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2 03, 2015

Sew What? Inc. Provided Stage Drapery for Grammy Winner, Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour Tour

By |March 2nd, 2015|Clients, Digital Printing, News, Projects|2 Comments

Our latest press release is now online.  For blog readers, I am posting it here.

If you would like a printable version of this press release, or to read prior press releases, please visit our Press Room.

Sew What? Inc. Provided Stage Drapery for Grammy Winner, Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour Tour

It has been a meteoric rise to the top for British singer and four Grammy winner, Sam Smith. The pop singer began his first arena headlining tour in North America in 2014. By year’s end, Smith found himself nominated for six coveted Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. He ended up taking home all four of the mentioned Grammys.

So few would disagree that British singer and songwriter Sam Smith is the current number one tour this season. Los Angeles area stage drapery manufacturer, Sew What? Inc. is also happy to have a small part in it, having recently worked with Smith’s team on their stage drapery used already for his In the Lonely Hour North American tour.

In addition, Sew What? Inc. has something of a reputation as well. Megan Duckett, principal at Sew What? reported, “Sew What? was first contacted by Creative Director, Will Potts, as we have a good reputation in the industry and most designers are aware of who we are.”

The drapery manufacturer worked on a stage set that was an original design by Will Potts. “Sew What have serviced my design very well, and even performed a top quality and efficient service extending overseas for pre production which was in the UK. Shane has advised me with upmost care and I have to say that the results have been terrific. Thanks Sew What!”

Most would agree that it’s a dramatic show opener– employing a double drop Kabuki with a digitally printed scrim that is heavy on the WOW factor.  As the show opens, the two white digitally printed faces first stare at each other, before the sharkstooth scrim suddenly turns from opaque to transparent, revealing Smith behind it. A kabuki is next engineered to release the scrim using a rental solenoid system, like the ones Sew What?’s sister company, Rent What? Inc. provides. The crowd screams as the kabuki drops the scrim to the ground and the band and Smith begins. A final stage piece finishes the set, created using a classy upstage arched header with a white cyclorama behind.


Photo credit: (c) 2015 Todd Kaplan

The seamless sharkstooth scrim is fashioned in a grand format, that’s 37 feet high and 63 feet wide. As most concert venues for the tour are in large arenas, everything was in large scale to accommodate the set’s massive size. Working on this type of scale is what Sew What? is known for, and does very well.

During his U.S. and Canadian tour, Smith performed in large concert venues across major cities such as Chicago, Boston, Nashville, Detroit, New York City and Los Angeles. Two concerts were held at The LA Forum in January in one leg of Smith’s North American Tour. The ‘Stay With Me’ star’s hectic pace will continue, as he will be hitting the road in March 2015, heading across the UK and Europe before returning again to the US.

Sew What? reports a busy manufacturing season as well. January saw them gearing up for production on a number of band draperies, as they look to the spring and summer concert tours, among a good deal of other projects.

For more information about Sam Smith and his upcoming tour dates, visit Smith’s official website.

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

4 02, 2015

Opaque, Transparent, or Translucent…Understanding Different Theatrical Fabrics

By |February 4th, 2015|Education, Fabrics, Products|6 Comments

Opaque, transparent………. Or translucent? When buying custom made stage draperies or backdrops, what type of fabric should I choose and when?

This IS a great question – and in fact one which we are asked very frequently.  One of the first conversations I like to have when a new client connects with me is in fact – where is the drape going and how do you intend to use it?

So here are some tips and tricks for selecting an appropriate flame retardant fabric for your stage, theatre or event, as well as some key product fabric names to put in the mix for each category.




1. not able to be seen through; not transparent.

So let’s start with the heavy weight of the industry – the OPAQUE textiles that allow absolutely NO light through them. To determine if you have an opaque fabric, set it against a window, and if you can’t see any light passing through it then it is indeed opaque.  Opaque materials have uses in theatre and special events where you have a need to completely mask a light source, or to hide any all activity or action going on behind the drape.

An example – an upstage masking drape on a theatre stage where there is an artist walkway or passage way behind it.  You may have some low level lighting back there for the cast to move safely – and you won’t want to see the light or the people as they cross from stage left to stage right behind the drape.

A second example
– portable dressing room spaces or artist rest zones…. Such as pipe and drape setups in an arena that are designed to provide privacy. You won’t want everyone seeing the shadows through the drape if there are people changing in there – you want privacy for the artist and certainly don’t need to encourage any peeping – so again – an opaque material would be the right choice here.

Lastly – a main stage grand drape in a traditional theatre installation needs to be opaque.  When the drape is closed and in audience view – you don’t want to see any set changes taking place on stage – so the drape needs to be opaque.  Bear in mind, however – you can make a drape opaque by LINING it with a second fabric….. so don’t eliminate a cloth choice just because it is not opaque in and of itself.  If budget permits, then a lining will indeed do the trick.

Here are some fabrics that are OPAQUE:

22oz Encore Velour (

13oz Apollo Velour (

Roadura (

And an OPAQUE LINING option: Ranger Lining Cloth: (




1. (of a substance) allowing light, but not detailed images, to pass through; semitransparent.

TRANSLUCENT fabrics are very often lighter to the touch and fall into the silky and soft categories. Usually medium to light weight, these more translucent materials are typically polyesters, poly blends or nylons; however, there are some finely milled cottons that are also translucent.  Translucency is important in scenarios such as these:

1) you plan to “back light” the drapery and you want the drapes to glow with the lighting effects from behind

2) you are going to create a silhouette effect with artists or props……… in these scenarios we put a person behind the translucent drapes and then light them from behind – what we the audience will see is in fact the shadow or silhouette of the action.  This is a dramatic effect often used at the start of concerts.

