One of the basic tasks of a window treatment professional is to measure accurately for the job. Whether we are measuring windows, doors, beds or whole rooms it is imperative that we measure correctly. The entire job depends on these first measurements.
There are several tools that makes this task easy and efficient.
The traditional measuring tape is our quintessential measuring tool. The tapes come in a variety of lengths and have both imperial and metric measurements markings on a metal strip. We all have several tapes tucked away in vehicles and bags that can be pulled out quickly. They are great for measuring just about anything on the job site that is within easy reach.
Flexible measuring tapes or dressmaker tapes are made from cloth or vinyl. Their best uses are for measuring curved items such as mattresses and cushions.
Laser measuring tools are made by many manufacturers and come with a variety of features. The example shown here is from Lowes Home Improvement but laser measure tools can be found at any home improvement store and online. They are best for measuring the inside of a window or door and for measuring ceiling and wall height. Some of the features include length in both imperial and metric and calculating the area of a wall or floor. Newer laser tools also have apps that send the measurements with detail information to your phone or tablet.
The Euro Measuring Stick from Rowley Company is great for eliminating the need for an extra set of hands to hold the end of a tape measure when measuring wide openings because it is rigid. It comes in three sizes that expand: 28” -118”, 34” – 157”, 42” – 197”.
Where you record your measurements is also important. Some professionals use graph paper to draw the window and log the measurements, others take photos with their phones or tablets and record them directly on the picture, and others use measuring sheets that are made to work with programs such as Adobe, Goodnotes or Evernote. It is a personal preference. We like the measuring sheet option because it ensures you don’t forget to measure all parts of the window, door, bed or bathtub. Seamless has an extensive library of measuring forms that are pdf based and can be used in a variety of ways…printed to be written on, used as a pdf fillable within an app such as Adobe or saved into Goodnotes or Evernote as a template so that it is easily accessible at all times. You can find our measuring sheets here.
We are sure we missed listing something above, so what are your favorite measuring tools? Please let us know in the comments below.
CFA or Cutting for Approval, do you really need one?
Yes, it does take time but in the long run it saves time and money. If the dye lot comes in different from the swatch or memo then that fabric can’t be used. And never cut into a bolt of fabric until the CFA is approved because if you do, and it’s wrong, then you just bought yourself some fabric. So if you or the designer thinks that CFAs are a waste of time, think again.
Choosing the right fabric for a job is both a fun and a serious search. We all love sifting through sample books and memos to find just the right fabric, color and texture. Getting the color right is just as important as selecting the correct type of fabric.
Our assignment was to find a light gray linen blend. Not to green, not too pink, slightly on the blue side and blends with the wall color – you get the picture. We must have gone through about 50 swatches of gray linen before we found just the right one. And then -eureka! Found it!
For this master bedroom we needed 63 yards for 5 windows. Yardage was checked at the warehouse. They had 2 bolts of 11 yards and 53 yards. Now, those 2 bolts could be the same dye lot or not. So we asked for a CFA from both bolts. And wouldn’t you know it, the dye lots didn’t match. Not even close.
We requested a new bolt and the warehouse got a whole new bolt from the mill. It took an extra week but it was worth it. All of the yardage came in on one bolt and it was the perfect color. Continuous yardage is always preferred for each room over several bolts.
So requesting that CFA only took an extra week and we got all of the yardage on one bolt. Definitely worth getting the CFA and the wait!
Did you ever wonder who or when some of the most common things we use were
invented? Like scissors for instance. Every day we use a variety of different
scissors to do everything from cutting paper to cutting fabric. We don’t give it a
thought – just find the pair we need, use them and set them down somewhere.
A good pair of sharp scissors is imperative to our fabrication businesses. In fact to
protect our best scissors we guard them, hide them from the family, and do
anything to keep them from ending up in the garage.
It is commonly thought that scissors were invented 3000 to 4ooo years ago in the
Middle East. That’s a long time ago!
It is believed that around 1500 BC Egyptians used a two bladed device connected
by a spring like mechanism.
Then around 100 AD the Romans invented a cross
blade design similar to our modern scissors.
In 1761 English manufacturer Robert Hinchliffe adapted the design so that it could
be mass produced.
So this common object that we use every day goes back a long way. There is an
almost endless variety of types of scissors for every use and need as well as left
and right handed scissors.
What are your favorite scissors? What brands do you prefer? Do you have a pair
that you have owned for longer than you can remember? I have a pair of Ginghers
that are decades old. Please share with us in the comments section below.
Thread – Something so small is so important to a successful sewing project. In this blog post we will share with you our favorite types of thread. This list doesn’t include every thread out there so if your favorite isn’t here please tell us what it is in the comments below.
First there is the thread work horse that we have all used forever – Coats and Clark All Purpose sewing thread. It’s great for everything from clothing to bed skirts and comes in a zillion colors.
Serger thread on cones is also another universal thread with the same uses and size as Coats and Clark.
