Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My new method for shade bottom hems

When I learned to make shades, it was out of a book- probably a Sunset book- and the way I learned was my method for years.  Gradually I experimented with variations, and at the same time industry standards were evolving and everyone was making window treatments of higher quality.
I was never comfortable, however, with a shade that I knew would have frequent use, that didn't have the rings attached at a sturdy line of machine stitching.
After many experiments, I've now hit on this method, which mostly solves the issues that gave me misgivings.
I remembered to take photos during fabrication of this beautiful shade.
A double hem is turned and pressed.  It's a good idea to draw a line at the top of the hemline so the ring location is accurate.  Ready-made weight bar tubing is laid in behind the hem.
I catch the tube, ladder tape, hem, and face fabric with very sturdy thread.
At each end I continue hand-sewing the pocket to the fabric for that inch and a half.
The bottom rings are sewn, and then the weight bar is inserted and the ends are sewn shut.
The weight bar tubing keeps a nice straight line.  The beauty of this method is that the shade NEVER leaves the table, and thus is not subjected to shifting. 
From the back the bar is unseen.  The front is clean, with no stitching.
By the way, how about the double trim?  Isn't that cool?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I want to do stuff like this all day, every day!

These applique borders are the most fun I've had sewing in awhile.  Fabricated for Katherine Stern, the shade and shower curtain presented a surprising and satisfying interplay of pattern and color against the Japanese cherry blossom wallpaper pattern.  Too bad you can't see the sink, accessories, and fittings finishes!  Next week I'll try to remember to take another picture.  If you love color and pattern, I urge you to check out Katherine's website.  Her color sense is so awesome!  You'll see how this fits in perfectly with her style.
The embroidered fabric was cutout and appliqued onto the solid purple which then was banded in black.
Wonder Under is just the product for a project like this.  I fused strips onto the back of the area of the embroidery that was to be cut out.  Before cutting I made slash cuts into the corners to help get a clean cut.
I will say that it did take quite a while to finish cutting!  I used several pairs of scissors: this large Fiskars worked well on the curves, but I needed short snips and longer sharp pointed shears for other cutting steps.
To begin the shade, I laid out the purple fabric at the exact finished width.
I carefully laid the cut out shade fabric and pressed it into place until the pattern was straight horizontally and vertically, then peeled off the Wonder Under paper.
Lots of steam fused the embroidered fabric onto the purple.
Next I was off to the sewing machine with the fabric.  If I thought cutting was tedious, this was even more so!  It was slow going, but it worked.
I cut bias strips for the 1/2" banding; in retrospect I think it would've been easier if they'd been cut on the grain.  I was very careful!
Because the band was on the bias I had to do some very meticulous pressing as I wrapped the band to avoid puckering.
So then I made the shade as usual; here it is all done, on the table.
I didn't want any stitching on the front, so behind the hem there's a weight bar tube that's tacked at the rings.  I guess you really can't see it, but it's my new favorite way to do the bottoms of shades.
The shower curtain banding was made the same way.  It was lined, and the black banding wrapped to form the side hems.  We loved how the embroidery played off the wallpaper floral.
The shower curtain is hung on Rowley's Aria H-Rail pole in Antique Brass, with glides.  It's a flat panel with hooks, but next week I'm going to take it all down and modify it for Ripplefold.  I didn't have the correct fullness carriers for Ripplefold, but there was a photo shoot the next day and it HAD to go in!
As Tim Gunn says: "Make it work!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Box pleats into French pleats

Box pleats seemed, at first glance, like a perfect drapery header for this geometric pattern from Pierre frey.
We made a lining mockup of the proportions the panel would have.
A sliver of fabric served as a pleating layout template.
The panels were made and installed, and the heavy fabric did not hang in graceful folds.
It was thick and clunky, really like a carpet.
So several months later I took them down, picked out the tacks holding the box pleats, and re-pleated into two-finger pinch pleats- while sitting on the floor in the living room.

The pinch pleats help the folds hang more regularly.

Are you curious about the sheer linen shade with leather trim?  I'm getting that story together for later in the week.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Basketball Pillow

I remembered to take pictures as I made the orange ball pillows.

The decorator ordered inserts that were 16" diameter, and guess what, there is no pattern available for a ball pillow that size- so I had to draft one.
If you look at math websites, or, alternatively, globe websites, you can find how to draw the pattern, but unfortunately they don't give precise proportions for the curves. 
I figured I could use the insert for a rudimentary pattern, and refine it from there.

The softest, most flexible material I had readily available was- Kleenex tissues!
Pinned to the pillow, they draped around the sphere, and were easy enough to see through to mark the seamlines.
Then I transferred the shape to pattern paper and evened it out- you can see how lopsided it was at first- this took several tries; then added a 1/2" seam allowance.
Making a mockup out of lining was essential.  It's nice to have a gridded tabletop, and lining you can see through so it was easy to cut on the grain. 

The mockup needed refining.  I thought it was a tad too big, and about halfway up the curve needed to be trimmed down a little to improve the curve.
Before cutting the silk velvet, I used Rowley's fusible fabric stabilizer on the back.  Then marked and cut 16 sections, cutting as carefully as I could, and notching VERY carefully.  The notches were critical to a good outcome.
Sewing the pieces together is simple enough, using the notches as a guide.  It is extremely important to keep the dots at the very tips precisely aligned, so you have a beautiful apex.
All 8 sections sewn together, one side is left unsewn so the insert can be stuffed in.
Did your grandmother teach you to staystitch your curves?  Mine did.  She knew what she was talking about.  I joined the last remaining seam up to the first notch, and staystitched the rest of the curve a hair under 1/2 from the edge.
It would've been fun to have a video of me stuffing that insert into the cover, but I would've been extremely embarassed.  You really have to wrestle with it.  But it did happen, against my initial misgivings.  I sort of rolled it into the cover.   I pinned the open edge, using the staystitching and notches to keep things where they belonged.
Hand-sewing pillows closed is NOT my forte.  The curve required the teeniest stitches- like, 1/8".  I sat and watched the Yankees (yes, there's Joe Girardi on the screen in the background.)
I have a new favorite thread: Coats' Outdoor- and it was available in brilliant orange!  It doesn't tangle, doesn't shred, knots securely, and comes in a lot of cool colors.  I'm going to stock up on every color.
If the tips are all aligned precisely, the pillow ends will look like this:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A flurry of pillows

Pillows go in waves here.  Lately we were inundated with 30 pillows: BIG pillows, pieced pillows, lumbar pillows, and best of all, spherical pillows. 
I wanted to take a picture of all of them, piled up on the table, unpacked.  But there just wasn't enough room! 
Here they are:
Silk velvet flame, silk woven ikat-look, faux fur, for 6 pillows in all
10 pillows: 54" interlined silk; pieced velvet; purple velvet, sage velvet, and a gorgeous Zoffany embroidery
3 Euros, a 8x46" crewel bolster, and burnout velvet 36" lumbar
2 of each with turquoise microcord
2 Turkish corner silk velvet, 2 basketball silk velvet, plus an orange lumbar I forgot to include
The basketball pillow!  Bad exposure.  But behind it you can see part of the mountain of pillows.
These fabrics were fabulous.
A very dense crewel in an unusual colorway. 
Turkish corners, no welt.  Oh, that silk velvet......
Loving our invisible zipper color collection.  Perfect match! (The Zipper Lady)
Faux fur, wolf style.  Very deep pile!  Sews like a dream.
The apex of the basketball