Wednesday, December 12, 2012

London Shade variation

Here is a silhouette we've created before, but never on such a large scale.
We made two valances, 118" wide, for two palladium windows, to be mounted below the arch, and there is a third valance, 96" wide, for a regular window.

With so much fabric across such a wide expanse, we wanted to be sure, before cutting into the fabric, that the silhouette was going to turn out the way the designer expected.  It is 24" at the long point of the swaggy sections.  I emailed pics of the various options to the designer for her approval.

Pulled up to 18" at the center of the swaggy part, we thought it looked pinched and awkward.  The actual valances are adjustable with a cord lock, so the installer can set it to exactly where the designer chooses.

In case the designer thought the sides were too long, I pinned up one side at an angle to shorten the tails, but in the end she preferred the longer version, as did I.

I made this no-sew mockup with a ring tag gun and little split rings to clip them together.
In case you wondered, on the final product the lining was railroaded, so the length of the valance before pulling it up was just 52".

There is 12" of fabric in each mockup pleat, but in the real thing there is 13.75" in each pleat, because I wanted the pattern to match where the folds meet.  I had to join the widths one motif into the width of the fabric to make the seams fall in the pleat instead of on the face.

For the last step of the mockup, I tag-gunned the trim to the face at 1.25" below the board, for the designer's approval. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fab Fabric Friday

Highland Fling by Scalamandre-  As lined and interlined pinch pleated draperies, it's spectacular.

Two weeks after they were installed, these draperies came back to the studio because the client decided after the fact to add 8" bullion fringe.

If I were 25 years old and weighed 110 pounds, I'd make myself a little double-breasted, fitted, cropped jacket out of this velvet.

Its sensuous luxuriousness is impossible to convey in these photos.

In a dark, baronial library, the fabric and trim are exactly right at home.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are you tired of swags yet?

Another swag order that was perfect for my new Parkhill template system..... it has paid for itself already in time saved!   Bring 'em on!

Until I get more comfortable with the calculations, I'm going to mock up each swag first.  Good thing I did with this one, because I had made a mistake.   Here's the corrected mockup, in front of another mockup for a shade project I'll be showing off shortly. 

I just love how, like magic, the swag "fingers" just lay down in a nice straight line, and a quick "snap" of the fabric produces perfect swag folds.

Another thing I've learned: hang the treatment up before finishing the ends and the top of the board, so if adjustments need to be made, there won't be lots of tedious unstapling.  I realized that the center swag had to be nudged forward because layering it over the other swags created take-up and the center swag looked too short.  An easy fix, with double-sided tape!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Something does not look quite right......

Yikes, what happened here?  Good thing I stood back from this to take a picture, or I might not have noticed that the center lift line is not in the center!

Thank goodness this was an easy fix.  The string ran through mesh tube shroud, so all I had to do was (carefully) clip off the rings and move them over 1/2 repeat, then unbraid the strings, re-level, and re-braid.

And now we know what a double relaxed roman looks like!- not much droop, but, this is exactly what the client wanted, and in her kitchen it looks wonderful.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wavy tucked shade

What a great shade!  The intermittent tucks break up the flat surface and create movement.  This shade is going under a cornice of the same woven fabric.

The raspberry banding is just 5/8" wide, on three sides, with mitered corners.  The cornice is welted in this fabric as well.

The outermost tucks do not go all the way to the edge- they stop short before the band.

This is the first time I've made this style since the safety standards have been put into effect.  I used mesh tube shroud cinched to rings.
Since every other ring is at a tuck and the alternate rings are on flat fabric, ladder tape wouldn't work- the spacing was too erratic.  The tube shroud was perfect.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Raised Swags installed!

So, hurray, the raised swags featured in the last post were installed this week, with great success.

Megan Kearney Bailie (of New Fairfield CT) not only designed the treatment but also installed it.

The components looked a little strange lying on the floor.

The overlapping swags looked even weirder on the wall all by themselves.  Talk about droopy drawers.

Once the little boards with the jabots went up and the swags were attached on the outside, it started making sense.  We left them for Megan to staple on-site in case they needed tweaking.

