Saturday, March 28, 2009

March Madness Time!

It's March madness time!

You may ask; how does sports relate to the window covering business? We need to be team players also. Let me elaborate on some key points in relationship from sports to and the window covering business:


Who's on your team? It's you suppliers, installers, and employees. You are their coach, their leader. It's up to you to bring your team together to be a winner. Be sure as their coach, you have defined what is expected of them. If your employee isn't producing the kind of work you expect, it's up to you to coach and show them the way you expect things done. As the coach, you set the standards. You need to set up your game plan and convey that to your team members. When you are considering hiring an installer, what is his appearance? Does he take his shoes off after walking through the snow? How does he communicate with your client? He's part of your team; he needs to know what is expected. But he won't know, if you don't coach him. How about your suppliers? Do you except products that are not up to your standards? If you receive fabric that is flawed do you try to get by, or do you send it back and demand quality? Be a tough coach!


In basketball there are different positions. Each player is required a different set of skills and contributes that to the game. As the team leader, are you weak in a certain position? Fill that position with someone who has that attribute. Find your niche. Do what you do best and stick to it. Think of the old say, "Jill" of all trades, but master of none. Be willing to let go of the position in your business that your are not proficient in.


Set up a system for your business. Doing things the same way each time, will turn you into a master of that task. Build a system-dependent business, not a person dependent business. You will become more proficient and increase your productivity, and in turn you'll earn more more per hour. It's OK to experiment with new techniques. Make samples and perfect a new technique. Be open to new ideas, you may find one that works better the the one you use now.


Education! Get involved with a WCAA chapter or some kind of group that meets locally. If there isn't one in your area, start one. Attend a seminar or go to a conference, There are conferences offered all over the country, year round. Take a class at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy. There are a lot of networking opportunities on the internet. And easiest of all READ!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fabric Scraps!

I had a designer come to me with about 3/4 of a yard of fabric, some scraps, and a little bit of contrast fabric. She asked if we could do something with the fabric. With just this little bit of fabric this is what we came up with. As you can see it came out pretty nice. The client is happy and we are now moving onto the Family Room and we won't be using scraps of fabrics this time. So, just as a reminder in this economy, don't turn down the jobs that don't seem very profitable. You never know what might be coming up next!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Simple Elegant Gathered Valance

This valance is very easy to make, yet because of the fabric chosen it can be a very elegant looking valance. I choose a semi-sheer silk fabric. The liner is a poly- sheer. The semi-sheer gave the valance a light, airy, flowing look.

Pattern pieces and spacing:

1. Determine how wide you want each gathered flag to be after gathering.
In my valance the flags are 7" finished after gathering. The pattern is 2X the width + seam allowance.

2. Allowance for finished length: The finished length + seam allowance and mounting allowance. I used 2" for the mounting allowance and 1" for seam allowance. I allowed extra seam allowance in the length because of the point on the flag.

3. Determine the straight edge length before tapering to the point. My measurement was 11"

4. Next determine how far apart you want the flags to be after mounting them. Mine were approximately 4" apart.

5. To determine how many flags you will need:
a. finished board width - 1 flag width
b. divide by spacing determined in step # 4= number of flags. You will also need 2 flags for each return.

In my valance my finished board width was 36"-7" (one flag width) =29" divided by 4 ( approximate spacing ) = 7.25. I rounded up to 8 flags.

6. re-adjust for the actual space between flag points
a. finished board width_____ - 1 flag width_____ =______ divided by number of spaces = _______Your actual space between flag points. The 2 outside flags are placed at each end. The return flag points are at the corner and around the return of the board.
For my valance the finished board width was 36" -7 ( width of 1 flag) = 29" divided by 7 spaces (I had 8 flags) = 4.14" space between each flag point.

Using Flag pattern cut flags and lining

With right sides together sew flag and lining pieces.
I added tassels to each flag and sewed them in. You may also add micro welting in the seams.
Trim seam allowances and turn right side out.

Press the flag

Hand gather flags or us a zigzag stitch and sew over upholstery thread and gather up flags

Finished width after gathering 7"

Cut a piece of 1/2" welting to staple to the top of the board. By adding the welting the flags will have more of a lighter more graceful fall off the board, rather than a blunt squared off fall.

Stapled welting on board.

Mark the center of each flag. Mark the spacing on the boards also. Mine was 4.14" apart. Align center of flag and spacing and staple flag to the board.

The flags were randomly placed one on top of the other.

Finished Valance

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Loooooooong Butterfly Pleats

I've been working on these draperies that were 180" long. They were lined and interlined, and weighed a "ton". The fabric was a linen upholstery fabric with a backing on it, which added to the weight. The designer requested a 12" butterfly pleat. When I was finished tacking the butterfly pleats, I could see they were not going to look as nice and crisp as a 5-6 inch pleat. They were too long and distorted. Also because of the weight of the fabric. they wouldn't pinch tight. After trying a couple of things, we decided to tack the butterfly pleats in the center and at the bottom edge. It gave it a simple tailored-like smocking effect. Everyone was happy with the results.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Grommet Placement

I have been fabricating grommet panels and I was asked a question by a fellow fabricator on Facebook if there was a trick when laying out the grommet placements to be sure that the seam fell to the back of a grommet. The answer, yes there is. There needs to be an even number of grommets so that the returns fall back to the wall, and there needs to be an even number of grommets on each side of the seam for the seam to fall back to the wall. Another tip when spacing the grommets is: the center of the end grommets to the edge of the panel needs to measure what you want your return measurements to be.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Covering an Arch Valance Frame

Until recently I have not been totally happy with the way I had been covering my frame for arched windows. I recently made 8 arched frame valance treatments, and by the time I was done covering all of them, I perfected a way that I was happy with. Follow along as I demonstrate how I covered the frames.

Cut an arch frame out of plywood or OSB wood. For this frame my wood was 3" X 22" deep.

Cut a square piece of blackout lining the width and length of the valance frame.

Begin stapling the lining to the frame along the outside edge

Next staple the lining to the inside edge of the frame

Inside and outside edges complete

Trim away the excess fabric on the outside and inside edges.

Add gimp along the raw edges of the inside and bottom for a clean edge

Cut a strip of lining as wide as the wiggle board and long enough to go around the outside edge of the frame. Staple lining to the outside of arch frame.

Cut a piece of wiggle board to be stapled along the outside edge of the frame
Using a nail gun, nail the wiggle board to the frame.

Staple the lining to the edge of the wiggle board

Trim off excess lining
You are now ready to mount the finished treatment

The finished valance treatment is used to cover the top of the wiggle board

Cover the raw edges with twill tape or gimp

Finished valance treatment