Friday, May 25, 2018


The workroom's key to managing a large volume of projects at once is organization.
When possible, I like to cut and prep as much like work together, even if it's for different orders, if they're due around the same time.
The other day we set out to cut linings for about 31 widths of drapery.
Since nearly everything in the workroom is on wheels or glides, John had the brilliant thought to roll the shade trusswork away from the wall......
 and re-purpose it to store the lining cuts for easy access as we work.
We prepared ahead 29 Easy Spring Plus systems and dustboards and stored them under the rolling machine.
Awhile back I saw a cool idea on one of our workroom forums- I can't remember who posted it.  She sliced large cardboard tubes for vertical storage of long items.  We pre-cut all the ribs, weight bars, and hem bars for the 29 shades and stored them in short tubes near the worktable so we can reach them easily during fabrication.  Each tube has the materials for one room's shades.
And to help keep track of cutting, we rolled the whiteboard over to the cutting table and wrote the cut lengths and checked them off as we progressed.
Back to work now!
Holiday weekend- see you next week.......

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Super-fun fabrics

I love the trusswork John built for hanging and leveling our shades! 
Take a good look at it, because tomorrow I'll show an alternative use for the apparatus.
The following shades, for Crosstown Shade and Glass, are blackout with our special no-pinholes-of-light method.  This sunny yellow with appliqued circles and embroidery was fun to work with.  At first we thought there was no way we would be able to join the widths and get a good pattern match, but once we saw the trick to the match, it was easy. 
Are those folds pleated to pattern??- ah, uh, um, YES!  Of course.   And the 4" padded fascia is pattern matched to the shade.
All of our blackout shades have internal ribs.  They prevent the folds from losing their definition, and prevent the homeowner from losing her mind, since she won't have to dress these folds every time the shade is raised.
This whimsical embroidery was equally delightful to work with.
Again with the pleat to pattern.... in this case, every other fold matches.  We assess the pattern repeat to determine if we can match every fold, every other, or every third.  In fact, I'm presenting a live webinar in June (to the WCAA Virtual Chapter) on this very subject.  Once you get used to pleating to pattern, whether on shades or draperies, you won't go back to random!
The attention to detail is especially effective with side-by-side identical shades.  I love how the pattern flows from the fascia to the shade. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Masterclass at Workroom Tech!

A trip to the Custom Workroom Technical Center is as much a treat for the instructors as it is for the students. I'm so happy that I'll be heading to North Carolina in July to teach a Masterclass on Hobbled and Austrian Shades, and I hope you will consider joining the group. It is a fantastic place to hunker down with other professionals and zoom in on specific skills in a hands-on class. I want you to bring beautiful, challenging fabrics for your samples so we can do a lot of brainstorming and creative thinking!  Designed for experienced fabricators, this class will give you tools to approach these more complex shade styles with confidence.  Come join me in the beautiful North Carolina hills in July!  

Friday, May 18, 2018

84" tieback

The story of the 84" tieback is the third installment of the oversize ripplefold project for Crosstown Shade and Glass.    Though it looks simple, it was anything but- to create the smooth, sleek crescent I envisioned, I decided to hand-sew it.
The first step was getting the correct proportions.  Obviously if the panel was just 8' long, the tieback would've been much narrower.  Steve from Crosstown measured and determined that the wide point should be 8" and taper down to 4" ends.
It was up to me to draft the boat-shaped pattern.  The tieback was 84" wide in all,  and the fabric widths were joined so the seam would be in the back.  This was the only machine sewing.
I thought that buckram was necessary to help the tieback keep its shape, and I also knew that machine-sewing right sides together and turning was not going to give me the sleekness I envisioned, so I made the tieback sort of like I make a soft cornice, layering the face fabric, interlining and Skirtex. 
The interlining was trimmed close to the buckram, the curves were clipped in the face fabric, and Jewel tape applied to the buckram.
The face fabric was folded over, secured with the tape, then gently steamed into shape.
The self lining was layered on, the raw edges turned under leaving a little edge that I could sew to.  Then the entire perimeter of the tieback was hand-sewn with tiny ladder stitches to secure the self lining to the face.
This gave me exactly the look I wanted to achieve.
I think it's perfect :)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fitted valance with cutout

