Workroom Lab: Pillows

Next step is serging the pillow faces with interlining.

Piping is sewn, trimmed and attached to pillow front.

IMG_1465.JPG

An invisible zipper is added, the pillow forms are put into their covers and there you have it - a colorful collection!

 

Essential materials necessary for the project:
  Silk squares cut to size, interlining, bias piping and piping interfacing, zipper, down pillow form

Boutique Drapery Collection I

The final product is beautiful when the fabrication technique is fine tuned and finessed to perfection. With this collection of drapery panel designs, that is exactly what I accomplished.  My goal was also to create designs that are fresh and appealing to the traditionalist as well as the modern stylist.  These are some of my personal best - a bit of lux at the window, but keep in mind that pricing is modest for all the included custom touches!  Hope you find something that you like!

http://catalogmachine.com/depasquale-designs/catalogs/boutique-drapery-collection-i.html

The Modern Swag

There is more to swag construction than you might think.  I like to advance the old school designs and methods and make them work for today's homes and lifestyles.  What are the differences?

More sophisticated styling replaces the traditional board mounted swag and jabots (remember your Grandmother's home).  Pole swags and drapery swags display a relaxed elegance that is suitable for very many windows.  It also allows the gorgeous poles and finials to bring yet another design element into the room.  Special trims can certainly dress it up a bit, but even a simple piping creates a graceful but tailored appearance. Once the design is rendered, it is all about the measures and the math - combined with a bit of weight chain draping.

The Open Window


Open Window, Colliore, 1905

When designing a window treatment, I aspire to give it a painterly like attention to detail: French artist, Henri Matisse, comes to mind.  The windowed interior was a recurrent theme in much of his work, and he so masterfully depicted the intimate connection between interior and exterior life scenes.  His bold swatches of color and texture were the fabric of his paintings, revealing a reposeful domestic lifestyle dazzled by Mediterranean sunlight that would seemingly breeze into the room.  His paintings are interior designs skillfully composed with a free spirited elegance that just compels me to want to be “there”.

Windows are more than an architectural feature in a room. Matisse certainly understood this fact, since in many of his works they are not just the source of light, but also, the beckoning of our entrance into a beautiful scene. It would be inspiring to find such joy and color in the rooms of our own homes;  enveloped in warm light, dancing amidst the colors and sensations of our surroundings all the while with a glorious view at the open window.
My room at the Beau-Rivage, 1918

Interior with a violin case, 1919
Henri Matisse - Fauvism

Hard Window Treatments are Easy

In the window coverings industry, there are both hard and soft "treatments".   Blinds, shades, and shutters would be in the former category, and most often provide a much needed light control function for a room.  Once that need is identified and defined, it is easy to know what product is best.
Of course, the many products available today are also gorgeous design choices as well - especially when paired with a beautiful soft treatment like drapery panels or an up to date valance.

The Coulisse nature collection is at the top of my list. Their XL pleated shades are also a designers dream. Each of their products is an exceptional upgrade to the traditionally styled shade or blind. (These amazing collections are now available at dePasquale Designs.)

As featured in: Small Kitchen Magazine / Fall 2011

 Bold Chinoisserie
Wouldn't you know it! The smallest valance I ever designed gets all the fanfare. Yes it is beautiful in embroidered silks, trims, and medallion posts, and it is also fabricated with finesse. A big standout in a small decorated space.                                        
                                                                         
Interior design by Gretchen Mannion



Upholstered Memory Board

This is large, 48" x 30",  and is sure to get lots of use in a young girl's room.
Made out of of a rigid but lightweight board that is custom upholstered and trimmed
with covered buttons and flat braid, it is easily installed and brings a touch of art to the
walls. Whether you use push pins or just slide notes, photos and such into its diamond pockets,
how practical and pretty.  I will soon post a photo of it in the room so you can see how it coordinates
with all the other furnishings so nicely! (Available in various sizes and any selected fabric & trim)

When Dressing Windows-Design IS Everything


Design IS everything… However, I would suggest that there are two (often over looked) components that bare witness to the success of the project. First, is the type of decorating fabric selected for the window fashion; second, is the fabrication method used to construct the treatment. Let’s assume that the proper color analysis has been done, and that is not at issue. As someone who both designs window treatments and constructs them, I most often find that it is the incompatibility of fabric and design that can lead to unsatisfactory results and an unhappy customer. From my own experiences, here are examples of what to do, or not!

