Monday, May 31, 2010


What does a true fabriholic who sews for a living do in her time off- she collects more fabric, of course!
I had a good day at the Stormville Flea Market- I made some significant additions to my feedsack and vintage fabric collection.
I've been collecting these for a couple of years now and I swear I have plans for them.
If you don't know what feedsacks are about and want to find out, check out this article on quilting history. 
I'd write a bit about it myself but really it's Memorial Day and I'm about to leave for a nice hike at the Pawling Nature Reserve with Camille. 
Cotton sacking wasn't just for feed- you can see I have a few other fabric sacks for sugar, salt, seeds, and wheat paste.
Another time I'll add photos of other vintage fabrics I've collected.  I'm fascinated by embroidered hankies, doilies, and kitchen towels.  Aprons.  Pillowcases.  I have a Sunbonnet Sue quilt my great-grandmother made.
Gotta go!  Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Me & Juki meet our match

Me & Juki conceded this contest today..... we could not sew this vinyl welt.
If it had just been vinyl that we made our own welting from, we could have done it.  But this is ready-made welt and instead of being sewn, it's held together with an adhesive.  It comes with those little clips already made.
I'm not sure but I think it's the adhesive that Juki can't handle.  The machine kept dragging and the fabric (Sunbrella) kept puckering and then when inside the head of the machine a thumping, straining noise started, we called a screeching halt to the project.
We're very disappointed, but these pillows will have to go to an upholsterer to be sewn.
I checked out Juki and gave her a good cleaning and a pep talk and she's sewing normal fabric just fine!  whew

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Long day

 It felt like today would never end, with several installations, one un-installation of some treatments that need altering, and a whole bunch of other deliveries, pickups and errands.
However, here is how the day started- installing these four shades.
This is the wonderful tucked fabric I showed a couple of days ago, that we've used recently in white and natural, as shades and cafe curtains.
I think this sort of khaki colorway is my favorite.

Monday, May 24, 2010

They jogged my memory.....

Today I hung some curtains in the home of a very personable couple who are the parents of clients we made window treatments for a couple of years ago.  The parents told me how much they love the work we did with Diane Satenstein for their son's home, and when I got back to the studio I wanted to take a look back at those treatments- and here they are for you to see.
The dining room swags are board-mounted, the living room swags on poles.
Diane loves full, gathered swags and jabots which makes me really happy, because so do I.
These treatments are hand-sewn of imported silks, interlined, and trimmed with luxurious tassel fringe.
In both rooms the shades are hand-sewn of sheer silk with delicate glass bead trim.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sea of Tranquility

I have a silly propensity for naming things.  My husband and I name everything: cars, appliances, favorite tools.
I named this shade while I was working on it, a borrowed name: "Sea of Tranquility"- but it fit.  I tried to remember, where is the Sea of Tranquility, anyhow?  I thought I would like to go there.  I thought perhaps somewhere where the Indian Ocean meets the Pacific.  I thought I could set sail on the Sea of Tranquility and drift there a good long time.
Haha- it's on the moon!  How could I have forgotten that.  Guess I won't be going anytime soon.
This fabric was chosen by Joshua Katz of Fabu Fabrics for his client's bedroom, where I think it will lend some of its lunar serenity.

I used the new 1/8" fiberglass ribs from Rowley Co instead of the plastic ribs.  This shade was so sweet that I splurged and used my dainty white enamel-coated metal rings.

There are probably a million ways to make ribbed shades, but this is how I make them.  I loathe rows of stitching on the fronts of shades so the lining is sewn with pockets then hand-sewn to the back side of the face fabric.  The rings are caught to the face with just one little stitch of doubled upholstery thread.

Next project: an old favorite in an encore performance in a different color.  In the past few weeks I've made shades out of this fabric in white, and cafe curtains out of the natural colorway.  Now another set of shades with this loop fringe at the bottom.
Those two nearly-gone spools of Gutermann thread represent the two hottest colors of the past 6 or 8 months.  Time to re-order thread!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Somfy Motorization

Well, I finally did it!..... I attended a training seminar for Somfy motorization.  I'm official, and I'm very excited about it!

Somfy is an industry leader in motorization of window treatments.  For us, the primary application will be fabric shades and draperies.  This session today provided the information needed to identify which of Somfy's many products is the right one for a specific job.

I was amazed at how well developed the product line has become since I first heard of it some years ago.  Somfy motorization can be as simple as a hand-held remote operating a single shade by infrared, or as complex as systems for large homes or commercial buildings such as offices or restaurants, that control not only dozens of window treatments but also awnings or outdoor heating systems.  There are wind detectors for awnings, and solar detectors for awnings and window treatments.  A single channel can control one window, or all the windows in a group.  For example, all the western exposure window shades in the whole house could be programmed to lower at the same time when the sun comes around that side of the building in the summer.  An integrated system can allow the window treatments to be controlled by the customer's computer or remote control that also controls other building functions, such as audio or television.

And besides the soft window treatments we fabricate here, Somfy motors are used for blinds, cellular shades, woven woods, roller shades, and many other hard window treatments.  It's even possible to retro-fit many existing manually operated products that are already in use.

There will be a learning curve for me, but Somfy's customer service is great and I'm very excited about being able to offer this product to my clients.

