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26 02, 2010

Focus On: Top Finishes

By |February 26th, 2010|Education, Products|2 Comments

When new clients contact us for a quote on custom stage curtains, often they are unfamiliar with (and perhaps even a little overwhelmed by) the many decisions that need to be made to ensure that the stage curtains meet their specific needs.  Fabric, fullness, and top / bottom / side finishes are all factors to be considered.  I’ve posted previously on fabric and fullness, so today I thought I’d go over top finish options (I’ll cover side and bottom finishes in future posts).

There are a number of different top finishes, depending on how the curtain will be hung (and used).  For a drape that will be hung from a pipe or batten and is not intended to travel (i.e. will be stationery rather than moveable), the industry standard top finish is webbing, grommets and ties.  Heavy duty polypro webbing is sewn on the top back side of the drape.  The grommets (strong eyelets with washer backings) are then set mechanically through the face of the drape and the webbing, at the center of each pleat.  Grommets are generally set every 12″, but that may vary depending on the fullness of the drape.  A continuous 36″ length of heavy duty tieline is then doubled over and threaded through the grommet, leaving ample room to tie onto the pipe or batten.


When a stage curtain will be hung on a traveller track, to allow the curtain to open and close, one of the most common top finishes is webbing, grommets and S-hooks.  The webbing and grommets are set in the same manner as previously mentioned.  However, rather than utilitize ties, metal S-hooks are instead inserted through the grommets.  To hang the curtain, the top of each S-hook is threaded through the track carriers.  


Both of these top finishes are generally used when the top of the curtain will not be visible to the audience, generally because it will be hidden by the proscenium or by a valance or border.  In some cases, however, the top of the curtain will be visible to the audience, and therefore a hidden top finish is preferred.  With Hidden Flush Sewn Snaps, a self-closing snap is attached to the back of the webbing first.  The webbing is then sewn onto the top of the drape, leaving a clean appearance on the front of the drape.  The snaps are then attached to the track carriers to hang the drape.


Another hidden top finish, one which is quite durable, is hidden grommets and ties.  In this instance, a double set of grommets is inserted into the webbing.  The webbing is then sewn onto the top of the drape, and tie lines are threaded through the grommets.  Again, the front appearance of the top of the drape is unmarred.

Hidden sewn ties are a great way to not only give a finished appearance to the front of a drape, but also to hide the pipe or batten to which the drape is tied.  Strong cotton twill ties are sewn to the back of the webbing, which is then sewn to the drape.

There are a few more top finishes, primarily used for temporary installations.  For a border or teaser that will be stapled directly to a roof beam, a top finish of webbing only is used.  For drapes that will be threaded onto a pipe (most commonly used in exhibit booths), a pipe pocket open hem is typical.  This allows the user to create fullness from a flat drape, by making the drape wider than the pipe and then pushing the full width of the drape onto the pipe, thereby creating natural fullness.

I hope this post clarified top finish options a little bit.  If you’d like to see more photos and get more information, please visit the Top Finishes page on our website.

25 02, 2010

Alice in Chains Video

By |February 25th, 2010|Company, News, Projects|0 Comments

You may remember that I posted last week about the Alice in Chains project.  Although I included linkes to several videos in that post, I just found out about another great video from their current tour, so I thought I’d post a brief update.  The video is a great compilation of scenes from the show.

And while I’m at it, here is another great photo!


Design: Mike Baldassari @ Mike-O-Matic Industries;  Photo By: “Iron” Mike –
23 02, 2010

Staying connected with the Latitude-Z

By |February 23rd, 2010|Authors, Company|0 Comments

I’ve mentioned before how lucky I have been throughout the years to see the world, often as a result of work-related projects. These days, in addition to traveling for work-related projects, I also find myself on the road to attend a variety of industry functions and speaking engagements (such as when we were recognized by Dell as a “Trailblazing” company).

As the business has grown, I have noticed one difference from my past travels, though – the need for me to stay constantly connected with the office and my clients even when I am halfway across the world. When I travel, I of course have my iPhone, but a notebook computer is now a necessity as well. With it and a wireless internet connection, I can log onto my office desktop computer (via our company network) and do just about everything I would do on a regular day at work – prepare customer quotations and orders, access documents on my office desktop or even on our company network, and so much more – almost as if I was sitting in my office at work rather than in a hotel room 100s or 1,000s of miles away.

My relationship with Dell Computers has been a huge help in this area. Recently they suggested that I try their newest notebook computer, the Latitude-Z, and I am so glad they did – it really is an incredible machine.

When I unpacked all the boxes for the Latitude-Z Package, I was impressed before I even booted up the computer. First, let me say how well it was packaged for shipping. The components were shipped via Fed Ex in several cartons – laptop itself in one box, other components in additional boxes.

Dell really does a good job in packaging the components to ensure that they arrive in good condition, using inner boxes, molded foam, and molded cardboard pieces. Nothing is going to slide around or get damaged in shipping – no way! But on the other hand, it also didn’t seem like there was a bunch of extra unnecessary packaging – just enough to keep everything safe and organized.

