Friday, May 8, 2015

The Big Pink Monster

I like to launch project stories with a dramatic "after" shot, but in this case, I don't have one.  I will someday, but I want to write about this project now.   I'm going to tell this story sort of backwards.
I was asked to fabricate a treatment for a 10' high space in a rather grand 19th century home.
The space was measured previously and the dustboard assembled, for a five-sided bay area.  The frame I was given  was pretty big- about 4' high when standing on end, and about 12' wide at the front.  My job was to make a Kingston valance out of rose-colored velvet with jabots, self-decking on the back, and tassel trim sewn IN.
 I started making a bunch of sketches, because the biggest design issue was what to do with the outermost sides which were only 13" wide.  With half a horn in the corner and a full horn and jabot on the end, the remaining 6" would leave room for only a tiny, weird swag.
I thought it would be better to put a half swag on that short outer leg, and eliminate the usual horn, letting a jabot finish the end.  The designer asked for a jabot that could have some pleating on the return edge since that would be facing out into the hallway.  I suggested the beautiful Bordeaux jabot- my FAVORITE jabot!
I had thought a leg might be necessary to support the half-swag, but after the pleats were tacked by hand, the vertical edge stayed plumb.
Have you ever cut a dark velvet on a fabric-topped table?  Last time I did that it was red velvet and it was a year ago and there are still red fibers in the fabric table cover.  This time, I used a rotary cutter on a plastic-topped gridded table.  That kept the lint to a minimum and away from the fabric table!  I used an M'Fay Kingston pattern, lengthening it for a 22" long point.  And I was able to stack-cut, keeping the stress on my hands to a minimum.
The designer wanted only the tassels to show, not the trim's tape.  I really fretted over sewing the trim INTO the seam with velvet on both sides.  I considered basting it on by hand but then I tried glue-basting, not expecting it to work- surprise, what a breeze that was!  The glue bonded almost immediately.  I glue-basted both layers with the trim in between, then took it to the machine, where it sewed up smoothly and did not walk or pucker at all.
Time to staple the valance, and I was so grateful it was a Kingston and not an Empire.  With a Kingston, all the hard work is done before stapling: joining the pieces, turning, securing the folds and forming the horns- when the valance is large and heavy, it's an arduous process, but then it's relatively easy to staple.  With an Empire, the sewing is pretty simple, then all the hard work goes into stapling.  I covered the boards and marked them, then worked my way around, moving the valance as I went to get the area I was working on into the open space so it could hang freely.
The installer worked his way around the valances, dressing swags as he went.  It was a big success!
I was reminded of a sweet Kingston valance I made about 5 years ago- out of a rose-colored taffeta- which I loved then and still do.

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