February 20, 2012

Off to the sunny south

I recently returned from a weekend seminar at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy in North Carolina, where it was indeed sunny, but not that much warmer than Michigan. But as we were inside the majority of the day, no matter. Saturday morning I was greeted with this beautiful sunrise from my hotel window.


The weekend was like a mini reunion of sorts, as my roommate, one of the instructors, another attendee, and a vendor representative are all friends that I met at Northfield, where we volunteered our time to upholster chairs for the home.  You can read about the Northfield Foundation here.

Our first class on Saturday was all about scaldinos, presented by Sarah Devaney-O'Neil of Storibook Designs. Scaldinos are the decorative throws you see on the ends of the bed in hotels, but they are becoming popular in homes now as well. The first two photos are Sarah's samples that she made in a previous hands-on seminar; they were presented along with a slideshow of some beautiful scaldinos, giving us many great ideas to take home.

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All the prep work was done for us since the classes were very short; only 90 minutes. All we had to do to get started was pick the fabrics we liked from a stack of precut pieces. Below are my roommate Lorraine's and my finished scaldinos. Some attendees chose to gather the end pieces, while others of us chose to pleat. Lorraine opted for a tailored look by pressing the pleats all the way down, my pleats are left unpressed, giving a more casual look.


Donna Cash, another instructor at the school, then showed us one of her pillow methods, with the zipper sewn into the bottom seam, and the outer edges topstitched to mimic welt. Again, all pieces were precut, we had only to grab a ziplock bag and get started. The trims and center overlay were sewn on to the face of the pillow first, then the whole thing put together. Mine is the brown one on the left; it now graces my mother's living room, where uncannily, it matches a painting that hangs over her sofa. I had visited her after the seminar, and she loved it so much I left it with her.

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After a break for lunch, our group was back with Sarah to learn about presenting your designs to a client and then showed how she prepares beautiful design storyboards for her clients to choose from.


Here is my attempt, I think this is why I work through designers. I do better when I have more time for ideas to percolate. But it was a good exercise to go through, and there was a lot of great information shared from instructor and fellow attendees alike.


Back to Donna for our last class as she showed us her method for a reverse sham coverlet, and the handsewing done to keep the face fabric and lining together. We also had an impromptu corner mitering lesson from Penny, who traveled from England for the seminar. They do more hand work there than we do here in the States, and she graciously showed us how her workroom would do the mitering and hand finishing of the corner. Some of us decided that we needed a bit of bling on them after finishing, so we raided the trim boxes. It was almost time at that point for our Valentine's dinner, so the trim was quickly glued on rather than sewn. A bit ironic after the all the handsewing done on the rest of it, but maybe that makes it an international coverlet.

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January 31, 2012

Looking ahead

It may be cold and snowy outside, but here in the workroom, it is all about summer. Piles of patio cushions to cover, cottage chairs needing new clothes, and pillows to make.

These chairs are ready for their makeover! There are a pair of these blue chairs, plus the ottoman; they will be getting slipcovered in the circle fabric.

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For this job, we are using all outdoor fabrics. These small cottage arm chairs will be slipcovered in the fish fabric, the small wicker chair cushions in the banyan leaf, and some pillows in the stripe. The brown stripe is for yet another set of cushions.

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The current project is for a boat, we are recovering all the cushions from the V-berth and salon areas to the topside seats.

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This is the fabric for the V-berth and the salon cushions, very soft and comfy.


The topside cushions are a bright white vinyl, a nice new clean look. They are also more exposed to the weather, so they will be completely rebuilt with new foam.

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These are the fabrics for the pillows and wicker chair cushions in the top photo. It will be fun to get into these next after all the white for the boat.


January 22, 2012

Hiding in plain sight


Breaking needles is not an uncommon occurance when you do a lot of sewing, especially when you have to sew through many layers of fabric, or in this case, trim for draperies. Normally for something like this, I would be using one of my industrial machines and would breeze right through it. This trim though, besides being bulky, is also really bumpy. I needed to stitch it slowly, which is sometimes difficult with the industrial, so I opted to used my trusty old domestic, which also has the advantage of a wider foot. You can see how thick this trim is; to start my line of stitching, I had to use the little doohickey that came with yet another machine for sewing over jean seams.



So it was not unusual that I broke a needle, the problem was that I couldn't find the tip that had broken off. I thought it had shot off to the back of the machine; not there, not stuck in the trim, not down in the bobbin case. So I gave up looking, thinking it was probably on the floor. Then as I went to take the broken needle out, I saw this.

Definitely a first.


October 20, 2011

It doesn't seem possible...

that this month I (and now we) have been in the drapery/soft furnishings/upholstery business for 10 years. So it seems like a good time to get  with the times and get blogging.

Good quality thread is important.

 I've had a personal blog for awhile, here, but that one's just for fun, and I don't get a chance to post as often as I would like. Work and life get in the way. This blog will be a bit more business-like, but still fun and, I hope, updated more often.

I won't go into a big introduction here, you can get to know us as we go along. You can read a (very) short history here on our website. And a few photos of our workspace to get started.

Office desk - I don't sit here very much.

My main work area, I spend a good portion of my day
standing at or walking around this table.
Sometimes I even climb up on it.

Draperies ready for delivery.

You might think it strange that we have a wood shop,
but there is actually a lot of woodworking done for some window treatments.