Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nerves of steel, or reckless abandon?????

I can't decide which trait is more valuable when cutting a $400/yd Rubelli silk. Nerves of Steel? or Reckless Abandon? Boundless Self-Confidence? or Blind Faith?

I'll be back soon, I promise!!!!!  These last 2 weeks have been extremely hectic!  But I just downloaded a couple hundred photos so I've got stories to tell and pictures to go with them.  See you soon!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Best of Houzz 2015

Hey!  we were awarded Best of Houzz 2015 for Customer Service!!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Two trims, two designers, some pretty valances

Funny how some fabrics and trims make multiple rounds through the workroom.  Even odder how some arrive at the same time from different decorators for different applications!
On the left, these two trims were layered to make one, and hand-sewn to Empire valances.  For a different designer, in two different rooms, the blue on the top right is a darker version of the lower left lighter blue and it was used on London shades, and the same raffia ball tassel was sewn into the seam on a valance.
I worked on all of these treatments at the same time, and they were installed within days of each other!
The doubled trims were first machine-joined.
The ensuing trim was first glue-basted to the valances, above the self-microcord, and then I went back and hand-sewed it both top and bottom edge.
The hand-sewing was necessary to keep it really flat along the microcord without any awkward buckling.
The valances are Empires, gathered instead of pleated, with horns that extend out and widened so I could make a sort of goblet pleat, dressed with buttoned Maltese crosses.
For the other designer, the raffia ball tassel was set into the self-lined flat shaped valances, so the tape doesn't show.
I'm not sure but this might just be the prettiest thing I've ever made.  The silhouette was based on a Moreland valance, but we flattened it out, joined it to its mirror image with a center pleat, and added stripped-down tails.  It doesn't get much prettier than this, in my book.
The blue tassel trim was applied to two classic London shades.  I can't believe I didn't take a close-up!  Also I didn't document the process of laying out the pattern- but the shades are drawn up so high that it doesn't even matter that I sweated over pattern layout!  Oh well.
Odd coincidence, huh!?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas Gift Pillows

Happy New Year!  It's been nearly a month since I posted- December was hectic- so I thought I'd better hit the reset button and calm myself down.  I took a break from nearly everything, and here I am today, ready for the new year.

For my first post of 2015 I've been chomping at the bit to feature some printed silk pillows I made as gifts.  These  were more fun than it's possible to put into words.  I brought them home just so I could photograph them under the Christmas tree, before sending off to their recipients.
The small center pillow was made from a greeting card which I received.  The moment I saw it I knew it had to become a pillow, so I scanned it and printed it onto silk, then had a blast deciding how to put it together and embellish it.  The people depicted on the card are actually the senders, one of whom did the amazing artwork.
There was a lot of trial and error, printing and scanning onto a variety of printable fabrics, before I finally got it  printed onto silk with a color saturation close enough to the card. 
Once I had a print I was satisfied with, I fused the silk to white lining, then fused that onto the pillow face fabric.
Then the fun began.  I rummaged with abandon, digging out treasured bits of trims before settling on this combination, which I hoped was just bad enough to be good.
It was a hit!

I used a similar technique to print one of my own photos onto silk- sunset over the Hudson River from Croton Point.  The color has been barely manipulated, just enough to enhance the turquoise and blue to blend with the beautiful watery silk strie face fabric.  A little braid frame echos the creamy sunset colors, and vibrant turquoise baby corduroy microcord completes the embellishment.
The baby corduroy came in handy for the Eiffel tower pillows too.
For a Paris lover, I ordered from Spoonflower these two Eiffel tower photos printed onto a cotton-silk blend, then backed the fabric with plush napped cotton sateen.
They're backed with a soft charcoal colored linen and welted with that turquoise microcord.

Also from Spoonflower I found a great Dr Who print- the Tardis in Van Gogh's "Starry Night."   One yard made two, one apiece for two Whovians.  A little more rummaging through the trim treasure bin yielded this black popcorn fringe that is just silly enough.
And there you have it, Christmas gift pillows!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A surprise, improv, return flaps, and color-block

Workrooms often don't get to see their work in a truly finished room.
Often when we go to measure, the room is still under construction, like this one.
The day we came to install the treatments, there was a carpet in place but no furniture.
There was also a big surprise.
These built-ins were not there when I measured!!! 
The shade needed barely 1/4" off one side of the board.  The fabric fit just fine.
Well, we are nothing if not problem-solvers, and Mario's improv experience serves him well in all phases of his life.  He wielded the saw, and I helped by applying my weight to the miter box.  A little hot glue and a couple of screws later, that shade was hangable.

