Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drapery over Top Treatment

I am really liking this recent trend of layering drapery panels over top treatments, a reversal of what we are accustomed to seeing.  This is the third or fourth recent project with this layering arrangement.
The inverted pleat panels are finished with a mitered tacking strip so it will fit easily and with as little bulk as possible.   

To make installation as easy as possible for the installer, we prepare the boards ahead of time.  Here the valance underlayer is stapled and the board covered.  The inverted pleat panels will be stapled on-site.   The industrial strength velcro will hold the bishop-sleeve overlayer.   There is a little screw eye near the back of the board with coiled string that matches the lining of the bishop-sleeve: the string loops through the screw eye and will run down the back of the bishop-sleeve to the tassel tie-back to hold it in place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Curved Wall

I had it pretty easy with this curved kick pleated valance: the installer measured, made the template, and cut and covered and hinged the boards ahead of time.

I really wish I had the glam shot for this but I never had a chance to see it after installation.

In all it was about 16' of valance- one side was a curved eat-in area and the other 8' extended straight across a sliding door.  The decorator called to tell me that it was gorgeous, made my day!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turban Swags

If you want to learn how to draft your own swag patterns and troubleshoot to fine-tune your swag, you can't do better than to consult these two books by Ann Johnson.   These books are regular lunch-time reading for me.

I pored over them when I had a recent order for two Turban swag valances, and learned that a Turban swag is not simply a swag with one side made wider to wrap around the board; rather, it is a hybrid: the top-mounted side is a regular swag, and the return-mounted side is a boxed swag.  Two patterns must be drafted and joined.
Both of the valances for my order were quite wide, and were to have only two swags each.  That meant that the top-mounted half was actually the equivalent of half of a 100" swag!     
In this case, the top is pleated, and the return sides are scrunched.   We had to do a good bit of improvising because of the nature of the slinky, stretchy, satin fabric- more on that below.
This is not the glam shot- in fact the swags are barely dressed- but you get the idea.

I followed the instructions for dropping plumb lines from the board to determine the line where the regular swag and the boxed swag meet; and I draped chain weight to get the exact finished measurements and the specified short point at the overlap in the center. 

I made my pattern and when I stapled it onto the board, it fit just the way I wanted it to except that I found I needed to trim a little off the bottom curve.  I just used a Sharpie pen to draw the bottom curve where I wanted it, then trimmed off the excess.

The fabric was a slinky, stretchy satin- and it was interlined.  Here it is, again, not quite dressed!
It was an extremely difficult swag to drape, in the end; although the mock-up draped just the way I planned, the actual swag was so heavy and stretchy that I had to modify it to make it fit the specifications.  Pleats on the returns absolutely would not hold their shape so we turned them into scrunched/gathered returns. 
Luckily the installer is very talented and was able to dress the swags perfectly once the valances were hung.  The decorator and the homeowner were delighted, and I was relieved when they called to tell me so.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Outdoor decorating to make Ralph Lauren drool!

The prettiest farm in the world, to me, is Kitchwan Farm in Ossining, owned by my friend Linsay and her family.   The farm feels like a big outdoor living space and is treated like a canvas. 

On a recent golden November afternoon, Linsay arranged chairs and textiles around a fire pit, with a basket of marigolds ready for making leis.  Move over, Ralph and Martha! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 is Corduroy Appreciation Day!

Okay, so who knew there was a Corduroy Appreciation Club?  And that today- 11/11/11- is Corduroy Appreciation Day?  you know, uh, 11/11/11.  This is the date that when expressed in writing most resembles corduroy since 11/11/1111, which was 900 years ago and I don't think corduroy was even invented then.  Thanks to Slow Cloth for pointing this out.  I totally missed the New York Times article yesterday. 

The only corduroy I could find in my workroom today is this tote bag- a particularly nice one with pockets, sturdy, lined, welted, underwired to hold its shape, from Neiman Marcus.   Thanks to my sister-in-law Marguerite- I am the frequent beneficiary of her eagle eye for red accessories!   Bags, scarves, wallets, socks, business card cases, you name it- if it's red, she snags it for me. 
If you're interested in corduroy in quilts, check out this blog post by Barbara Brackman. I myself once used corduroy prominently in a quilt- the first quilt I ever made, in fact, circa 1979.  This was no art quilt.  It was made the old-fashioned way- using scraps of fabric leftover from clothing that I made and actually wore, an old blue cotton blanket for the filler and the binding, and some pink terrycloth for the back that I bought to make something but never used.  

I can't remember what the corduroy was originally used for, but I had enough to make a border for both front and back.  The colors used to be a lot brighter!  Although this quilt is rags and tatters now, I keep it because it was my first, and the earliest embodiment what became the spirit of my taste: what we now call repurposing; what later came to be called shabby chic; and a mixing of disparate elements in a style that we now kindly refer to as eclectic.  But I know that really this quilt is just plain weird.  Hey, it was 1979!!

I've always been a big fan of corduroy, and I'm glad that it has its own special day, but I think the most important thing to take away from Corduroy Appreciation Day is the realization that fabric nuts of all kinds are just plain crazy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

211" of Sheffield valance

I want to show you the ladies' lounge at a local country club, just to give you an idea of the scale and context of this 211" modified Sheffield valance.

And here is 80% of the monster valance.  The decorator could not stand in a place to get a good angle to show the whole window at once. 

