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12 09, 2017

Custom Digital Print Adds Color And Excitement To Church Staging

By |September 12th, 2017|Digital Printing, Fabrics, Products, Projects|1 Comment

WOW – Who would have thought that a gorgeous, illuminating stage like this…..

Could have been derived from such a simple image as this…..?

When our clients contact us with custom drapery requests, we always try to make sure we can fully envision what they want the soft goods to look like when they are finished so that we are all on the same page about the end result. This way we can be as sure (as possible) that our custom-built digitally printed drapery will work perfectly with their venue, tour, production, or special event.

But I have to admit, when Caleb McNaughton from Highpoint Church in Aurora, Colorado sent us the above image to be digitally printed, at first I thought they were interesting but wondered why they might want something  so…uncolorful.  I can completely see now! Printed on Crystal Poplin, the excellent translucency of this fabric will allow for a multitude of different moods to be created. By simply changing the theatrical lighting that is splashed upon it, they now have an endless amount of looks and backgrounds for their stage, using the exact same soft goods.  Versatile, Dynmaic, and Brilliant!

18 05, 2015

Little Big Town Rocks Big Backdrops

By |May 18th, 2015|Clients, Digital Printing, Projects|2 Comments

Little Big Town is a crowd favorite – and also a client favorite over here at Sew What? Inc.  We are so thankful and honored to have been selected to create unique, branded and seriously rocking backdrops for this popular touring band.

Known for their creative 4 part vocal harmonies, LBT are an American country music group, who have had the same 4 band members since the late 1990’s (actually this is quite a feat!). Reminds us in some ways of ourselves – we have been at it a long time with a tight team – and like LBT we feel that we have found a way to really “do what we do” well.  If you haven’t listened to them, please check into their recordings – or better yet grab tix for their current “Pain Killer Tour“.

Enjoy this showcase with just a few of the various backdrops we have created for Little Big Town under their production team’s guidance over the last few years. ……. I have included a little about each piece and the materials selected.

In this boldly Americana backdrop for Little Big Town, the vintage flag design was designed and made paint-ready by John Rios of John Rios Designs. What makes this piece unique beyond what’s seen under traditional lighting is that the band’s name was embedded within the drop with invisible Ultra Violet paint.  So – when the lights were killed and the UV lights engaged, the bands name glowed in all its glory for the audience to see.  We love to see these dynamic “lights out” effects that utilize our textiles!  The hand painted UV text effect was applied after the drop was sewn and painted with the traditional paints. Scenic artists typically prefer cotton substrates for painting onto – and they are almost always best for UV effects, we find, as the UV paints tent to take to them more effectively than they do onto a polyester – so keep that in mind if you are thinking that a topical UV treatment might be something you have in mind for a drop of your own.

Lit Big Twn_Flag
The glowing doves in this backdrop are a topical UV effect – that was applied to a digitally printed 2 color design – created by Raj Kapoor and his team. This was a heavy cotton canvas that we selected for our in house digital printing – and the drop was then hand treated with both a white UV paint over the doves as well as a UV blocker in other areas to add to the variance between the glowing areas and those that dropped out of the scene when lit appropriately.  Matching printed and custom fit stage skirting brought the entire design into reality for a total look.

Lit Big Twn_Doves

In fact, this very unique backdrop was even featured in the Business Unusual Culture section of Entrepreneur Magazine.  Quite a treat – for both us and LBT!

Lit Big Twn_Entrepreneur

Check out the blend (and amazing visual depth created) when traditional stage drapery is combined with digitally printed “forced perspective” in this “tornado” inspired design by Raj Kapoor and his design team.  The drapery elements hung mid stage were translucent poly silks, which gave both front and back lighting opportunity to the designers, and the digitally printed backdrop which hung just feet from the drapery had a forced perspective built into the art. The effect is that the stage is much deeper that it actually was, and the audience was really drawn into the performance space with the dramatic lighting and the central visual focal point.

Lit Big Twn_Perspective

Well – there are more awesome LBT backdrops that I wanted to share – but I will stop right here – and perhaps share a Part Two some time soon.

27 04, 2015

Mixed Media Drape Practically Glows

By |April 27th, 2015|Digital Printing, Projects|2 Comments

On February 24th we received an inquiry through our website to quote a backdrop set consisting of (3) 26’ x 12’ panels – one center panel with a digitally printed image on a black background, along with two solid black side panels.  The client emailed the artwork which Megan Duckett and I took a look at and decided to get the client on the phone to discuss a couple different options.

While brainstorming during the phone conversation, Megan suggested that, along with making the two side panels from IFR Black 22oz Encore, we could also applique the center digitally printed image onto IFR Black 22oz Encore to give the illusion of a floating skeleton (this would have the added benefit of ensuring that that black tones matched for all three pieces).  We also discussed doing some cutouts on the center panel to allow light reflection to show through, as well as some UV paint treatments to make certain areas of the image pop.  The client liked the idea, so we got to work!

3DG_mixed_media_drape_in_progress It takes a couple of people to sew this size of a digitally printed backdrop, especially with tight turnaround time.