Fusible buckram has more magical uses than I can count, and one of my faves is to stiffen return flaps for shades.  Here I made 5 pair.  Sewing them makes them too bulky so I use double-sided adhesive. 
A quick fold and steam-
And they're ready to be attached.
Here they are from the front, on a different shade.
A peek underneath-
And from behind:
Curious to see the color-block shade?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Straight of grain

Keeping the grain straight is essential for window treatments to hang beautifully.
I've shown this shade before, while discussing dyeing the ladder tape.  It's a faux linen grainy polyester with a bit of metallic threads.
The following pictures might easily be the most boring photos ever shown on a blog, sorry!  But at least I did remember to take them, and they do illustrate the story......

 It was easy to cut and press the fabric on the grain because of the chunky weave.  But the shade is longer than my table, so before shifting the fabric to mark and sew the last row of rings, I ran a red thread along the grain line to make it easy to shift the fabric and re-align the grain.  It's especially helpful that you can see through sheer or semi-sheer fabrics to the dark grid lines underneath!
The line remained when it came time to staple the shade to the board, so I could measure up from the line to double-check that the grain stayed true.  Here I'm using the covered board to check it against the gridded table.  I think I said, boring pictures?
I didn't remove the red thread until the shade was finished and strung and hanging.  Just to be sure!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Applique sheer shades

I've been wanting to write up this post for months, and this long weekend seems like a good time to do it. 
It's taken me so long because I did not take enough pictures during the fabrication.  We were spending our time trying to figure out an effective method so I mostly forgot about photos.  So, here I am, and I'm going to work on it while I watch old Dr. Who episodes.

My client chose this Pierre Frey applique fabric for four pairs of drapery panels, and asked us to cut out the pieces of the motif and re-applique them to a sheer linen to create London shades underneath.

There were an awful lot of pieces to each motif, some with inner cutouts.
Wonder Under was the perfect product for this project.  I ironed it onto the back side of the fabric area that I wanted to cut out.  The blue satin stitch outlining each piece actually made it easier to do the cutting.  A little snip scissor got into the cutout areas.  It took about an hour for each of the four shades just to do the cutting.
After cutting out all the pieces and peeled off the paper backing, I recreated the layout on the linen sheer, using a tracing underneath as a template, then pressed the pieces in place.  I don't have a photo of the paper tracing; I drew it on graph paper with black Sharpie and then turned it upside down so the black wouldn't come off on the sheer.   
I held it up to the light- and right off the bat I could see that it was spectacular!  Any skepticism I had had about the project instantly disappeared.
The next step was to sew the applique.  Each piece was hand-sewn to the linen sheer by Camille, my amazing hand-sewing expert friend- and it was just as lengthy a process as you probably imagine.   I don't remember exactly but I think each shade took 3 hours of hand-sewing, and that's before making the shade itself!
Now to turn it into a shade.  I made a mockup of the actual shade-to-be out of lining, and pinned a plastic tracing of the motif over the shade so we could determine placement while the mockup hung in the client's window.
We chose this more old-fashioned style of London shade in order to keep the fullness down and also to keep the tails from drooping longer than the center.  This London shade style uses single or knife pleats instead of double or inverted box pleats.  It creates a more compact silhouette.
The final shades had the exact shape I had mocked up- yay!
After they were installed I realized that they needed top welting to fill in the small gap between the fabric and the window frame.  I went back to the house with some ivory welting already made up, took the shades down, and applied the welting with double-sided tape.  I don't think you can even see it in the pictures.  But I know it's there.
The draperies are made with two-finger French pleats, three inches long. 
Next time I'm back at this home, I'll take pictures of the fabulous custom-made hardware that the homeowner designed to meet a particular challenge: because the walls are Venetian plaster, the brackets had to be installed on the molding.  Her solution to get the draperies up and out is brilliant- more on that another time!