Friday, June 30, 2017

Making friends with my blindhemmer

I've grown accustomed to doing a lot of sewing by hand.  I love the look, and I love the process.  Most of all I love how hand-sewing eliminates the stress of stitching on fabric created by machines.  Hand-stitching becomes a part of the product, while machine-stitching is something done to the product.
But there is a time and place for machine blindhemming, and not all budgets can accommodate hand-hemming.
Unfortunately, I've been estranged from my US Blindstitch machine for a few years.  It has sat, forlorn and dusty, in a prominent spot in my workroom, silently reproaching me, and I suspect accusing me of elitism.
Along came this fabric, and an order for draperies.  With its cheerful, easy-going nature, it served as a liaison between me and my blindhemmer, helping to repair our damaged relationship.  My USB breezed through the bottom hems with nary a miss or snag to the front.
The side hems sewed up equally easily. 
The first and  last 4" are still ladder-stitched by hand. 
With a 7" horzontal repeat, the header was pleated to every-other-pattern, alternating light and dark.
An adjacent window will be treated with a roman shade..............
 .....also pleated to pattern, with a 7.5" vertical repeat.
This was a very satisfying and productive project, and I'm looking forward to working more with my lovely US Blindstitch machine!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

More on hobbled shades: Ribs- YES; Pockets- NO!

My First Blog Post 1/1/2010!
Well, I just went through my blog posts on hobbled shades and discovered that my very first two posts- January 1, 2010-  featured hobbled shades!  My little retrospective showed me just how much has changed in 7 1/2 years.

And my Second Blog Post 1/1/2010

For years I made hobbled shades the only way I knew how (and probably from a Sunset book): by sewing horizontal pockets, adding tapes and rings, and inserting ribs.  I always hated making those pockets- sewing long straight lines, struggling with heavy, unwieldy masses of fabric trying to keep the layers together, and being stabbed with countless pins is not my idea of fun.  And I hated how the pockets looked.

 When I read back over the 29 posts about hobbled shades, I am astonished at the changes I've made.
It was Scot Robbins who blew my mind two years ago by saying he doesn't put ribs in his hobbled shades.  I started experimenting, and made (on faith and on Scot's promise that it would work!) two blackout hobbled shades, with upholstery weight fabric, without ribs or pockets, 104" wide by 72" long.  When they turned out well, I was converted!
July 2015
 For two years my method continued to evolve, and I now have a method that gives me the best of both: ribs but NO pockets.   Why the ribs if they're not necessary?  Well, they just make me feel better :)  ACTUALLY because without ribs the vertical rows need to be about 8" apart.  By adding ribs the vertical rows can be up to 13-14" apart.  This makes a difference on narrow shades where there isn't enough space on a headrail for more than 3 vertical rows.
Here's more detail on the shades I wrote about in the previous post for Denise Wenacur.
 I table the shade as usual on my gridded table canvas, then fold the side hems back open and apply Dofix Bortenfix tape.  I mark horizontal and vertical rows with disappearing pen and slip the ribs in place.
The Dofix tape is peeled off and the hems steamed into place.
The ribs are secured with pins.  This shade is not blackout lined, but even with blackout the stitches and pinholes don't matter because they are at the top of the folds and are hidden behind more blackout fabric- so no light shows.
The tapes have been prepared and marked in the ring spacing increments.
The rib is secured through both lining and face by taking a two-step X-shaped stitch under and over it.  I make sure to use Coats Button and Craft thread for this- it is the strongest thread I've ever found, and practically unbreakable.
The tape is secured to the lining and the thread is knotted.
The ring is attached and the tails hidden.
I work small shades down the table, letting the shade fall into my lap as I work.  That is why I baste the bottom weight bar pocket instead of pinning it!- I got tired of pins sticking in my legs.
A larger shade, like the one in the master bedroom, shown below, is made crosswise on the table and I pull it by the tapes- like reins- to shift it as I work up the rows.
This shade was about 102" wide and 65" long...... and blackout.
We made 16 hobbled shades for this home and all were made with this ribbed, pocketless method.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Manipulating pattern on hobbled shades

