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15 02, 2010

Check out our bags

By |February 15th, 2010|Company, Products|0 Comments

Recently, a customer sent us a photo of our Sew What? Drapery Bags.  He snapped the pic last week during set up for a major U.S. sporting event.  Wow – take a look at this pile of bags – that is a lot of drapery!


I’ve shown you the Sew What? drapery bags in Qatar, and even as luggage on an airport carousel in Germany, but this pile of bags is the biggest yet! 

We used to pack our custom stage curtains and other soft goods in plain clear vinyl bags, but we found that, while the drapes were protected in transport, the vinyl bags weren’t very practical from a customer’s perspective.  The tops were just tied shut, so there was no easy way to carry them, and they didn’t work well for storing drapery (due to humidity issues). 

So, a few years ago, we did some research and ended up deciding to have these bags made.  They are a durable non-woven polyester (so they “breathe”), which works well for storage, and the drawstring top with locking clip makes the bags easy to pick up.  We pack our drapes in these bags (complimentary), and our customers find them really helpful for transporting and storing the drapes.  They certainly are popular, as the photos prove!

(FYI, we also offer them on their own for sale.)

12 02, 2010

Electronic Samples??

By |February 12th, 2010|Authors, Fabrics|0 Comments

Do you need to touch a textile in order to fully appreciate it?  Or is there a way to photograph it or shoot video of it in order to show off the properties of the cloth?

In this super-digital “I wanted it yesterday” microwave kind of world, it comes as no surprise that many of our clients don’t have time to approve samples – there is just no time to wait for samples to come in, be mailed or Fed Exed.  The projects ships next week – or worse yet, tomorrow!

And even when there is (a little) time to send out samples, think about what they may be costing us – all of us – in terms of the environment.  Let’s take a single sample pack with 4 different fabric swatches inside as an example.  As a Just-In-Time provider and a non-stocking manufacturer, putting together just one sample kit for a customer goes something like this:

  • Call the fabric mill / supplier and check availability of fabrics in question
  • Order a yard of each fabric from the mill / supplier to be sent to our location via Fed Ex Overnight for labeling
  • Dispatch the sample kit to the client via Fed Ex Overnight

At this point, there is not even an order yet!  And at least two Fed Ex packets have been sent.  If the fabrics came from multiple mills / suppliers, or if the customer required multiple sets of the sample kit to be sent (perhaps 1 to the set designer and another to the lighting designer), there could have been 4 or 6 or 8 Fed Ex packets sent for this one project alone.  And if none of the fabrics work out, or if the design changes, the whole process may start again.

It is not about the financial cost – which could be as little as eight dollars or as much as $150.  It is about the cost to the environment to send all of these Fed Ex packets flying throughout the country (and even worldwide).  The gas, the emissions, the traffic conjestion.  Last week we sent out 7 sample kits via Fed Ex Overnight – and that’s just what went out from here – it doesn’t count incoming Fed Ex packages with samples from our suppliers.

So – perhaps the answer is to have a video archive of all commonly used fabrics – showing them in a controlled environment, subjected to the same lighting and motion.  While it would not combat the fact that the color you see on a video is probably not true to the fabric, it would give a designer a better idea of what the cloth is going to do and how it will react to lighting.  If I were a marketing student, or perhaps studying textiles, I think this would be a fascinating project to tackle.

10 02, 2010

Upstage..Downstage…Where am I?

By |February 10th, 2010|Education|3 Comments

You hear terms like “upstage” and “stage right,” but if you are a novice to the theatre, you may not understand exactly where those locations are on the stage.  Well, here is a brief primer on stage location terms.

Areas of the stage are based on if you are facing the audience.  So, if you are an actor, standing in the center of the stage facing the audience, stage right would be on your right  (the audience’s left).  Downstage would be in front of you, Upstage would be behind you.  Still confused?  Take a look at this diagram.


