Friday, August 30, 2013

Fab Fabric Friday- fab fabric combo!

Monica Plotka loves natural fibers and interesting fabrics as much as I do, so I was excited about making for her these relaxed roman shades with an unusual combination of materials.

On the face, a white slubby windowpane sheer provides pattern, which is tinted by the lining, a gauzy khaki linen sheer.  A slate twill tape binds the edges on three side.  After layering the two fabrics, I basted the twill tape all around before folding in half to sew it down by machine.
Designers' Resource in Lodi carries a khaki ladder cord shroud which blended perfectly with the lining.  Clear rings, ivory cord, and natural weight bar tubing also help keep the lift system unobtrusive.  
I love the effect of the colored lining behind the white sheer.  In an actual window, sunshine will create layers of color as the folds stack up.
The shade will be mounted inside the window frame, but I still thought I'd better cover the ends of the boards in the twill tape in case a little bit is visible.

I can imagine tinting sheer face fabrics with all kinds of color and texture, and even pattern......

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Victory Swag Valance

Victory swags are a casual version of Kingston swags on poles.   I send mine out hung on a cardboard tube so they don't get folded and crumpled.  This one is 130" wide with 7 swags and longish tails.  Here you see two sections sort of they way they'll look when installed.
The swags on the more formal Kingston valance are pleated, whereas the Victory valance swags are shirred.  I shirr mine by hand with a heavy button or upholstery thread.  We use our well-worn M'Fay patterns for Victory, Kingston, and Empire swags.
The pattern's intention is for the treatment to be stapled to a pole, but I just make my horns a little longer and hand-sew them to the back of the swags so the valance can be hung as if from tabs.
The horns are wider than the Kingston's, and they're lightly gathered where the buttons are attached.
All packed up and ready to go!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Corner shade in one piece

I'm a little hesitant to post these pictures, because they show a product in a state that is definitely not ready for prime time.  This valance needs a lot more work and dressing on-site, but I won't be there, so these are the only pictures I'll ever have.  But I thought the corner concept was important enough to talk about that I'm going to go ahead and show this treatment in less than ideal conditions.

Regarding function: I wasn't sure this would work, but it did!  I wasn't sure that lift cords could go around a corner and still work properly, but I was reassured by some folks on the CHF forum who have done something similar, so I took the plunge.
Regarding style: The client wanted a one-piece relaxed roman valance for her corner, and the designer wanted it to be adjustable with a cord lock.  We made it two folds longer than the eventual finished length- here it is before drawing it up.  I know the sections look like they're different sizes, but they aren't- it's just the angle and my little camera not getting along.  The two swoops on the long side really are the same size, except the one on the end has a return.
***8/25/13: The valance was installed this morning, and the very talented installer dressed it to everyone's satisfaction, except that the homeowner wants the long side to be apportioned differently- so it's coming back to the workroom, and we'll move the long side's center lift line to the left so it will be in the middle of the window.  She realizes the swoops will be different sizes, but prefers it that way.  No problem here!***  
The wood was cut at right angles and hinged.
The corner rings lead the lift cord to a screw eye just barely to the long side.
On top, the hinge is nearly completely covered.  You can see how I lop off a bit of the back corner, because the bulk of the fabrics covering the boards would prevent them from meeting properly.
When it was finished, the short side folded up neatly over the long side.
We used our Workroom Valet to hold the short side of the shade.

Orbs on the short side will allow the installer to level the shade once it's in the window, if it is a little off.  Because the lift cords cover a big distance, and one has to go around a corner, the tension is hard to get right.  Sometimes they need a little adjustment on-site.  Also we were not 100% positive that the boards were at perfect right angles, or that the height of each side was totally identical.  And, that is why some smart person invented those orbs!
We pulled it up, and saw immediately that this valance was going to take some fussing over on installation day.  I decided to take this picture without dressing the valance.  Remember, this is just a valance, not an operable shade.  Once it's set and dressed, it will never move again.  It clearly needs a lot of dressing!
If I were going to do this again as an operable shade, I would suggest a different style than plain relaxed.   I think I'd like it better with very small, shallow pleats at each lift line, to create a slightly fuller droop that can be more flexible in dressing.  I'm also toying in my mind with the idea of set-in pleats, like a London; and the corner would be the tail for both sides.  I don't know if that would really work.
I'm just glad we learned about the one-piece corner on a valance that can be dressed, rather than a full shade.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How we made a 12' wide shade

The challenge: a 12' wide x 6' long shade out of a beautiful, shimmering, fluid gold sheer with a pleated bottom silk  banding.
I reached deep into our bag of workroom tricks to make this shade, including making a permanent bottom fold; using trim to hide the bottom hem; getting creative with the weight bar pocket; working on a gridded canvas table; and basting, basting, basting.

The gridded canvas table was indispensable for this project.  It's 12' wide and 5' wide, so I was able to get most of the shade done before having to shift the fabric.   Plenty of weights helped, too.
With a double wide sheer for both the face and the lining, there were no seams to contend with.  I probably logged 1/2 mile of walking just laying out the fabrics, smoothing, pressing, and aligning.  The fabric spilling onto the floor was cut off, so I wasn't worried about it, I just had to be sure I didn't trip on it.

The side hems are hand-sewn.  After debating with myself, I left the selvedges on, to be sure I was keeping the fabric straight.  See how the lining fabric "takes up" and doesn't line up after the stitching is done?  Trim at the bottom will totally hide the take-up and the selvedges.

