SO.........WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON TODAY??

Friday, July 31, 2015

With a little help from my friends.......

So, it's time to start filling in the blanks for many of the projects from the past month that barely got a mention.  It was a hectic time leading up to vacation and there was no time for blogging in detail.
I'll start with these big, bad boys.
The day before we left for vacation, we installed these two very large, heavy hobbled shades, each 9' wide by 6' long, designed by Denise Wenacur for a community gathering space.
I was nervous about these shades, because we had recently made blackout hobbled shades out of a similar fabric, and had a lot of trouble with distortion due to sewing the pockets for the ribs.
Thanks to great suggestions and advice and help from various very kind and generous people and vendors, fabrication was practically painless.  You'll see plenty of shout-outs as you read through!
The fabric is a backed woven fabric with fire retardant treatment, and the lining is FR blackout.   The blackout is seamless, thanks to Angel's Distributing, who will sell 110" Silky Diablo Blackout lining in cut lengths, folded, because otherwise it would come on 110" rolls and cost a small fortune.  I got two cuts and the 110" width was run lengthwise because the shades were 108" wide.
The face fabric was about 56" wide so I was JUST able to squeeze the width out of two cuts, with smallish side hems.  The thought of sewing this heavy, inflexible fabric was daunting, however- not necessary, thanks to the pre-owned Do-fix I had just purchased and set up!  So I Do-fixed the seams, laid in the lining, and Do-fixed the side borders and the bottom pocket, and reinforced all Do-fixing with hand stitches.  What a breeze!  Eternal thanks to Jen White for helping me set up the Do-fix and giving me a crash course in how to use it.
I marked for the ring placement and started sewing rings and twill tape.
OK, do you notice anything missing here?
There are no rib pockets!
This is the most amazing thing ever!   
Scot Robbins (of Parkhill and Workroom Valet fame) had mentioned awhile back that he was making hobbled shades without ribs.  I could not believe that it would work, but I contacted him and he assured me that as long as I used plenty of vertical rows, the folds would hold up.  I took a deep breath and forged ahead.  Sure enough, it worked incredibly well.  Most of us do space vertical rows about 12" apart with ribs; for these I think the spacing was about 8.5"; you sew a few more rings, but the time savings is more than worth those extra rows!

Shifting the fabric and making sure to keep the rows true took extra care.  Here is an excellent example of where taking extra steps saves time.  I taped a 36" yardstick to my 96" straightedge and used the grid to mark the horizontal rows with disappearing pen, marked my increments, then quickly made pencil marks in the other direction for ring placement.  (Have you noticed how quickly the purple pens disappear on blackout fabric?)
I marked the twill tapes with purple pen, and tacked the rings, folding up the bottom and doing the bottom row last.
When it was time to shift the fabrics, first I gathered the loose twill tapes and gently pulled up just a bit of the shade.
Then I pulled a bit more....
And a little more.....
Then pinned like crazy along the uppermost marked line.....
Then carefully, oh so carefully, shifted the fabric across the table until the pinned line was near the middle.
I wanted to keep enough of the finished portion of the shade on the table so I'd have a reference for the next ring marks.
You get the gist of it: pin, mark, tack, shift, repeat, until finally it was done.  I also did the side hems as I went.

Luckily these windows had a 4" space in which to mount the shades.  We knew these big guys needed a very capable and durable clutch.  Mike at Designers Resource came to the rescue, recommending the Rollease Galaxy geared clutch, which can lift 53 pounds.
There was a relatively gentle learning curve because we'd only used these tube type clutches a couple of times before, and Mark and Mike were both very generous about advising us and pointing us to assembly instructions, even when it was 4:50pm and they wanted to go home.
I won't bore you with all the reference photos I took to remember how to mark the tubes for clip placement and direction.  But once we had the hang of it, it went incredibly quickly.  I'll use the Galaxy and Skyline clutches often now that I know how easy it it.  Designers Resource cut the tubing to my exact size specifications which really saved time and trouble for us.
There are no photos of the back, so I can't show the Ring Locks by SafeTShade.  I thought they would be the best choice to allow the shade to stack up smoothly.  They worked beautifully. 
The only seriously scary time during the process came at installation.  The first shade went in like butter, was easy to secure with a zillion screws, and lifted like a dream.  The second shade...... was too big.  Oh, yes, I measured incorrectly!  The board was ever so slightly too big!
Here we are, wishing that wishing would make it fit........

