Monday, January 30, 2017

Hybrid Soft Cornice part 2- applying the microcord

On Friday I started posting about this hybrid soft cornice.  I thought it would be a three-part post, but I think I'll need to divide it into four parts!
One of my favorite features on these soft cornices is self-fabric microcording.  I thought it turned out beautifully on this valance.  You can see the purple marks made during the planning and preparation- and upon completion, we hit those marks perfectly.  They were erased after I took this picture.  So today I'll go through the process of applying the microcord on the front.
We left off here on Friday: the valance pieces had been marked, cut, joined, and pressed.
My first plan was to "baste" the welting onto the face with 3/16" adhesive Jewel tape.  I ran the tape around the bottom edge, splitting up the curves into a bunch of straight pieces.
I began sticking the microcord to the face along the lines I had drawn.  I used 1/16" microcord which is REALLY tiny.  The welting was made ahead of time, something I rarely do; I usually make it and apply it all in one step, but I did not trust that the curves would not stretch out of shape.
At the sharp turns, I clipped the welt and cut out a little wedge so the lip would lay flat.
On the curves I carefully followed the white chalk line I made during the preparation stage.  In this photo you can see the sticky tape by the glare from the lights.
However, once I began sticking the welting on, I didn't like how the tape was creating a bit of distortion, so I decided to baste the welt on by hand.  In the corners I added a couple of back-stitches so the turn would stay put.
Hand-sewing really allowed me to be precise at those sharp turns.  I could never have sewn it this precisely by machine.
 As I sewed I peeled off the sticky tape, and as I visibly saw the fabric relax, I was glad I had made the decision to  hand-baste.  It was easy to see that that it was vastly better.  I basted right on the machine stitching line.
And that's how I did stage one of the welting!  Now the valance is turned over, straightened onto the table, and lightly pressed.  From here on it will not leave this spot on the table.  The various materials will be layered in and secured- and that's a story for tomorrow!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Another Hybrid Soft Cornice: part 1

Here's the latest in my collection of completed soft cornice projects!  Designed by Elizabeth Harlow, this started out as a simple shaped kick pleated valance, and morphed into a soft cornice with an open pleat header and knotted rope trim.  I tried some new (new to me, that is) methods and am thrilled with the outcome.
There are 5 layers of materials.  The face fabric is paddeded with heavy flannel interlining.  The scalloped sections and returns are stiffened with buckram (Skirtex), but not the pleats.  The entire valance is layered with blackout lining; and the back is plain lining with a self-fabric facing.  In between the face and lining is self-fabric 1/16" microcording. 
The rope trim was knotted and attached with hot glue.
It has so much more substance than a soft valance, yet is sleek compared to an upholstered wood cornice.
I took lots of photos during fabrication, so I think I'll split this project into several posts.  Today will focus on preparation.   The treatment began with the excellent template made by Elizabeth out of foam board.
The template was created to determine proportion, not the exact shape, so all I had to do was refine the curves and make my patterns.
Together we marked the central pattern motif.  I made my 4 identical cuts- 1 for each section and 1 for the returns, and cut them to shape before sewing together- a departure from my usual method for sectioned valances.
The sides of each scallop were extended to create the pleats, and the top and bottom of the pleat section marked with tape.
A white chalk line marked the edge of the pleat.  This was very faint and had brushed itself away by the end of the fabrication.
 The excess fabric is cut away with a 2" allowance. 
The bottom line was marked with white chalk or purple pen.  I especially want to mark the point where the pleat ends and the curve begins- the pen is pointing to one of those spots.  This mark comes in handy later, as you'll see in the next photos, so it needs to be dark.  You can see here that the sections have been sewn together.  That seam hides on the inside of a pleat so it's never visible.
Here the valance has been stapled onto the board.  I used the purple marks to be certain that the curves are meeting each other at the right point.  You can see them on each side of the pleat.
The other end of the pen has the magic eraser- and ALWAYS test that purple pen on each fabric before using it, to make sure the eraser will remove the mark!
In the next blog post, I will show how I applied the trim, added and secured the various layers, and finished the back.  Right now I'm going back to work!  See you Monday......