By type of fabric, it is meant; silks, damasks, jacquards, chenilles, chintz, velvets, linens, embroideries, small patterns, sheers, etc. – there are too many to list completely.  In any category of fabric, the properties of weight and stability have to be taken into account when planning the design. For example, there are damasks that drape beautifully and are well suited to a lovely swag treatment, and there are damasks that would be too heavy and inflexible for this style but perfect for upholstery or perhaps a cornice. Silks, very lightweight, do best when they are left to soft folds and gathers. If you prefer a neatly pressed and tailored surround, then you will not be satisfied with silk unless it has, at the very least, been knit backed. The faux pas with Sheer fabrics is that they are not used nearly enough in homes today. I am not referring to the standard voile or batiste, but sheers and casements that sparkle when the sun shines thru, have bold stripes of tone on tone or subtle texture. Layered or alone they can do more then open and close on a traverse rod. If weighted properly, they can look fantastic in many designs, from simple shades to elaborate arches. Chintz (very stable woven) is a classic for bed covers and rod pocket curtains, but then you may want to search for a hand printed chintz (see photo) and keep the design simple. The formula is; edited design + exquisite fabric = gorgeous!
A special hand printed fabric from Brunchwig & Fils.

All-over patterns are versatile for most designs, because they do not have a true upright. They are wonderful for swag topped drapery panels, because the swag overlay can be cut on the bias without disrupting the overall look - and a swag cut on the bias is much happier!  When designing with a solid, either cotton or a blend, the best recommendation is an added coordinating fabric banding or piping. This is the perfect place to add a bias stripe piping to update and customize. As for fabrics with a large pattern repeat, the design has to incorporate the area of the repeat that will be framed in the valance so that it looks balanced. If the pattern is too large for the scale of the picture frame, the design (or fabric) should be altered. So then the question arises, what comes first, the fabric or the design? Well, either really! If you are set on a particular design, then search for the fabric type that will suit it properly. Otherwise, if you have the “perfect” fabric, research or consult a pro for a flattering design plan.

The fabrication methods, or how-tos concerning the construction of a particular design, might vary from workroom to workroom, but professionals do adhere to standard practices and guidelines set forth by the WCAA.  An expert craftsperson will often foresee potential problems and plan the design accordingly.  But as with any custom project, unexpected situations arise (Believe me, fabrics have a mind of their own!), and it is most important that the workroom/designer handle these expediently. The most common mistakes that affect the professional quality of a custom window treatment are when; an incorrect lining is used, hems or facings are too narrow, seams show and are not pattern matched, valance long point and/or short point proportions are off, lining is droopy, a fabric stabilizer or interlining should have been used, the pattern was not cut true to grain. The design won’t look quite right if any of these problems occur. Hopefully, with proper planning, they can be avoided entirely.

The fabric type and construction techniques have to uphold the integrity of the custom design. If the fabric is inappropriate or the workroom specifications unclear, then you risk being unhappy with the final treatment. The experience does not have to be complicated. Rather, it requires proper planning, research and consult when you are in the creative process! It also requires more than home sewing skills/equipment, so get professional guidance if you want a truly custom appearance. Haste will only lead to waste of fabric, time, and money.  Designing for windows should always be a success story!

Spring Forward

Happily ever....after


Forsythias and daffodils in bloom are the signal that the new season has arrived. (Of course, I say this as the snowflakes fall on this first day of April! - a  heavenly April Fool's perhaps).  As the colors and forms of the Spring emerge and revitalize us, we can be inspired to tackle some much needed decorating projects. Take a "before" photo (as seen below), contemplate what needs to change, and go for it! The "after" glow may be quite flattering.

