Monday, May 29, 2017

Remedy for a blackout mistake

Here's a mistake I made, how I discovered it, and how I fixed it.
Fabricators are always on a quest to eliminating pinholes of light in shades with blackout lining. 
I've been refining my blackout shade method to ensure that it is 100% guaranteed  foolproof, is streamlined to the max, and yields a beautiful product.  I now have a method I love to use.
Recently I made 5 flat romans with blackout lining for 3 bedrooms.  These were reverse mounted on velcro, with toppers to conceal the grommets that guide the cords to the RBS lift system.
When I lowered the shades, there were no pinholes of light, but to my horror, light bled through at the grommets and the gap at the top of the velcro!  Why?  Because I forgot to blackout line the toppers!
I did some quick thinking about how to remedy this, and once I had my concept, I decided to leave the shades in place, since the homeowners weren't moving in for 3 more days. 
Back at the studio, I fused face fabric to a Dofix fusible blackout lining, and using a rotary cutter, sliced it into strips a little shorter than the topper.
Returning to the house, I used double-sided adhesive tape to attach the strips to the board under the toppers to hold them in place, then stapled them to the board face.  They are an inch shorter than the toppers so they can't be seen, but in case someone lifts up the toppers, they see face fabric. 

They totally black out that awful light bleed!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Evolution of Stationary Romans for Doors

I love my latest method for stationary Roman valances for doors!  Well, I should say, my "continuously evolving method" because I haven't made them the same way twice.  Every time I make one, I think of a new modification that improves the product and/or the method.
There is one thing they have in common: the cool Dofix AL1 compact velcro headrail.
Here are a few I've made this year:
 I make the shade mostly the same way as I usually do.  At the top, all extra bulk at the side hems is cut out:
At the top, 1.5" is pressed at the finished length:
The lining is cut out evenly with the top:
2" fusible buckram is secured to the face fabric to keep the top edge crisp:
The top is secured with Dofix, and the raw edges covered with fusible velcro:
The top hem is secured with Dofix Bortenfix with lift cords fused in as well:
Ring locks are used as spacers, and the cords are run through the rings, drawn up, and secured with orbs:
 For this arched stationary shade (obviously on a frame, not the AL1 headrail!) there was no appropriate place to secure the cords at the top, so instead the cords are run through the rings with ring locks and secured at top and bottom with orbs:
After making the arched shade without lift cords going to the top, I tried it with a door shade.  By planning ahead, the rings and locks can be hidden behind a mullion.
A neater alternative to orbs is the level locks from Safe-T-Shade:
 A dot of glue gives peace of mind that the level locks won't slip:
The headrail is attached to the door with tiny brackets:
The velcro allows some flexibility at installation:
 I like the way the fabric draws up naturally, as if it were strung to be operable.  Simply cinching the rings creates a pinched look that I never liked.
The little valance looks great alongside the larger stationary roman valances on the windows:
The arched shade is flanked by 4 inside mount stationary roman valances, made the same way but stapled to boards:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Off-topic- Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion

We ditched a trip to Kips Bay Showhouse in favor of popping in to the Museum of Art and Design at Columbus Circle, to see the Counter-Couture exhibit.
I still want to get in to Kips Bay, but I do not regret the last-minute change of plans.  The show at MAD was exhilarating and inspiring.  We came home dying to get new projects going.
Camille and I first stopped in to repair a roman shade on Broadway at 87th st.  We wanted a walk in the Park since it was the season's first really summery day, and came prepared with a picnic lunch from home.  Columbus Circle was walkable so we headed that way, stopping in at the formerly closed-to-the-public Hallett Sanctuary at the south end of Central Park- a springtime treat since the wildflowers were in full bloom.