In and of itself, the drape is absolutely spectacular and extremely engaging.  Our in-house “be-dazzler” Shane Nelsen hand-painted the digitally printed image with UV paint to highlight certain elements of the artwork.  Now, when under the magic of a UV lamp, this drape practically bursts with electricity onto the viewing eyes of its audience, creating a spectacular vision that will not soon be forgotten.


In this photo, Shane applies UV paint at night under a UV light to make sure he gets it right!

We have so much fun helping our clients’ magnificent ideas become a reality in the most breathtaking ways possible, and doing mixed media and digital printing is a sure-fire way to wow the crowd each and every time.  We received an email from the band’s tour manager saying that the band was really happy with the backdrops, so happy in fact that they ended up also ordering a smaller version of the center panel!


We were so excited to discover this photo on Flickr of the backdrop being used on tour – it looks great!


26 03, 2015

When to Print and When to Paint?

By |March 26th, 2015|Digital Printing, Education, Products|3 Comments

I am often asked about custom backdrops for theatres and concerts.  Especially from those who are at the very onset of the design process.  Frequently the question will arise……. Should we print it or paint it?

I DON’T believe that there is a stock or kit answer to this rather complex question.  As there IS a time and a place for both methods.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you decide which way to go………. I have decided to cover all things from an artistic perspective – not from a cost perspective.  As you would imagine, it’s hard to put a ballpark cost to a hand painted piece.  So I am looking at this purely from the design side.

When to print:

  • If you are absolutely set on a photo-realistic finish.
  • If you have high resolution files already available to you
  • If your art is already created as a vector file (fully scaleable)
  • If you need a drop that is extremely bright in colors but also extremely lightweight in physical weight
  • If you want your backdrop to remain supple by printing on a knit or other similar substrates
  • You don’t have much time! – Super fast printing to marketplace is a benefit of the print processes
  • You have other printed drops and you need your pieces to match
  • You are looking for a totally digital experience – you can email the file and receive the drop – no onsite or visual visits needed as “what you provide is what is printed”

Digitally printed backdrop for Jason Aldean tour

When to paint:

  • If you have an inspiration photo – but it is low resolution and you can’t access a high resolution version of it.
  • If you don’t have a budget to have digital art created for printing – then painting is an excellent option
  • You have other hand painted drops and you need your pieces to match
  • When the design lends itself to paint and brushstrokes
  • For soft textural backgrounds and organic designs
  • When you want to have some artistic license during the creation and painting process
  • If you want the ability of touching up or altering the image, or finish, over time
  • If you are looking for a traditional crafted painted drop simply to support the value and skills of the scenic painters in the local marketplace!

Rod Ste_3

Hand-painted backdrop for Rod Stewart

DID YOU KNOW……… you can create a COMBO MIXED MEDIA BACKDROP – with both printing AND painting?

When to make a mixed media backdrop:

  • When you are looking for visual variance in textures of the textiles within the drop………. A dull rich black, a glossy silver, a textural burnt umber.  All three can be created by combining, print, paint and raw textiles by way of layering!
  • When you want a photo realistic image AND a UV or Gold Leaf treatment……… print first then add a decorative paint top coat as applicable.
  • When you are looking for areas to be cut out for a “cut drop” and the detailing is very specific.  Printing is great for a cityscape – then hot knife out some windows for a WOW moment on stage when backlighting is added.

Digitally-printed backdrop with top coat of UV paint

So, as you can see, there really ARE times to choose a printing and times to choose painting – and times to choose both in a single backdrop.  Whichever works best for your situation, a scenic backdrop can make a huge impact on your set or show design.

24 03, 2015

Why You Should Choose A Digitally Printed Soft Good

By |March 24th, 2015|Digital Printing, Products|3 Comments

Digital fabric printing is seen everywhere you look today. Everything from a theater backdrop to a wide-format digital billboard can be seen at concert tours, awards shows, special events, and even church, school and dance productions. But you may be asking yourself, what exactly are digitally-printed backdrops,” and how can you have one specially made for your next big production, concert or special event? Well, it’s a lot easier than you may think— and the end result will be something you can use to add some unforgettable excitement to your show, over and over again!

Aveng_Seven Fold_6

Basically, with the help of a large-scale digital printer—not unlike a huge version of the printer you have at your home or office, but instead of using paper, ours uses all kinds of fabrics and substrates—we are able to print your photos, designs and logos onto a drape, backdrop, banner or even “red carpet”. You just send us your artwork, and our team of sales representatives and our on-site graphics coordinator will work with you to create your own personalized soft goods printed right here in our warehouse. 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 the sky’s the limit with what we can create!

There are also many benefits to having a custom-built digital drape made especially for you. You will have remote control of the design and printing process, and we can print directly from easily stored, transmitted, and transported computer files, so it won’t matter if you’re here in Southern California or across the country. This also reduces proofing time from weeks to hours, thus accelerating design and product development for more time-sensitive necessities. And best of all, it permits customization and personalization, so that you can create the vision you desire, no matter what that might be.


We sincerely enjoy getting to help our clients create the results they need to help their event or show be as successful, memorable, and dynamic as possible. Contact a Sew What? Representative today to see how we can help design and construct a custom-built digital drape for your next big special event.