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28 11, 2018

Marc Anthony Digital Print For His Legacy Tour

By |November 28th, 2018|Clients, Digital Printing|1 Comment

Sew What? Inc. had the opportunity to really pull a rabbit out of a hat for the current Marc Anthony tour. Not only was the task at hand a challenge in terms of sewing – it was also a challenge based on the very limited time frame. This was our moment to shine by performing some super-high-speed-sewing! Nonstop printing and stitching were in order, and the SW team pulled out all the stops to create this 46’h x 75’w digitally printed brail lift drape in just one week.

Wondering what a brail drape is? The term brail in fact comes from the maritime industry. Brails, in a sailing ship, are small lines used to haul in or up the edges (leeches) or corners of sails, before furling. On a ship rig, these brails are most often found on the mizzen sail. The command is, hale up the brails, or, brail up the sails. Certainly not to be confused with Braille, a tactile writing system for the blind.  In this instance the lines are use to lift and unfurl the stage drapery to create a reveal and cover effect that can be operated remotely via the motorized lift system.

For this project, there were a total of 16 vertical lift lines placed strategically on the back side of the drape. We craft these as near-invisible sewn vertical lines with O-rings running vertically to capture the aircraft cable that is used for lifting the drape. Each lift line runs the full 46 feet in height – so there were over 700 running feet of lift line alone on this giant drapery with nearly 500 hand applied o-rings on the back side.

Matching the printed pattern is also a key component. In this case the print was printed onto 9 custom sized widths of fabric. For durability and a gorgeous lighting surface, we chose to direct print onto our crystal poplin. It is important that each printed segment is lined up perfectly before it is sewn. We used thousands of sewing pins to pre-pin by hand all the sections of cloth. So great attention is given to the craft of assembling the drape. Print. Seam. Add lift lines.  Finish top, sides and bottom. Add hardware. Insert all the O-rings. Inspect. Fold and ship!

It was a pleasure to work with the Marc Anthony team and specifically with his talented designer Travis Shirley and Roly Garbalosa of Garba Music.  Sew What? Inc. was delighted to be a key player in the production of this amazing arena tour!

24 09, 2018

Meet the Sew What? and Rent What? Staff, Part 22: Kim

By |September 24th, 2018|Company, Rent What Team, Sew What Team|1 Comment

For our next installment of “Meet The Staff”, I am very happy to be able to officially introduce you to an incredibly important—and very much appreciated—member of our Sew What? / Rent What? family, Kim Curran. We’ve been extremely lucky to add Kim to the “Whatter Family” a few years ago as our Senior Purchasing Agent, and it’s been a perfect match ever since. Her diverse background as a buyer has immensely helped with her transition into this slightly different field of “theatrical fabric purchasing”, giving her an invaluable insight and perspective on successful vendor relations, and in turn, what we need to help make this company run smoothly—fabric! Please take a moment to read a little more about Kim, and learn why we are so thrilled to have her as an absolutely vital member of the SW team. 😊

When did you first start at Sew What? What were you originally hired to do, and how have your duties changed since working here?

I started in May of 2015 as the Sew What Purchasing Agent, and have remained in that position ever since.

If you could take a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

It would definitely be Italy—I love the food……All of the food! Pasta, fish, desserts, and everything in between. 😉

What kind of work did you do before coming to Sew What?

I was a sporting goods buyer for a major national sporting goods chain—mostly focusing on fitness products of all kinds.

Do you have a special talent?

I love to dabble in baking and cooking of all varieties—and I try to use my powers for good and not evil. (my colleagues seem happy to take on my baking experiments) 😉

What is your favorite memory/circumstance/event from being part of the Sew What? family?

My husband and I had the most wonderful time attending a company dinner at the Bull Pen last year. It was a sit-down dinner at a spectacular steak house with much of the company there, and their spouses and significant others. And it was such a blast!

What is your favorite sports team/TV Show/Book/Movie?

I am not too die-hard of a fan for any particular sports team…. But I AM a huge fan of all kinds of cooking programs—especially the reality competition cooking shows. Give me some Chopped, Iron Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, or any baking contest on TV and I’m there!

