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18 07, 2017

A look behind the scenes at the creation of the MOVE Live Tour “steampunk themed kabuki drop”

By |July 18th, 2017|Digital Printing, Products, Projects|1 Comment

We recently had the opportunity to work with Stage Designer Butch Allen and the MOVE Live choreography team – crafting three unique textile drapery looks for the 2017 MOVE Live Tour. This popular touring production is the brain-child of multi-talented artists Derek and Julianne Hough. Both known for their multiple successes on the hit ABC show ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ they bring an incredible dance and performance spectacular to the stage in this production. Working with Peter Morse, Lighting Designer; Butch Allen, Set Designer; and Director Tabitha D’umo, this was an exciting project for Sew What? Inc right from the get go.

One drapery backdrop piece we made for this project was completely unique in its design and construction, and unlike anything we had ever crafted before. Having taken lots of photos of the progress we will feature the STEAMPUNK themed kabuki drop in this blog entry.  It was fun to see the design develop from the various inspiration materials that were supplied.

Let’s start with the initial design package, which drew on a variety of color tones, textures, and steampunk themes.  As with all backdrops, it is more than just designing the drape – it has to work with the theme of the show, the wardrobe, the lighting design, and the overall tone of the production. Take a look here, and in particular note the items that were ultimately selected to draw from conceptually in the creation of the 30’h x 24’w finished kabuki backdrop piece.

Starting with a baseline – the drape itself needed to have a backing which would set the overall color palette for the drape. For this the Espresso Encore in 22oz (a nice solid opaque polyester velour) was selected for the trapezoid lining. This is a sturdy and durable cloth that reacts well when appliqued and is often used in mixed media backdrops.  The Espresso color offered just enough warm tone that we could bring in all manner of golds, taupe and burnt umber tones on top of it.

A wardrobe inspiration package was supplied that offered a glimpse of the different costumes that would be designed and crafted for the artists and dancers.  In reviewing the different wardrobe styles, one piece in particular jumped out as being “translatable” into a larger scale.  This image here shows a women’s leather woven bustier top.  In crafting this in a large scale, we would dress the face of the Espresso Encore with different ribbon width layers of various fabrics and textures per this inspiration image from wardrobe – all the cloth ribbons would be laid out on the bias and crafted with a woven effect. To mimic the movement of the wardrobe piece, the backdrop would also have knotted and braided ends to stream off the edges of the drape.

The color palette for the overall piece was very important.  Often, it’s not just what materials you choose – but rather the colors that you select when it comes to artistic pieces such as this.  This drape needed to stand alone and be gorgeous whether lit under stage lighting – or unlit under natural conditions. Here is a snap shot of the materials that were selected to create just the right antiqued / bronzed / steampunk tones.  We blended from gold thru cocoa brown, and made sure to have more than one texture and finish within the palette.  Materials selected included Textura, Supervel and Illusion.

The final touches for this piece would come from the applique of some custom “steampunk” themed printed elements.  The client supplied the graphics in a low resolution file, which graphic artist John Rios of John Rios Designs then re-drew to suit our applique project. This included “toning” the new print files so that the color palette worked perfectly with the fabrics that had been selected for the project.  A group of digitally printed steampunk “cog and wheel” elements were to be printed and then “cut out” for a decorative applique over the top of the weaving as a final dressing layer.

The early concept was some quick copy, past and stretch of the various inspiration images. Once the idea had been developed and approved then it was time to get to work!

Enjoy these images (in order) showing the construction progress as this masterpiece was crafted in hours by our wonderful and talented staff.  Even Crispin the office dog helped out with the project.  This massive undertaking required ALL hands on deck!

And so now you are probably ready to look at the finished piece live on stage!  Well, here it is in all its glory. We could not have been prouder of our work and the craftsmanship of the Sew What? sewing team was really put to the test on this piece.  We think that the team did an amazing job – don’t you?

Want to see the kabuki drop?…………..  In this YouTube video, you can see the kabuki action which is very dramatic!

About Sew What? Inc: Just like your audience, you want top performance. Sew What? understands and delivers. Our Stage Drapes and Theatrical Backdrops, Curtain Tracks and Theatrical Supplies exceed expectations and enhance your shows. For an experienced drapery manufacturer with work that ranges from digitally printed drapery for the hottest rock concerts, to the biggest theater performances, to just about any other kind of production under the sun, Sew What? is the answer.

12 06, 2017

Amazing concert effect at U2 Concerts

By |June 12th, 2017|Digital Printing, Education, Products, Projects|2 Comments

Amazing concert effect achieved when Wide Format Digital Prints are passed through the audience at recent U2 concerts.

Sew What? is thrilled to have been a part of this current U2 Tour production, preparing a selection of sublimated silk graphic prints to be used for an interactive audience element in the world-famous band’s current tour.

