Monday, September 30, 2013

London shade fullness

This little London shade illustrates how there are no absolute rules about window treatment fabrication.
Every treatment is an expression of the numeric relationship between treatment measurements, design components, fabric width, and vertical and horizontal pattern repeats.

Obviously the pattern had to be centered on the treatment, and needed to match at the pleats.  There were two widths of fabric available, but if it was seamed the normal way, i.e. split a width and piece half on each side of the full width, there would have been seams in the front of the shade's tails.
To solve this problem, we split one width unevenly.  One seam is in the middle of the inside of the right pleat.  Because the pattern on the front had to align, this placement was unavoidable, so we were very careful to match the pattern perfectly.
The other seam falls on the return on the left side. 
To make the pattern match at the pleats, we had to work with the horizontal repeat of 13.5"- so this shade is quite full.  Generally we aim for 10-12" in each pleat for London shades, but when there is a pattern, it's the horizontal repeat that determines the fullness.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fab Fabric Friday- Vintage Scottish Lace

I can't tell you how thrilled I was when this piece of fabric walked through my door the other day!
25 years ago, I made our bedroom curtains out of this exact same Scottish lace- probably even the same bolt.... 
This client bought her lace at the same place that I did, at the same time; and while mine was used and washed and finally turned yellow, she kept hers treasured in a closet and brought it out for this beautiful shade.
Traditional Scottish lace is still being made in patterns dating back to the Victorian, Art Deco, and Arts and Crafts Eras.  Here are links to a couple of sites, with historical references.
  MYB Textiles
 J. R. Burrows
I'm pretty sure this variety of Scottish Lace is the one called Madras, because of the fuzzy edges to soften and slightly blur the pattern.  Nottingham lace is made with sharp edges and can achieve incredible pattern detail.
Ladder tape and clear rings blend in nicely with the mesh, achieving compliance with shade safety standards.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Keeping myself amused while working

There are pros and cons to making a whole lot of shades all alike.  The main advantage: less thinking.  The main disadvantage: boredom.
I had 7 shades to make, 4 of them the same size: just 14" wide.  Hey, tiny shades- sounds easy!- but when you think about it, compared to one 56" wide shade (4 x 14") it's 8 side hems vs 2 side hems; 12 rows of rings vs 6 rows of rings; 4 lift systems vs 1 lift system; 4 weight bars to sew in vs 1. 
These were so small that I was able to line up all four across the table sideways.  That way I could be sure the colored rows lined up from one shade to the next.
I hate how the lighting makes the fabric look awfully wrinkly. 

I have to keep my mind occupied during long stints of boring work.  For me, that means music.  The best music for repetitive work is music I know word for word, note for note.  I know I'm dating myself when I say my faves for sewing are Van Morrison; Lou Reed; the Dead; the Band.  Stevie Ray.   CSNY and U2.  I sing along and tell myself, I can do this for one more song.  Before I know it, I'm done, and I've gotten through a few favorite albums.
I've also been known to read books on my iPhone while I sew rings.  Yes, I do.  Here I'm reading "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea."  Somehow I missed Jules Verne in my reading career, and I'm really glad I caught up with him!

If I feel I need to be multi-tasking in a more productive way, I'll spend some time thinking my way through upcoming work orders, figuring my cuts, or doing preliminary thinking on estimates, keeping my calculator nearby.

After making all those shades, I forgot to take a picture of them, so I pulled out the leftover fabric and trim to show you.  They turned out great, and the decorator called to say so.  This is the second set of shades I've made with this mother of pearl button banding and it is pretty spectacular.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Proudly presenting..... a reader's DIY project!

Just about a year ago, a lovely woman named Jackie contacted me after reading this blog.  She had recently moved into a gracious new home, and was considering tackling some window treatments herself.  We corresponded a few times, and then she got to work.
I'm so excited to be able to show pictures of her project!  She did a beautiful job, and her creations truly look professional.
Jackie had some experience making curtains and shades for her previous home.  She learned to sew in Home Ec class and from watching her creative mom.   For these shades she took the excellent step of purchasing the M'Fay London shade pattern.  When she contacted me, answers to a few questions were all she needed to nudge her confidence.
Jackie is not timid!  She asked for advice that she needed, and I love that she didn't settle for making a basic shade.   These shades are interlined, and the proportions and pattern layout are perfect.  Look at that contrast fabric in the pleats, AND the coordinating lip cord in the pleat seams!  The result is lovely, and so perfect for her home.  She should be proud of herself- I am!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fab Fabric Friday!

