Monday, March 29, 2010

Shirred Top Drapery

The whole point of the various header styles on draperies is to control fullness.  Only rarely does anyone want a completely flat panel of fabric on a window.  If it is to have fullness, it must be contained somehow- hence, the pleat.
There are other methods, and here is one: shirring.
In this workroom sample, the gold silk is outlined in a rust microcording, a separate rust layer is added from the back, and the whole thing is shirred.  A two-cord shirring tape has been sewn and hidden- I wanted it to look as finished from the back as from the front.  
I would like to credit Heather Luke, an English curtain maker, for the inspiration for this curtain.  Her amazing curtains are all made by hand, and I wanted to develop a technique to achieve a similar look with faster methods so that I could offer it to my clients.  
(SHE doesn't use shirring tape!, and therefore doesn't need to hide it!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

London Shades

A few weeks ago I showed this beautiful Brunschwig & Fils print that was to be used as shades, and we spent no small effort thinking about what style would best show off the pattern.
As the fabric comes off the roll, there is a center stripe filled with squiggles, about 6" wide, flanked by two floral stripes, and finished with half the center filled stripe on each side.
We wanted to make London shades, not too full.  One window was a single, the other a double.
For the single window, if we used the fabric the way it was printed, the floral parts would have been pleated and we thought the interruption of the pattern would be wrong.  So we split off half of one floral stripe and joined it to the other side so the new width had the floral in the center, and half a floral on each side.  The pleats landed in the squiggly stripe leaving half of it exposed.
The other window was too wide for a single "scoop": it needed two.  We left the fabric as it came off the roll, added on to each side to achieve the right width, and put a small pleat in the squiggly stripe as well as on the sides which, by luck, turned out nearly exactly the same as the sides of the smaller shade.
I think these shades turned out exactly perfectly.  The pleats are small- less than 5" in each pleat- but give fullness without too much volume.  
This bedroom is in a magnificent older hilltop estate, a home filled with wonderful detail and decorated with a tasteful collection of antiques.  I'm sorry to say I don't have photos yet of the draperies we made for two other bedrooms- I hope I can post those soon.  Those fabrics were equally spectacular Brunschwig & Fils prints.
Next we hope to have an order for the master bedroom, and perhaps the living room and dining room.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peace like a river

A busy busy crazy day,  lots of driving, talking, thinking, waiting, and more driving.

My river.  End of day.  Peace.

The lights of Haverstraw viewed from Croton Point.

A peaceful piece of work at Spirit Cloth, click here
Tomorrow, back to sewing-

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fab Fabric Friday, back again this week

I really wish you could touch this- it's velvet!  Printed velvet- even the background.
And guess what, it's MINE!  A gift from a friend, about a yard and a quarter.  
Spring is nearly here- it's beautiful out- and I'm done for the day, other than a delivery or two!  Have a nice weekend everybody (though I might be back here before Monday).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Relaxed Ribbed Roman?

There's no telling how the text and photos are going to arrange themselves on this post- I don't have much control over where they wind up!
Anyhow, here is phase one of an installation; the second room's fabric is backordered so this is going into the family room tomorrow.

The draperies, lying on the table, are interlined; lined with a special blackout lining along the lines of Apollo; portiere; tassel-trimmed; and pleated with two-finger Euro or top tack pleats.
The swag and jabots looks kind of forlorn in the back hallway, but dressed in its window it'll look fantastic.  I am not real big on pleated swags, but gathered swags are right up my alley, and also I enjoy making them.
The shade is something really really great!  It's a ribbed flat Roman shade with a relaxed bottom.  It goes up & down like a charm, and the relaxed part never needs dressing since it's fixed.  I think this is going to become my new signature shade.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inverted Box Pleat

Well, my apologies for the crummy photos.  I had the opportunity to show these two very different applications of inverted box pleats but no time to set up any sort of shoot for them, so here we are.
The top shows interlined silk, inverted box pleats to normal 2 1/2 times fullness, as well as contrast microcord and yummy silk tuxedo buttons.   The rings are sewn on, but the panels could be hung the rings with drapery pins.
The bottom shows very tiny inverted box pleats on an unlined sheer with 2" translucent buckram in the header.  The pleats on the sheer are there just to control the fabric on what are essentially flat panels;  they provide a good place to place the drapery pins so they'll be hidden.
The technique is exactly the same but what a different interpretation!
The bottom picture shows both examples from the back side.  There are a number of ways to finish an inverted box pleat, but I like the stitch-in-the-ditch method because it flattens the pleat out, provides a place for the pin, and gives some control. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Portiere Draperies

