Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A break from shades

This week I'm taking a break from shades, and focusing on three different swag projects for three different clients.
My go-to source for all things swags is Ann Johnson's superb books, Anatomy of a Swag.
If you are a workroom professional and don't own these books, all I can say is, why not?!
We took a chunk of time to create the frames we'll need for the three projects.  This is not in my comfort zone, so that might have something to do with why you haven't heard from me for a few days!
Lots of sketching, cutting, ripping, labeling little pieces, covering with lining...... this part is a LOT OF WORK!
There's one arch missing: it's out with the installer to check the fit before attaching the treatment.
 Ann's books will be particularly invaluable for the arched treatment.
Not only are the swags arched, but the side swags are actually hybrids: the inner half of each is a board-mounted arched swag, and the outer half of each is boxed: i.e. the pleats go on a vertical leg.  So the pattern will be half-and-half.  Here's a boxed swag we made a few years ago:
Another of the three jobs actually is a boxed swag with flat tails.  The treatment will be an exact duplicate of this, in a new, fresh fabric:
We photographed the inside to make sure we were re-creating the frame in the same way.
The third project will be a Turban swag treatment.  This is also a hybrid, like the outer arched swags without the arch.  This is a gathered Turban swag treatment we made a few years ago:
I'll be photographing the new treatments before they leave the workroom, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Exquisite Fabric-Trim Pairing

Are you familiar with Bart Halpern fabrics?  If not, just take a quick peek at the website.  This company pleats fine fabrics onto a tricot knit backing in a dozen or more different patterns.
I was lucky enough to be asked to make shades out of a sheer linen pleated into the "wide wave" pattern.
 It was paired with this delicious Osborne and Little decorative banding.
I didn't take any fabrication photos, because the process was a little nerve-wracking, and I wanted to stay focused on the work.
My biggest concern was to not shrink the linen fabric while applying the trim.  I carefully tabled the fabric, aligning the "waves" with the table grid, and hand-sewed the side hems. 
I planned the trim layout, pinned it to size into the U-shape, and machine-sewed the mitered corners.  The corner seam was clipped and pressed open.  I used Bortenfix adhesive tape from Dofix to apply the trim- after first having tested the fabric to be sure it wouldn't distort. 
As you know if you read this blog often, I do sometimes use adhesives for shade side hems, but only when the ring stitch would be on the hem section to provide backup security for the hem in case the adhesive failed. 
In this case there were several reasons for hand-sewing. 
First, I knew I was going to be applying steam when it came time to fuse the trim to the face, so I wanted to keep the steam to a minimum. 
Secondly, I wanted the fabric to lay naturally, and sometimes an adhesive will secure the grainline in an awkward way- especially with a delicate, grainy sheer.
Most importantly, I wanted the hem to not be wider than the inner edge of the trim, and I wanted the rings to not be sewn through the trim, so, therefore, because the rings would have to be placed past the hemline, I wouldn't have those ring stitches to provide backup security for the hemline.  Which is why I hand-sewed the side hems.  Whew, I hope you followed that!
There were three shades in a bay window, but sadly I was not present at the installation and do not have any photos of the shades in their new home.  We have a lot of homes in this area with double-hung windows like these, and there isn't a lot of room for an inside mount.
I was pleased to get a report back that the shades "fit like a glove"- here you can see that I notched out the back corners of the board so it would nestle into the limited space.  The shade is a 1/2" wider than the board to allow the fabric to fill in the outermost beveled edge of the window frame.
 A success story!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Extra long shades