So much wonderful work coming up!  I've been busy making mockups and samples, so, for now, a preview.....
For Mock Hobbled Valances

My Mock Hobbled Valance Sample- nearly finished....
For a London shade with contrast inserts in pleats
Faux bois for a bolster
Breathtaking sheer for skirted balloon shades
Workroom sample of skirted balloon, a work in progress....
Detail of tiny blue trim on shade skirt

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More box pleated panels!

Board-mounted box pleated panels is such a popular style right now.
You might remember this 12' shade which we made a few weeks ago.  It was designed to have box pleated side panels covering each end.   
Small boards were covered with fabric and prepared with velcro, so the panels would be on the same plane as the shade. 
The panels were pleated and secured with a tag gun before leaving the workroom.

We used 1.5 widths per side and cut it down to allow 5 identical sections.
The installer kindly sent me an iPhone picture of the installed products.  If I get better photos in the future, I'll be sure to post them!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Details: black on black

I cleaned up my computer desktop last night, and discovered eight or ten sets of photos for blog "stories" that I never got around to posting.  Here's one of them: a little dog-ear relaxed roman shade.

Believe it or not, the face fabric is a black and white sheer, and the shade is backed with black sateen lining.  Bead trim is sewn in at the bottom. 

We used a black cord lock and black lift cord from Rowley, and clear rings disappear against the black.  So from the outside, the fittings are unobtrusive.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Swag variation- straight bottom- and a "duh" moment!

Recreating window treatments from a photograph is sometimes part of the workroom's job.  Sometimes we have design input, but sometimes we are required to simply make what is ordered.
I was asked to duplicate a swag with a flat, straight bottom, that was seen in a magazine.  After much experimenting, I developed this mock-up.  I based the swag specs on that bottommost fold, using Ann Johnson's swag book.  I pretended that was the swag silhouette, and then left a lot of excess fabric, which I cut away to get the shape I sought.
Postscript *** Here's the "duh" moment: Now I am realizing that I basically was creating a variation of an Empire valance.  Those straight sides are where horns would be sewn to an Empire.***
I was so surprised when I unstapled the mockup- for the bottom to appear practically straight, the bottom edge actually is a concave curve.  This is the weirdest swag pattern I've ever made!

The real fabric is a plaid, however, and I didn't want the bottom edge to be cut off-pattern, so on this one point I compromised and cut it straight on the bottom, which meant the sides raised up a little higher than wished, but I didn't think the alternative would've been attractive at all.  Here it is before pleating..... strange, huh!
Postscript *** and now that I've had my "duh" moment, I see that it's just a very big Empire swag, with separate jabots instead of attached horns! ***
Ta-da!  The final product.  The swag dimensions, as well as the jabot style, short point, long point, and face width, were all specified by the client to be based on the very fuzzy photocopy of a photograph.
Postscript *** Well, if I had recognized this treatment as a wide Empire, I still would have had to draft a pattern from scratch, but it might have been easier if I had visualized this pattern shape in the first place. ***

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bottom trim on Roman shades

Two sets of shades, both with beautiful bottom trims- here's a representative shade from each group:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gold mesh curtains

Yesterday I forgot to post the pictures of the curtains that go over those unlined hobbled shades.
This mesh is viscose and poly.  It took the iron well, pressed readily, and was easy to sew.  It's very fluid, and drapes beautifully.   Because the curtains will be inside mounted, we kept the fullness down by making two-finger French pleats.  

The curtains are short, so we used 2" translucent buckram.   Side and bottom hems were all hand-sewn, as well as the little pinches for the pleats.  In fact, the only machine sewing is the where the pleats are sewn.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unlined sheer hobbled shades with ladder tape

Ever since encased cord shroud tape became available, from Rowley, I've been using it very successfully for hobbled shades. 
But for these unlined semi-sheer hobbled shades, I wanted something that would not be so visible through the fabric.
Since the shades were so lightweight, I thought I could use ladder tape without rings, and it worked beautifully.  The shades raised up without any friction, and the folds readily stacked up on top of each other.  The scrunched up ladder is all but invisible through the fabric.
Designers Resource in Lodi NJ carries ladder tape in several colors, and this color blends perfectly with the fabric. 

I used my favorite thread- Coats Extra Strong Upholstery thread, which really is super extra strong, and also knots tightly without slipping.
Ladder tape would not be suitable for any but the lightest weight shades.  For lined shades I'll continue to use the encased cord shroud tape, as shown here.