This week has been busy with a job that is almost ready to be photographed.  There are several components, one of which is Portiere drapery panels.  These photos illustrate our portiere fabrication method, which has been used on the draperies that haven't been photographed yet.
"Portiere" drapery, traditionally, is heavy draperies hung across a doorway (derived from French "porte" which means door).  The fabrication method takes into account the fact that they are seen from both sides... there is no "back" or "wrong side" and therefore a regular rolled side border is not appropriate.  The lead edge of the drapery needs to be "knife-edged" or "pillowcased" and may or may not have a trim.
Nowadays "portiere" might refer to any drape where the lead edge is made this way rather than rolled and blind-stitched, even if the drape isn't going into a doorway.  Usually the lining is a decorative contrast fabric.
What bothers me about portiere draperies is when the fabrics gap away from each other at the lead edge, which might happen because the fabrics don't cling to each other, or because of the weight of trim applied on one side.  I wanted to find an attractive way to secure the lead edge to prevent that.
We devised a fabrication method for draperies with top-sewn trim that yields a beautiful edge on each side.  The face fabric is rolled around to the back about 1/8" and "stitch-in-the-ditch" topstitched.  The tassel trim covers the topstitching on the face side, and on the back there is the illusion of a microcording.  This method has been effective with a variety of applications.  The photo shows a workroom sample we made as a show-and-tell for clients.
The seamstress needs a good eye and a steady hand to topstitch perfectly!  No extra caffeine til the sewing is done.
I must mention here that the only song I've ever heard that contains the word "portiere" is Warren Zevon's "Disorder in the House."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Digression

Okay, so today I'm cheating- we're not actually working on this today!  However, the client for whom we made this treatment called and IS doing more windows.  So she's on our minds, and in our hearts, and we're working on more treatments for her home, just not THIS window.  The Greek Key sheer fabric is an amazing version of the classic Border which you see on the trim.  The swags are fabricated a la Merrick and Day, a swag style that is totally flat on the board. all the fullness coming to points that hang completely off the board.  The jabots are shaped and stacked with a pretty gentle curve to the lead pleat.  This is a very interesting palette- a deep Rosa plum with a kiwi green.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Head exploding!

I have no new goodies to show today!  All I have is a head that is exploding with ideas.
Suddenly there are several projects with challenges that must be addressed, and, as it happens sometimes, the challenges in all these projects are related somehow.
Some of the situations:
-Shades with very little mounting space, finding a clutch system to fit.
-Shades in areas where children play, finding a cordless lift system.
-Top down bottom up shades with a) inadequate mounting space and b) need to have neatly folded pleats that go up and down without dressing- finding a way to make it happen.
We need to make mock-ups of all the above.
Problem-solving is sometimes the most fun part of this job.

I think I'm going to post a picture, after all- of a solved problem, from a few months ago.  This bay window needed blackout shades for keeping out the blistering summer sun, that when raised could look like a top treatment.  If they butted up next to each other, they'd be overwhelming.  If they didn't, they'd have to go either above the window, with a valance, which would be even more overwhelming; or, on the molding, in which case they'd stick out with a gap.  So they were mounted on the "flush" side of the board and the board was beveled to curve gently back to the wall and fill in the space without a gap.  And the old molding with the circle-in-the-square thing (don't know what that's called) is the best part of the window, and it's not covered.
These are not meant to look very modern or very polished.  They are meant to look just the way they look, except that someone should dress these shades, the middle one is pulled up crooked!
The black print is a vintage P. Kaufman fabric, "Passage to India," that was hoarded for several decades before finding itself a suitable application, one worthy of it being cut up!
The sheer fabric is a slinky gold sort of metallic sheer, banded in gold silk.  This sheer wholesales for something like $160/yard, and it was discovered at a Stark warehouse sale in Norwalk CT for $35/yd.  I know it doesn't look like much in the picture, but it is truly spectacular.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Top Down Bottom Up (TDBU) shades