Hobbled shades out of patterned fabric require careful planning.  When I was asked by Denise Wenacur to fabricate three more shades for this open space, I was glad I had documented my planning process for the first set!
The bay window shades provided continuity from the kitchen window around to the full-length family room windows, and really completed the flow of the space.
The new bay window shades
The original three shades in the family room
All the shades wrapping around the space from the sink to beyond the fireplace
I kept all my notes from the family room fabrication, but the best thing I did was photograph the fold layout. I was able to refer back to this and re-create the pattern placement exactly.
For this pattern, after crunching the numbers I decided I wanted to have every third fold match.The repeat is 17", so I multiplied by 2 which is 34 and divided by 3, which is 11.3".  I wanted 7" folds instead of 6".  
 Now, in order to fabricate a shade in compliance with the safety standards, we have a limit of 16.9" loop.  This means the ring spacing on the fabric plus the equal amount of lift cord cannot exceed 8.45"- and many of us just round that down and figure a maximum of 8" ring spacing.  But on a hobbled shade, there is another loop to consider: the loop created by the tape plus the row spacing.  For a 6" fold, that allows 6" between rings on the tape, and a little over 10.5" row spacing on the fabric.   That's what I usually figure for hobbled shades with no pattern.
However, for THIS shade, after adding the 7" tape/fold spacing to the 11.3" row spacing, the "loop" was 18.3"- more than is allowed.  So----- here is how I devised a way around that!
I marked the horizontal rows at 11.3", and the tapes at 7", and began sewing them onto the shade.  You can see here that I have used ribs, but not pockets.   An X-shaped stitch holds the layers together around the rib, the tape is secured, and the ring sewn to the tape.
X-stitch securing the rib
Securing the tape

Adding the ring
So here's my little trick.  Another stitch is made 3/4" down from the ring, by sliding the needle under the lining, coming up, and taking a tiny little tack to hold the tape down.  This effectively removes 1.5" from the loop- bringing the loop to under 16.9"!!!  This tack is still within the underneath of the fold area and therefore doesn't interfere with the folds as the shade is raised.
Sliding needle 3/4" down under lining only
Tacking the tape
The tack barely shows!
This is by far the fastest hobbled shade method I've devised yet, even with the extra step taken to accommodate the pattern to keep the shade in compliance with the standards.
Getting comfortable to work my way up the shade

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hand-sewing showcase

When wool drapes beautifully, it is because the panel has the internal structure to give it the freedom to hang naturally.  For this Holland and Sherry wool blackout-lined and interlined ripplefold, my biggest concern was giving the header reinforcement and support without impeding the drop of the wool face.  The ripplefold tape had to be sewn by machine, but all other sewing (apart from joining the widths) was done by hand.  We got to use a full complement of hand stitches in this project for Susan Marocco Interiors.
As I showed in the previous post, we carefully plotted out the ripplefold tape placement after testing it on the track.
After joining the widths, hand-hemming, and hand-sewing sewing the trim on, we prepared the header before layering in the linings, even though this mean two tablings.  We fused 2" buckram to the back of the header, and sewed the ripplefold tape through the fabric and buckram by machine.  Back on the table, the linings were layered in, and the interlining was held in place with a "basting stitch" at the top.  These steps gave structure to the header that was invisible from the front.
The lining was folded back up and the header gently pressed in place.
The header was secured by hand with a "back-stitch," one of my favorite hand stitches.  It can't accidentally pull and cause a pucker.  For this purpose, I could make half-inch stitches.  (When I sew seams by hand, right sides together, I use a very tiny back-stitch.  If I sew seams together while the fabric is flat on the table, I use a ladder stitch.)
At that point the panel was well-enough secured that the basting stitches could be removed.  But really, they rolled slightly to the back and didn't show anyhow.
I did not want to risk having light peek through the holes in the blackout lining made by the stitches, so the last step was to fuse Dofix blackout tape over the sewing.  This was probably unnecessary, but I preferred to be safe rather than sorry.
I took a similar precaution on the back side of the machine-sewn hem in the blackout lining.
 Working our way across the table was a little crazy!  Here is one panel partially assembled, and neatly folded to come back to the next day......
We used a lot of hand-sewing techniques for this drapery project.  The trim was hand-sewn down both sides using a "ladder stitch."  Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the stitching used to invisibly secure the interlining to the face at the side hem fold.  We used a long, loose variation of the "serge stitch" which provides security without risk of puckering.
Internally, the layers are loosely joined at the seams with an "interlocking stitch."
The versatile "ladder stitch" was also used for the side hems.
The layers were daisy-chained at the seams at the bottom.
This is a correctly made daisy chain:
And this is not: (hahahaha!)  (Guess who did this one?)
And lastly, here you can see that the bottom hems were hand-sewn with a variation of the "interlocking stitch" to keep the stitches from pulling on the fabric.
A lot of work, and time well spent to create a sublime drapery for a lovely homeowner.