Stunning, magical, sexy, dramatic- these are all words that have been used to describe our Austrian style drapes- a product that we pride ourselves in manufacturing as the very best in the business. I have never seen a drape make so many lighting designers giddy with the same level of excitement of 3 year old on Christmas Day than that of an Austrian. For anxious patrons of a production, it simply takes their breath away and sets the mood while heightening the expectation for the entire show before the first note is ever played, before any song is sung, and before any words are whispered. The Austrian drape silently speaks a bold message of confidence on behalf of everyone behind the curtain- no matter how chaotic or crazy it is backstage.
I have caught myself escaping into the production room and wrapping myself up in the Austrian’s plush pleats pretending I was the queen of some Loire Valley castle in the heart of France- an imaginary escape from the confines of my cubicle. This past week we’ve been working on yet another beauty in the back room-so I decided I should take you on a field trip into our sewing production room and show you little snippets of the process involved in making Austrian-style magic.
1) Flat panels of fabric are sewn together to achieve the desired width, taking into account both the horizontal and vertical fullness calculations.
2) Once the panels are sewn together, each panel is shirred where each lift line will be sewn. This process creates the vertical fullness. The photo below shows a panel that is only partially shirred.
3) Each shirred line has to be meticulously pinned, then sewn so that the swags hang evenly.
4) Once shirred vertically, lift lines are sewn to the backside to accommodate the motorized cables that lift the drape. Having a working lift line is optional, as some clients simply want a static (non-operable) backdrop for their special events.
5) The Austrian is nearly complete and needs to be pinned and sewn to a header so that it can be tied to a batten or a truss. This is also the step where the horizontal fullness develops into the drape. The horizontal fullness determines how deep the swags in each panel will hang.
6) Once sewing production is complete, the Austrian gets inspected and then folded by the Quality Control department before it is released to be shipped.
Voila! What once was yards and yards of boring bolted fabric has now blossomed into a beautiful working drape that will become one lucky lighting designer’s ‘blank canvas.’ This cream colored drape will be the ultimate lighting tool as it will light to whatever color that is washed onto it.