Monday, January 8, 2018

Black and White Greek Key

Our first shade of 2018 featured a graphic white-on-black Greek Key:
The miters started with a paper template.  A test corner was folded, pinned to shape, sewn, and tested.
The corners were trimmed and angled in closely at the tip, like a dart in clothing.
They were pressed carefully....
and a dab of glue was applied at the points to hold down any stray fibers.
A little more pressing manipulates the miter into square.
We chose to apply this trim using Dofix Bortenfix tape.  The tape was trimmed to size with a rotary cutter.....
then applied to the back of the Greek key tape.
Blue painter's tape marked the finished size and provided a guide for applying the trim.
The sides and bottom were folded and pressed along the blue tape, and then the shade fabrication continued as usual.
The first row of rings started 9" up to allow the Greek Key shape to show when the shade is raised.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Oversize panels

Until this project, I had never made panels longer than my 12' table.
When my designer friend Liz began furnishing her Florida home, she asked me to fabricate her 14' long draperies in my NY workroom and ship them to her.
We first mocked up the pleats to determine the pattern layout.  This fabric lent itself beautifully to inverted pleat.
The embroidery was irregular, so I worried a little about the geometric shapes not aligning perfectly, but at a height of 168" the small variation is totally not noticeable!
 The family room panels are pleated to pattern with a two-finger pinch pleat and 5" buckram.
Most of the panels in this home were 1.5 widths, but this corner required a 3-width panel.
I've made plenty of oversize shades, so that experience was helpful in managing the fabric volume.  It also helped to have taken Ann Johnson's excellent "Super-Size Me!" class on how to handle all kinds of oversize treatments.
First I worked the bottom 12' of the panel, shifting my way across the 3 widths, making sure to baste a precise horizontal line so I'd have an accurate reference line for shifting to the top.  (You know I love to baste!)  Once the bottoms 12' of the 3 widths were finished, I shifted the fabric to fall off the end of the table, and worked back across the 3 widths to complete the tops.
This entire project was intense!  I was working so hard, I did not take a single photograph during the fabrication, which I now regret.  Next time.  Ha. 
The master bedroom panels are a mere 126" long, by comparison a breeze.  I don't have good photos of this room yet so I'll just show the pretty pleats.
The embroidery made the pleat tops flare out too much, so I secured them at the back to control them and make them uniform.
My next oversize project is going to be a hobbled shade 158" wide and 75" long.  Always an adventure!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Curtains in 2017!

For someone mainly known as a Roman shade maker, I sure have had a LOT of drapery orders these last few months.  And since I acquired a few old/new-to-me sewing machines this year, I was able to handle the volume and enjoy the process.
I still LOVE sewing draperies by hand, however!  The penultimate drapery job before Christmas break was Ripplefold for 34' of window space, and these 20 widths of fabric were entirely hemmed by hand.  Nicole Gray of Suite Dream designed the treatment with 4 panels, each using 7 yards of a double-wide poly-linen blend.  Right now the Architrac rods are visible, but soon they'll be covered with a painted cornice.   This is the installation day photo- more to come after the job is complete.
 A few days before the Ripplefold, Nicole installed these 8 banded panels for a bay and two side windows.
Appropriate fabric choice is a key element of successful draperies.  Here the woven-patterned banding fabric paired perfectly with the medium-weight poly-linen blend.
The hems were pressed into the face fabric before the widths were joined, eliminating the need to table the bottom separately.
I'm loving my newly acquired machines!  From the straight stitch machine, the fabric moved to the new/old super-fast Rimoldi for the raw edges to be overlocked......
 .....then down the line to the blindhemmer for the bottom hems.
The banding fabric was basted in place with Dofix's Bortenfix K basting adhesive before sewing to keep it from shifting.  The banding was sewn at the 4" line so it could be wrapped with a full 4" on the back as well.  Although I'm showing the photo here, the banding was actually the first thing done, even before the widths were joined.  That meant less bulk to handle while sewing the band.
 I worked in pairs so I'd be sure not to make a mistake and make more lefts than rights.  The first panel took longer than it should have because I hadn't developed a method yet.  After the first one I realized I'd save time by doing as much of the bottom corner as possible before laying in the lining.  The edge was pressed, the bottom trimmed, and the panel laid into the Drawmatic clamp bar with the corner kept free.  The hemline of the band fabric was kept loose and unpressed, so the bottom line could be manipulated a bit in case there was take-up.
I shifted the corner onto the table so I could work with it more easily.  The corner weight was tag-gunned in place.
The band is folded up....
Tucked in...... (the first 4" of hem was left unstitched to allow for this step).......
And re-positioned under the clamp.
The lead edge was folded, pressed, and pinned after laying in the napped sateen lining.
The bottom corners were pinned in place.  The lead edges, with the banding, were sewn by hand, and the return edges were machine blindhemmed.
My favorite thread for hand-sewing side hems is Silamide thread.  It doesn't tangle, it glides easily, and has just a wee bit of give that keeps the seams from clenching up.   I use a single thread for most hemming, but for drapery bottom and top corners I double the thread.
The bay window panels had two lead edges with banding, for a total of 8 panels, 13 widths, and 10 lead edges.
Quite an adventure!  These 43 widths were made in addition to a set of sheer pinch pleat (14 widths), two pairs of lined and interlined top tack with decorative tape (6 widths), and two pairs of sheer lined with sheer top tack (6 widths).  A total of 69 widths in the 10 days before closing for Christmas break!  All side hems were machine blind-hemmed except for the ripplefold above, and the 10 banded lead edges.
Not shown: low-bulk method for tabling the tops, and the pleats being tacked with my new/old Chandler tacker- a super-time-saver!

Friday, December 15, 2017

John's genius trusswork

It's time to show off the truss that John built for the new workroom, for hanging and leveling shades.
Derived from lighting trusswork, this frame will hold a 12' wide shade, and will raise right up to the 11' ceiling to just under the lights.
There's an easy-to-operate crank at each end, but it can be raised and lowered by just one person, as long as he/she runs back and forth a few times. 
The stands are wheeled, so the frame can back up against the wall when not in use.
An assortment of clamps placed at uneven intervals give flexibility to hang different board sizes and depths.  For extreme circumstances we can just drill a dustboard right into the wood frame.  The back edge of this wood platform will eventually hold a drapery track for hanging panels for dressing or inspecting.
Best of all, I can work easily from either side of the shade.
It was first seriously used for an oversize shade made from a beautiful Designer's Guild herringbone semi-sheer.
This fabric was shifty and its handling required lots of TLC.

When it was time to shift the fabric on the table to finish the top, we hand-basted a line for both security and reference.
There were a couple of puckers from lax stapling, which we could see when the shade was hung.
These were easy to fix by lowering the shade and adjusting the staples from a ladder.
It's smart to marry an audio engineer!

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!