Thursday, August 27, 2015

Translucent valances

The designer wanted a very minimal flat top treatment, but not an upholstered cornice.  I imagined a valance as translucent as the drapery, but she did not want soft and drapey.  The solution was this semi-rigid valance made with fusible webbing.
I just love how this turned out!  The light diffusion created such a dreamy effect.
The draperies are lined with poly batiste in champagne.  The hand-sewn side hems allow the fabric to cascade smoothly.
The valance was created by sandwiching fusible webbing in between the same batiste and the face fabric.  That's silicone paper underneath, to keep the webbing from fusing through to the table top.
I could just barely see the table grid through the sheer, which helped keep the pattern straight as I pressed from the center outwards to fuse the layers together.
The layers were transferred to the rotary cutting grid table and carefully trimmed.
The selvedge was saved, trimmed to size, and used as binding for the bottom edge- I do love topstitched binding!- and this minimal finish was so much more effective than any trim could have been- and so much better than a hem.
 This is one of my most favorite recent projects.

Monday, August 24, 2015

CWC Conference Class Schedule has been published!

Finally, the day has come- the Custom Workroom Conference class schedule has been announced!

The interest has been building, with details published just today, on Facebook as well as the website.
For readers who don't know about this, the CWC is the first workroom conference in quite a few years, and there will be classes, demonstrations, a vendor marketplace, and vendor demos, as well as a lot of networking with workroom professionals.  There are classes on everything from business to fabrication.
To view the full brochure, just click here.
The 3-day conference will be held in North Carolina at the end of February 2016.
And in case anyone wondered why I'm so excited about it, guess what, I'm one of the instructors!
This is my teaching debut, and I am thrilled to be in such amazing company: many of the industry's most respected educators will be at the conference as instructors.  Just look at the list of people participating in this effort- it's studded with awesome, talented teachers. 
My class is "Efficient Shade Making."  Because of this blog, I get comments, emails, and phone calls from people all over the country, who need help with their projects.  There are other workroom professionals as well as DIYers who read this blog and get in touch with me, whether it's for advice, or to show me projects they've done.  It is such a wonderful thing to be part of a web of talented and creative people who love to sew!
Anyhow, most of the inquiries that come my way are related to shades.  If you have been reading the blog the last few months, you know that Leatherwood Design Co has churned out a LOT of shades.  I've honed my methods, my decision-making process, and my set-up to enable me to fabricate shades with a great deal of efficiency, and that is what I'll be sharing in my class.
So, I hope you'll have a look at the brochure, and consider attending.  Whether you are interested in draperies, hand-sewing, details, business advice, installation help, shades, slipcovers, bedding, top treatments, designing, drafting, or a host of other topics, there is something for you at the CWC Conference!
My only regret is that I cannot attend all the classes myself as well........

Friday, August 21, 2015

Big shade for sliding door

My mom would've said I'd flipped my lid.  Does anyone use that expression anymore?  She had some doozies.
This shade is 80" wide and 86" long, made from a really really wonderful embroidered cotton.

100" cuts needed to be joined.
First I glue-basted because I just knew that pinning was not going to be enough security for me to get a good match.
Then I realized that I could not sew this by machine and keep the pattern from noodging forward as I sewed, so I decided to hand-sew the vertical seams.  This is something I never did before last December.  It takes a lot of time, but I've discovered that it's quality time- meditative and calming.  Also, it probably takes less time that it would have if I'd sewed by machine and then picked out every little non-match that I didn't like.
I trimmed the seams with a rotary cutter, since these shades are not blackout and the shadow needed to be perfect, too.
Once it was on the table, I could see how neat and square the pattern was- really an excellent piece of fabric.  I pressed in the side and bottom hems.
Double-wide lining is awesome!  With a perfectly square face fabric, I was confident that I could fold back the excess lining and trim it to size, saving time later.
Once most of the shade was done, I pinned-pinned-pinned, shifted, and finished the top few rows of rings.
There are many ways of weighting a shade.  Especially with such a large treatment as this, I like to construct shades so that the bottom rings are at the weight bar so it's pulling up with the extra reinforcement of the weight bar pocket.  Also I hate to take the shade off the table for any reason, so here is the method I chose for this shade.
Designers Resource is my life-saver when I need a stronger lift system than my everyday options.  They set me up with this Rollease Skyline clutch.  It is a very capable system and super easy to make. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

French blackout with no pinholes of light

I have another way to eliminate pinholes of light in blackout shades.
These are French blackout lined.
As most of you know, French blackout is a sandwiching technique: face fabric, interlining, black sateen, and lining, which provides a lush product that is also blackout.  It can used for shades, draperies, or top treatments.   Here you can see the layers.  I've laid out two shades side by side on my gridded table.
Using a purple disappearing pen, I drew a grid on the back of the shade for ring placement.
At each attachment spot, I sewed the ring OVER a tiny "bandaid" of Silky Blackout lining.  You can see how the needle insertion points are staggered, so that the holes in the shade are blacked out by the "bandaid" and the hole in the "bandaid' is centered between those two points, so that all the holes are blacked out by another blackout layer.
I dabbed glue on each side of the bandaid to hold it down and neaten it up.
The bandaids are about the size of a Ring Lock, so they are barely noticeable.  What do you think of this?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

About those blackout shades with no pinholes of light.