That wide, empty wall area is why we made the center swag on a separate board- the space couldn't be covered adequately with a swag falling from the raised board.

The big challenge was to hit all the marks- making the short point long enough so the wall was not exposed, and the long point to not cover too much of the window.

Oops, I can see some wall peeking through above that center swag...........

Clever Megan, improvising to attach the medallions!  

The homeowner loved her new window treatments.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More swags: gathered this time

Here's a project that definitely is not ready for a blog post, but it was so much fun to work on that I want to write about it now. 
For a wide window with a high cathedral ceiling, the designer planned raised swags on boards.  After drawing the concept to scale, I started playing with chain weight on the hallway wall to get the exact silhouettes in the right proportions.  The biggest challenge was to get the long points to not cover too much of the window, and the short points long enough to cover the molding. 

Once I got all the shapes to hit their marks, I began the pattern-making process.  I studied Ann Johnson's swag book, but the overlapping swags did not fit exactly into any hybrid that I could find, so I had to do a lot of experimenting.  The mocking-up process required a lot of cutting and re-cutting, and I finally developed a pattern that exactly followed the contours of the draped string.

Here are all the components, completed:  two small boards with the jabots, the comparatively normal center underswag, and on the stand, the nondescript-looking thing that actually is the curved board with the two overlapping swags.  At the right are three shallow swags for the back window treatment. 

We chose to gather, not pleat, the swags and jabots, so, alas, the Parkhill system was not any use for this project.  I like to hand-gather with a small running stitch.  Bulk was an issue so that eliminated shirring tape as an option.  It doesn't take but 5 minutes to hand-gather both sides of a swag. 

It's hard to remember to document projects like these- so much experimenting going on, I forget to take pictures throughout the process.  The decorator has promised plenty of photos at installation time.................. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


This past spring I made some velvet pole swag treatments.  I drafted the pattern myself using Ann Johnson's book and was pleased with the results, but the velvet caused me a lot of grief due to the bulk.  I swore I'd never suffer again making swags.

By wonderful coincidence, a workroom that was going out of business had a Parkhill swag system for sale at about half the price of new- and I jumped on the opportunity.  The instructions came on an old video so I called Scot Robbins, the US distributor/rep, and he sent me a DVD.

Naturally I did not have a single swag order until last month, and I wondered if I'd made a mistake; but finally I had the chance to use it.  First I mocked up a sample swag the size of the six I had to make.

What makes the Parkhill system so easy to use is the adjustable template which creates fingers that are stapled to the board side by side, and the book of tables for every possible variation.  Fusible tape seals the face and lining together and eliminates virtually all excess bulk.    

I took my time fabricating the actual swags; I was still a little nervous.  But once they were done, I examined them carefully for anything unacceptable and discovered that they were.... well, perfect.  There are two treatments, mirror images of each other.

An amazing bonus to the system is the jabot pleating jig which is really fun to use AND eliminates pleating anxiety.

I'm a believer!  I'll still need my pattern-drafting skills- in fact I'm drafting some raised swags this week that are totally non-conforming to any hybrid swag style I can find, so I'm deep into the mocking-up process right now.  But for standard swags, you can't beat the Parkhill system for speed and accuracy.  Scot says that as I grow more experienced using it, I'll be able to figure out how to use it for unusual swags, like arched, asymmetrical, etc.  That will be fun, but right now I'm just thrilled to have it for standard swags.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Back to Work....

We were incredibly, incredibly, incredibly lucky with Sandy: we never lost power at home, and today we're back to the studio with power AND internet!........... we had no flooding, no trees down, no live wires, no submerged vehicles; we have electricity, heat, water, hot coffee, and home-cooked meals.

Monday morning around noon the Hudson River was at high tide: over its banks and creeping up onto the Riverfront Green.  We weren't allowed to cross the tracks so you can just see the river beyond in this photo.

By 11pm, at just before high tide, the water was up to the tracks- yes, we walked down in the wind to have a look- but too dark and rainy to take a picture.

Tuesday morning, again at high tide, we walked down and the water had receded back to about where it was in this picture. 

Anyhow, that was the worst of it, in our neck of the woods, and for some reason our power flickered only once but rallied and stayed on.

