Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010!

Canopus Lake at Clarence Fahnstock State Park, Putnam County, New York

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorites from my vintage stash

Today, the penultimate day of another year nearly spent, the waning solstice moon hanging mid-sky at dawn, and now a cold and bright December afternoon, today seemed like a good day to post pictures of a few items from my vintage fabric collection.  

Especially now near the winter solstice I think of the lineage of women, stretching back from us to our grandmothers back to olden historical times, then further back through ancient history and pre-history, women sitting at their work by a fire during the dark and cold months, preparing beautiful things to bring delight to mundane needs and tasks.

To me, these flea market textiles are treasured relics, records of the dreams of the women whose hands created them, links to the ones who went before. 

At one recent flea market a vendor gave me a whole big box of embroidered household linens for $20, because she didn't want to go to the trouble of sorting, laundering, and labeling everything for sale.  Joy! 
My all-time favorite flea market find, this pillowcase is a mystery to me- the pink and black rays are printed, not pieced.

The taffeta face was backed with homespun before embroidering.

Who thought of this?  and Why?

Here are a few of my favorite hand-embroidered table linens- tablecloths, runners, doilies, scarves,  napkins:

I haven't figured out yet why this piece captivates me so.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow day!

We're digging ourselves out of the blizzard/nor'easter! 
I doubt that I'll go to the studio today, but I had the presence of mind to bring my work computer home with me before Christmas- so I thought I'd post a couple of things from the past few weeks that hadn't made it into the blog.
Here is a hobbled shade made with Rowley's encased cord- super-easy to use and works really well.

This is the first shade using the encased cord where I've been able to tack the casing by machine- the shade was small enough to be able to manage.  Quick and easy.

There were 3 Austrian shades in this order- two with single sections, and this double.  It's hanging over my messy-looking (though amazingly organized, honestly) shelves in the studio, and you can see the shadow of me taking the picture.

Because the fabric is sheer, I used the cord shroud made by TechStyles.  I've done a few now with the cord shroud and have gotten more proficient with it.  Every single time it has been a different type of shade- Austrian, ribbed, hobbled, flat, and relaxed- and I've had to figure out a different way to use it every single time.     

Here's a view of the back:

Instead of regular Austrian shade tape with the loop "rings" I decided to use plain translucent shirring tape, the one that does tiny little pencil pleat type shirring, and clear rings, with light tan cord shroud.   

For this sheer hobbled shade I used translucent twill tape to "hobble" the fabric, with clear rings and the light tan cord shroud.  Clear plastic ribs are unnoticeable in their pockets.

Here it is from the front:

Last but not least, this sweet gathered London valance was made from a delicious soft grey flowery cotton lace for a powder room.

The weight bar pocket was made from the selvedge, and we used grey lift cord and clear rings; the board is covered in the cutoffs with white lining behind it.   For shade-style valances we usually put on a cord lock so it can be adjustable within 6" or so.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Purple Pleated Fab Fabric

If you didn't want purple draperies before, perhaps this fabric would change your mind.

Another completely awesome Bart Halpern pleated fabric, made up with fat, happy, double-topped pinch pleats.  All hand-sewn, and I found purple thread for the pleats that matched perfectly.

It turned out to be a dream to work with, though I have to say I was a little intimidated when I first saw it.  The yardage was stabilized on the back, unlike the brown sheer Bart Halpern from a couple of months ago.
I am just loving these bulky double-topped pleats, wrap-tacked around the front by hand, rather than stab-tacked through the sides of the pleat.
They are really dramatic in this taffeta-

and this heavy, slubby linen/cotton.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Machine work

We do a lot of hand-sewing around here, but sometimes it's all about patient machine work.  For this small shade, we bound two layers of green sheer linen with 1 5/8" twill tape on 4 sides.

This ripply self-lined linen was a little hard to handle.  First the twill tape was secured with a narrow strip of fusible interfacing tape.  The fusible stuff penetrated both fabric layers, serving as basting.  Then it was folded and pressed and top-stitched, with the corners mitered.

For this lacy unlined cotton, I wasn't sure I would do a good job matching the pattern using a French seam.  So I sewed right sides together, and felled the seam.

Pressed to the side, the felled seam is very cool.  This really beautiful fabric is about to become a softly gathered London shade valance.

More about French seams here.

Some may disagree with me, but for sheers, especially stretch panels, when the budget does not allow for hand-sewing, I prefer the blind hem of a regular household machine to that of a blindhemming machine.  I think the blindhemmer makes a stitch that looks too commercial and also distorts the fabric if the tension is not just right.  Say what you like, I happen to like the domestic machine blind hem.  I love those little V-stitches all in a row.  I love that it looks like a person made this using a machine, not a factory.