#69 Bonded nylon upholstery thread Tex 70. Love this one! This ultra strong has a variety of uses from slipcovers to really thick drapery pleats and comes in many colors but not as many as regular sewing thread. The outdoor version has only a few basic colors. This thread works best in industrial walking foot sewing machines because it is too thick for most machines.
Gutterman Skala 200 dtex 150(1) thread blind stitch thread and Serafil 200/2 blind stitch thread are both great for blind hemmers. I also use them for hand stitching drapery panel side hems and hand sewing trim. They are very fine but also very strong.
Button thread #16 Tex 106 is an extra strong glazed cotton thread and comes in more than two dozen colors. Although it has many uses we love this one for sewing shade rings on roman shades. It holds a knot very well.
Silamide Waxed Hand Sewing thread comes in skeins and is great for hand sewing.
These are just a few of the many threads that are available to us. Each thread also has many different applications. What are your favorite threads and how do you use them? Please let us know in the comment section below.
Threads and fabrics are the two most common and important elements in all types of sewing. In fabricating soft furnishings for the home, it is necessary for a good finished product to use elements that are suited for the application.
Let’s talk about thread. Using the correct thread can be the difference between success and failure. We wouldn’t use upholstery thread for sheers or a fine hand sewing thread for slipcovers. Therefore, it is important to know the correct size or weight of thread to use for each item to be sewn.
What is thread weight? We all see those numbers next to the thread name. Did you ever wonder what those numbers mean? Thread is weighed or measured in 5 different ways: Weight (WT), Denier (Td or d), Tex (T), Number, and Composition.
Weight is a length measurement and is determined by measuring the length of one gram of thread. If one gram of thread is 30 meters long then it is 30 weight thread. The higher the number the finer the thread.
Denier is also a thread length measurement and is the weight of 9000 meters of thread. The larger the denier number, the heavier the thread.
Tex is the most consistent of the thread measurement systems. It measures 1000 meters of thread in grams. One thousand meters of thread that weighs one gram is 1Tex. The higher the Tex number the thicker the thread.
The Number System was developed in Japan and is called the Gunze Count system. It is used on finer thread and should not be confused with a weight measurement. It is designated as No. 50 or #50 for example. The smaller the number the heavier the thread is.
The Composition Standard was developed for cotton thread but has also been used for polyester. This can be confusing because a cotton thread and a polyester thread with the similar numbers aren’t always exactly the same. Compare cotton to cotton and polyester to polyester. Let’s look at a 30/3 thread. The first number is the same as the Number System explained above. The second number is the number of plies of thread twisted together. For our example, a 30/3 thread is a No. 30 thread with 3 plies twisted together.
So now that we know what those numbers mean, selecting the correct thread for the job is based on more than just guess work. With this knowledge we can also compare different threads for the qualities we need knowing that the job will go easier with the correct thread. Knowledge saves us time and money.
Pattern repeats are everywhere we look. They are on our clothing, wallpaper, furniture, household items, rugs, dishes, home décor and fabrics just to mention a few.
They are very important to a soft furnishings fabrication business because pattern placement is crucial to achieve a well made pleasing product. On a pair of drapery panels, that basket of flowers should be at the same place along the top of both panels so that the repeat flows across the panels in the same place. The same goes for cushions – all cushions should have uniform repeat placement.
So what are pattern repeats exactly? A pattern repeat is a designed motif that is repeated in regular intervals over an entire item. It’s as simple as that…sort of.
How is a pattern repeat measured? A pattern repeat is the entire motif with a bit of background and not just the basket of flowers by itself. The repeat is measured from the exact point on one motif to the exact point on the next repeat. Let’s say that we pick the top of the topmost flower as the starting point for our repeat. The repeat is measured from that one point down to the exact point on the repeat below it. (Or above if we are measuring up.) You can pick any spot on the repeat as long as you go to the exact same spot on the next repeat. Pattern repeats are measured both vertically and horizontally and the horizontal repeat is measured in the same way as a vertical repeat.
If you want to learn more about pattern repeats, click here to view our in depth pdf.
Still have questions? Get in touch with us!
Shaped bandings are a beautiful custom detail for roman shades, valances, draperies or pillow flanges. In this latest article in WFVisions Magazine we explain how to add a shaped band to a roman shade that will result in a shaped facing on the back as well as the front. Click the link below to read the entire article. You can find other industry related articles at Window Fashion Vision.
Ever get confused when the workroom or installer asks you what the hardware return is? Or what projection do you want on that valance?
Projection and return are two different things. The best way to explain it is this way. Projection is going from the wall out. Return is going back to the wall.
Drapery hardware projection and return are shown in the diagram above. As you can see, the projection is the whole bracket measurement from the back of the bracket to the front. The return is measured from the middle of the rod back to the wall.
Fabric returns back to the wall. For drapery panels the return is the fabric on the panel side that folds back to the wall and blocks the light on the sides.
Boards and hardware project out from the wall. For board mounted window treatments, the projection is depth of the board. The return is the fabric that is on the sides of the board mounted window treatments.
Shutters and binds project out from the window.
