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. 


  1. Thank you for sharing your fabrication method! I'm curious where you use ribs on these shades. Don't they create a shadow when the shade is down? Thanks.

  2. Hi Lisa- Good observation! Actually I didn't use ribs in these shades. But we cut everything at once- lumber, weight bars, ribs, clutch headrails- once a week or so and label and bundle by job. Those ribs you see were for a different project.