MAD hosts artists-in-residence, and our first stop was Yoshi's studio on the 6th floor. His zero-waste three-dimensional weaving was mind-opening.  We were excited to immediately find this textile artist whose first question to us was, "well, what do YOU make?"  He generously shared so much information that was of interest to use about weaving, dyeing, and local sourcing of his materials.  We also found a fellow devotee of Alabama Chanin!
The Counter-Couture exhibit featured a wide variety of fabrication and embellishment styles and methods that were gaining popularity in the 60s and 70s and it's easy to trace their evolution through to current fashion and craft themes. 
There were more samples than I could possibly show here, so I'm going to run through some of my favorites. 
If you're in NYC, this exhibit is worth the trip.

John Sebastian tie-dyed his clothing himself:
Wavy Gravy wore this heavily embellished denim jumpsuit at Woodstock:
Mama Cass rocked this Virgo dress:
I completely covet these hand-painted dresses by Lee Manuel:
Crochet, anyone?  By Birgitta Bjerke.
Embroidery!- I forgot to document the name of the artist. But who didn't have a modified jeans skirt?
Crewel-style embroidered army coat by Michael Fajans:
This embroidered top by Nina Jean Carisi is typical of the sort of thing I used to wish I would make:
What we now know as Boro style, this old wood coat was mended and patched, by Barbara Ramsey, and evolved over years:
And this beauty- sorry, I photographed the name but it's too blurry to read- is embellished with beautiful fringe and beads:
Hey, I owned this exact pattern, and made this caftan several times!  Really, it's true!
Last but not least, these boots by Apple Cobbler- how I longed for boots like these:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Keeping a big job organized

March was a busy month in our workroom.  Several big projects were due to be installed in a small time frame. It was critical that I work to maximum efficiency in order to meet my production goals.
The job featured in the last post consisted of eight shades of different sizes, and six required joining widths. 
Because so many other things were happening at the same time and space was limited, I couldn't cut and join all these widths at the outset because there was no room to store them neatly.
I inspected the fabric and tentatively marked the 81" cuts, allowing several inches above the board line.
One of my favorite free workroom tools is the big 4-5" diameter tubes that are used for shipping velvets and upholstery fabrics.  I made my 14 cut lengths, leaving them stacked on the table, and rolled 6 of them onto a large tube, individually, so they could be peeled off one at a time for fabrication.  Then I split one in half, for the 98" wide shade, and rolled that onto another large tube, along with the last two narrower cuts.  Every cut was labeled with blue tape.  The big tubes make rolling easy, so I save every one I get.
For the 5 shades that were about 65" wide, I trimmed the sides to the necessary width, and hung them over the fabric rack at the end of the table.  With blue tape I marked one of the center cut-offs at the board line, and kept it hanging in the back as a reference as I worked through the fabrication of the shades.
When I can, I use this method for joining widths- I don't know what it's called!- I fold 1/4" from the selvedge, align it with the other fabric cut, nudge it over, and top-stitch down the fold.  It takes practice, but when you get the hang of it, it's a neat, efficient width-joining technique.  I learned this about 30 years ago from a professional drapery sewer named Connie who continued working well into her 80s, and I've been practicing it ever since.  By the way, Connie did NOT need to press that 1/4" and she did NOT need pins!
The table grid and long straightedge made easy work of trimming the tops evenly.

Each shade was made by my standard fabrication method, with buckram and weight bar tube in the bottom.
I never, ever join widths of lining for shades anymore; I stock double-wide regular and napped sateen in white and pale ivory.  These shades were about 5" longer than my 60" wide table.  When it was time to shift the shade to finish the top, I first marked a line with disappearing pen, pinned, shifted, and used a quilter's rule to mark the finished length.  The shade was trimmed and staple-basted.
Once it was neatly folded and set aside, it was time to roll out the next cut length and start a new shade.
When they were all made, it was easy to put them through an assembly-line to finish, because we had already cut and covered the lumber, cut the weight bars and ribs, and assembled the Rollease clutches- for 60 shades.  All these components are marked and grouped by job.  The photos below are from a different large batch of shades, but it's representative of what we do before every high-volume fabrication effort.