Before
                                                                                   

Details that make the difference.


Rouched Drapery Heading
Here is a close up view of design details that really customize a window treatment.
It can be as simple as a beautiful drapery tieback, or as elaborate as layers of handsewn
trims.  My personal favorites are knife pleating, rouching, and contrast microcording.
Silk is always a wonderful fabric to use for special touches and flatters just about any
decorating fabric. I also like to make my own braided cord by using a small woven check
and cutting it on the bias for the piping. It is so much easier to work with than purchased braid 
and looks much nicer.
Silk knife pleated on Medallion Swag
Banding, microcording, and key tassel
Contrast microcording on valance shaped edge, banded trim on Roman Shade

Knotted Embellishment and piping


                                                           

Color My World

When I was a young girl, my room was painted a periwinkle blue and my bedding was a gorgeous bright and cheery floral coordinate. I have very fond memories of that room and how happy it made me feel.

It makes one realize the power of color when creating an interior design. Of course as my focus is usually window treatments, I am particularly crazy about window fashions that use color ever so..."correctly".

Here are three beautiful designs that grabbed my attention for different reasons.

This girl's BR is quite dreamy. The simply stated goblet pleated drapery at the window is a perfect accent in a shade of citrus green. The vertical focal point all the way to ceiling height keeps the striped bedding active, but a soft touch against the bluesy walls.

Beautiful drapery swags in a bold bold stripe! The gilded rods painted black. The trim is

Scalamandre

. Notice the top down bottom up shades as the first layer for privacy and light control. That means no fussing with the drapery. They will remain dressed and in perfect balance to the grand Regency fireplace.

What a warm and inviting room!  The color on these windows is perfect. The treatment design is also spectacular: Pickup swags on solid cornices and fluid banded drapery. These transom windows, adorned with sophisticated fabric and color take the room to a whole new level of interior design.

Made in Italy

May is a month to celebrate. I am inspired by many new fabric samples that have been dropped at my doorstep. I meander thru the swatch books and visualize the products and designs that would best display the beauty of these threads so delicately and deliberately woven. I search for the country of origin, "Italy" label. These are by far the most splendid.
My mind wanders to thoughts of my daughter,  Natalie, and her love of everything Italian. Her graduation from Fordham University is quite soon. She has such a command of the Italian language and culture that I want to take her with me on a dream trip to the Proposte Fabric exhibition in Como, Italy - center of fine Euro silk production for the last  4-5 hundred years. Even though much of the silk is imported from China today, the Italians still have the mastery of weaving and dyeing. Italian craftsmanship is unparalleled. There are numerous textile manufacturers in the Milan area, and I would love to some day tour the very mills where these beautiful fabrics
are produced. Presently, I can order a few yards of an Italian chenille jacquard  and create "qualcosa di bello"!

Poodle Parlour



It is always enjoyable to have such an appreciative audience when installing window treatments.
I just never imagined it would be two beautiful poodles!
Kira and Quincy just love their new decor and were so proud to be a part of the show.
I just have to wonder if there will be room for anyone else to sit in this lovely room!
They both claimed the best seat in the house.

A Workroom View




The task at hand: Creating a teardrop swag treatment for a cathedral window gallery. Working with angles is both exciting and challenging. I first spent some time taking measures and analyzing how I would install the treatment. Back in the workroom, the homosote wall is draped with accurate lines and weight chains to simulate treatment lines. From these measures comes the custom pattern drafting. The pattern is then checked for any necessary alterations before we get to the fabricating stage. Even the pleated underpanels have to incorporate a precisely angled heading. Finally, I am satisfied with the results. More importantly, so is the client!


Window Treatment Essentials




As Featured On EzineArticles



Keep this list in mind when considering the purchase of new window treatments.

