Thursday, February 27, 2014

Getting a smocked fabric to behave

Nicole Gray of Suite Dream has designed what she calls her "last" master bedroom- and why would she ever want to leave this beautiful room?
Because this treasured piece of smocked silk was just 52" wide, gold silk sateen was chosen to band the sides so the shades would reach 60" in width.
The workroom's challenge was to get that ruffly uneven edge under control so the band could be attached without distortion.  After the ruffles and puckers were perfunctorily ironed,  a straightedge provided the guide for applying a strip of double-sided adhesive tape.
A seam allowance was ironed, and the edge lined up against a straightedge as the paper was removed from the adhesive.
A quick dose of steam from the iron secured the strip in place.  Folding the strip back reveals the ironed line which serves as the stitching guide.
Slow and steady is key to sewing down a pressed line.  The slow speed on my Juki's Servo motor is one of its best features.  Even though the seam allowance is adhered to the face fabric, pins are helpful to encourage the banding not to walk as it's being sewn.
The shade was finished as usual, with interlining, ladder cord shroud, and Rollease clutches, and........... ta da!
Nicole's draperies cover the sides of the shades, but if they ever did peek out, the banding blends in and looks completely intentional.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Top welt on curved face board

Let's finish up already with this treatment!
After solving the bulk issue (see previous 2 posts) on this collaborative project, we moved on to the next challenging step: top welt on the curved face.

I almost never make welting ahead of time; usually I make it and apply it all at once.   With this somewhat stretchy fabric, we really didn't want to sew the welt and risk having it pucker.   Double-sided adhesive tape is used to "baste" the welt together before stapling.  Starting from the middle, the 3" bias strip is pressed into place. 

It's eased around the curve; here I'm feeliing for where the welt is going to sit and make sure it's perfectly smooth at that spot.  This really would not work with the fabric cut on the straight.

Once the front feels right, the back of the strip is pressed down against the tape, making sure all the puckers are behind where the bias strip is going to roll over the welt cord.

Then another strip of double-sided adhesive tape is applied, and starting in the center again, carefully roll the bias strip over the welt cord and press  in place.  At the curved end it just pops itself into place, and the only thing to worry about is keeping the fullness to the back of the welt cord so the front is smooth. 

The staple gun is used to shape the welt at the curve, because there won't be any tacking strip there. 

This upholstery fabric is so heavy, staples were used on the curves to keep it under control.  Normally we like the staples to be invisible. 

 The bulk-reduction technique worked perfectly!

Just to add to the fun, one of the windows was a bay  The boards are hinged together.  Here also staples were needed on the top of the board to make sure the dustboard cover was secure.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More on reducing bulk-

Yesterday's long post was all about reducing bulk on the top of the board of kick pleat valances with curved ends and made from upholstery fabric.   (If you missed it, scroll down to the previous post.)

A couple of weeks ago, three cotton print flat soft interlined valances with kick pleats at the ends required just minimal intervention to reduce the bulk on top of the board.

We laid out the three lining cuts side by side, and positioned sections of interlining where the face and returns fell, up to the board line, leaving the pleat section without interlining. 

The interlining was sewn at the board line and down the sides.  This line of stitching didn't show on the back of the valance because it was folded into the kick pleat.

The interlined lining was placed on the face fabric, hems turned and hand-sewn, and they were ready for mounting, with no excess fabric on the board.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Reducing bulk with nerves of steel

This is going to be a long post.
One big challenge we have when we make pleated top treatments is eliminating excessive bulk on the board where the pleats create layers of stacked fabric.
The usual techniques were not going to be sufficient for this collaborative project: kick-pleated valances out of an upholstery fabric with a not exactly lightweight sateen lining.  What I was asked to do required nerves of steel, or a personality comfortable with taking risks, or a supreme self-confidence.  I'm not sure which applies to me.

We started by laying out the lining so the selvedge came 3/4" below the eventual board line.
The valance was assembled: welt was applied to the bottom, the face and lining sewn and turned and pressed.  Then  the lining was secured at the top with a tag gun, and blind-stitched it to the face, using a thread color that would disappear against the face fabric.  This only worked because the face is an upholstery fabric and was so bulky that the blindstitch didn't show.