Patient topstitching creates precise headers and pockets to complete these sheer linen stretch panels.  The fabric was cut by pulling threads to be sure it was cut perfectly on-grain, in both directions.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In time for Holiday Entertaining

The homeowners requested that their living room and dining room be completed in time for their holiday party.  The furniture was delivered, the technique painting completed, accessories in place- and we were happy to oblige with window treatments.

I think my favorite part is the dining room cornices.  It was fun planning the proportions so I could create identical scallops on different sized windows.
Thanks to my mom for teaching me when I was very little how to draft patterns!  It was my grandmother who taught me to sew, but my mom taught me the joy of developing the technical foundation that supports creativity.

Squire valances in the living room were made from a heavy upholstery weight fabric.  Since the horizontal threads on the reverse side show through when the sun is shining, this fabric was lined with the French blackout method- our regular white sateen, then a layer of black sateen to block the light, interlining, then face fabric.

The four layers of fabric created a lot of bulk.  I love my electric rotary cutter for stacking and cutting multiple layers of heavy fabrics- a real time saver, and it doesn't hurt my hands.

Empire valance we made in January 2010
Squire valances
I like Squire valances for three reasons.  First, they are dressy without being overly formal.  Second, they are the perfect solution to a situation where you need to create an illusion- a deep valance that is not too massive.  The teardrop bottom silhouette allows a deep long point with a short point 9" shallower, filling in space yet allowing lightness.  This valance is 22" deep at the long point but 13" at the short point, in contrast to this 22" long Empire valance which is boxier.  Third, the Empire valance has five or six pleats whereas the Squire has only two.

Are you wondering, who makes up these valance names?  M'Fay, that's who.  Many of her patterns have become industry reference standards.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finally- First Encased Cord Shade

It took awhile but here, finally, are a few pictures from last week's installation.

This is the first shade we've installed that has used the new encased lift cord from Rowley, which brings the shade into compliance with the new standards for corded window treatment safety.  It was easy to use, and I think it looks just fine from the back.

Instead of sewing rings, the tape is tacked by hand where the rings would have been.  It takes no more time than sewing rings would take.  The tape is strong but soft and shirrs up to practically nothing.

Here is the new tension device from Rollease which brings the bead chain loop into compliance.  The shade will not operate fully until the device is in place.  And it looks nice, too.  Like most of our shades, this one is operated with a standard Rollease clutch lift system.

The panels have my favorite pinch pleat style- fat two-finger pleats, hand-tacked with coordinating thread wrapping around the front of the pleat, rather than stabbed through the sides.
This is definitely not a low-bulk panel!  The heading is double-topped, meaning two layers of print, and one each of lining and interlining, in the back, along with the buckram.  I love the full, happy, bulky pleat all that fabric creates.

Wandering back to the dining room, I took a fresh shot of the draperies we made last year with the amazing orange faux panel.  Click here to read more about them.  Those pictures were taken before the room was finished; now it's ready for entertaining.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A New Era Dawns for Shade Fabrication

Just in the nick of time, two new products have arrived so that we can now fabricate shades that will be in compliance with the new shade safety standards that went into effect last Friday, Dec. 3.
At issue are the lift cords in the back of shades.  These new products will prevent lift cords from being pulled into "hazardous loops" in which a child might get caught.
One shade is prepared and ready for the new Rowley encased cord, and the sheer shades will be strung using cord shroud from TechStyles.
Here goes!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Fab Fabrics

One is an amazing soft wool paisley, the other is.... I have no idea what.  It feels like.... plastic macrame?  But it's not plastic, because it ironed beautifully.
The wool became a relaxed Roman shade.

It's trimmed with a loop fringe layered over white grosgrain.

The mesh fabric became long drapery panels, which I wish I had seen on-site, but alas I only saw them here.  But the homeowner and decorator flipped over them!  They called twice to say how happy they were.  All hand-sewn of course, except for the actual pleats.  The picture does not do them any kind of justice.  The top-tacked heading has translucent buckram.

Khaki chain weight in the bottom is thanks to Kelly from Scarlet Poppy Interiors in Texas who saved the day!  I tried to order it from Rowley but it is on backorder.  Kelly responded to my plea on the CHF Forum.

And that wasn't all.  We made Roman shades too out of the mesh.  Here they are not hiding the shelves full of supplies and tools.  They are reverse-mounted, but we didn't have to make a self-fabric valance because they went under cornices.

The best part was, we didn't have to put in grommets- just ran the matching tan string through the mesh!