DO
1) Use proper linings: A standard cotton sateen lining is rarely enough support. Interlining with a flannel, bump or Apollo dim out is just about standard practice in my workroom. Even sheer fabrics are self- lined. Linings lend body, stability, luxury, longevity, and insulation benefits. It will increase the price, but considering how many years you will be enjoying your window treatments, it is well worth the upgrade. Your workroom or designer will know what will be the most suitable lining product. I have at least 10 bolts of different linings and interlinings that I use regularly, but of course, I do have my favorites!
2) Install at correct height: Drapery poles look fabulous installed just under the crown molding or at least half the distance between top of window and ceiling. Valances should also be lifted so that they are proportionally correct. (Depth of valance should be about 1/5 or 1/6 of total height). Drapery hem can clear the floor by ¼”, barely touch the floor, break 1” or 2”, or even puddle graciously. The design of your treatment will also influence the installation. The installer’s job is incredibly important and will make the difference between a spectacular appearance or an unfettered mess.
3) Consider layered treatments: The under treatment often serves the functional role of providing light control and privacy. The top treatment can then be integrated with the design elements of the room, softening and adding luxury with beautiful fabric and color. My favorite products for under layering treatments are sheer roman shades, sheer fabric blinds, and woven woods. Top them off with pleated panels on a French pole or sensational valances.
4) Integrate design: Decide whether the window treatment will be a distinctive focal point, accent a beautiful view, or blend with the various color and design elements of the room décor. If you know what “look” you are trying to achieve, selecting fabrics and designs will be much easier. Also, be realistic about your budget when planning the project. Custom window treatments are expensive, so ask your designer/fabricator what will provide the greatest value.
5) Pay attention to details: It is certainly the details that will elevate your window fashion to first class status. Special touches such as hand-sewn hems, micro-cording, French blackout lining, passementerie, and custom hardware finishes, will stylize your treatment. Other techniques that add interest are rouching, smocking, covered buttons, banding, tufting, and overlays. As a fabricator, I look forward to utilizing these techniques and helping to create a unique window design with couture styling. Utilizing two or three coordinating fabrics for one treatment also adds interest.

DON’T
1) Skimp on fabric: One width of fabric will pleat to 20” and is appropriate when making a pair of panels for windows up to 38” wide. Larger windows will require at least 1.5 widths each side. Let the decorator or workroom determine the fabric yardage, because vertical and horizontal repeats have to be taken into account and is more difficult than you think to calculate. (For example: One pleated pair of drapery panels that are 96” in finished length, would require 7.5 yards of fabric if the vertical repeat is 27”.) Custom treatments utilize more fabric than you might estimate, and what you don’t need is to be short on yardage – a fabricator’s nightmare. If the fabric cost will break your budget, but you LOVE it, consider a soft or upholstered cornice, since it doesn’t require as much fabric as some other designs would.
2) Keep the old with the new: You would never wear sneakers with a prom dress, so don’t try and get away with a worn blind or shade that is topped with a beautiful new soft window treatment. This pairing never looks good. Great NEW products to consider are motorized blinds, shades and draperies. They are very easy to use and recommended for many applications (like two story windows) Definitely more costly (estimate $1200/per single window for a motorized shade), but if you have a gallery of windows with solar shades, they can be programmed to lower at a certain time of the day. How convenient is that!
3) Over-match paint and fabric: This will create a very uninteresting appearance. Once your color scheme has been chosen, don’t go flat by playing matchy- match. Experiment with subtle differences in a monochromatic plan, using similar values of analogous colors or perhaps higher contrast complementary colors. The tints, shades and tones of a pure color are many. Take a look at how the light shines in at different times of the day. These qualities will influence your choices.
4) Ignore the importance of decorative hardware: There are numerous artisans of decorative hardware who create works of art with carved wood and forged metals. It is important to incorporate these specialty poles, finials, and holdbacks when planning a window design. This is yet another way to highlight the special and unique character of your window fashion. Take advantage of what they have to offer.
5) Play it too safe: Your custom window treatments can do more to set the character of a room than just about any other decorative product in your home. Your investment in custom workmanship underscores your desire to surround yourself with beauty and live graciously. With some professional guidance, and a bit of self-analysis, you will be quite pleased with the results. Be sure to “color outside the lines” just enough to challenge your perspective. A new view of the world is always inspiring!