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. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Black and White Greek Key

Our first shade of 2018 featured a graphic white-on-black Greek Key:
The miters started with a paper template.  A test corner was folded, pinned to shape, sewn, and tested.
The corners were trimmed and angled in closely at the tip, like a dart in clothing.
They were pressed carefully....
and a dab of glue was applied at the points to hold down any stray fibers.
A little more pressing manipulates the miter into square.
We chose to apply this trim using Dofix Bortenfix tape.  The tape was trimmed to size with a rotary cutter.....
then applied to the back of the Greek key tape.
Blue painter's tape marked the finished size and provided a guide for applying the trim.
The sides and bottom were folded and pressed along the blue tape, and then the shade fabrication continued as usual.
The first row of rings started 9" up to allow the Greek Key shape to show when the shade is raised.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Oversize panels

Until this project, I had never made panels longer than my 12' table.
When my designer friend Liz began furnishing her Florida home, she asked me to fabricate her 14' long draperies in my NY workroom and ship them to her.
We first mocked up the pleats to determine the pattern layout.  This fabric lent itself beautifully to inverted pleat.
The embroidery was irregular, so I worried a little about the geometric shapes not aligning perfectly, but at a height of 168" the small variation is totally not noticeable!
 The family room panels are pleated to pattern with a two-finger pinch pleat and 5" buckram.
Most of the panels in this home were 1.5 widths, but this corner required a 3-width panel.
I've made plenty of oversize shades, so that experience was helpful in managing the fabric volume.  It also helped to have taken Ann Johnson's excellent "Super-Size Me!" class on how to handle all kinds of oversize treatments.
First I worked the bottom 12' of the panel, shifting my way across the 3 widths, making sure to baste a precise horizontal line so I'd have an accurate reference line for shifting to the top.  (You know I love to baste!)  Once the bottoms 12' of the 3 widths were finished, I shifted the fabric to fall off the end of the table, and worked back across the 3 widths to complete the tops.
This entire project was intense!  I was working so hard, I did not take a single photograph during the fabrication, which I now regret.  Next time.  Ha. 
The master bedroom panels are a mere 126" long, by comparison a breeze.  I don't have good photos of this room yet so I'll just show the pretty pleats.
The embroidery made the pleat tops flare out too much, so I secured them at the back to control them and make them uniform.
My next oversize project is going to be a hobbled shade 158" wide and 75" long.  Always an adventure!