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23 01, 2017

Remembering George Michael

By |January 23rd, 2017|Clients|1 Comment

Being in the theatrical drapery business, it might be said that backdrops big and small come and go at a great pace. However, on the day-to-day level we aim to treat all our rock n roll clients with the same level of professionalism be they an established A-Lister or an up and coming artist. We don’t discriminate on concert size, venue location, or what type of music the artist performs.

I will confess, however, that there has always been an off the record “bucket list” of clients that we would just dream to one day make a backdrop for. For each of us on the customer care team, the list tends to be different, and usually influenced by where we grew up and what we listened to as a child.  Influential artists that meant something during our formative years, or music that got us thru either good, or bad, times.

Photo Courtesy Steve Jennings

While I can’t speak for the team here, I must say that the untimely passing of George Michael came as a real shock to me personally.  This was an artist whose music, from the early Wham! days, was purely and simply the soundtrack to my teenage years.  I remember birthday parties and high school dances peppered with tunes such as “Young Guns” and “Bad Boys.” While the musical duo Wham! were British, growing up in Australia they were a part of our everyday radio play………… for years. Who could forget “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or didn’t want to sing along with “Careless Whisper.” I know all the words.

For me personally – when Benoit Richard contacted us to craft a drapery package for George Michael’s tour some years back, it was like all my high school dreams had come true.  Certainly – this was an artist that I was just SO excited to be sewing for.  George Michael, along with Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Elton John, were all on that “dream client” list. It was an exciting achievement to be involved in this project for George Michael.

Photo Courtesy Steve Jennings

It’s not about the loss of a client, however, it’s about the loss of an incredibly talented artist and an influential musician. A couple of images from the tour we were a part of are the memories we have – along with the music of course. Long Live the dance-pop-post-disco era.

11 05, 2015

Megan Interviewed on Rock Rage Radio

By |May 11th, 2015|Authors, Company, News|2 Comments

Want to learn all about how Sew What? began, directly from Megan?  Well, here is your chance!  Tomorrow May 12th from 5pm to 6pm Pacific Time, Gina Van Epische, the Psycho Seamstress, is airing an hour-long interview with Megan on Rock Rage Radio.

rock rage radio

Megan talks about how Rock n Roll brought her to the United States from her native Australia, how she started Sew What and grew it from one person (herself) to a thriving company with more than 30 employees focusing on custom band backdrops and stage drapes, her other business projects and much more. I think you will really enjoy hearing her story.

So set your alarm to tune in tomorrow.  You can listen to Rock Rage Radio on your computer or mobile device or download the Rock Rage mobile app for Android.  Links for all three listening options are available on their home page at

6 05, 2015

I’ve Got the Blog Blues

By |May 6th, 2015|Authors, Company|1 Comment

I’ve got the blog blues.  It’s not because there is nothing to blog about – rather that there seems to be so much to blog about. My dilemma is how to choose what, and when, to pen? Know what I mean?

This morning when I was on my way in to work I was addressing a query over the telephone.  It related to how many drapes would fit into a hamper for a client – and what the cost of shipping the drapery set was when IN the hamper versus shipping the drapes in boxes.  Of course the boxes were cheaper for shipping – but the risk of damage to their $30,000 drapery package during transport was greatly increased by removing the protection of the hampers.  It reminded me of saving a penny but in turn risking a grand.  Know what I mean?  And so I was planning to write a post today about the importance of selecting appropriate packaging and shipping methods and weighing up the risks versus the savings before shoving drapes into a cardboard box and hoping for the best………


But then I got to the office and had a client with questions about fashion fabrics. Their desire was to use some rayon/nylon mix materials with unique texture and patterns, that they had found in a store (intended for garment use) and wanted to know the costs involved in treating said fabrics with flameproofing chemicals for use on stage.  Did you know that getting high rayon content textiles to meet national flammability standards is darn close to impossible – and might I add cost prohibitive.  We found the $5.00 per yard fabric would cost an additional $9.00 per yard to flameproof, and would only be available as a 100 yard roll from a supplier who typically runs a 6-10 week leads time.  FUNNY! This won’t exactly work for a concert that hits the road next Friday.  So I thought that I might instead want to write a blog about why narrow fabrics milled with the intent for use in the apparel and upholstery marketplace so rarely make it into the concert scene……

But then the phone interrupted me, and it was a client that was yelling down the telephone, at someone else, not me – but at any rate I sat and waited while they finished and then he informed me that actually he was too busy to talk now and would in fact have to call me back.  So as I pondered this, I thought that it would be wonderful to develop a blog piece with the concept of helping clients know what details to include in an email query so that we can be of the most use without having to take up time on the phone with them while they are busy at the gig doing load in – or load out – or trying to catch some shuteye between venues.  Surely there is a better way. With all this technology……….  I honestly think that I am able to offer far better service when not under pressure on the phone to “put numbers to it real quick”. Last heard as I cried over the loss report was that “I put the wrong numbers in”………..

But before I could put pen to paper…… or fingers to keyboard as it in fact is………..then the sewing room buzzed me.  Rush order on the sewing room shop floor – due today – and the fabric has arrived with some flubs and flaws. !!! S.O.S. How to handle it?  It is like a veterinary office here.  CONSTANT triage.  Move the van here – now redirect the driver there – quick, overnight this.  Now change gears, stop what you were doing – and rethread the machine with black instead of grey thread.  LOVE all the action – its go go go.  What a great story it would be to share a day in the life of the sewing room – to perhaps follow one or two staff thru their scheduled projects and get to see firsthand the challenges they encounter.