But it was my first look at the computer that really threw me for a loop. It is gorgeous – sleek and modern and oh so thin! Pictures really don’t do it justice. The first thing I noticed was the color. It is a beautiful Black Cherry (burgundy/black) color. The next thing to hit me was the size – it is amazingly thin and so lightweight! My previous laptop was about the same size (in terms of screen size, I mean), but it is so much heavier and bulkier. What a difference with the Latitude-Z. But even though it is thin and lightweight, it is still a good working size, at about 15″ x 9 ½”, with a 16″ diagonal screen.

I decided to spend my first excursion on the Latitude-Z exploring all that it had to offer. And it really does have some fun bells and whistles. The first thing I noticed was how great the wireless inductive charging stand is. I have never used charging pads or anything of that nature, so this was new to me. I plugged in the charging stand and set the Latitude-Z on top. The computer fit perfectly on the stand – no need for trial and error to get it in the right position. I booted up the computer, and almost instantly I saw that the computer was charging. It was time to start exploring.

I decided to check out the high definition display by pulling in some photos from the company digital file storage. The photo display was incredible – light years away from my previous laptop. I couldn’t believe the detail in the photographs – just amazing. I then opened a video – even more incredible. The detail is at least as good as (maybe even better than) my HD television. Wow! The sound is also great.

This really is a great notebook, and I am looking forward to putting it through some trials, including my first foray into travelling with it. I’ll keep you posted.

19 02, 2010

2010 Pollstar Awards

By |February 19th, 2010|News, Products, Projects|0 Comments

On Wednesday, February 17, the 21st Annual Pollstar Awards were held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.  If you aren’t familiar with Pollstar, it is a leading trade publication for the concert industry, publishing both in print and online (I use their website almost daily – it is a great resource for information on music tours / concerts).

Each year, Pollstar invites a group of industry professionals to provide nominations in a number of award categories, including venues, production, promotion, staging, lighting, and much more.  Once the nominations are finalized, Pollstar subscribers are invited to vote online, and the winners are announced at the ceremony.

This year, our sister company, Rent What?, was honored to be selected as the provider of rental draperies to the event.  Selected as the main drapes for the ceremony were the Crimson Cabaret drapes that I have posted about before (part of Rent What’s “Timeless and Traditional” series).  These gorgeous crimson and gold pieces really are dramatic, aren’t they?

Rent What? Inc. also provided all of the black masking drapes used for the event.  Although masking drapes are most known for onstage masking, they also are quite effective for masking sections of the seating area in larger spaces.  By masking off sections of seating, the space was transformed into an intimate setting that was especially fitting for this event.

I think the rental drapes provided a fittingly opulent and intimate setting for the presentation of these prestigious awards.  Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

17 02, 2010

Alice in Chains Project

By |February 17th, 2010|Company, News, Projects|1 Comment

In late January, we worked on an interesting project for the 2010 tour of Alice in Chains.  The primary pieces that we made were a series of Single and Double Kabukis.

The Double Kabuki, at 25′ h x 45′ w, was made out of Silver Poly Silk, and then the 5 Upstage Single Kabukis (all at 22′ h and ranging in width from 10′ w to 44′ w) were of a silver textured satin.  We also made a number of pieces for the stage (drum riser, amp panels and floor light coverlets) out of Black 16oz Commando Cloth lined with Aluminum Mesh, as well as some black masking drapes.


Design: Mike Baldassari @ Mike-O-Matic Industries;  Photo By: “Iron” Mike –

Rent What? also provided some pieces, including a Classic Theatre Header (Red) from their Timeless and Traditional Series, along with a number of Borders in Black 15oz Encore, and furnished the 44 piece Solenoid System with controllers (used with the Kabuki Drapes).  Check out the Classic Theatre Header in this photo:


Design: Mike Baldassari @ Mike-O-Matic Industries;  Photo By: “Iron” Mike –

We were all really proud of how the pieces turned out, but you never know how the client will react.  Well, I am happy to report that the client loved them!  Yesterday, Megan received a thank you letter from Mike Baldassari, Production Designer for Alice in Chains, and it is such a great letter that I have to share a little bit of it:

Dear Megan,

I’m writing to again say thank you for all of your help, hard work, expertise and most especially your “do whatever it takes” attitude in support of Alice in Chains’ current tour…. I was also impressed with the quality, workmanship and organization of the delivery of the goods that Sew What built.  You have my sincere gratitude for a job very well done, and I look forward to working with you and Sew What on other projects as well in the near future.

Best Regards,

Mike Baldassari

It is so rewarding to get such positive feedback from our clients, and to be able to share it with our employees, especially those who worked so hard on this project.

By the way, if you’d like to see Alice in Chains in action, with some of our drapery providing the backdrop, I found several videos on YouTube.  I think this one highlights (yet again) how perfect silver / gray fabric is for projection, whereas this one shows the drapery in its actual silver color at the start of the video and then shows how it can become almost any color with the proper lighting (you can also see some of the mesh pieces on stage in this video).

Note: Want to see a Kabuki Drape in action?  Check out this video.