We had little rain compared to much of the storm area, so my worries about water in the studio were totally (thankfully!) unfounded.  I did get to do a lot of cleaning, though, since everything was up off the floor, so it was not a wasted effort.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hey Sandy girl

Waiting for Sandy.......

I spent Sunday afternoon prepping the studio in case it takes on water when Sandy storms in.  After a flash flood some 5 or 6 years ago, everything went into bins, onto shelves, or under the tables on pallets; but for a hurricane, that's not reassuring enough.  We put all fabrics up onto the work tables, along with the compressor, shop vac, and other electrical stuff.  I vacuumed thoroughly because it is just gross to have to clean up after a flood when the floor was full of lint, threads, string, fabric bits, you name it.  Ask me how I know. 
On the gridded table are some of my to-go bags.  I prepped a bunch of shades and draperies to take home for sewing by hand.  My work computer came home with me, and an assortment of sewing supplies.  At least I can get some work done even without electricity.  I'm assuming it'll be at least Wednesday before we have power and the roads get cleared.  
Yeah, some 5 or 6 summers ago I was working, alone in the building, on a super-hot July afternoon.  A severe storm blew across the Hudson and let loose.  Suddenly I heard a loud "crack" and the sound of the water seemed ominously different.  I ran to the back hallway door to see what was going on.  I was afraid the back wall had collapsed, but instead a wall of water was rushing from the office at the other end, past the closets and rest rooms, straight for me.  I say "wall" of water because that's what it felt like to me, but of course it was just a few inches deep.  It was, however, very wet, and rushing madly towards everything I owned, so I freaked out, slammed the door shut (silly, because the water just came underneath!), and in sheer panic started grabbing everything I could reach, throwing things haphazardly up onto the work table any old way.  What a mess.  I got everything that was electrical out of the water, and luckily I got to the fabrics or materials that belonged to customers before the water did.  Next I ran for the computer and other electronics, propping them up on the desk, chairs, whatever I could find.  A big stash- I mean a BIG STASH- of hoarded leftover fabrics were left to fend for themselves, and got themselves wet.  A lot of other stuff got wet, too.  By the time I was done, the water had reached most of my room, and my heartrate was about 190.  I can't believe I didn't have a heart attack.
It was a freak storm, a flash flood, and the normally more than adequate drainage was not up to the volume.  The management company immediately called in a crew to improve the drainage system and we haven't had a problem since, but when I was able to get back into the building to clean up, I bought tons of plastic bins and now everything that touches the floor is in a bin or on higher pallets.  However, the memory of that flood makes me very uneasy when the words "hurricane" or "nor'easter" start appearing in the weather forecast!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three strikes

Some projects seem jinxed.  Here is one of them: a bedding package consisting of two duvet covers and three 26x26 boxed pillows.  Fate contrived to thwart the project, but we prevailed!

First, the blue duvet cover went seriously awry when I cut into the center width with the serger........ which, in a workroom, qualifies as "The Unthinkable."  I cut off the offending section and pieced in two rows of contrast fabric, bordered by microcord.  (I didn't think to take a picture until it was packaged and about to walk out the door. )

Turns out that the pillow fabric was also discontinued, and the vendor sent the last bit they had, but at just over a yard it was not enough to make the three fronts of the 26" pillows.  They rummaged through the showroom and found the memo sample which was just 25" square, so I added a border all around to get to the right size.  There were just enough scraps to make the boxing.

With all the raw edges from all that piecing and boxing, every seam was serged to eliminate the raveling threads.

Finally, the second duvet cover was too narrow because the supposedly 54" fabric had only 52" of useable print.  I added a 2" band of the backing fabric.  The delicious Vervain silk is lined with napped sateen, making the cover soft and supple. 

Between the seams the tiniest microcord is inserted.   A scrap of fine ivory taffeta from a previous project matched the background perfectly. 

The duvet from Rowley came with snap tabs to keep it in place.  You sew the mate into the cover's seams, then lay the duvet cover wrong side out, place the duvet on it and snap the tabs together, then turn it all to the right side.  So much easier than trying to climb inside to fasten the snaps!