Monday, February 28, 2011

Curved Box Pleated Valance

aka Sheffield-
Made to the M'Fay pattern specifications with a dramatic contrast between short point and long point.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Encased cord- a faster way

This will be incredibly boring to anyone other than a workroom person seeking a faster way to sew encased cord to Roman shades.  Plus, the pictures are not great.
This method evolved over the course of a bunch of identical shades.  I won't say it's tons of fun, but it does streamline the process.

After laying out the face fabric and lining (blackout) and pressing to the finished size and securing the side hems, with purple disappearing pen I drew the vertical lines for the lift cords, then marked every 6" along the lines for the tacking points.

There were to be 8 tacks per row, so I threaded 8 needles with double 30" lengths of thread, knotted at the ends.  That amount of thread was enough to do all five rows without having to re-thread, a big time-saver.

Along the first vertical row, each needle was stabbed through all layers to the right side, 1/4" away from where the cord would be running, then stabbed back through to the back of the shade, letting the threads with the needles dangle off the table.

I laid out the tape (steam it first to pre-shrink it!!!) and weighted it down at each end, then worked my way up the row, tacking twice at each tack point.  The thread tail was hidden behind the tape but not cut yet.

After all 8 were sewn, I worked my way back up the row and clipped, leaving each needle and thread in place.

Then I worked my way along the row again, knotting each thread and stabbing it through the corresponding point on the next row until all 8 were stabbed through and sticking into the canvas grid.

I laid out the second tape and secured at each tacking point, clipping all the threads and knotting each and stabbing into the corresponding point on the next row.

And so on! until it's all done.
Do yourself a BIG favor, and as you complete each row, fish out the cord at the bottom 1/2" up from your bottom hem and attach an orb, so the cord can't pull out.  After the tacks are done, the tape will be tucked in when the pocket is sewn, and a ring will be attached.

Another BIG favor you should do for yourself is to loosely tie the tapes at the top so the cord can't get messed up up there, either.
In this photo you can see the weights holding down the area I'm not working on.

For the center rows you can neatly roll up the fabric so you can reach it more easily as you stab back up to the back of the shade.  Just be careful that the layers don't shift.  They can be pinned, but since this is blackout lining, I didn't want to use any more pins than necessary, so I just tried to be very careful.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two Hip Kids

Bolsters!  both very cool; for two different kids in two different homes, though I think they look great together.

The adorable print- "June Bug"- is for a young girl's bedroom.  It was also used for window treatments with a 6" band of the black polka-dot.  I'm hoping the decorator will send me a photo of it installed.  (hint!)  I just love that someone is using black in their girl's room! 
The purple velvet with zebra welting is for an infant's room.  (!!!)  There is a crib bedskirt in the zebra, and window treatments in the purple velvet.   I had to beg to be allowed to have a purple bedroom when I was a teenager!  This baby gets to grow up with it.
If you think the end of the purple bolster is sloppy- so do I.  After I snapped this picture I totally took apart this bolster and re-made it, with much greater success.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Update on the Top-Down Shades

The shades shown in the previous post, just below this one, were completed and installed a week ago.  Pictures?  No, sorry, no pictures! 

These were top-down only hobbled shades with a Rollease clutch and a self-fabric valance.  There were three layers of fabric: the face fabric was a semi-sheer with a woven pattern, a middle layer of a nearly-upholstery weight woven mini-diamond, and the outer back was blackout- the new Bella Notte "Silky" from Angel's Distributing.
There were five shades, all with 2" banding in the mini-diamond on 3 sides with mitered bottom corners.
Shall I mention now that three of the five were side-by-side in a bay window?
Rowley's new encased cord served as both the hobbling tape and the lift cord.  Luckily, for hobbled shades the encased cord can be machine-sewn, saving a bit of time.

This was by far the most complicated job I have ever done, both physically and mentally.
Where shall I begin???