Decided – a blog about the sewing room triage it would be. And as I finally sat to begin writing, an emergency chocolate chip cookie delivery made it to my office. (Thank goodness as all this contemplation about which of today’s situations to write about was really draining me and I was about to have a low blood sugar moment.) Thank you Carol – oh angel of the cookie delivery.

I have fully recovered – thanks to the cookie and the accompanying caffeine. And so the blog post for today is broad.  I got the blog blues.  So much to write about and a rotten case of ADD to distract me.

Feel free to weigh in on what you would like to read more of – and I gladly oblige!

Ok back to the drapery mines…………

12 01, 2015

January Jitters

By |January 12th, 2015|Authors, Company|0 Comments

Funny – but even after so many years of being in business I always find myself starting out the new year with what I call the “January Jitters”  Flooded with thoughts such as “will it be a busy year” – “what new clients will we get” and then the list that resurfaces such as “what about we refresh all the paint in the offices?” and “Should we have bagels every Friday at break time?”

Interestingly – of course when I look at it logically it is much like the commitment to eat less – exercise more – go hiking – stop speeding.  It’s a yearlong day by day commitment to improvement – both self and business – and a commitment to slow and steady change.

Rome was not built in a day – the business will not double in size miraculously due to a big tour season – nor will new products develop on their own or process improvements fall into place without some grease and muscle applied.

So – this year – I am going to give it my best shot to tell the jitters to step aside – and just try to look at the year in a “year-round” kind of way.

Tour season is welcome to attack at any moment – and can hang around as long as it likes!!!!

And don’t forget – it’s an open door here and WE LOVE VISITORS – so don’t hesitate to stop by some time and visit with us all – and while you are here you can see if we are keeping our commitment to long term slow and steady improvement!…………. I will get the blender fired up – a good margarita always helps keep the calm………..

6 08, 2014

Bird’s Eye View

By |August 6th, 2014|Authors, Company|0 Comments

Our offices here at Sew What? / Rent What? are neatly arranged one floor above the other – and while I envy those below who don’t have to navigate the stairs in their stilettoes, I do love my bird’s eye view of the production floor from my second floor office window. We refer to the upstairs offices as being in the “tree house” – yes – we’re productive like squirrels all day long up here.


One part of being successful in manufacturing is to always be looking for best practices and seeking improvements on the shop floor.  Processes and product flow can make, or break, a profit margin………… So I try to take time each day while I work at my computer and on the phones to also observe the goings on as they “go on” out my window.

I see boxes enter via the back corner loading dock door – cloth inventories available on my computer screen promptly adjust – and suddenly the cutting table is buzzing with cloth and scissors as the materials hit the production flow. We’re a J.I.T manufacturer – that means that, by model, we purchase supplies “Just In Time” and “By The Order”.  So accuracy of purchasing, timing of receiving, and swiftness to convert raw goods to finished product are where the magic is at.


Shift focus to the three sewing teams – each with their twin 40 foot pin-sew tables and sets of buzzing machines ……  Cutting delivers precut cloth of all colors and fibers to the teams –who work diligently to sew, pin, match patterns and pleat as needed. It takes some mad skills to turn a pile of 170 yards of raw fabric into a single and stage ready drape.  As you sew – it grows – and as it grows it gets,  yes you said it – VERY heavy!.  Slick tables, years of material manipulation and machine skills all come into play as each team puts all hand on deck to complete the orders gracefully – without having to call on any back injuries!


The teams proudly deliver their sewn goods over to the Quality Control staff… here in a 40′ x 60′ clear open space, our QC department goes to business.  Checking all measurements, trimming missed or loose threads, adding chain weights to the bottoms of drapes, and then finally inserting the needed hardware, grommets and ties and s-hooks and such, into the drapes. Right down to hanging and photographing each piece for our QC archives.

And now to fold – hmmmmm – have you ever tried to fold a king size sheet on your own without it hitting the floor or getting dirty?  Well, some of these drapes are 40 feet x 60 feet as a single piece, and often times bleached white! – so I honestly  marvel at the staff’s oversized origami skills as they accordion, roll, wrap and fold these monster drapes and insert them with care into a fresh branded bag.


You probably have seen our drape bags around town (or in other countries for that matter). Our most famous branded bags keep the drapes clean and double as a laundry bag for our touring friends. Black bags for drapes sold and green bags for drapes rented.  Yes – we take time to pay attention to the branding, too.

Watching the drapes evolve as the many and varied processes wrap around the shop floor is very exciting – and gives me opportunity to see room for improvement….  Not that long ago that I called out some suggestions to the staff to help store and stack the supplies that they were tripping over….

Thankful – the production floor has exceptionally skilled staff – I would like to think that they are in fact “twice-gifted” in their crafts.  As firstly, when they joined us they were experts in the craft of sewing – but now they are experts in creating spectacular stage textiles…. It’s art! Big, Bold, beautiful, Backdrop ART!

And so now out my window, I see the roller doors closing, the work in progress being covered by moisture resistant blanket covers, the lights turning off and laughs as staff are leaving … heading home for the night.

There will be more drapes tomorrow!