Thursday, March 27, 2014

Salvaging a disaster

We were asked to remake panels that had never been hung.  Unfortunately the workmanship had been so substandard that the homeowner kept them in her closet for several years.  She wanted to be able to use the Swedish Home cotton print since bedding and other items had also been made from it.

I salvaged what was usable of the main fabric, and Kim Freeman worked with the homeowner to choose a coordinating fabric and trim.  Samuel and Sons' amazing skinny lip cord in blue defined the line between the main fabric and the bias checked band.

The original curtains were ambitious, but much had gone wrong.   Banding around 3 sides was trimmed with lip cord with the lip removed and applied with visible hot-glue.  The mitered check did not match anywhere, and attempts at repairing it with hand-stitches were obvious.  The pleats were not sewn; a slip of buckram was tucked into the back with a single tack. Interlining had been roughly cut, unhemmed, and didn't reach the face fabric hemline, which, incidentally, was topstitched, unevenly.  The lining hem varied from 1" to 3" and was crooked.  Masking tape had been left on on the wrong side, and left orange stained stripes.  To top it off, one panel had been made upside down!

Once the panels had been dismantled and cut evenly, banding was needed to add to the length.  Skinny lip cord edged the top and bottom, between the face fabric and bias checked banding.

Two-finger pinch pleats are pleated to the check pattern, rather than the print, because the floral motifs were unevenly distributed across the width.  I love fat, interlined pinch pleats!  The pleats are tacked  invisibly, at the lip cord, with blue thread.

Underneath, an inside mount flat Roman shade, French blackout lined, is trimmed in the same lip cord and bias band.

In an adjacent bedroom, French blackout roman shades were made from ticking, also from Swedish Home.   Here Kim chose a horizontal striped banding for the bottom.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Silk mesh drapery

Mesh sheers, like this silk-trevira blend from Calvin Fabrics, make spectacular draperies.

The best way I've found to hem fabrics like this is a loose running stitch that picks up a small amount of the face.   The stitch blends in in the same direction of the weave instead of fighting it. 

Khaki chain weight was on backorder from Rowley so I dyed plain white for a very good match. 

For the doubled bottom hem, the decorator chose to leave the selvedge on to prevent fraying.
The weight was snaked through the bottom using a safety pin.

After some trial and error, I found that the best way to control the top was to sew the translucent buckram before making the double fold.  This worked beautifully since there was a line to follow.

Again, trial and error proved that you should NOT use straight pins to secure the header for pleating!- they get caught all over the place.  Safety pins were the answer.

These panels were top-tacked similarly to these which we made about three years ago.  (Yes I forgot to take a picture of the pleats this time.)  The pleat was sewn all the way across the top of the pleat, the only way to keep it all in order.  We tried a plain tack but the clear buckram just bulged out of place.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What do you call this kind of shade?

This style of shade must have a name.  While making 8 of these, we've been calling it a butterfly shade, but I think that means something else to some people.  If you know what they're called, will you please let me know?
It started with a picture in one of my favorite books, "The New Curtain Book" by Stephanie Hoppen.  I made a real-scale mockup for my client out of fabric and banding similar to hers.  With this as our guide, we worked our way through the details of the actual shades.

The banding was made from a linen ficus print, and we wanted to maximize use of the stem section of the motif.

It was unfortunate that two of the stems were right by the selvedge, making them unusable for wrapped banding..... unless, of course, we cut off the writing and pieced on a cutoff!  Yes, we did.
Planning out the stems and leaves for 8 shades was an all-consuming task and took almost as long as sewing them on.  Thank goodness for quilters' clear straightedges.  Finally all the strips were marked, labeled, and cut.
We made up one shade for approval and were off and running.  The embroidered silk sheer and the linen print are both from Pierre Frey.
For the center band, the fabric was cut double, folded to the center, and topstitched.  More on that detail later.
Time to put the shades on boards, and out of all the fabrics in this workroom, not one was a good color match for covering the board.  Off to Joanne Fabrics and guess what worked- a goldish linen-textured cotton, and 4 layers of pale grey tulle- a little nutty, but.......... a little OCD goes a long way in this business!
The combination created the perfect background for the embroidered sheer.
Remember the center band, with the doubled fabric folded to the middle?  Well, to my horror, when we held a completed shade up to the window, we could see light leaking through where the edges did not always meet!  Off again to Joanne Fabrics, and tan fusible hem tape did the trick this time, fused onto the back over the gap.  It provided just enough extra coverage to keep the light from coming through.
The shades transformed this hallway.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hanging textiles

Katherine Stern's client picked up three woven hangings while traveling in Thailand, and Katherine thought they would be perfect hanging in the newly repainted two-story foyer.  Originally she planned to hang them from a bamboo rod, but on her own recent trip to southeast Asia, Katherine found these three bamboo hangers and lugged them home for this project.  My job was to prepare the tapestries for hanging.
We laid the pieces out in the studio to see how they worked most effectively.  The brilliant hues are typical of Katherine's exuberant color style.

We agreed that the fringed end should be turned down to serve as a sort of valance.

I wrapped the hangers with sticky-back velcro, candy-cane style; this keeps the velcro from peeling off as it ages.

The fabric was very fragile, and the fibers wanted to stick and pull every time it came near the velcro.  I realized it needed protection and reinforcement.  A trip to Joann fabrics turned up perfectly matching quilt-weight cotton, which turned into a sort of underskirt for the flaps. 

Self-lined underskirts were put in place, and two rows of velcro sewn on- a row for the hanger top, and one for the back.

A hanger is positioned along the velcro row for the back.;

and the fabric carefully, very carefully squeezed through the opening and pressed into place along the top row of velcro.

The double layered underskirt adds substance and shape to the fringed valance, as well as protects the tapestry from the velcro.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

French blackout roman shades

I hadn't made a French blackout shade in awhile.... now I have a little surge of them coming up.
French blackout consists of four layers: the face fabric, white interlining, black sateen, and white lining.  If the black sateen is a tight, dense weave, it will block all light from coming through.  There still might be dots of light where the rings are sewn, but they're fainter than with regular plain blackout lining.  And the four layers make the shade wonderfully substantial.
I like to make French blackout shades with ribs.  The ribs give some structure to the layered fabrics.  The finger guard on the Juki presser foot is the perfect guide for making rib pockets just the size I want them.
Interlining is layered first, then tightly woven black sateen.  The black provides the opacity to keep the light from coming through.  White interlining separates the black sateen from the face fabric to keep it from looking ashen.
The prepared lining is laid out and hand slip-stitched to the side hem, then rings and ladder tape are sewn at each rib pocket.   We press the pockets downward, and catch the pocket with the ring stitch through all layers.
French blackout, whether used for shades or drapery, is more labor intensive, but the result is luxurious and effective.  This shade feels like a piece of furniture!