Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mock-ups part 4: the faux roman valance

Kim Freeman's project, featured recently in several posts, included faux Roman valances over the solar shading.   After pictures of earlier faux Romans helped clarify the treatment, we sent along a mini mockup out of the actual fabric.  The fabric was a wide horizontal stripe sheer linen, so the folds alternated which section of the stripe showed.  

Tiny wood bead trim defined the lower edge, and a short flap at the top eliminates any gap between the fabric and the window.

The flat back mockup used a skinny strip of the customer's chosen fabric.  It's so tiny because we needed mockups that would fit into a pocketbook! 

A piece of fabric taped to the window helped determine the finished length.

We wanted the valance to look more like an actual shade that was pulled up, more like this- 

and less like this soft fold valance-

and not at all like this upholstered version- although all three are called "faux romans."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another pretty valance

A tapered flat valance with center and side kick pleats is simple, clean, and modern.

Narrow top self welt is pattern-matched to the valance.

Because of the taper, this valance couldn't be hemmed.  Luckily I love making facings.  Reminds me of when I used to make clothing when I was a teenager.  This facing is pattern-matched to the front.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mock-ups, part 3: The Swags

Have you ever thought you knew exactly what you wanted, until you got it and then you knew it wasn't what you really wanted after all?  That's what happened to a very lovely client recently.
The new treatments
Sadly, she realized after she received her treatments- swags and jabots over a straight valance- that what she really wanted was full, droopy, substantial pole swags. 

The treatment we removed
Though this is what she ordered, as soon as it up she realized it was not what she wanted.  It was too cramped, too "Victorian-looking," too small in scale.  I returned to the house with the designer, and we browsed through books until we narrowed down what she was imagining for those windows.

I spent a lot of time sketching, drafting patterns, and creating mock-ups until we got the look she had been visualizing.  We returned with several samples to hold up so she could see the differences in size and fullness.

She wanted to see lots of pole and wall and loved the look of stacked swags with a minimum of overlap, and a long, skinny jabot that framed the window without being bulky.

Thanks to the mock-ups, we were able to achieve the look our client sought.
Thanks to Ann Johnson's books, I had the resource I needed to draft the patterns successfully.
And, thanks to the frustrating experience of sewing through the bulky stacked velvet folds, I came home and ordered a Parkhill Swag System- used!  Oh boy!  looking forward to my next swag job..... more on that when the Parkhill arrives..........

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Two Pretty Valances

The Milan valance is one of my personal favorites.  This actually is a modified Milan- it is narrower and shorter than the M'Fay pattern, so I just drew it from scratch using the pattern as a rough guide.
Micro-cord defines the bottom line.  This is super-ultra-micro-cord- about 1/16"!

Here's a shaped kick pleat valance with shirred cones at the ends, out of a spectacular and exotic embroidered linen.

The proportions of the valance were planned to coordinate with the horizontal pattern repeat.
The trim is a Scalamandre silk tassel, soft as a baby's hair.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More on mock-ups: part 2- the draperies

Designer Kim Freeman chose this Corragio poly/linen patterned sheer, trimmed with an elaborate blue braid, for the same NYC apartment with the wool tableskirt in the previous post. 

The entire curtain is hand-sewn, including the trim.  To keep the fullness down, we used two-finger front-tacked pinches, pleated to pattern.  3" clear buckram makes a flexible header.

Plain off-white sheer served as the lining.  The hem on the lead edges is 4" wide so the trim could be centered over the stripey part of the pattern.  It needed to be bulky enough to support the heavy trim. 
To help the homeowner visualize her future curtains, I made a hand-sewn mockup out of a similar face fabric and lined it with the sheer we'd be using, showing 5 different pleat options. 

On the back I described the style and fullness of each pleat which helped the client and designer choose.

Because the rod had to be positioned in a small space inside a curved molding, the rod was installed with the rings, then Kim hung a long strip of fabric that I had pleated ahead of time, and she marked where she wanted the hemline.

That was my mockup for the finished length!

Photo courtesy of Kim Freeman Style and Design

We don't yet have good pictures of the installed curtains, but here is Kim's iPhone shot for now.  In one of the tablecloth pictures in the previous post, you can see the curtains in the background.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The value of a good mock-up, part 1: the tableskirt

Recently many of our projects have required mock-ups in order to be sure that the final product is exactly- exactly!- what the client wants.  Here is the first in a series of mocked-up projects: the tableskirt.
Photo courtesy of Kim Freeman Style and Design
Designer Kim Freeman made a LOT of trips back and forth to the city with templates and mockups for this drop-dead gorgeous fitted Donghia wool tablecloth.