Knowing the difference comes in to play when ordering hardware or specifying a valance that has to clear shutters or blinds.Here’s an example of what can happen if you don’t understand these terms.
A designer specified drapery hardware for a window with existing shutters. At the measuring appointment the workroom was told by the designer what the bracket return should be. Panels were fabricated with the return measurement that was given. But when ordering the drapery hardware, the designer thought that the bracket projection and return measurements were interchangeable. At the install, she was shocked to see that the bracket return was much too small for the panels to hang clear of the shutters. The panels would not clear the shutters and thus laid over the top of them.
For more information on drapery hardware please go to the Seamless Workroom blog and download the PDF titled Soft Furnishings Designer Basics Drapery Hardware Explained. See link below.
One part of our job as window treatment professionals is to calculate the correct yardage for traversing drapery panels. These calculations involve several steps.
First exact measurements of the window must be taken correctly and in all of the right places. Be sure to use a measuring sheet so that you will not forget any important information.
Secondly, the finished width, finished length and fullness are determined. This information will need to be discussed with the homeowner and/or designer to make sure the drapery will cover the area desired. (We will be using the measurement for the whole window width plus the amount of wall to be covered on each side.)
Thirdly, we need to know what fabric and linings will be used. Does the fabric have a repeat?
After this information is gathered, we are ready make our calculations.
- Multiply the finished width by the fullness amount and add 27”. Then divide this number by 54” to find out how many widths of fabric are needed.
- Add the hem and header measurements to the finished length to get the cut length.
- Divide the cut length by the fabric vertical repeat to find out how many repeats it will take to make up one cut length.
- Multiply the vertical repeat by the number of repeats to arrive at the total cut length. This will be longer than the cut length. Round up this number.
- Multiply the number of widths needed by the total cut length. Divide by 36” for the number of yards needed for the whole window.
Once the face fabric yardage has been calculated you must also calculate the lining yardage using the same method.
Want an easier, faster, and accurate way to calculate traversing panel drapery yardage?
Seamless Workroom Traversing Panel Workbook will do all of this and more for you. As fast as you can type in the basic information, the workbook will calculate your fabric and lining yardages and pricing, trim pricing and yardage, banding yardage, labor costs, hardware costs, miscellaneous costs and sales tax for you. It also includes a workorder form, installation information sheet and change order form.
Blackout linings offer several functions. They protect drapery fabrics and room furnishings from sun damage, control light and privacy to varying degrees, help to control temperature and somewhat absorb sound. And these functions vary in degree depending on the type of lining used.
When blackout lining is produced, a base fabric is sprayed with layers or passes. This base fabric may be cotton, polyester or a blend of both. A dim out lining is made by spraying one layer of acrylic foam on a base fabric and will block about 98% of light. This lining is thinner, softer and generally will cost less than either 2 or 3 pass blackout.
A two pass blackout lining has a base fabric that is first sprayed with a black opaque membrane and then sprayed with a white acrylic foam. While it does offer 100% light block, it is lighter in weight than a 3 pass blackout lining and is usually lower in price.
The thickest and most expensive is the 3 pass blackout. Here a base fabric is first sprayed with a white acrylic foam, then sprayed with a black opaque membrane and finally sprayed with another layer of white acrylic foam on the outside. It also blocks 100% of light but offers more temperature control and sound absorption than the other two options.
Which leads us to why should you care. Although blackouts and dim outs do offer several benefits that other linings don’t, you must take into consideration the increased weight of the treatment (from an operational and a fabrication standpoint), the fact that it is more expensive than standard linings, and sometimes there are additional fabrication costs to consider since it can be more difficult to work with. It is advisable to test a swatch of fabric with a swatch of lining as some fabrics, usually polyesters or poly blends, may repel the rubbery blackout lining. When this happens, a flannel interlining between the two will keep your drapery layers hanging in unison.
Blackout and dim out linings are excellent choices when a client wants a room darkening effect. And understanding and discussing the benefits and limitations of linings with your customer will lead to a completely custom product your client will love.
All our best,
Amanda and Rose Mary
Last month we were invited by Marcella Davis Burke, instructor at Central Piedmont Community College located in Charlotte, North Carolina, to present Introduction to Window Treatments to her Residential Interior Design class. After a brief discussion on what window treatments could include we delved into the topics of fabric suitability, linings, pattern repeats, railroaded fabric, pleat styles and drapery hardware. These students were so interested in all the topics that we could have talked all day and not covered everything! We hope we left them with the desire to learn more and become informed about window treatments and how they can be an excellent product to offer their clients. This was our second year presenting to Marcella’s class and we certainly look forward to future invites. It is so refreshing and invigorating to be around young and talented designers!
If you are interested in any to these topics, be sure to check out the Soft Furnishings Designer Basics section of our blog on our web site.
All our best,
Amanda and Rose Mary
This excel workbook will help track every detail of multiple projects from start to finish. Sections included are Jobs in Tracker, Job Details, Materials, Processes Completed, Pricing & Yardage/Meterage, Change Order & Remakes, and Vendors Used.
We have added many new features to our project tracker! Click the link to see how it works.