Thank goodness this job is just 10 minutes from my workroom.  We packed it up, I went home to pick up my hubby John,  and he came back with me to use his amazing Bosch multi-tool to slice off the ends without having to unstring anything.  It took 10 minutes at the most.

Unfortunately. my installer, Mario Fuentes, had to leave because his day was fully booked.  So to the rescue- our nephew Jim came along and between him and John we got the shade installed before the facility closed for the day at 2pm.  Cleo came along for the ride and helped by holding the screws and handing them to her dad when he needed them.

Now we can go on vacation!





Wednesday, July 29, 2015

18 shades

I was so busy right up to leaving for vacation that I didn't even do a post to say I was going on vacation.  I did, and now I'm back, and I have a lot of catching up to do here.
At the end of June I did a quick post 17 shades then on July 7 a post on 15 shades. 
By the time we left on July 18, we had done another 18 shades

That makes a total of 50 shades we made between June 28 and July 18!
I guess that helps qualify me to teach a class on Efficient Shade Making at the CWC Conference next February. :)

In addition, there was a room with 10 widths of hand-sewn cartridge pleat satin draperies, interlined, with Greek Key trim on the lead edges and hem, as well as 10 widths of silk sheer; assorted pillows and bedskirts; and a smattering of top treatments.
I'm going to get to these projects in more detail, as well as some May and June projects that never made it onto the blog yet.  Even though I was working like mad I have been trying hard to remember to take photos along the way, so I'm ready to start catching up on filling in the details.

Anyhow, back to the 18 shades.  (Two of which are so huge that they really ought to count as 6!)

There were two of these, out of a delectable De Le Cuoma wool:
This, out of an amazing Mark Rothko-style print, by Brentano:
These two Big Boys, hobbled shades, each 9' wide and 6' long, upholstery fabric with blackout lining (oh my):
Two little guys, out of this supple wool sheer (by now things were so hectic that I had started to forget to take pictures):
Four, out of a well-behaved, used-friendly cotton print, a pleasure and a relief to work on- and again, I forgot to photograph the shades before they were packaged (and, oh yeah, 4 pillows and a bolster):
And lastly, pretty much literally as I was walking out the door and locking up for a week, seven out of this geometric, with blackout lining:
Now I'm back, up and running, sort of, trying to go to work a little late and go home a little early, for a week or two at least; doing measures and quotes; working on my CWC classes; re-arranging and painting the workroom; and doing some FUN FUN FUN sewing for myself- I'm Alabama Chanin-ing!  More on that, too!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New toys

After I showed off our new stand in the last post, folks are wondering what it is.
It's a spring-assisted Ultimate Support stand with a leveling leg for uneven surfaces.  Check it out here: http://www.ultimatesupport.com/products/speaker-lighting-stands/air-powered-series/ts-110bl.html
We have attached a platform from one of our Workroom Valets so we can raise shades that are longer than the ceiling height of our workroom.  With the optional extension, it can raise to nearly 12'.   The shade above was too long to hang in the workroom, so we took it outside.
In the workroom, we can hang shades up to about 81" long with our double rows of assorted clamps mounted under a shelf John built; or we can use a Workroom Valet.   Click on Workroom Valet to download the brochure.   
But hanging shades isn't the first reason we got the Ultimate Support stand.  What we really originally wanted it for was to use our new Dewalt self-leveling laser in rooms with high ceilings.  The laser marks a level red line around the perimeter of the room to mark for hardware placement.  Check it out here: https://www.toolnut.com/DeWalt_DW089K_Self_Leveling_3_Beam_Line_Laser_p/dw089k.htm?gclid=CMDCz87vzMYCFdcXHwodp2MEKAhttps://www.toolnut.com/DeWalt_DW089K_Self_Leveling_3_Beam_Line_Laser_p/dw089k.htm?gclid=CMDCz87vzMYCFdcXHwodp2MEKA
We first used this on the U-shaped room with continuous iron poles totaling 461".  You can see the sort of crazy weights that John rigged up- the laser at the top was so lightweight that lowering the spring-assisted stand was not easy (the stand is meant for speakers and it's assumed that there will be weight up there).  I'm going to guess that the red line saved us an hour and a half of climbing up and down ladders!