At the top, a line of staystiching exactly at the board line helped us feel more secure about the cutting we were about to do.   (I'm showing this pic but I know you really can't even see the stitching line).
We had already carefully plotted out the pleat spaces, and now we cut down into them all the way TO THE BOARD LINE, and believe me, that was scary!  We angled the approach so if we were off by a tiny bit we'd have some wiggle room.  I've never done anything this way before.  I knew we had to be 100% certain that we had not made a mistake in planning the pleat spaces.
As if my nerves weren't already frayed, we then overlocked the angle and the pleat space, and cut the return end down to 1/2" and serged it, because it needed to go around a curved board end.  Here's how it looks from the back.  The top of the cutout space is the board line; the lining comes to 3/4" below the board.
Time to staple.  The dot marking the center of the pleat space is centered at the pleat line, the fabric aligned to the top of the board, and 3 staples were put in to secure it.
Since the fabric was cut so the pattern would flow across the pleat matching up, we first secured the outer portion at the return and at the pleat line with a pin to make sure it was all laying out correctly.
Once we knew the pattern was matching up, we stapled the inner side of the pleat; it was a little tricky holding it all in place and wiggling the stapler in there.
Then we finished the outer side of the pleat- voila!  The only fabric on top of the board is the main body of the valance.  All of the pleat ends at the board line, and that's upholstery fabric only, because the lining doesn't come up that high.
The curved end had already been reduced to just 1/2" on the board, and now just needed clipping.
The fabric just laid down, the clips overlapping,  and curved with nary a bubble or pucker at the board line.
Here's how it looks from the wrong side.  It worked!
This was long!  I'll finish up tomorrow with the top welt cord.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Relaxed Roman

For these very high windows, stationary relaxed romans needed to be made as long as an actual shade in order to get enough fullness.

The fabric was a railroaded stripe so it had to be pieced horizontally, something we usually try to avoid. First the ring locations were planned so we could place the seam where it could be hidden in the permanent bottom folds.  The woven pattern washed out when sun came through, so we interlined these, using regular interlining inside and dim-out lining on the outside.  The dim-out also helped hide the seam. 
The trim was sewn in the seam at the bottom, rather than applied on top.  A facing was sewn and formed the double hem which was hand-sewn along with the side hems. 
Technically an outside mount, the windows are closely wedged between built-ins and the walls, so they're kind of like an inside mount.   The shades were made with 2" returns which create the slight dog-ear droop at the sides, with an allowance made so the boards would fit in the space.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Crinkle sheer

So, the shades.  I guess this is a hybrid shade: not quite a relaxed roman, because there are tiny tucks, but the tucks are too small to call this a balloon.  Whatever it is, it's beautiful in this 118" crinkle netting from Pierre Frey.  The rings start 6" up, which creates a skirt finished with a small hem hand-sewn with a coppery metallic thread.  There were five single windows and this one double. 
In order to get the silhouette we wanted, I started with several mockups and experimented with them.

Once we had decided on a center pleat and a skirt, I made a finished sample shade out of real fabric because- well, because I like to do that.  It's a good way to accumulate workroom samples, and the only way to really test the idea short of using the customer's actual fabric.  This mockup showed that we wanted the skirt to be an inch shorter- good to know!
What made this fabric so spectacular was the two-color weave: blue in one direction, gold in the other, that crumpled up into metallic bluish brassy crinkled netting that varied as the light changed.
The crinkle made the netting nearly impossible to press into a straight line.  I made a semi-rigid pressing guide by ironing together two layers of fusible buckram.
That did the trick, sort of..... it was a long process, ironing the side and bottom hems.  It was critical to keep it from stretching as I worked the iron up the side.
I used a camel-colored ladder tape, clear rings, and tan lift cord; the board and weight bar were covered in fabric that matched the painted woodwork.  The ladder tape follows the mullions so it's barely noticeable except from the side.
Lastly, I used gold colored traverse cord as microcord inside a single layer of the netting for the tops of the boards.  You can't really see that it's there, but you would see if it wasn't there.  If you know what I mean.