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to cook—if you haven’t been able to tell by now! Main courses, desserts, snacks, and anything else that sounds yummy. My husband and I have newly started experimenting with Blue Apron (home delivered ingredients and recipes) which has really gotten me to wear my “chef hat” more than ever. It’s been a fun way for us to try out interesting new styles of food and cooking that we normally probably never would have done on our own.

Plus—more importantly–this summer we also added a new member to our family…our new puppy Stella! She’s a 7-month-old Chiweenie puppy (Chihuahua and Dachshund mix), and she has been the light of our life since we brought her home to be our furr-ever little girl. She has so much contagious energy, so much excitement over everything, and gives so much love to us both–and everyone she meets. It has been so much fun adding her to our family! 😊

What project have you worked on recently that was interesting or challenging?

The most challenging aspect of my job is the short turnaround time we have for some of the orders for our clients—the tours especially. Many things can “go wrong” when it comes to procuring the exact right substrates that our clients are requesting, such as material availability, damages to the fabrics we receive, delays in shipping, size inaccuracies, etc. Thankfully, we have an amazing team here that will do everything they can to find a way to work through any issues that might come up in order to be able to get our clients the beautiful custom theatrical stage draperies that they are requesting — how they want them, and on time.

Anything more about your time here at SW?

There is a strong feeling of having a second family here at Sew What, Inc., which is just so nice to experience every day!

11 06, 2018

Wide Format Digitally Printed Backdrop Rocks Out At Festival Tour

By |June 11th, 2018|Digital Printing|1 Comment

Here at Sew What? Inc., we love being involved in all kinds of concert tours and festivals, and we are always so excited to help create the most perfect digitally-printed backdrops for our clients imaginable. Our state of the art, large-scale in-house digital printer can create individual custom-printed pieces up to 10ft. wide each–and with our gifted sewing team’s incredible skills, the sky’s the limit with how large you can have your soft goods sewn into. With a variety of substrates to choose from (indoor, outdoor, opaque, translucent, etc.), digital printing enables you to magnify a photo quality image into a stunning theatrical and scenic digital backdrop. This is especially exciting nowadays because any graphics that are designed for printing on paper can now be printed on fabric, too, so we can literally take any idea from your imagination and turn it into a breathtaking reality!

Recently our client Blackbird Productions approached our expert sales rep Marilyn Moss, to help them build a larger-than-life, custom-made digitally printed backdrop for their exciting Outlaw Music Festival Tour headlined by none other than the “Red Headed Stranger,” Willie Nelson. It needed to be lightweight and easy to hang, be tour-friendly going from show to show, and yet still be bright and colorful enough to showcase the festival design with glorious clarity for the entire crowd to see.  They decided on a 20’h x 40’w drape printed on Crystal Poplin, an extremely durable FR fabric that works beautifully with digital ink to really make the colors really POP. Check out this video designed by Tom Underhill to see this one-of-a-kind, gorgeous drape being manufactured right here in our very own LA warehouse:

As you can see, the festival design is extremely bright and clear, and ready for their entire audience to enjoy—for both those that are close-to and far-away from the stage. It’s also great to know that Direct Digital Fabric Printing is extremely cost-effective for both proof and short-run printing, it reduces production time from weeks to just days (which accelerates design and product development when time is of the essence), and most importantly it permits (and encourages!) customization and personalization from your own design vision.

Rent What? is always thrilled when we have the perfect rental specialty drape for your event, concert, or production. But if they don’t have exactly what you are looking for, we would highly recommend having a personally tailored digitally printed backdrop created by the talented individuals at Sew What? instead. Having trouble coming up with an idea for your upcoming show? Let our creative sales representatives help you figure out the ideal digital backdrop for your show, while also giving you the most “bang for your buck.” Need it transported across the country? Not a problem! Our team of innovative shipping coordinators can package it the best, safest way for your drapes—whether that be via a hamper, box, or pallet. Let us help your next tour’s stage design be as memorable as the shows themselves!

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.