Right off the bat, the first challenge was banding the sheer.  Glue-basting helped keep the layers from shifting, but none of my sewing experience could mitigate the take-up that naturally occurs whenever two fabrics are sewn together.  The pattern was nice and straight at the bottom, but had a big downward smile at the top.  Usually you try to compromise and put the skewed end wherever it would be least noticeable, but with a top-down shade, both top and bottom are prominent!

Once the three fabrics were layered and the side hems pressed in, the lines for the rib pockets were drawn with that miraculous disappearing purple pen.  Some blackouts won't hold that purple mark for long, but fortunately the new "Silky" did.
The new "hazardous loop" standards prevent us from making a combined fabric-plus-tape that exceeds 16.9", which means that with 6" "ring" spacing, the rows for pockets can't be more than 9.9" apart.  I was able to stagger the repeats at about 9.5", and the "ring" spacing was 5.75", so the pattern on the folds were consistent on every other fold, AND it met with the hazardous loop guidelines. 

The pockets for the ribs were relatively easy to sew, with plenty of pinning, but unfortunately the textured sheer was the inside of the pocket and made inserting the ribs a difficult task.  Many of the pockets had to be strategically opened to get the ribs through.  Rowley's clear plastic ribs made it through okay, but that was plan B- originally I wanted to use the 1/8" fiberglass ribs.  But they caught on the fabric and would not slide through, and would have caused runs in the fabric if we'd tried to force them.

But back to the pockets.  There were 10 rib pockets, and I sewed every other one in the opposite direction, to keep the layers from shifting.  My arms are all torn and scabby from the pins gouging them while I wrangled with the very heavy shades at the sewing machine.  The next step, sewing on the encased cord by machine, was probably the easiest part of the whole job.  I kept the top unfinished until all five shades were done, so I could lay them out and make sure the pattern was consistent on all.

Did I mention yet that three of these shades were side-by-side in a bay window?  Oh, yeah.  I did.  So it was essential that the folds line up perfectly with each other on each shade.

That part was so totally not fun.  I made good use of the printed grid canvas and the purple pen, and drew all over the table and made notes right on the canvas about where each fold needed to fall and what part of the pattern had to be at the very top.

Remember the part about how the pattern turned from straight lines into a downward smile towards the top of the shade?  Well, I have no idea how, but by the time it was all done, that line seemed less smiley, and also the busy-ness of the folds and little flowers made the skew less noticeable.

After the pocket for the top was pressed in, John put in the little brass grommets that allow the lift cords out of the pocket.  Then the pocket was sewn- and at that moment I realized the top of the tape needed to be sewn accurately into the seam- yet another step I hadn't been able to think through until I was actually doing it.

These shades had a regular 3/8" round bottom weight bar, but they also needed a top bar that is very rigid which keeps the top of the shade straight, with no sway.  Shopping with John one day in the electrical department at Home Depot, we found something called "wire molding" which is extremely strong metal housing for running wires.  We bought that for the top weight bar because it had virtually no flex in either direction.  It turned out to be perfect.  Brilliant John used the reciprocating saw with the compressor (a non-manual hacksaw) to cut grooves in the metal and we wound the cord around the bar making sure it was settled into the groove so it couldn't slip.  After the two middle cords were tied on this way (there were 4 lift lines) we borrowed again from the electricians and use a wire  snaking technique to get the strings through the pocket, followed by the bar.  I know I'm not describing this well.  (I should make a YouTube video.  Yeah, in my spare time!)  Anyhow, it worked, and let the record show that I would never have been able to make these shades without John's imaginative engineering!

I also must mention that I couldn't have made them by the deadline without a dear friend's patient and good-natured stubborn persistence- she put in a whole back-breaking day of what I had promised as "fun" and "interesting" tedium, did not walk out on me, AND never complained!