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pillows, no frills, just good workmanship

More and more, the pillow orders that come my way are unembellished: no trim and not even self-welt.  These pillows are usually made from fabrics that speak for themselves, like this embroidered beauty.
On first glance it seems that without self-welt, the pillow would be quicker to make; but when there's a pattern and no welt to separate the front and back, it's important to be even more meticulous in the fabrication.
A neat, trim, sophisticated appearance starts on the inside, with tapered corners clipped close to the stitching to prevent pointy pillow "ears", and overlocked seams.
Thoughtful cutting helps the fabrication: the top and bottom seams were planned for in between the embroidered teardrops to minimize bumpiness.  Seams are pressed flat before stuffing the pillow.
Theses pillows were well-pinned before sewing, to make sure the embroidery was aligned for mirrored motifs on the side seams.   You can see how the seam is tapering in towards the corner.

My favorite detail is a perfect color-matched invisible zipper!  The zippers in color Pearl come from The Zipper Lady.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I got to use my own Relaxed Roman class material!

You can imagine that I was amused when my own Relaxed Roman Shade class material came in handy for a relaxed shade project of my own!  I worked with Nicole Gray of Suite Dream to address the issues with this double relaxed roman shade.
You might not be able to tell at first glance that the left and right sides are different widths.  The swoop on the right is about 1" wider than the left swoop.
Last summer I was doing research in preparation for the class I was teaching at the Custom Workroom Weekend last October, and again at the Custom Workroom Conference coming up in May.  I made dozens of samples in order to compile data on the effect of swoop width on the droop length of relaxed roman shade.

To make the droop length come out the same on both sides of this shade, I knew that I'd need to manipulate the ring placement.  To make things more complicated, there is no return on the left, except for 1" to prevent hourglassing, and a 2.5" return on the right.
Normally the wider section would droop more, so I tapered the rings outward to allow a little more droop on the smaller section.
When the shade was hung in the workroom, I could see that I had overcompensated, because the narrower side was a little longer.  (To the left of this shade you can see a grey shade that was the last in the long line of samples I made for the droop experiments!)
I experimented with different ring positions, and in the end I didn't need to re-taper all the bottom rings; I just moved the bottom-most ring over and re-tied them.
That little adjustment was all that was needed.
During fabrication, I kept the sections labeled to keep from getting confused.
I also labeled the weight bar since the center wasn't actually the center.
To keep the interlining from drooping inside the return, I lockstitched it to the face before hemming the sides- a technique I learned from Penny Bruce's classes on English handsewn draperies.
I also basted a lot during fabrication since the shade had to be shifted on the table because it was longer than my 60" wide table.  Here you can see the basted board line.
To avoid pinholes of light coming through the blackout layer at the ring stitches, I overlapped the widths at the center.  Underneath you can see the basting line at the face fabric seam, so I could tell where to put the rings.
I used my two-layer no-pinholes ring sewing technique.
The overlapping layer was then glued down.  You might be able to see a row of fusible adhesive- which I tried first- but without blackout lining those tapes don't always adhere securely, so I switched to tried-and-true fringe adhesive.
We had a happy customer!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Presents for friends-

I was so excited to get two of Home Dec Gal's (aka Susan Woodcock) Presser Foot Art, printed on linen by Adaptive Textiles.  It seemed funny to make pillows for two extremely accomplished sewers, but I took a chance.

For Jen, I used one of my favorite trims to create a border.  I used a little Dofix to hold the print in place on the base fabric, then pinned the scroll trim, and sewed carefully.

For Camille, I cut a flannel plaid on the bias, reinforced it with fusible 2" lining from Dofix to keep the bias from stretching, and made a skinny flange behind contrast fabric welt.  I centered the red at the top then worked my around forward and backward so the colors were symmetrical.  You can't see it very well but there are little pleats in the corners.

It looks great with the little elephant pillow that our eight-year-old great-niece Maisie made for her.
Maisie's no slouch.  The elephant is reversible.