If any of you readers have any advice on motorization from your own experience, I'd love to hear about it.

Time flies

Wow- a week since I last posted!
A lot has been going on but not much in the way of photos to prove it.
Monday I measured for a few jobs.  These shades were photographed in the studio, but here they are after installation.  This is a guest bedroom, and the daughter loves these shades so much she wants the exact same thing!  So I went back to measure her room.

Another home measured on Monday has a bay window with very little room for mounting a window treatment.  We'll be making relaxed Roman shades and I'll need to cut and fit the boards before stapling the shades because there is absolutely no room for error.  I'm not sure that a regular board 3/4" in depth will even fit in that small space between the molding and the ceiling so it'll likely be a ceiling mount.  I'd like to have all three shades operate as one.

This morning I am attending a Somfy motorization training seminar which is going to be very helpful.  More on that later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Deceptive Simplicity

Kim Freeman of freemandesigngroup designed the window treatments and chose the fabrics for the upstairs of this home on the Long Island Sound.

Most of these fabrics should look familiar to you because I've gradually been showing peeks of them over the past few weeks as we've been completing phases of the project.

Cafe curtains for the Master Bath are made out of the same pleated fabric I used for shades a couple of weeks ago.  We like how it gives privacy yet allows light in.

The Guest Bath pin-tucked cafe curtain is a linen sheer with orange grosgrain ribbon, topped with a London shade in William Morris Co's "Honeysuckles".
We agreed that the cafe curtain could be a little longer to achieve a better balance, so we went ahead and hung this up for now but we'll make a new, longer curtain and raise the rod.

The best best best of all, in the dressing room, pin-tucked curtains out of a floral, banded with blue silk, and see how the pin-tucks created a new floral pattern!

Flat Roman shades out of the William Morris "Mary Isobel" for the study:

The portiere drape in the doorway from the Master Bedroom through the Dressing Room to the Master Bath is an interlined silk blend, self-lined, pinch pleats facing in to the dressing room, and the "wrong side" facing the master bedroom.  I like how the back side of the pleats fall in sort of box-pleat folds.  The trim is on the bedroom side.  I forgot to photograph it from the other side!

The blue floral embroidered linen Master Bedroom drape is lined with French blackout technique- that is, four layers of fabric to achieve near blackout.
The layer next to the face fabric is white interlining; then dense black sateen which is what blocks the light; and on the back, white sateen lining.

That beautiful Sanderson fabric appears in the Guest Bedroom as pinch pleated drapery. 

All the drapery are pleated up into slender two-finger pinch pleats with fullness of just barely over double.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fab Fabric Friday- prints this time!

Who does not love a beautiful print?  Here are three prints in the shop right now.

The top fabric is "Maia" by Arthur Sanderson & Sons.  Besides being exquisitely beautiful, this fabric is in other ways nearly perfect.  It is woven and printed so evenly that when cut the pattern drifted by only 1/4" over 3 repeats.  It's a half-drop match which is always a scary challenge to cut!  For this and any other linens or linen/cottons or.... well, actually, for almost any fabric..... we cut by pulling a thread to keep the grain even.  This adds a couple of minutes to the cutting process but makes all the difference in the world in how the product hangs.
This print is turning into interlined drapery panels, hand-sewn, of course!

The bottom two are William Morris & Co fabrics:  "Mary Isobel" on a superb linen, being made into interlined flat Roman shades, and "Honeysuckles" printed on fine cotton, featured on two little London shades.  Need I say "hand-sewn, of course!"
I first knew of William Morris as an author, and only later did I learn of what I thought of as his "other" career as an artist and his role in the decorative arts.  At an impressionable age I gobbled up "Well at the World's End" and saw the influence Morris had on two of my beloved 20th century writers,  J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.
I spent a long time pretty sure I'd eventually run into Ralph of Upmeads and a horse named Silverfax on one of my hikes in the woods.  Never did.

I've been immersed in 19th century English fiction lately- at the moment I'm 3/4 of the way through Dickens's "Little Dorrit"- so working with these classic English prints is a wonderful coincidental extension of my literary life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cafe Curtains

Having fun with cafe curtains lately!
They're a great canvas for little details.
These four workroom samples are just the beginning- I've got more cut out.  They're fun to sew in the evening while watching baseball.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Those gorgeous panels....

At last, the sewing is done, and the panels are installed- five windows!
Take a look back at April 16 for a post on how these were made.
Mostly hand-sewn, of course, except for where a machine was essential.
To me, the heavy tapestry drapery completes the feeling of a high-ceilinged, dusky castle great room, together with the heavy beams, stone fireplace with its faux deer, fabulous cool, earthen wall finish, and rustic wood, iron, and leather notes in the furniture and accessories.

In a series of work over the past year, Diane Satenstein of D. S. Interiors has carried the earth-and-sky brown-and-blue palette through much of this home, stretching traditional treatments by blending deep color, exotic pattern, and rich texture to create a comfortable but stimulating and slightly mysterious atmosphere. 

Well, at least, that's how I see it!
For me, as a fabricator, these have been some of my favorite projects, ever.  Below are some of the other treatments we've made for this home:

More flat panels, banded.

Relaxed Romans with a coin trim.

Swags with tassel fringe, and a little flat Roman shade with bead trim.