Leveling a top-down shade is a major ordeal, and having to level five of them identically is just cruel and unusual.  We were not going to be present at the installation, so we had to come up with a way to make all the lines adjustable.  The orbs used for shades were the answer.  These shades have two sets of lines:  the guide cords which set the length, and the operating cords.  We used orbs at each end of each line, and tied them off leaving a long tail.  This allowed the installer to make slight adjustments.

We were thrilled when we finally heard back from the decorator on installation day that everything had gone well and the next day we heard that the man of the house had called the decorator with his compliments on the job!!!

I feel that I am babbling now- I am sure that no one reading this has the slightest idea what I'm talking about, and I'd be astonished if anyone's made it to the end of this post.  I'm sorry I don't have photos.  The fabrication was just so intense, I had no time to stop and take pictures.  And this was one of those jobs I will never see installed.  But if anything you've read piques your curiosity and you have any questions about any of the process, please let me know and I'll try to be more thorough.

Friday, February 11, 2011


The project that has occupied me for much of the week is complicated.
Five hobbled shades, that are top-down only.  Three layers of fabric:  the face fabric is a sheer.  That's interlined with a quilty-textured middle layer with a small diamond pattern, with the right side facing out, under the sheer.  Behind all that is blackout lining.  Oh, and banding on three sides out of the middle layer fabric.  Mitered corners.   Encased cord and Rollease clutches.  And a valance over it all, with the same three layers.  The sheer face fabric has a small woven gold flower in a medallion arranged in rows, and the pleats on all five shades must match perfectly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sheer Hobbled Shade

Definitely a fab fabric.

It became a hobbled shade, sheer, unlined.

Since it was a reverse mount, I could not easily find a way to photograph the front.  But the back is more interesting, anyhow.  It uses translucent twill tape from Rowley to create the hobbles; TechStyles' cord shroud was joined to the twill tape; then the clear rings were sewn over both to secure.

The shade width was 61", and the fabric was 58" wide.  The widths were joined and serged, and wide, double 2" hems pressed in, completely covering the seams.  The hem was hand- blind-stitched, catching the serged seam, so no hand stitches show on the fronts.

Here's a close-up of this wonderful fabric.        

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

London shades and a fab fabric

Single and double London shades:
There were two of this size....

And two of these.

Definitely this is a fab fabric: gold silk, lightly ruched between vertical rows of a chain cording.   Hard to minimize the glare in the photo.

The widths were joined in the middle of the sections between the cord.  Because of the ruching it was nearly impossible to press the seams open.  I remembered this cool Rowenta travel iron/steamer that I bought years ago to take on installations but haven't used in awhile.  It fit nicely between the rows although the seams were still a pain in the neck to iron!

Also while I'm at it a quick acknowledgment of gratitude to the inventor of the amazing purple disappearing pen.  I'd be lost without this super-useful tool.  Often I draw a grid on the backs of shades for spacing the rings and/or encased cord tapes.  The purple ink usually disappears quickly, and if it lingers, the other end of the pen is the eraser.

One more thing, I bought Napped Sateen in the new 110" width, from Angel's Distributing, for these shades, and it made the lining process a breeze!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Empire with Knots

There were miles and miles of these valances.  This was the one larger valance, other five were 48" with two swags each.
M'Fay's Classic Empire valance pattern was used to make these.  The original M'Fay Empire had a straight bottom horn, but the new Classic Empire pattern's horn is curved.  I used the slightly fuller swag of the new pattern and the straight bottom of the original horn.     
25 yards of cording for the tops came with a lip which had to be removed and then the cord had to be picked clean of all the little whiskers that stayed behind.    
By the time all these were mounted I think my hands were shaking because the photo is a little blurry!
And I could have dressed the swags and horns a little better.... oh well, it's just a workroom shot.  It's odd that sometimes I don't notice that a treatment is sloppily dressed until I've photographed it.  Also when I read over the text of a blog post while I'm writing it, I often don't notice misspellings etc, but after I've posted it and look at the actual blog, I see the mistakes.