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16 10, 2017

Sew What? Inc Backdrops Shimmer for American Rock Band GARBAGE

By |October 16th, 2017|Digital Printing, Fabrics, Products, Projects|1 Comment

Popular American rock band Garbage is well known for their alternative rock music. Breaking into the mainstream music arena out of the grunge styles of the early 90’s, they continue to tour, offering audiences an alternative and industrial rock show filled with passionate performances and visually dynamic staging.

Sew What? Inc has supplied backdrops for the band for several tours now.  The two most recent tours both offering opportunity to create unique one-of-a-kind specialty drapery for the band.

For this dynamic shimmer pink tiger backdrop, we had the challenge of combining multiply layers of cloth, along with graphic elements via our wide format printer.

We started with a digitally printed Heavy Knit backdrop, with the tiger graphics printed in heavy saturated black ink.  The band name Garbage was printed as an outline, so that we would be able to use the guidelines for later cutting away the surface area applique cloth.

The artist wanted to offer the audience the fascination of the femme, glimmer shimmery hot pink of the background, with the stark contrast of the black and white tigers in their pouncing poses.  Shimmer mylar dot fabric in fuchsia was selected for the project as it gives a solid bold hot pink that is super reflective. It has a disco ball effect under direct lighting conditions.

Here is a video showing the drape in use at a concert:

For another contrasting look for their summer outdoor festival shows, we enjoyed crafting a pleated “shimmer scrim” in black and blue/green tones for the band.  This is such a unique textile! It behaves like a real sharkstooth scrim with both front and back lighting effects – as well as bringing a shimmery glimmer of iridescence due to the mylar threads that are woven into the cloth.

In this shop photo, you see just how unique the cloth is – it almost gives an “underwater” effect.  Quite dramatic!

Want to know more about what we do and who we are? Sew What? Inc. has a fascinating Company History, and is proud of the wide variety of theatrical venues and many designs that we’ve manufactured over the years. To view some of our notable theater curtain designs, check out our drapery portfolio.

13 03, 2017

Considering a Custom Digital Backdrop?

By |March 13th, 2017|Digital Printing, Education|1 Comment

So, you are considering purchasing a custom digitally printed backdrop for a music tour, school production, trade show booth, or special event, but you aren’t sure what the process or options are, or what will work best for your needs.  In a nutshell, you feel as if you don’t even know what you don’t know.

Not to worry! To get you started, below is information on several factors for you to consider prior to contacting us for a quotation.

How Will You Use the Backdrop?

The first thing to consider is how the backdrop will be used, as this will affect which fabric substrate will work best.  Is stage lighting a consideration and, if so, will the backdrop be frontlit or backlit?  Will you be using the backdrop indoors or outdoors?  Do you want it opaque or sheer? Do you plan to use it as a kabuki?  Are you planning to project on it?

What Size Backdrop Do You Need?

You may already know what size backdrop you need. If not, here are some basic guidelines:

Trade Show Booths – standard single booths (using traditional pipe and base hardware) would typically accommodate a backdrop of 10’ h x 10’ w.

LED lights were added to this digital backdrop at this custom booth for J. Berry Nursery

Special Event – the size for special event backdrops varies greatly depending on how the backdrop will be used at the event, but one common use, as a “photo op” backdrop, would typically be around 8’ h x 8’ w to 10’ h x 10’ w.

Digitally printed signage and banners at the Great American Food & Music Festival

Music Performance (Small Clubs) – the size really depends on each club’s space, but could potentially range from a 3’ h x 6’ w banner to an 8’ h x 10’ (or larger) backdrop. Another item to consider when deciding on a banner / backdrop size is how easily the backdrop can be transported from gig to gig and stored in between gigs.

This 12′ h x 16′ w backdrop, featuring a digitally printed logo appliqued onto Black Encore, is perfect for local band Oui’ 3 to use for club gigs

Music Tour (Small Theatres) – typically can accommodate backdrops and stage curtains in the range of 24’ h x 40’ w or so

Made for Sheryl Crow’s 2010 tour, this gorgeous backdrop is 24’h x 48’w

Music Tour (Large Theatres and Arenas) – typically can accommodate backdrops and stage curtains of at least 30’ h x 60’ w, and often even larger

Just one of the many huge digital printed braille backdrops we’ve made for Kenny Chesney, all around 40′ h x 75′ w

Keep in mind that the size of the backdrop (and the size of the printer) generally determines if the backdrop will be seamless or have seams. As many Grand Format digital printers are (approximately) 10 feet wide, then any backdrop that is 10’ h x 10’ w (or smaller) would typically be seamless, while larger backdrops would typically have vertical seams.