Following up from yesterday's post about the 13' one-way 175" long ripplefold panel for Crosstown Shade and Glass- that valance!
The tricky part of a 13' valance, inside mount with a fitted cutout, isn't actually the fabrication.
 It's making sure that it will fit when it gets to the installation site.
We worked closely with Jeff from Crosstown Shade and Glass, discussing every detail, to ensure that installation would go smoothly.
The basic fabrication was simple.  The valance was self-lined and interlined.  If you remember from yesterday, the fabric is a lightweight 100% linen.  To keep control of the fabric while stapling, we basted across the top at the board line.  And instead of moving the pressed valance to the sewing machine, we just ladder-stitched the sides closed by hand.
At the cutout end, we marked the board line and basted.
The excess was cut away and the fabric snipped down to the board line at the pleat.....
And at the cutout corner.
The corner was also staystitched with small backstitches to keep it from stretching out of shape.
The face fabric was folded back and the interlining was basted to the back of the valance then trimmed away.
The board was assembled, and the corners reinforced with angle irons, which Jeff could remove at the installation.
Stapling the valance was a breeze.  We added top welting to disguise any possible irregularities in the ceiling line.
NEXT UP..... that gigantic shaped tieback looks simple, which was the goal, but fabrication was anything but!  Tune in tomorrow......

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Getting comfortable with oversize

At last I can post photos of the 173" long and 156" wide ripplefold panel!  35 yards each of 100% linen and napped cotton sateen lining went into the panel, valance, and tieback.  After fabricating this treatment for Crosstown Shade and Glass, I am feeling pretty comfy with oversize.  Jeff and Steve thought through every detail to ensure a perfect fit and smooth installation.
I hinted at this project in my last post, which was a whole month ago.  To backtrack and fill you in on that month- my friend Rosemarie Garner and I were co-presenters at the NJ WCAA chapter's annual Windows to Success event.  Organizing all our material and samples was an exercise in down-sizing!- we had so much to choose from and had to edit carefully.  It was a fantastic experience and we're both grateful to the Chapter for inviting us.  The preparation ahead of this presentation kind of ate into my blogging time, but now- I'm back!
The huge ripplefold fabrication began with the 156" motorized rod.  We insist, for good reason, on having ripplefold tracks in the workroom before cutting the fabric.   Crosstown Shade and Glass ordered the track and delivered it to the workroom. 
This project provided a great illustration of why it's so important for the workroom to have the track.  For starters, the manufacturer had rigged the master carrier backwards, as a left stack instead of right stack- not at all difficult to switch, but what installer wants to do that on-site on installation day?
For another thing, the return had removable snap pieces that I might not have known about if I hadn't had the rod.  Lastly, the master carrier on the lead edge was unlike any master I'd ever worked with before, and because it's essential that the tape be fitted, cut, and re-joined so the snaps fit perfectly, it was a good thing I had it in the workroom.
I leave nothing to chance with ripplefold.  I cut the tape and snap it on all the way across, labeling the forward and backward "ripples" in order to plan seam placement.  Seams must go alongside the snaps, not halfway between them, so they'll be the least visible when the curtain is hung.  
This curtain used 7 widths of fabric, and with 185" cuts, it was a monster to handle.   We joined pairs of cut lengths, then joined those; that way I didn't have to handle all the weight quite as often. 
Keeping the grain true and achieving the correct finished length took discipline.  For each cut I pulled a thread to be sure I cut on grain.  Jen and I made the curtain in stages, starting at the bottom.  After hand-sewing the return side hem, we worked the panel across the table, basting both vertically and horizontally.  The horizontal basting line became the reference line from which to measure the finished length after the bottom of the entire 7 widths was tabled.
Photos of massive amounts of basted fabric are pretty boring, so here is the last stage when we finally reached the lead edge!  The vertical line you see there is the estimated lead edge of the panel- it isn't going to be cut and finished until after the ripplefold tape is sewn on.  The reason?  The tape will most likely "walk" a bit as it's sewn onto the fabric, so it's important to leave a little leeway and finish the curtain where the tape actually winds up.
Jen daisy-chained the hems together every quarter-width to keep the layers from billowing apart from each other.
After the bottom was done, we shifted the whole curtain downward to work on the top.  We measured up from the basted reference line and basted the top fold line.  Then we turned the panel to run the top along the length of the table.  We trimmed, folded, pressed, then basted yet again.
 The top edge was finished neatly even though it was going to be covered with ripplefold tape.
Since our sewing machines are on glides, we were able to slide the straight stitch over to the table, instead of dragging the curtain over to the machine.  I wanted to be comfortable while sewing the ripplefold tape!
Eleven yards of snap tape later.....
It came out to within an inch and a half of the projected lead edge!  Do you know how happy I was to see that???
NOW we finish the lead edge.  Using nice long John James needles with silamide thread, this was a peaceful and relaxed ending to the panel fabrication.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Windows to Success

I'm sorting through my shade samples today, preparing for Windows to Success presentation with Rosemarie Garner- and if you haven't registered yet for this event, I hope you'll do so this week before it sells out!  Rose and I will be addressing a multitude of shade challenges and solutions, from arched windows to tricky patterns.  I'll be back to blogging just as soon as I can catch my breath from a long series of projects interspersed with preparing for this big educational event.  Stay tuned!