Friday, June 24, 2016

The Lazy-S Valance

For a variety of reasons, our workroom is most often associated with shades.  What many people don't know, however, is that we also do a brisk production of valances which are rarely seen here on the blog. 
Sheffield, Queen Anne, scalloped kick pleat- they are all the same basic shape.

I call these the "Lazy-S" valances, because they mostly begin with a serpentine bottom shape like this.
These valances are reduced to five steps: draft, cut, mark, make, and mount.  Whether it's a one-off or multiples of the same valance, my procedure and tools are the same.
Meticulous preparation allows us to feed valances like these through the workroom quickly, efficiently, and accurately.
First, the valances are broken down into numbers.  Sometimes I'll make a sketch to scale, like these I did recently to help a client narrow down shape, size, and proportion.
On a large roll of graph paper I draft the pattern; in the case of 10 identical valances I made a full pattern, flipping the first scallop and horn to repeat.  More often, I choose from scallop and horn patterns which I have made in every size and join them together.
 The notcher is my most indispensable tool for efficient marking:
The pattern is weighted down and since these valances were railroaded I could layer the face and lining and cut them both at once.  I got two out of the width, and I cut and sewed the first two to test the fabrics and trim, before cutting the remaining 8.  These valances are white fabric with white lining, sorry it's not more visually appealing in the photos!
Then I rolled out 8 layers of fabric and lining to stack-cut the remaining valances with my electric rotary cutter.
The notches are transferred to the fabric at the bottom.  This allows me to sew efficiently, with a minimum of pinning.  These valances had lip cord at the bottom; I applied it first to the face then used the notches to align the layers as I sewed the lining.
Most importantly, before moving the valances off the table, I carefully mark the tops with black Sharpie pen.   I've standardized a system of marking for myself which allow me to staple the valances to the boards quickly and accurately after they're sewn and pressed. The permanent ink ensures that the marks will still be there when I'm ready to mount, sometimes days or a week later. 
A length of fabric is cut and sliced with a rotary cutter for the dustboard covers.  I always cut the dustboard covers when I'm cutting valances and shades!
And there you have it!  With careful preparation, the sewing is the least of the effort. 

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