How is this done? Only one artwork file is required. The digital printer can be set to “tile” the artwork image so that portions of the image are printed on 10 foot wide sections. After all sections are printed, the sections are laid side by side, the patterns are matched, and the seam is pinned for sewing. Are seams an issue? Not usually. With good pattern matching and skilled sewing, in most cases, the seams aren’t really noticeable, especially from a distance (such as when on stage).

What About Artwork?

The custom digital backdrops that we produce are based on print-ready artwork provided by the customer (though we do offer limited graphic services to assist in preparing or repairing your file).  You may create the image yourself, you may utilize the services of a commercial artist or graphic designer, or you may purchase the image from a stock image source (there are a number on the Internet).  Keep in mind that, due to copyright laws, you must be the copyright owner (or have permission from the copyright owner) to print an image.

Typically, you will be asked to provide the artwork to Sew What? in a digital file.  At Sew What, we work with Windows PC-based files only (rather than Mac files), and we prefer that files be saved as an EPS or a PSD file, as we work primarily in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.  All files should be in layers, in CMYK color mode.  We can also work with Vector art that is delivered as an EPS or .AI file.  Files may be delivered in a variety of methods, including Dropbox, floppy disk, Zip disk, CD/DVD, or e-mail, depending on the size of the file.  More detailed information may be found in our File Preparation Guidelines.

These considerations are just a starting point, but will be of great help when you take the next step toward purchasing a custom digital backdrop. Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out – just give us a call or complete our online inquiry form, and we will be happy to assist you in the process.

27 12, 2016

Backdrops and more…………… What are the benefits of digital printing vs hand painting?

By |December 27th, 2016|Digital Printing, Education, Products|1 Comment

Do you have a backdrop design ready to go? Don’t know where to start? Printed, painted?

It is no surprise that ordering a backdrop can be overwhelming for some clients. There is no one global approach when it comes to crafting a backdrop, and there are endless material options available that can impact both the look, and the price, of the finished piece.

Jason Ald_7

We generally recommend that the first question to ask is: How and Where will I Use My Backdrop?

Indoor Only

This is a great place to start as there is the greatest number of materials that can be used for an “indoor use only” backdrop. You will be able to choose from cottons, polyesters and poly/cotton blends. Any of the traditional drapery materials will work for indoor use and they are all flameproofed to standards that will hold the test of time when used indoors.


If you want to take your backdrop outdoors – for say festival gigs or outdoor special event installations – then your material selection narrows greatly. We never recommend cotton products for outdoor use. They will shrink, rot or worse, lose the topical flameproofing chemical in a potentially damp setting. For an outdoor use backdrop, you will be directed to polyester products, as well as the more traditional vinyl coated materials such as vinyl and vinyl mesh.

Next let’s look at design: Which of the below categories represents my design needs best?

Photo finish “picture” image

This is the moment for a digitally printed backdrop to really shine! No matter where you look, you will see digitally printed stage backdrops and wide-format digital billboards with full size photos printed on them. That’s because any photo file with appropriate resolution can be printed on fabric with incredible results. 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, concert drapes, and exhibit booth panels. Here are more details about the printing process:

Hand drawn sketch or stylized graphic

Either printed or hand painted may be options here. Digitally printed backdrops have the added durability and a reduced physical weight when completed, however hand painted backdrops have a charm to them that is unique. If your design is only an “inspiration image” and is not ready to be reproduced exactly as is – then an artist would be able to translate the image real time while painting your very own work of art with paint on cotton canvas. A typical scenic backdrop can best be described as an oversized painting on an expanse of cloth. We most typically use muslin or canvas, and most artists prefer to paint to a “neutral” or “natural” colored unbleached surface. Wide milled goods can be obtained in seamless widths of up to 35 feet – however, when cost is a factor, lengths of narrower, standard-width cloth can be stitched together. This method can also be used to fabricate the appropriate dimensions needed when the backdrop required is very large.

As well as offering “ready to paint” blank backdrops, we also offer a turn key service for those looking to have their design scenically reproduced. Various painting methods are employed, and various paint types utilized. Effects with UV paint can be added. Learn more about hand painted backdrops:

Hand Painted Scrim Drop for Scott Stapp Tour

Straight up company logo with PMS color matching requirements

Print it! You will get PMS color matching – bright bold colors – and you will know that the logo is reproduced on a grand scale in the correct format and with the right color output. Of course, you must always notify your printing vendor if a logo has specific colors in it – be sure to mention that you need color matching prior to the ordering process!