A friend of mine wanted shades in her library, shades that could be both raised in the normal way, and lowered from the top down.  She had EXACTLY to-the-thread enough of a warm wheat-colored woven fabric with little flowers that look like stars.  There wasn't even enough to hem the sides- a scrap of golden silk became a narrow banding/binding for the sides.  In her "stash" we found an embroidered faux-silk to make the valances that hide the mechanisms.  The lining is a khaki napped cotton sateen that enhances the golden glow when the sun comes through.
Though we've made these shades before, it had been awhile, and I spent a long time reading up and remembering how to proceed.  My brain totally froze on the subject of cord locks- I just could not visualize whether or not they would work on this style.  Thanks to my colleagues and the Drapery and Design Pro Network Forum, I got through it!
I also must acknowledge my gratitude to Terrell Designs- a wonderful shade maker in Colorado who makes art quilts into window shades, and has incredibly detailed DIY instructions on her website.  I used her instructions as a reference throughout the process.
Installing the shades was a challenge!  Though I make window treatments day in and day out, I do NOT install them myself except under circumstances like this- friends or family.  My very patient husband came along to "oversee" the process.  Luckily my friend's 3 cats convened in the library with us to keep us in line.  It took a very long time.
After we finished, we went upstairs to look at a very wonderful collection which is the subject of the following post- keep reading:

Ginny Dolls

The second part of today's post is about my friend's hobby.  I'd never heard of Ginny Dolls until she stopped by the workroom one day asking if I knew where she could find some red velvet ribbon.
She collects- not Ginny dolls- but Ginny doll clothing; she hunts it down and buys it damaged or stained, and specializes in repairing and restoring it to pristine condition.
Ginny doll clothing is incredibly detailed, hand-made doll clothing.  My friend has her own original Ginny doll from the 1950s and even some of the her own clothing, but most of it she's found and bought over the years. There are many dozens- maybe hundreds?- of little dresses in her collection.
After we installed the shades, we went upstairs to take a look.  I was amazed at all the clothing, fabric, trims, notions, and other goodies in her bright, well-organized studio..... clothing she's working on..... and then TOTALLY blown away by the completed restored collection she keeps in an antique cabinet on little tiny clothes hangers with her little Ginny doll nearby.
And she has all the little accessories- shoes, boots, hats, you name it. 
It was astonishing and magical!  All those teeny tiny dresses,  with the most minute trims, buttons, ribbons, zippers. 
All these little garments were hand-sewn in the 1950s and 60s by housewives who did piece-work by mail.  A kit with all the components would be mailed to them, and they'd sew the clothing and send it back, signed.
And besides restoring Ginny doll clothing, she does her own upholstery, some of which is with her own hand-made needlepoint tapestry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another exercise

Another workroom sample exercise!  Here is a cuffed panel with an over-stuffed lead edge banding with tassel trim.  One thing I would change if I could is the size and shape of the cuff.  I thought a shaped cuff would be cool but actually the shape kind of gets lost and might look like a mistake if it's not dressed well.  And I think the cuff should be an inch or two longer, but that was all I had of that delicious silver silk, so there you are.  Rather than just sew the rings on, I though I'd try making a little pinch and sewing the ring into it.  That seemed to work pretty well so I rummaged around until I found these pale aqua glass beads, and we sewed them on with prominent French knots to show off the thread color.  This panel is lined with a heavy cotton sateen, and interlined with a heavy cotton flannel.  I didn't take a picture of the bottom, but the hem is padded with interlining as well as the lead edge.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An exercise

Here is a silk drapery panel we recently made as an exercise and to use as a workroom sample that can be borrowed.
The flounce at the top is pieced with a narrow banding at the top and the bottom.   The lead edge border is pieced, and is bound on each side with microcording.
I am making samples in order to test some ideas I've had bouncing around, as well as to experiment with fabrication techniques.  Also to make mistakes, so they can be corrected before the style is made for a customer!
With this piece I made a few mistakes.  The flounce is pieced in an awkward spot.  The bottom of the lead edge, which you can't see, was a challenge as I had to make the pieced and corded border first.  I wound up encasing the Napped Lining in the hem, a technique that doesn't work well unless you do it properly, and the result is that the silk sags a bit at the bottom.  Since this is a sample, I think I'll chalk it up to experience, and leave it!
All the samples will be lined with different linings and methods.  I wanted one sample to show silk without interlining.  This panel is lined with Classic Napped lining, which is suitable for this light-hearted panel.  But for a serious drapery treatment, silk really should be interlined.
The piecing is a little bit of magic, the secret to which I won't reveal just now- it's a technique stolen from circa 1985 patchwork quilting.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pattern Layout Challenge

Here is a beautiful Brunschwig & Fils print that is intended to become shades of some sort.
The decorator's first intention was to make London shades, but it doesn't seem like the best way to use this pattern.

There are two windows, of two different sizes- one is 40-something, and one is 60-something.  We can play with the finished sizes a bit to accommodate the pattern somewhat.

Here are 3 styles we're considering for this fabric- or yet another hybrid version, as yet not dreamed up.  All three of these shades were made in the past year or two for our clients.