Our workroom has standard 8' drop ceilings.  I had an order for 4 shades 42" wide and 99" long.  Since the shades were being shipped to Florida, I was not going to be at the installation, so I had to find a way to hang them.  Enter John: he took out a 48" ceiling panel, extended our hydraulic stand, and we raised them up into the ceiling so I could level them!
Not only were these shades long; they also were blackout lined with my no-pinholes method and ribs; and because circumstances necessitated mounting them on the molding, they also needed to be reverse mounted with a valance.  I used my standard no-pinholes method with ribs, which means working from the inside of the shade.  The combination of Bella Notte Duette (bonded with flannel) and Bella Notte Silky blackout makes a very handsome and substantial shade.
My favorite lift system for a reverse mount is a system such as Rowley's EZ-Rig, whose headrail comes with velcro on one side.  The shade goes on the back of the headrail so it will be snug up against the window molding and let less light in the sides.
I hand-basted the layers together at the top, then fused Dofix velcro to the face.  I did worry because of the weight so I took the totally completed shade to the machine and sewed the velcro for extra security.  This was a little awkward because the ribs and weight bar were sewn inside the shade, but since they were only 42" wide I managed it.

I left the basting stitches in and I left the raw edges- blackout linings don't fray, and the fused velcro hid the face fabric raw edges.
Each lift line needed a grommet for the cord to pass through to the front.  They need to go as high up as possible without causing any buckling; I usually put them about 6" below the top.
The shades were strung using Ring Locks from SafeTShade in order to be compliant with the safety standards.
I wasn't sure how long the valance would need to be to cover the grommets.  After the headrails were mounted on the boards we raised one up with a piece of paper taped to it to see how long to make the valances.  
The self-lined valances had to go 1" farther back than the board, so they would reach the wall.  I wanted to fit them with velcro to make the underneath more accessible for the installer, so I mitered the corners of the valances and added Dofix fusible velcro.

That is sweet!
Regular hook velcro from Rowley was stapled to the back edge of the board.
They fit beautifully and the installer's job was easier since he could peel back the corners to hang the shade.
Eventually I hope I'll receive photos of the installed shades, but for now, a table shot will have to do.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hybrid Soft Cornice, part 3

Whew, this blog post is taking forever!
But this treatment was so much fun to make, I want to finish documenting it, for anyone who has the fortitude to keep reading about it.  This is going to be a long post.
Here it is, one more time:

And here's where I left off at the end of the last two posts.  The sections have been planned, marked, joined, cut, and pressed, laid out and aligned with the table grid.
Against the face fabric, interlining is laid in place, pressed, and cut to shape.
The buckram pieces are laid in place in the sections but not the pleats.  The bottom "seam" allowance is folded up and lightly glued against the buckram and interlining.  Blackout lining is then laid across it all and cut to shape like the interlining.  I also ran a little glue line around the perimeter of the blackout, to keep it in place.  But keep reading- it's not the glue that holds this together- it's all hand-sewn later.
 For the final layer, backing is cut to shape from regular lining, and a 2" continuous bias strip sewn on to create a facing.
 It's like magic when the facing is turned and pressed!  This makes me happy.
The faced lining is layered over the valance, and the bottom is sewn to the welting by hand.  With all the hand-basting I had already done, I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, right?  No glue is holding this treatment together!  I love how the hand-sewing makes a perfect welted bottom line.
At the corners the excess is folded to shape and ladder-stitched.
Since this treatment is not waterfalling off the top of the board, but instead stapled to the face of the board with a standing open box pleat header, I needed to be certain the layers would not droop inside the top.  First I joined the interlining and blackout with a running stitch, enclosing the buckram so it can't budge.
Then I lock-stitched the face fabric to the interlining.  Now I know that all the layers will stay put.
I folded the face fabric to the back, fold the lining under just below the top, and ladderstitched the lining across the valance.
Then I had the pleasure of turning the treatment over, folding and pressing in the pleats, and making sure the face measurement was correct!  I also drew a purple-pen line 4" down from the top using a quilter's rule, and secured the pleat areas with a tag gun so I could easily ant-trail staple the valance to the covered board.
Yay!  Nearly done.
I knotted the rope and hot-glued it to the staple line, and tied the cut ends tightly with matching thread.
Opening up the rope strands, I saturated the trim fiber with Rowley's fringe adhesive and let it dry.
The rope was snipped through the clear-drying glue, leaving a neat, smooth end.
Everybody was happy!  Even the back is beautiful.