I knew I needed a sturdy pocket for the weight bar, so I decided to add a permanent bottom fold which would hide the pocket.   I slipped a tube pocket (from Rowley) into the top of the double hem, pinned in place, then machine sewed it down at the very end, so the weight bar was snug and secure.  

Once the shade was prepped, I ran three horizontal rows of basting stitching lines: one just below the tube pocket, which you can sort of see below, one across the middle of the shade, and one near the table edge.  Besides keeping the shade stable, the basting lines are an alignment tool for when it was time to shift the shade.  After everything was done, before moving it from the table, one more basting row was stitched right at the board line, to make stapling foolproof.  I kept all the basting stitches in until the shade was mounted and tested.

Mesh tube shroud in a khaki color (also from Rowley) was the best lift cord option, so there wouldn't be rings showing through.  I spaced the tacks every 8" vertically since the shade was so huge, and the lift lines are 10" apart horizontally. 
The grid lines on the canvas cover could be seen through the sheer, so marks were unnecessary.   My favorite thread for rings (or "rings") is Coats Extra Strong Upholstery thread.  It doesn't break, it knots tightly, and best of all, it doesn't twist.

Trim at the bottom hid the selvedges, unevenness and takeup of the fabrics folded into the hem.  I glued the trim, then clamped the shade at each end of the table until the glue dried, to keep the ends from pulling in.  I used glue because I was afraid that hand-sewing 12' of trim would cause too much take-up.
A 30# Rollease clutch completed the product, and I was glad that some time ago I invested in a tube of 14' fiberglass rodding, so John had none of the headaches of splicing the clutch rod.  Our hanging system accommodates up to 12'- thank goodness! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fab Fabric Friday- keeping it simple today

Embroidered linen- flat Roman shade
That pleated linen again, I never get tired of this!
Embroidered linen, and the simplest possible treatment- unlined flat valance with banding
A neat French seam- in case anyone ever peeks at the back of that unlined valance!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Two medium-wide relaxed Romans

I'm just kicking myself today because I discovered that I sent out a 91" wide striped silk relaxed double-swoop roman shade with dog-ears, and I forgot to take a picture of it!
Also slipping out from under the camera lens, a 90" single swoop relaxed roman out of puckered faux silk, that one would never think would work, but did, beautifully.
Relaxed Romans are such an interesting topic in the workroom world, because truly every size and style is unique.   There are no firm rules, and every workroom has its own fabrication theory.

There are a number of different ways to create a relaxed look on a wider window.  These two relaxed romans are about the same width- about 70-75"- but treated very differently.

Here, small pleats add fullness to the double swoops.  There's 4" in the middle pleat, to let the stripe repeat continuously.  At each end is a little half-pleat, and no returns.   This is an unlined linen/cotton/poly blend. 

This relaxed roman shade/valance with dog ears and returns is about the same width as the shade above.  There is no added fullness, but the center droop is significant, partly because of the width, and partly because the fabric is heavier, and lined.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sprucing up

Susan Marocco's client had a few rooms she wanted sprucing up.
In the dining room, she wanted to re-purpose the fabric from the draperies in her first house, because she loved the fabric, and liked the continuity from one house to the other.
I love the fabric, too, and think the treatment was just perfect- just enough, and traditional yet fresh-looking.
The downstairs family room had three spaces that needed treatment.  The center space dictated the size of the valance sections, and luckily there was a common denominator for all three areas within 3/4" of each other, so slight differences in size are not noticeable.  The valances softened the room and brought that long wall down to scale.
A new bedding package completed the make-over.  A new bedspread, bedskirt, shams, and bolster gave fresh nuances to the room's existing elements.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Double Banding on panels.....

Another lovely drapery treatment from SuElyn Chase of Cottages to Castles:

Trims are all about context.  If you only see the face fabric, you will wonder why the blue is there- until you see the treatment in the room.  The blue ties it all together, beautifully.

The blue banding fabric is tripled to be sure there are no marks from seam allowances.

We basted the layers together to keep it all flat and neat and tight.

Beautiful, fat, interlined Euro pleats are hand-tacked around the fronts of the pleats- my favorite method.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Darn it!.... another Fab Fabric Friday, almost

I earned badges in all kinds of needlework when I was a girl, and I'm always amazed when those skills acquired at a young age come in handy now.  Even beading skills have come in handy for repairing broken bead tassel trims.
If it were not for the inconsistent pattern repeat, this fabric sure would've made the Fab Fabric Friday list, but as it turned out, we needed my childhood darning skills to make this shade happen. 
Through most of the cuts, the embroidery lined up at least adequately well, but as you can see in the above photo, one motif was horribly off.  I knew I could not join the widths by sewing right sides together by machine; not only because of the pattern not matching, but also because the raised embroidery "walked" under the presser foot.  So I pressed the seam allowances into place and..... joined the widths by hand from the front.  Yes, I joined the widths by hand from the front, a first for me!  (Thank you, Penny, for a long-ago post that inspired me!)  Come to think of it, there's another childhood sewing skill put to good use!  It sure did take awhile, two seams each 70" long......starting at the top, the other end looked like it was about 5 miles away!  That's when you put on some Van Morrison and just sing along through the sewing.
I gently nudged and squished the fabric together to get the embroidery to line up, until I got to that one motif, where no amount of cajoling would convince the two sides to compromise; there I had to take more drastic corrective measures.
That's when the darning skills were called up.  I practiced until I got the hang of using white thread to fill in the space to make it look like the lines were continuous.  It was awkward at first, but I got better, and took out my first attempt and re-darned it.
Here is the result.  What do you think?  

A quick iPhone shot from the installer after it was hung:
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