Formed in Dublin in 1976, Irish rock band U2 is an anthemic band known for lead singer Bono’s expressive vocals and guitarist Edge’s effects based sounds. They are one of the world’s best-selling artists, having sold more than 170 million records worldwide with 13 studio released albums all of which are iconic.

Why did the U2 production staff select “Sew What?” for their custom printed fabric project? Because of our customer service and attention to detail. Not only do we specialize in digitally printed stage backdrops and props, we offer digital printing services with other quality products and fair pricing. Above all, we want to help make your concert stage backdrops as spectacular as they can be. During the quoting process, sales associate Shane Nelsen discussed the use and expectations for these printed textile elements with the client to make sure that the best materials were recommended.  Once the art was received, Shane and our printing department specialist and operator Danny worked tirelessly to make sure that the client’s supplied images were prepared appropriately for the wide format printing needed for this special effect project.

No matter what concert you attend, you will see digitally printed fabric, digital printed stage backdrops and wide-format digital billboards. That’s because any graphics created for printing on paper can be printed on fabric. With a variety of substrates to choose from, digital printing enables you to magnify photo quality images into stunning custom theatrical and scenic digital backdrops and concert drapes. The wide-format digital printing process involves firstly image file preparation.  The images are inspected for quality and any graphic variances which would show up when “enlarged” to magnified dimensions. The files are then imported into the printer software where the image is “ripped” into segments for wide format printing onto our 120” wide substrates.


Once printed, each segment of fabric then needs to be inspected and measured for accuracy. Once all the pieces are printed for one graphic element then they can be sewn together.  This process requires that we use our long 40+ foot long sewing tables, and painstakingly line up eachgraphic panel and pin it with sewing pins to the next panel.  Once fully pinned it is ready to move to the sewing machines for careful seaming.

Sewing together textile banners and backdrops of these proportions requires not only the right equipment but a great deal of patience.  At this point in the process nothing can be rushed.  Every stitch and seam is important in crafting a finished image where the seam lines will be nearly invisible! We use a variety of sewing machines in the process including overlockers, single needle, double needle and reinforcement stitch machines as part of the sewing process. Oftentimes we will back stack 2 or more machines to a table and run multiple sewing processes simultaneously so as to reduce the amount of handling that is needed per drapery element.

The finished product is always a thrill to see develop through the various stages of planning and construction. Once completed, our Quality Control staff do a very thorough inspection of the finished softgoods, and we then package and ship the items to the client.  For the moment of truth…….. the excitement when we see the item in use on stage! Enjoy this video showing our sublimated silk audience banner panels while U2 perform the song Miss Sarajevo in Seattle on 5-14-17.

About Sew What? Inc

Just like your audience, you want top performance. Sew What? understands and delivers. Our Stage Drapes and Theatrical Backdrops, Curtain Tracks and Theatrical Supplies exceed expectations and enhance your shows. For an experienced drapery manufacturer with work that ranges from digitally printed drapery for the hottest rock concerts, to the biggest theater performances, to just about any other kind of production under the sun, Sew What? is the answer.

18 04, 2017

Have Track, Will Travel!

By |April 18th, 2017|Products|1 Comment

Adding gorgeous bi-parting grand stage drapes, traveler curtains, or other specialty traveler drapes to your program will add heaps of visual interest and excitement to your theatre stage design. But your event space may not have permanent traveler track installed….so what can you do?

American-Made Automatic Devices Company Traveler Track to the rescue!

For those looking to permanently install traveler track, the ordering process is simple when you work with Sew What? Inc. We feel that, just as important as having beautiful curtains, is having reliable tracks that support and transport them across the stage. And when the drape fits the track and the track fits the drape, you’re in for a show! We’re proud to feature a full complement of superior-quality American-made curtain tracks by ADC, one of the premier manufactures of theatrical curtain transport systems and the only brand that has won UL approval. From the most basic manual rope-pull track to fully motorized and automated systems, ADC tracks assure a moving performance at the highest standards. With a variety of traveler track styles available, we can guarantee you the right traveler track for your specific need.

Never installed traveler track before? Have no fear! Installation of walk along and rope operated traveler track is a simple, straight-forward process. We offer easy instructions on how to install it so that you can take the guess work out of the install, and instead can focus your energy and attention on creating a breathtaking and memorable stage and backdrop design. For those installing automated and motorized drapery tracks, we recommend that the installation be handled by a licensed contractor. We will supply all the installation elements for the track, and your contractor will install per the supplied instructions based on your local and state building codes.

Want to rent it?

It may not be economical to purchase all the stage curtain track hardware you need, especially when you aren’t sure how often it will be used, nor what the space dimensions will possibly be on future events. Renting theatrical curtain track is a fantastic option for many of our clients who want the excitement of having stage curtain track and traveler track drapery, but perhaps don’t have the permanent venue to showcase it.