Thursday, March 15, 2018

Flat-back blackout reverse mount hobbled shades

Flat-back blackout reverse mount hobbled shades.  That's a mouthful, right?
It's important to remember, when talking about "blackout" lining, that it is the LINING that is blackout, and not the TREATMENT.  The lining is blackout, but the treatment is ROOM-DIMMING.  The only real blackout treatment would be plywood nailed over the window.  Just about any window treatment will have points of light bleed.
Even this three-layer blackout treatment from a few years ago- blackout drapery, shade, and cornice- allowed some light bleed.
For that reason, room-darkening is a big issue in the shade fabrication world.  There are two sticking points with shades: one is the "pinholes of light" that are the consequence of stitching- the needle pierces the black inner layer of the lining and the tiny holes let light through.  The other issue is the "light bleed" from the sides of shades, whether inside or outside mounted.

For this project with Denise Wenacur, we wanted to make outside mounted room-darkening hobbled shades.  Hobbled shades eliminate the pinholes of light problem because the row stitching is hidden by the "hobbles".  The light bleed at the sides, however, is enhanced because the hobbles stand out from the vertical plane of the back of the shade, like this hobbled shade we made last summer:
We decided to make flat-back hobbled shades.  The flat back and the reverse mount allows the shade to hug the wall as closely as possible, minimizing the light gap.
When raised, the flat back folds up with the hobbles:
I hadn't made a flat-back functioning shade in a very long time, so I was feeling my way for this project.
I fused a coordinating lining to "Silky" blackout lining (from Angels Distributing) but in retrospect, next time I'd order a color-coordinated blackout lining and use it alone.  I marked the horizontal rows before taking it off the table to prepare the face.
For the face fabric, I made a mockup out of the cutoffs from the sides.  I was able to work with the pattern repeat so the hobbles are pleated to pattern.
Two different finished lengths required twice the planning!
I pinned the bottom so I wouldn't forget how the layers were sandwiched.
The two layers were first joined at the bottom, at the weight bar pocket.
Then the shade was laid on the table and the face fabric pinned to the flat back along the rows lightly marked with a pencil.
 I worked my way across, double-checking the lines on the flat back which I had marked earlier.
From the back:
And there, friends, is where the photos end!  Sewing these rows is JUST A LITTLE AWKWARD, which helps explain why I have no photos of that step.  After that, it was inevitable that I would forget to continue to document!  But the rest of the job was pretty basic.  
Rings were sewn to the back, and the shades strung (using Ring Locks) and rigged just as if it were a flat roman.  These were reverse mount, which means that the fabric comes off the back of the mounting surface- in this case, Rowley's EZ-Rig headrails with velcro, positioned as far back on the mount board as possible.  
Grommets in the shade allow the cords to come to the front and attach to the lift mechanism, and a blackout-lined topper blocks the grommet holes.
Pleating to pattern worked out beautifully- in this photo, see especially the bottom right which shows the pattern well:
There was another 128" wide x 27" long window for which we made a short hobbled shade that folded entirely up under the valance when raised.

This job was quite an adventure, and we were thrilled at how well it turned out!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hobbled shades!

I've been humming "Willin'" to myself this afternoon- you know, the Lowell George song- "I've driven every kind of rig that's ever been made....."
Thinking of hobbled shades. 
I guess I've made nearly every kind of hobbled shade possible, and if I haven't made it, I'm probably about to.  (Seriously.  I've got a 158" wide hobbled geometric shade coming up next month!  And a room-full of flat back blackout reverse mount hobbled).

I guess I have been working for years with designers and homeowners who happen to love the clean, tailored look, who like shades that don't need dressing when they're raised, and who prefer a shade with more interest than a flat roman when lowered.

I guess that's why Susan Woodcock asked me to teach a Master Class at Workroom Tech on "Hobbled and Austrian Shades" at the end of March!  Why not join us and add this versatile style to your repertoire?