The next job we used it for, we improvised an extension with a piece of wood pole- yeah, we still hadn't ordered the extension.  In this room we needed to measure up about 110" around the perimeter of the room.   You can see the red line in the middle of the Greek Key trim on the soffit.  The trim was already there, and it was essential that we confirm that it was truly level, before drilling holes in it for the hardware. 
Well, there you have it, a few of our new toys!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fifteen Shades

Ahhhh last post was about seventeen shades.  The moment they were done and delivered, we immediately begain working on fifteen shades.
Thirteen were for one order: all were a linen sheer with blackout lining; all had Rollease traversing clutches.  Nearly all were quite long- some 81" long, some 93" long, and one 97" long.  All of the linen sheers were quite similar in pattern and density.
The other two were interlined linen/cotton, and I totally forgot to take pictures of those!
Of the thirteen-
There were four of these:

Four of these- yes, the fabric is different from the one above:
And five of these in various sizes:
When making blackout shades, I like to use fabric tubing for the weight bar pocket.  I pressed up a double hem, secured it with double-sided adhesive tape, and then folded the hem back in order to machine sew the fabric tubing to the top of the hem.  The bottom rings were sewn to the very top of the pocket.   I didn't take enough photos, did I?  Well, I'll try to remember next week with the next batch of blackout shades.
The striped fabric was a double-wide.  The crease in the middle, where it is folded to fit on the tube, was smudged in places, so I had to do a lot of cutting around the flaw.  Luckily I was able to get all 5 shades without any dirty spots!

 The striped fabric had one shade 58" wide and 97" long.  That is too long to hang in our workroom, so we took it outside with our new spring-assist stand, which when fully extended reaches about 12'.  For hanging shades, we attach the platform from a Workroom Valet at the top.  This new stand has come in very handy in recent weeks.  I'll do a separate blog post about it.
Before vacation, I have 16 more shades to make.  Sigh. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Seventeen shades

In case anyone wondered where I've been for the past few days, this post will make it clear!
Seventeen shades.  All but the last one with Rollease traversing clutches.  All with regular sateen lining.  All with ring locks by Safe-T-Shade.  All for one designer, three different homeowners.  All geometric, except the first six.

We made six of these, banded on 3 sides with mitered corners:
Four of these, 71" wide:
Three of these:
Two of these silk:
One of these:
And one of these:
And that's where I've been!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sewing loop braid to wool sheers

Applying heavy trims to lightweight sheers requires special handling.  The weight alone can pull on the fabric, and the stitching can create puckering.  When I was asked to apply this loop braid to 10 lead edges of this wool sheer, I knew it would take some painstaking sewing to achieve an impeccable look.
 At the proposal stage of this project, designer Christopher Matson asked me, "Can you REALLY sew this trim to this fabric and make it look fantastic?  Or are you just saying yes to make me happy?"  I said Yes I Can!  because a few years ago I had made these wool blend curtains with this loop braid, and had used this method.

The first step was to cut the fabric true to the grain.  To do that, you pull a thread of the weave across the width and cut following that line.  For the length, I carefully removed the selvedges to let the weave of the fabric relax.  Such a fine fabric as this is always woven to perfection, so once the cuts were made, I was confident that the grainline was a reliable reference point.
Next I laid out the fabric and trim to see how much I needed to fold over the side borders in order to fully cover the stitching.
Pressing the side borders ahead of time gave me the line for applying the trim.  Pressing was easy because the gridded table cover shows through the sheer.  It was critical to keep the vertical line neat and true, so that there would be no little hairs of threads showing at the lead edge when the light shone through.
After pressing, I flipped the panel over right sides up and laid out the trim.
I tried sewing at that point, but it was impossible: the fabric was too shifty and the trim too rigid.  I decided to glue baste it with tiny dots of Rowley's fringe adhesive.  It needed only a few minutes to set up so the fabric could be moved.
Now it was ready for the painstaking process of sewing.
We tried various ways to sew invisibly.  The most efficient and secure was to pick the needle up in one of the points and back down on the other side of a cord.  That made stitches that were about 1/2".  We made sure to keep them quite loose on the back to eliminate puckering.
After awhile we realized we could hold the fabric in one hand rather than keep it flat on the table.  That speeded up the sewing significantly.  We did two rows of stitching on each lead edge.
At the ends, we had this mess to deal with.
When the hem was turned up, the trim wanted to crimp the fabric.
We solved that by cinching the loops on the back as necessary, to remove their pressure on the delicate fabric.
It was all covered up with the side hem.  The bottoms were neat and flat.
The last step was to sew the already pressed side borders, being careful to conceal the stitching behind the trim so it wouldn't show on the front.  Here's the back.