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28 11, 2017

Interesting Blog Post Explaining Knit and Woven Fabrics

By |November 28th, 2017|Education, Fabrics, links|1 Comment

Here at Sew What?, our focus is on the manufacturing of custom stage drapes and other soft goods. Along the way, we love to educate our blog readers about stage drapery – from the different material options to fullness to finishes.

Recently, Megan read a post from Dutch Label Shop that does a great job at explaining the differences in knit fabrics and woven fabrics, and so I thought I’d pass the information on to our readers. Click below to read this interesting post:

The Difference Between Knit and Woven Fabric

While Dutch Label Shop is focused on sewing apparel (they sell custom clothing labels), this post applies to fabric used in a variety of applications – including stage drapery and soft goods. For example, for digitally printed backdrops, we have both knit (such as Heavy Knit) and woven (such as Cotton Canvas) fabrics available.

We utilize many fabrics, both knit and woven, when making custom stage drapes, mixed media backdrops, LED Stardrops, and other stage soft goods. Of course, different fabrics work better for different needs, so we always offer the most appropriate fabric for the project – whether that be a knit fabric or a woven fabric.

29 08, 2017

Opaque, Transparent, Translucent

By |August 29th, 2017|Education, Fabrics|1 Comment

Since the majority of our work with clients is done via phone and email, clear verbal and written communication is key to our business. We need to clearly understand what our clients’ needs are and clearly explain to those clients what we recommend.

Sometimes it is fairly simple. The client knows exactly what he or she wants in a drape: fabric name, drapery style, fullness, etc. Other times, however, the client may just have an idea of a look but isn’t sure how to best describe the look. It’s our job to help the client describe their design and what they are trying to achieve in the design with the drapery.

One of the factors to consider is how opacity affects the customer’s design and drapery needs. Is the client looking for masking drapery and therefore needs the drape to be a solid black “non-see-through” fabric? If so, do they need complete light blockage (or “blackout”) drapery, or do they just want to ensure that any objects behind the drape can’t be seen?

When the customer asks for a “transparent” or “translucent” fabric, what is the customer trying to achieve in the design? Does the design call for something floaty and “see-through” or does it call for back-lighting, rear-projection, or a silhouette effect? Depending on the answers to these questions, either a “transparent” or a “translucent” fabric may be recommended (as the two terms are not synonymous).

Voile is an example of a transparent fabric, through which objects can be clearly seen (as above).

As we discuss the issue of drapery opacity, we sometimes find that a client is unclear about the difference between the terms “opaque,” “transparent,” and “translucent.” Of course, we do explain these terms directly to the client, but we have also found it helpful to our customers to send them a link to our white paper “Opaque, Transparent, or Translucent? Tips for Making the Best Fabric Choice for Stage Draperies.” Not only does the white paper explain the different terms in regards to how they relate to stage drapery fabrics, but it also lists common opaque, transparent, and translucent fabric choices.

Want to learn more about this fabric opacity? Click here to download a pdf copy of the white paper.

24 04, 2017

Guide to Stage Drapery

By |April 24th, 2017|Education|1 Comment

With the exception of those who have been in the theatre or a related area for years, most people are unfamiliar with the many types of curtains that can grace the stage of a theatre or concert stage. For the average person, knowing the difference between an Austrian and a Contour isn’t important, as long as the curtain looks nice on stage.

But what about those people who may be new to the theatre but need to learn the basics fast? Consider the mom who has offered to help her daughter’s school source a new grand drape, or the brand new production assistant tasked with getting quotes for stage drapery options for an upcoming tour? Or even those who know what they want but don’t know what to call it or how to describe it when speaking to a stage drapery manufacturer such as Sew What? Inc.

The good news is, to help people navigate the various types of stage drapery, we have created “Guide to Stage Drapery: Styles and Finishes.” This fifteen-page guide explains stage curtains from Austrians to Contours, from Teasers to Tormentors, and Cycloramas to Scrims. Common stage curtain terms such as fullness and pleating, top and bottom finishes, and more are also explained, and the guide includes a variety of photos and drawings of drapery styles and finishes.

The best thing? This pdf guide is free to download (opens in a new window). Just click here: “Guide to Stage Drapery: Styles and Finishes.”

9 02, 2017

Fantastic Throwback Thursday…………….Sew What? crafts a custom applique stage drapery for the Motley Crue final tour

By |February 9th, 2017|Clients, Digital Printing, Fabrics, Projects|1 Comment

Did you know that Sew What? Inc created the custom sewn backdrop with applique pentagram for rock heavyweights Motley Crue, and their Final Tour?  In this concert backdrop we see a traditional theatrical Sharkstooth Scrim is used for the main backdrop cloth. Then a digitally printed applique element is painstakingly pinned, sewn and then trimmed away to reveal the opaque on sheer pentagram for use on the Motley Crue Final Tour.