So, Stage Right and Stage Left make sense.  But why Upstage and Downstage?  The terminology comes from the days in which the audience seats were on a flat floor and the stage was tilted (razed) toward the audience, so that everyone on the audience floor could see the performance.  So, the area of the stage closest to the audience was the lowest part of the stage (hence, “downstage”), and the stage floor gradually angled upward toward the back wall of the stage, to the highest part of the stage (“upstage”).  Today, of course, the audience floor is angled and the stage floor is flat, but the terms “downstage” and “upstage” remain.

Hope this clarifies things a little for you! 

8 02, 2010

Wondering about fullness?

By |February 8th, 2010|Education, Products|4 Comments

When a customer calls us to request a quote on a custom stage curtain, there is certain information that we need in order to provide that quote – size, fabric, finishes and fullness.  Today, I thought I’d give you a little information about fullness.

The term “fullness” is used in relation to the amount of pleating in a curtain, and is typically described with a percentage.  A flat (unpleated) curtain is said to have zero fullness.  A pleated curtain would typically have anywhere from 50% fullness up to 200% fullness.

The fullness percentage refers to the amount of additional width of the drape in its flat condition, prior to pleating the curtain down to its finished width.  A curtain with 50% fullness will initially be sewn flat at 50% wider than the desired finished width, a curtain with 100% fullness will start out as an unpleated curtain that is 100% wider, and so on.  The extra fabric on the width is used to make the pleats.

Let’s say that you want a box-pleated drape, 20 feet wide, with 50% fullness.  Our sewing staff would start by sewing together widths of fabric until they have a flat drape that is 30 feet wide.  They would then pin the fabric to create the pleats. The top finish is then sewn and, with it, the pleats are also sewn in, and the finished width of the drape ends up at the desired 20 feet.

The percentage of fullness determines the size of the pleats.  With 50% fullness, the pleat is usually about 3″ wide.  With 100% fullness, the pleat is usually about 6″ wide.  In both cases, there is typically 12″ from the center of each pleat to the center of the next pleat.

The amount of fullness that is recommended depends on several factors, including budget, fabric type, and desired appearance.  Budget is a consideration because the lower the pleating percentage, the less fabric that is used on the drape, and therefore the lower the cost of the drape.  Fabric type and appearance also affect the choice in fullness.  Traditional theatre curtains made from velour are typically made with anywhere from 50% to 100% fullness, whereas specialty drapes made from voile (or similar lightweight fabrics) are usually made with between 100% and 200% fullness.

Want to find out more about fullness?  Check out the Pleating and Fullness page of our website, where we have photos and drawings for you to review.

3 02, 2010

Focus On: Voile

By |February 3rd, 2010|Education, Fabrics|1 Comment

Have you ever wondered what “voile” is?  I am sure you have seen this fabric many time, but you may not have known that you were looking at voile.

Voile is a fine plain weave (no nap) lightweight sheer fabric, similar to organza.  It is used for both apparel (typically women’s blouses and dresses) and drapery.  The name “voile” is a French word meaning “veil,” and so the name describes the appearance of the fabric – sheer and filmy like a bridal veil.  Voile may be made from a variety of fibers, including silk, cotton, rayon and polyester.

Drapery voile is typically made from polyester fibers, including Trevira ®, Avora ® and other polyesters.  It is a wide fabric, typically measuring 118″ wide.  Often, residential window sheers and canopy bed draping are made from voile, but voile is also used in professional applications. 

One professional application of voile is as custom stage curtains in music tours, selected by production designers for its beautiful romantic feel (especially when pleated) and the way it lights so beautifully.  As a matter of fact, we made voile drapes for the Rod Stewart Tour, and they were gorgeous – with the colored lighting, it is hard to believe that these drapes are actually white.  Surprisingly enough, it can also be used as a projection surfac, such as in the Beyonce tour, or even as a Twinkle-Light Drape.

Due to its terrific draping qualities, voile is frequently used by event planners to line and drapes tents and otherwise decorate venues, especially for weddings.  We have also seen it used for exhibit booths – a few years ago, we provided voile drapery to Heaven Hill Distilleries, for use in their exhibit booths in a major trade show event. 

Voile comes in a wide variety of colors, though we find that shades of white are the most requested, as the fabric lights so well.  Voile can also be digitally printed, and is particularly effective with an ethereal image such as shown in the Luna Guitars booth.