The russet wool contrast inserts provided depth and shading.  Both the gold and russet draped and hung beautifully.  Cotton and jute trim from Samuel & Sons gave an edgy rusticity to an unquestionably luxurious product.

Photo courtesy of Kim Freeman Style and Design

The end product fitted as precisely as we could have wished- that is, perfectly! 

The process started with a plastic template which eventually went through many incarnations and was marked over and over with notes. 

I made a full-size tableskirt with 5 different pleat options.  There were to be two mock pleats where each chair would sit- that is, the contrast inserts were actually separate pieces to allow the fabric to comfortably accommodate the sitter.

I wrote all over the cloth in Sharpie pen, labeling each pleat option and explaining the advantages and disadvantage of each variation.

Kim chose Pleat A.  The face fabric folds back and the contrast insert is flat.

Lining was serged to the wool for the tabletop, and the oval shape carefully marked for the faux pleats.

Each rectangular section was lined and the trim sewn on by hand.  I thought I had taken pictures of those 24 separate sections, but I guess not.
My improvised method for sewing on the trim involved "basting" the trim in place with adhesive tape, hand-sewing the bottom edge of the trim, then pulling off the tape and hand-sewing the top edge.  Machine sewing created too much rippling, and leaving the adhesive tape in also caused puckering.

The process of sewing all the sections on to the increasingly cumbersome tablecloth was tedious, awkward, and more than a little scary!  Which might explain why I did not take any pictures as I went.  But finally I had a completed tablecloth although I didn't have an oval table in the workroom to display it on.....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hobbled shades with shaped bottom contrast fabric banding

These were fun!  For me it's always a huge challenge to figure out how to do the math for hobbled shades with any kind of trim at the bottom.  The key is to space everything so that when the shade is raised, the folds don't cover the trim. 

The very first time I did something like this, I was horrified when I raised the shade and the beautiful trim just disappeared!  I sort of have the hang of it now.   I do a mockup to double-check my numbers. 
For outside mount hobbled shades, I make a valance instead of a top fold.

Here is the big one.   The floral is an embroidered linen, the banding is a coarse-weave cotton.  I cut the shaped band and top-stitched it to the shade, then made a facing in the rose and hand-sewed it to the back.  Totally forgot about taking pictures of the fabrication.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Greek Key shade, continued-

Well, I have quite a backlog of projects to show you; I've been waiting for installations, client photos, before-and-after opportunities, or whatever, so I'd have the whole story.  This week I'll focus on getting some of those photo series posted.

For the Greek Key shades I just couldn't wait for the "after" picture, so I showed the workroom shots last week- scroll down to read the previous post. 
Today, yay, I can show you the shades on-site, courtesy of Daniel Silva at Fabric Factory Outlet in Fairfield NJ: 
I had a hard time deciding how to apply the ribbon until I read a post by Liz Hawkes on the CHF Forum about her stencil method, and then it all fell into place.
First I drew out the entire shade, 4 corners and all, on 1" gridded pattern paper.

I then cut a stencil out of template plastic and pinned it in place on the fabric.

I traced the entire pattern onto the shade with purple disappearing pen, which I tested beforehand on the glazed linen fabric. 

Starting at the spot where the ribbon overlaps itself, I sewed around the pattern, holding the outside corners in place with a seam ripper while pivoting.  The hardest part was turning the fabric, keeping the needle in place and stuffing it all under the machine arm trying not to crumple it! 

With just one side sewn, it's a little scary looking, all wobbly and a little unnerving- I wondered if I'd ever get it to sew down nice and crisp- (and professional-) looking.

But after the second go-round, and tacking down the corners, it was neat as a pin. 

Now I have to say something about the machine I used, my Juki TL-98Q, designed for quilters.  It can be instructed to end with the needle in or out of the fabric, and there is a button which clips the thread for you.  It makes a wonderful neat stitch with perfect tension.  For the mitered corners, I used that auto-clip at the beginning and end of every corner.  This machine has its issues, but I do love it for fussy sewing like this.

Here is the shade from the back, tabled and pressed, waiting for its lining:

I didn't want any stitching on the front, so I devised a new way (to me, at least) to insert the lining.  On the sides the lining is pressed under.  At the bottom it's pinned to the hem:

Then opened back up, transferred to the machine, and sewn in two parallel rows to create the weight bar pocket.  After it was back on the table and laid out, the sides were hand-sewn.