Back to the blackout shades.
The pinholes of light that come through where stitches are taken in blackout fabric are the bane of shade fabricators.
For the past year I've been thinking about how to eliminate those dots of light, experimenting with different products and methods.  I've focused on layering blackout so that one hole is blocked by another layer of blackout.  My secondary goal is to make this process as quick and efficient as possible.
Here's my favorite method so far.
These shades were made with an inner layer of Bella Notte Duette, to provide an interlining-like layer, with Silky Blackout on the outside.
The Silky layer was folded back and a ring-placement grid marked on the Duette.
A needle was threaded for every inner row of rings, in this case just two, and a stitch taken through the Duette and face fabric, about 3/16" to the side of the grid intersection.
The Silky was folded right up to the line, and the needles inserted right at the grid intersection.
The Silky was turned up and the threads pulled through and the ring sewn.  Those stitches are far enough away from the holes in the Duette that all the light is blocked!
All that's left is to do the side hems, and they don't really need special treatment.  However, ribs were requested for these shades, so they were simply slid in over the rings- no pockets!
I felt like I wanted to secure the ribs a bit, though it probably wasn't necessary.  I ran a double-sided adhesive tape to stabilize the ribs and secure the two lining layers.
Another strip of tape secured the face fabric to the Silky, and rings were sewn on the outer edges.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Blackout shades, lima beans, meditation, and my CWC class

I am going to do a long post about these two shades, which we recently made for Monica Plotka.
You know those pinholes of light that you get when you sew rings onto blackout shades?  I've been working on several methods for eliminating those pesky pinholes, and this is my favorite so far.
I WILL do a post about them, but right now, I am still thinking about dinner.
Dinner was super-simple and utterly delicious, but it took quite awhile to prepare.
Plain and unadorned:  corn on the cob, fresh shell beans, okra fried in a chickpea batter,  sliced tomato, and avocado with lemon and smoked salt.
I started shucking the corn, which takes me a little longer than it used to, now that my hands hurt most of the time.
Next I tackled the pile of fresh shell beans on the table- limas and cranberry beans- and began the tedious process of cracking open each pod and removing the exquisite pale green and pink beans.
I sat out back, in the shade, and thought about my memories of sweltering afternoons shelling fresh blackeye peas on the porch in Fort Worth with my grandmother and great-grandmother while we drank near-frozen Coke from glass bottles.  I thought about how when I was older we ate corn growing up in Philadelphia: Jersey corn and tomatoes, the best dinner in the world.  We ate as much corn as we possibly could, relishing the salty butter melded with the ripe tomato juice.  It was assumed we'd eat half dozen ears apiece.
My thoughts were wandering along these lines, one memory triggering another, and I lapsed into a meditative state.
I must have been thinking about how shelling beans is a lot like sewing rings on shades.  There's nothing you can do but do it, one at a time, over and over again, until you're done.  I wondered how beans get shelled by machine, and thought about how few people in this world ever sit still for 45 minutes and shell their own beans, and thought how lucky I was to be doing this.  I thought how lucky I am to MAKE things for a living.
That made me think about how many of us sewers are also cooks.  I think the two activities have a lot of similarities.  Both in sewing and cooking, a collection of unrelated individual parts are cut/chopped/processed, and re-assembled into a new whole that has beauty/deliciousness/usefulness of its own.  We sewers and cooks enjoy PROCESS. 
Comparing beans to shade rings, I now see that it was inevitable that my thoughts would turn to the CWC class I'll be teaching in February, "Efficient Shade Making."  I've been mulling over the structure for this class for awhile. Friday I had decided that this was the weekend it must take a definite shape.  I planned to finish some chores then dedicate a hot summer Sunday afternoon to putting order to my thoughts, in the air conditioning.
My brain had other ideas.
Sitting out back in the heat, flies buzzing around the corn silk, amid meandering thoughts of limas and okra, corn and tomatoes, performing my "mindless" shucking and shelling tasks, invisibly and unknown to me, my class structure was coalescing.   One thought, then another, and another- and all of a sudden, there it was, in the front of my mind, practically fully formed!  Now I know where I'm going with this class.
Which will lead me back to those blackout shades....................

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Contrast fabric banded shades

One of the big batches of shades made in June included six with contrast fabric banding.
Because they were three different widths and lengths for different areas of the room, I decided to make the tops all the same.
Most often I work from the bottom up when making multiple shades with a pattern, but for these, I cut the top first and then measured down for the bottom.  The fiber weave was coarse so I cut along the grainline and luckily the print was very consistent!
I saved the cutoff narrow strips for covering the boards later.  Whenever possible, I cut the board strips at the same time as the treatment, so I don't have to frantically rummage around for the fabric later.  I have a place where I keep all those strips so they'll be there on mounting day.
The rotary cutter was handy for cutting the banding strips.
I braced myself and did those dozen mitered corners!  Miters will never be in my comfort zone, but at least these look good even if they were torture.
I am constantly experimenting with how and where to place weight bars.  In this case, I chose to tack the covered weight bar at each ring.  Everybody has their own way to do weight bars; I have a dozen ways.  I have this thing about the weight bar being AT the bottommost rings; I just feel more comfortable about how the shade lifts.  So for these banded shades, this was the method.