/4" hobby hardwood board, covered, and nailed at the ends, then the valance was stapled onto the board.
The raw edges of the valance ends were tucked under and hand-sewn to the covered legs.
Assessment: I'm thrilled with it!  No sloppy back.  No sagging between tapes because there are no tapes.  No machine-stitching take-up.  No shifting back and forth from machine to table with every row.
What I'll do differently:  this method took a little more time than it needed to.  The horizontal rows of stitching worked beautifully but since they're covered they didn't have to be those dainty back-stitches- the job could have been done with a larger, quicker running stitch.  I really didn't have to interlock the interlining at the top trimmed to the board edge; it could've folded over the board.   I pressed the bottom hem ahead of time and then had to adjust it because the folds turned out a little smaller than I had expected so the bottom row was too wide; next time I'll fold it in at the end.  And next time I'll use Domette for an even more substantial look.