Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Like riding a bike?.... first job in new workroom

The first job fabricated in the new workroom was installed!........... 6 stationary flat romans used as valances,  lined and interlined, for Nature's Window.
We have been in the process of moving the workroom since mid-June, so after more than a month without a normal schedule or normal workplace, it isn't easy to get back into the swing of fabrication.
Before vacation, the last job was a top down bottom up shade for Crosstown Shade and Glass, which was also the last shade to be photographed in the hallway in the old workroom.  I documented the fabrication of this shade so as soon as the dust settles, I'll do a post about it. 
After vacation we made one last job in the old workroom: a pair of ripplefold panels for Suite Dream.  I'll do a blog post on these, too, as soon as I receive photos of them installed.  I did a lot of research and planning for this project and I want to write about what I learned.
So after the ripplefold, we knuckled down in earnest to get the workroom moved.   I have occasionally posted photos on our Facebook page and will eventually do a blog post about the way we set up the new space.
Last week, before we were really fully set up, I was ready to make the 6 shades, after more than a month of disruption.  I wish I could say it was like riding a bike, but really, I was nervous and exceedingly cautious.
The client added a shade to the order with the same yardage, so I had to work differently than I had originally planned, and I spent way more time than usual checking and double-checking my cuts to make sure that the pattern was aligned on all.
Also two shades were wider than the width of the fabric and needed widths joined- a challenge at any time with appliqued or embroidered fabric, but especially after weeks away from a sewing machine.
 I might as well say right here: to do this work, you sometimes need nerves of steel.  It takes a lot of confidence to cut into thousands of dollars' worth of fabric that belongs to someone else!
After a month hiatus, you can bet I was nervous!  I had to draw on all the confidence and experience I had stored up.  In addition, I was trying to find my way around an unfamiliar space, my tools and materials put away logically but unfamiliarly!  At least a dozen times I had to search to find a simple tool.
Once I got into it, it was comforting to wield a needle and thread again.  Hand-sewing side hems and rings is a repetitive but soothing process.  John had speakers set up by then so I put on some music and got into the sewing rhythm.
The added shade required a shorter finished length, so I had to choose between making the pattern pleat the same on all 6 valances but have the top different on the short one, or, make the top the same and have the pattern pleat differently.
Since this shade was in a different space, I decided to make the folds the same on all. 
Now this week I am working on a variety of products: draperies, shades, valances, bedding and pillows- enough to get me back into the groove, I hope; stay tuned!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stationary wool shades

Susan Marocco chose beautiful Holland and Sherry wools for two stationary Roman shade valances in the same home as the wool ripplefold draperies I wrote about in June.
Both shades were trimmed around the perimeter with Samuel and Sons tapes.  We mitered the corners, and the blue shade featured two layered tapes.
From past experience with wool shades I knew the layers needed to be interlocked internally to support the wool and keep it from sagging. 
First the interlining was interlocked to the wool face.  We used the seam in the face fabric and then interlocked in alignment with where the rings would eventually be sewn.

Ribs were sewn to the interlining to provide additional structure.
Above the board line, the interlining was serge stitched to the face fabric.
The lining was interlocked at the board line.
The ribs were secured to the lining, then the rings sewn in between the ribs.  These little tack stitches are visible on the back, but they lie on the column line with the rings so they're not noticeable.
The side hems were sewn by hand, and the bottom finished as per my usual method, with buckram in the hem.
To miter the trim corners, we first basted by hand to make sure the pattern was well aligned.   The corners were then sewn by machine, cut, clipped, pressed, and the little fiber ends stabilized with some tight little stitches and a dot of glue.
The mitered trim was sewn by hand to the outer edges with a ladder stitch.  How the pattern falls on a pattern like the Greek key is a matter of math and luck; for this shade, we had pretty good luck!
Because in both rooms the underside of the boards are not easily visible, we did not need to make returns, but we did use a bit of trim to cover the ends of the boards.
The time we spent on steps to support and stabilize the wool were well spent.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Laser-squaring a new gridded table canvas

Hey people, we are back from vacation, and are deep into the workroom move- as of today about 2/3 of the way done- by the end of today it'll be about 7/8 done.
Yesterday was exciting- the heart of the workroom, the work table, was completed!  Today the sewing machines will make the trip and we'll be ready enough to actually work.
John spent the afternoon preparing, and at 7:15pm I arrived.  Stretching the gridded canvas cover is a two-person job.  It was dark when we finished, which made for a good photo op with the laser.
If you own a workroom and don't have a gridded canvas work table, I encourage you to consider getting one.  Everything about my fabrication changed for the better once I got the first one.  This brand-new spotlessly clean grid came from The Workroom Channel.
We followed the procedure in the instructions and it went smoothly, using a tape measure, an arsenal of straightedges, and our Dewalt laser.  The table is layered with a plywood base, homosote, table padding from Rowley Co, and topped with the grid. 
Someday I'm going to do a blog post about all of the ways I use my grid; it's vastly more useful than I ever imagined it would be, and I could not work efficiently without it.  I can't even think without it.
I'll be catching up as quickly as I can with pre-vacation project stories and new workroom stories.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Hi people!  We have been super busy moving the workroom to our new space, but the move is being interrupted by VACATION!  When we return we'll finish the move, open up the new workroom, and catch up on project posts.  While we're away I might do a few posts on our Facebook page.
Thank you all so much for reading my blog!   I am so inspired by the kind and positive feedback you all send me!  This blog started out 7 1/2 years ago, during the recession, as a way to inspire myself to keep going to work every day during that long, scary quiet spell.  But you guys have become this blog's raison d'etre and it has led to wonderful, un-looked for connections and opportunities that amaze me.    I'm looking forward to getting back to it, in our new digs. 
Thank you all!!!!!!!
Happy Summer!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Making progress on the new workroom!

We are moving soon to a new workroom space very nearby- with double the space, and an 11' ceiling!
Our first look at the space:
 The walls have all been painted robin's egg blue, except for the front display area, painted shitake mushroom.   It will be divided from the work space with a sheer curtain. 
The molding around the perimeter makes it feel fresh and clean.
 Paul scraped old film off the windows and cleaned them (they were pretty bad!)- a heroic job!
John surprised me with a white rose from the florist next door.
A workroom friend took away a bunch of lining short ends.  You just cannot move EVERYTHING.  She will make good use of them!
This little lady- a relic of some apparel-making dreams I once had- is off to a new home!
More photos later...................

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.