Just a texture background

Print or paint….. we suggest having it quoted both ways to see which fits the budget. Very basic textures can be quite affordable when hand painted and add lots of visual interest to a piece. Whether it’s a digital backdrop for your theater, concert or exhibit booth display, Sew What? Inc. offers all clients the same professional products, excellent customer service and fast turnaround to meet your deadlines.

And last but not least: FAQ: How do I prepare my files for digital printing?

Read our online file preparation guidelines for instructions and helpful hints. Of most importance is that the final output will be a direct reflection of the quality of the file submitted. If you are unsure of the file requirements, we recommend that you read our file prep guidelines or contact us for more information. In general, the original file should be at least 300 dpi when at 30% of the final output size. Contact us to guide you through the process.

Check out our numerous product categories. Then call us at (310) 639-6000 or contact us for a free quote. Need ideas? Visit our various Portfolios, or our Flickr Galleries for past projects and then review fabric choices. Additional questions? Confused about the difference between drapery fabrics and types of curtains? Concerned about flame retardancy regulations? Online resources available to you include our White Papers with answers to FAQ’s, engaging YouTube videos, and always right here on our informative, Sew What? Blog.

6 09, 2016

Sew What? Inc – Have you seen our sewn project portfolios?

By |September 6th, 2016|Company, links, Products, Projects|1 Comment

Visit our Portfolios and you’ll find we’ve manufactured gorgeous drapes and soft goods for numerous major artists, including Maroon 5, Slip Knot, Green Day, Sting, James Taylor, Dave Matthews Band, Madonna, Rod Stewart and Don Henley.

Rock and Roll Portfolio

America – the home of legendary rock bands and so many of today’s pop stars. Madonna, Britney Spears, Don Henley, Sting; we have draped and masked stages for the best of them. While we tend to remember a concert in terms of the “set” and the “lighting and effects,” the draperies play an often invisible but integral role in how the show comes together. Giant painted stage backdrops set the scene, masking hides tech areas from the crowd, borders dress the floating trusses to hide the lighting instruments, and skirting surrounds the stage and band risers. Soft goods, as they are known to the “roadies,” are a major part of any touring set.

We also manufacture stage curtains for those important productions at elementary, middle and high schools, community theaters, churches and college auditoriums – not to mention providing drapes and soft goods for special events, trade shows, fashion shows, conferences, even the occasional inaugural ball.

Aveng_Seven Fold_1

Digital Printing Portfolio

If you can visualize it, we can print it. As big or as wide as you want it. Check out our showpage of really impressive digitally printed backdrops and drapes for really impressive showbiz personalities such as Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney and Brooks & Dunn. And see what can be done to blow away the crowds at major public events and trade shows. We can even combine digital printing with a whole host of special effects that will leave jaws on the floor. Take a look! Rendering vs. finished project – how close will they be? Click here.

Our headquarters and production facilities are in Rancho Dominguez in Los Angeles County, California, where we service a worldwide clientele looking for the best custom-sewn theatrical drapes. We’re proud to offer our American-made products, and we try to buy American-made products and support U.S. companies as much as possible. Visit the Sew What? Inc. News Room for recent articles and additional happenings.

29 08, 2016

Marilyn Manson Mixed-Media Backdrop Mesmerizes Audiences

By |August 29th, 2016|Clients, News, Products, Projects|3 Comments

We are genuinely inspired by our ongoing relationship with one of the most popular and innovative artists on the rock scene today—Marilyn Manson. A one-of-a-kind musician, songwriter, actor, painter, singer, composer, and author, he is always eager to take risks with his stage designs in order to create exciting and memorable looks throughout each show. Sew What? Inc. Sales Rep Gwen Winter was thrilled to work with his Production Manager Matt Doherty recently to help create a truly unique backdrop for Manson’s current world tour, which he is going out with another extraordinary band we enjoy working with, Slipknot.

Marilyn Manson Cut Drop

Doherty and his team were looking for a mesmerizing backdrop that would be remarkable in and of itself, but also would be durable and versatile enough to use on stages all over the globe. Starting with having us custom build an IFR Black Encore Velour backdrop, they decided to have us create a multi-media backdrop with an in-house digital print. Working with his stage designers, our graphics team digitally printed a 15’h x 35’w custom design of “Marilyn Money” on super durable Heavy Knit. Then our amazing sewing staff painstakingly appliqued this custom print onto the Black Encore backdrop. As you can see by this photo taken by huge fan Kristy King, the outcome was INCREDIBLE! We love helping our imaginative clients create the exact unique look that they were envisioning—contact one of our helpful Sales Reps and let us help YOU create an exclusive look for your next show or production, too.