From bay windows-
To oversize blackout hobbled shades-
From geometric patterns in a bay-
To motorized shades for 3 sides of a room, with a busy, tricky pattern to align perfectly-

From sheer fabrics-
To upholstery weight-
With shaped, bottom banding-
Or totally plain-
I guess we've done it all!
In class, I'll be showing different fabrics, fabrication methods, and lift systems so you'll have a hobbled shade solution for any set of circumstances.  I'll also be teaching how to work with pattern and several methods for making a hobbled shade compliant with the safety standards.
Check it out here:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pattern matching on cushions

When I filled this cushion, for Crosstown Shade and Glass, I stood back to have a look at the pattern match, and I couldn't believe I had sewn it!  (Yeah, I know, I've only had 30+ years experience sewing cushions, but still!)  Matching pattern without welting is always tricky, and this required joining widths, as well. 

Welting provides a little buffer between the two layers of fabric, giving a little wiggle room, like this:
Or as in the pillows accompanying the cushion:
Perhaps there's a mathematical way to cut boxing to match the cushion body, but I need a more literal approach.
After I've cut the body..... just pretend this little strip is a cushion body, for illustration purposes..... I mark the seam allowance using a clear ruler and an erasable pen.  I use a 3/4" seam allowance, but other fabricators use 1/2" or 5/8" or 3/4" or whatever they're comfortable with.
I lay the body piece on the fabric that will become the boxing strip, matching up the pattern, and draw an erasable line at the body's cut edge.
I then mark and erasable line 1.5" away from that first line- that gives a 3/4" seam allowance on both the body and the boxing pieces.
I cut the boxing strip on that line; then I'll use a rotary cutter and straightedge to cut the other side of the boxing strip (not shown).  Regarding pattern centering: my concern is to center the pattern properly on the cushion body, not on the boxing strip.  The boxing strip is cut to allow the pattern to match and flow, and won't necessarily have a centered feature.  Perhaps there might be other situations where it would make more sense to work from the boxing, but in this case, I worked from the body.
I remove the first purple line with the eraser end of the marking pen.  NOTE:  always test your fabric first, to be sure the purple pen will erase from your fabric!
I turn the boxing strip over and mark a 3/4" line which will be the stitching line.
I crease along that line- I finger-pressed this particular fabric but you could use an iron if necessary.
I lay the boxing on the body, aligning the pattern.  (That top piece is the body- we're pretending that it's a normal size- it was cut small for this illustration.)
I fold the boxing back so the two pieces are right sides together.
Checking the pattern as I go, I pin frequently.
 At the sewing machine, I sew along the purple line which is also creased.
I check the pattern match before leaving the machine, in case any little sections need to be taken out and re-sewn, and then I press it open very very lightly.
And there you have it!  The bottom edge of the boxing will not match the other side of the body, unless you cut the body to match the boxing, in which case the pattern on the other side of the body will be upside down, and not be the same as the front, and also likely will not be centered.  You can do that if you wish if the pattern is not obviously directional and if it's aesthetically pleasing.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Retro Yellow!

Workrooms receive all sorts of fabrics for creating home furnishings, and it's difficult sometimes to imagine some fabrics in their eventual homes.  One thing you learn as a wholesale workroom: make no presuppositions, because context is everything!  Such was the case with this two-room project we fabricated for Crosstown Shade and Glass.

We were jolted by this brilliant yellow fabric, a Madcap Cottage print from Robert Allen, and couldn't imagine how it was going to look made up.  It was such a joy to work with these fresh colors and a thrill to see the final product installed.
Both of the treatments, above, were a little under 12' wide.  The swags were wider than a width of fabric, so the cuts were pieced, then aligned precisely on the table so we could stack cut.
The Parkhill Swag System makes swag-making a breeze.  I'm glad, however, that I had years of practice making swags without it, first with M'Fay patterns, and later drafting by hand using Ann Johnson's book "Anatomy of a Swag."  Those early experiences made it easier for me to improvise using the Parkhill.
Anyhow, using the Parkhill chart we set the template and marked the shape for cutting.
The beauty of the Parkhill is the finger cutouts which allow mounting with minimal bulk on the board.
Mounting the straight window was textbook, but mounting the bay swags was fiddly, requiring some improvisation.  For the swags overlapping the angle, I wanted all of the folds to stack on the "arms" of the bay which resulted in some excess fabric to disguise.   To achieve that I snuck in a 7th fold on each of those two swags in the angle.  
 In addition to the bay angles, we also had to find a way to trick the eye into believing that the two "arms" of the bay were the same size; in reality, the right arm is 2" longer.  I think we pulled it off.
 And, hey, if you've read this far, please accept my apology for the sparse posting so far this year- January was a crazy month.