Five sections of about 40" each follow the lines of the individual windows, and the jabots make up the difference at the ends.

The workroom table is 144" long but the valance is 211".   Luckily the trash can is the same height as the table and is willing to be pressed into service in such a situation to support the boards.

At about 40" the sections are a lot wider than normal. 
The boards are hinged so the treatment would fit into a vehicle. 

The designer chose gathered jabots for a softer look.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Appropriate pairing of fabric and treatment

The first element of a successful window treatment of any type is choosing a suitable fabric, or vice versa, choosing the right treatment for a chosen fabric.  When the designer fails to consider the appropriateness of the pairing of a treatment and a fabric, the results can range from disappointing to tortured, even if the fabric is super-high-end-awesome and the treatment is stunningly original.   Expertise in evaluating a fabric's appropriateness is acquired mostly through a great deal of exposure to fabrics and some understanding of the structure of a treatment.  Often the swatch in a sample book is insufficient for judging; sometimes not even a memo sample is enough.  When a lot of money is going to be spent on fabric, it's a good investment to order actual yardage and make a mock-up to be truly certain that the right choices are being made and that the fabric is going to perform as expected.  That mock-up can become a workroom sample, or a treatment in, say, the designer's sister's powder room, or cut up for pillows.

Here is a great example of a successful pairing of fabric and treatment: this stripe, beautifully printed on a finely woven cotton, was just made to be a Roman shade.

It pressed perfectly, folded up on the first try, and remembered its pleats without keeping creases.   The folds ripple softly and effortlessly.

Ladder shroud tape was chosen for this shade.  My newest way of using ladder shroud is to run the tape and then sew the rings over it, catching the shroud as the rings are sewn. 

A fabric stapler, one of my favorite workroom tools, secures the tape at the top.  I love the little magnetic staple remover!  We have two fabric staplers, one for each side of the room, which has saved many footsteps.

The ladder will be tucked into the hem and sewn in with the weight bar pocket stitching line, and then the bottommost row of rings will be attached.  The tape won't be awkwardly tied and knotted around the bottom ring. 

Here is a hallmark of custom work: matching thread!  For this asymmetrical stripe, five different colors of thread were used to match the stripe running along each lift line.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Motorized hobbled shade project

Here is a challenging project- 6 side-by-side hobbled shades with a distinctive printed fabric.

This project was designed by Susan Marocco Interiors, and motorization was expertly accomplished by Joe of All Systems Go.

The pattern layout and the pleats had to be very precisely planned and fabricated  to ensure continuity once the shades were hung.  Luckily this Harlequin fabric was expertly printed and pattern drift was nearly nonexistent- a big deal these days, when so many patterns are printed off grain.  Here you can see by comparing the owls that the pattern is off by barely 1/4" from one side to the other.  

Before sending the shades to be motorized they were hung in the workroom to make sure everything lined up correctly.  Any discrepancies were easily fixed by adjusting the encased cord tape from Rowley which served as the hobbling tape as well as the shroud.

With a 27" pattern repeat, half of the birds on the fabric are hidden in the folds of the hobbled shades, so I used some of the hidden birds in the backdrop section of the valances.

The valance body is just a rectangle with a gentle bottom curve, a little wider than the area covered to give the droop; the width was determined by draping a piece of chain weight so the backdrop would have the right amount of exposure.  The tapered horn is from the M'Fay Imperial valance pattern.  Little double jabots were velcroed into the corners after the boards were up.

The skinny bows are made of two pieces- the long main piece and a little cinch with a tail.  The bow was lifted up and the tail of the cinch stapled to the board face.....

then the bow was flipped back down and secured with a staple snuck in under the cinch.

The shades have three settings- fully lowered, middle of the window, and fully raised.   A lot of hard work paid off with a job that was very satisfying in the end.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

London shade with all the bells and whistles, and making a knife-pleated ruffle

I have been awfully delinquent about posting!- between hurricane Irene, a back injury, finger injuries (more on that later!), an early-autumn cold, and that freakish White Halloween storm, my ability to focus on writing has been.... fuzzy.
At least I've been pretty faithful about taking photos as I work.  Time to start catching up sharing recent projects with you.

Here is a beautiful London shade, with lots of goodies.
The top is stapled to the 3/4" side of a board, and the rope trim hot-glued to cover the staple ant-trail.

The fabric is a breathtaking Scalamandre silk Chinoise print, as crisp as a page of parchment, and the brilliant blue contrast is a soft, drapey Scalamandre moire- I think it must be a silk/cotton blend, but I"m not sure- no acetate here!   These are luxury fabrics that inspire awe just to touch.  It's a pleasure to work with such fabrics.

The pleats are made of 12" of blue moire, and micro-corded with the same.  The silk is interlined, but the blue is not- I was afraid it would add too much bulk, especially at the board line.

The microcord was sewn to the silk and interlining together.

Knife pleating and box pleating is easy with Rowley's pleating tape.

Just stick it to the overlocked ruffle strips before sewing, then fold as you sew to create the pleats.

There are different lines in different colors to create various pleat styles and sizes.  Once the strip is pleated, just peel off the tape.  I even re-used the tape to make the ruffle for the second shade.

This ruffle was 3" long, so I started the rings 3.5" up to be sure the ruffle wouldn't be hidden when the shade was raised.