What makes this type of stage drapery unique is that the various layers supply a variety of special effects when the piece is hung and lit appropriately.  The Sharkstooth Scrim is a very traditional textile that has been used for opera and ballet installations into theatres for many years.  Sharkstooth scrim is available both in 100% cotton and also now in an Inherently Flame Retardant polyester version.  This makes it even stronger and more reliable for the touring marketplace. Scrim is best known for its “magical” property which allows it to be front lit and appear opaque, or when the front lighting is removed and the items behind it are lit it then appears transparent.

See the transformation and creation of this special order backdrop as it is crafted right here in our facility:

Video By Tom Underhill

The 2015 leg of the Motley’s Final Tour included shows all across the globe. By the end of the tour, The Final Tour visited an impressive 5 continents (North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia) for a total of more than 164 shows. Durability is needless to say…. extremely important. We selected a 3 thread scrim for this project, and utilized heavy knit for the digitally printed element as it is both durable and wrinkle resistant. This piece was hung in front of a massive pyrotechnic effect. The effect was revealed when the front lighting was removed from the Sharkstooth Scrim.  WOW!

For more information on this project read the full press release: Stage Drapery Manufacturer, Sew What? Inc. Bids Farewell to Motley Crue on its Final Tour:

Wondering who made the rocking soundtrack for the video? Our featured artist, Brainspoon, is a rock ‘n’ roll punk band based in Los Angeles, California. A staple of the Downtown Los Angeles rock scene, the band has earned a solid reputation with its blistering live show and catchy songs.
Brainspoon’s music has been played on “Livation” on KXLU Los Angeles, KUKQ in Phoenix, and KKZZ in Ventura, as well as on Goldie’s Garage on Sirius/XM satellite radio. The band has been featured in Sparkplug Magazine, the Ventura County Star, and the VC Reporter.

The band consist of Lead Vocals: Daphne Vandervalk, Guitar and Vocals: Michelle Balderrama, Bass: Tom Underhill, Drums: Chris Diez.

Brainspoon can be reached at:

21 11, 2016

Flame Retardant Fabric Options for Theater and Event Drapery

By |November 21st, 2016|Education, Fabrics|2 Comments

You may not realize it, but there is a wide range of flame retardant fabrics available to meet a variety of needs. Whether you are looking for a Grand Drape for a theatre, specialty drape for a special event, or a backdrop for a music tour, there is a fabric out there for you.  Today, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the different categories of theatrical and special event fabrics.


Velvets / Velours are used primarily for theatrical drapery, especially Grand Drapes.  Certain velours (especially Encore Velour) are also used for masking drapery.

Duvetyne / Commando Cloth. These brushed finish fabrics are generally used for black economy masking drapery and stage skirting.   Colored Commando Cloth is also used for economy theatrical and exhibit drapery.

Scenic FabricsThese woven fabrics are typically used for backdrops and cycloramas.  Scenic fabrics also work well for projection surfaces.

Scrim, Leno and BobbinetteThese net-like fabrics are used in conjunction with specialty stage lighting for projection and special effects.

Sheers, Satins and Silks.  These lightweight, shimmery fabrics are frequently used for special event drapery as well as for Austrian Drapes, Swags and other specialty drapery for music tours.

Stretch Fabrics are often made into shapes such as triangles and stars, which are then stretched to a taut surface, suitable for projection or lighting.  Tension Fabric Shapes are a favorite stage design choice for Houses of Worship.

Masking, Blackout and Lining. These opaque fabrics can mask off areas of the stage from sight, as well as block out some or all light.  Depending on the level of opacity needed, as well as the style of drapery chosen, these may be used on their own or as a lining to a different fabric.

Event and Display Fabrics are lightweight fabrics most often used as exhibit booth drapery. Most are permanently flame retardant and easy care.

Printable Fabrics are used to create digitally printed scenic backdrops via a grand format digital printer.  Fabric, mesh and vinyl printable fabrics are available, with fabric used most frequently indoors and mesh and vinyl used most frequently for outdoor shows.

Outdoor Fabrics are durable coated polyesters and PVC products (vinyl and mesh) which stand up well to the elements, allowing for use at outdoor shows.

For a downloadable whitepaper answering questions on fabric choice, see our whitepaper, “Making the Best Fabric Choice for Stage Draperies