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.....


  1. Replies
    1. Simply elegant, Deborah! I hope your designer and her clients appreciate the incredible effort you put into this tableskirt to make it look so beautiful and act so perfectly. The practical side of me wonders how did you deliver this without causing wrinkling and if the clients will use it for dining, how will it be cleaned?

  2. Fabu and Merlyn, thank you-
    and yes, Merlyn, the designer does know how much work this is! Her high standards were part of my education.
    Yes, I too wonder how it will be cleaned.....
    And to pack it, we folded it like a bedskirt and placed layers and rolls of plastic between the folds to keep it from creasing. Also it's an incredible quality wool, and what little wrinkling it did was easily steamed out.