3) you won’t have any backlight at all to contend with – in this case it really isn’t an issue if a fabric is a medium or light weight or if it is translucent – if you are always using front light – and have no concern that back lighting will impact the effect, then you have many fabrics to choose from

4) you plan to rear project video onto the backdrop or drapery – for a “poor man’s” projection screen, we often see translucent fabrics used for rear (and of course front) projection.  It is an affordable way to get a large surface to project video or images onto from behind.


Some TRANSLUCENT fabrics we represent that are popular in the marketplace are:

Poly Silk (

Stretch Cambio: (

Textura: (




1. (of a material or article) allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.

Flame retardant fabrics that are transparent are a unique lineup of textiles.  The most common materials that are used are the “magic fabrics” such Sharkstooth Scrim, Opera Net, Bobinette or Gauze.  Other materials such as Voile (pronounced Voy-el) are also transparent.  I like to compare transparent to sheer – or “very see through”.

There are of course plenty of opportunities to use these transparent materials – in particular the “magic fabrics” such as sharkstooth scrim.  What makes this an interesting and popular cloth is that when front lit it will take on the appearance of being opaque – but it is in fact an optical illusion due to the coarse weave of the cotton threads.  When you remove the front light from the cloth and light whatever object is on the stage behind the cloth then you will see right through it! And there is the magic.  Now you see it, now you don’t.  Traditional theatre productions love scrim and bobinettes for these special effects.  The fabrics tend however to be more fragile than their translucent or opaque counterparts – so for a touring environment they aren’t as well suited.

Sharkstooth Scrim: (

Bobinette: (

Voile: (

For those who want to read a little more about scrims – or are undure of how the effect works – we have a white paper on it on our website:

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

4 06, 2014

The Sew What? Products Page – a Great Resource

By |June 4th, 2014|Company, Education, Products|0 Comments

If you are looking for stage or event drapery, curtain track or hardware, or any manner of theatrical/stage/event supplies, why not start your search on the Products page of the Sew What? website?  It’s a convenient and user-friendly resource that you are sure to find big help.


Just on its own, the Products page is useful as a general resource, with an entertaining and informative video and a quick reference to the various types of products that we have to offer.  Even better, from this place, you can reach information on the product that interests you in the click of a mouse.

Thinking about buying or renting a LED Stardrop for your next show?  Just click on the “Led Stardrop” photo under “Product Categories” to be taken directly to detailed information on LED Stardrops.  Need a shipping/storage hamper?  Click on the “Theatre Supply.”  It’s as easy as that to get right where you need to be (or to browse in order to figure out the right product to fit your needs).

So if you are browsing the internet, looking for information on theatre or event drapery and supplies, look no further than the Sew What? Products page!



14 09, 2010

Sew What Goes Country

By |September 14th, 2010|Digital Printing, Projects|3 Comments

We talk about “Rock-N-Roll” here all the time, having provided custom stage drapes and digital backdrops to the tours of so many rock artists/bands. The fact of the matter, though, is that we have worked with productions for artists and bands from many different music genres, including pop, jazz, classical, folk, and much more.

Recently, we have found ourselves working on soft goods for more and more country artists and bands. A couple of projects spring to mind. We have been so fortunate to be selected to provide digitally printed backdrops to the Kenny Chesney Tour for three years in a row. This year’s backdrop was printed in-house on a semi-translucent fabric to allow for backlighting.  After topically treating the printed backdrop for flame retardancy, our manufacturing staff the digitally printed panels into a Braille Curtain, 37′ h x 58′ w, with lift lines every 4 feet.

Photo Courtesy of Glen Rose of Glen Rose Photography

Lady Antebellum is a country band whom we have recently begun to work with.  We were approached by the production designer for Lady Antebellum, with a request for a Braille Curtain.  But this time, the designer was looking for something different – a curtain that would combine the scenic properties of a digital backdrop with the “stage magic” of scrim.  We offered the perfect solution – direct printing onto sharkstooth scrim.  When properly front-lit, the fabric appears opaque, and the printed image can be clearly seen (as if it were an image printed on traditional fabric).  Once the front light is turned off and lights come up behind it, the scrim “disappears.” 

Though we tend to think of ourselves as “Rock-n-Roll,” the truth is that we are fans of live music and production, regardless of the music genre – we just love to be a part of the show!

12 03, 2010

Silver Scrim for Yusuf Islam

By |March 12th, 2010|News, Projects|0 Comments

This past October, we were selected by Marc Brickman, Set and Lighting Designer for the “Guess I’ll Take My Time” tour of Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) to make an interesting piece for the tour, which took place in the UK in late Fall 2009. 

Finding the right material was crucial, and so we sourced a  number of different scrims, nets, and similar fabrics in shades of grey, silver and black, and sent samples out to the tour for lighting tests. 

Ultimately, the material chosen was a metallic silver fabric similar to Sharkstooth Scrim.  From that material, we created a dramatic 35′ h x 57′ w piece, to be used by the tour as a projection surface.  This material was chosen for the combination of its reflective qualities and its tourability.

We were really pleased to be mentioned by Dietrich Juengling, the tour’s video content designer, in regards to this project, in a piece in Total Production International.  It is so rewarding to not only make a drape that we are ourselves proud of, but to also be recognized by the client in such a way!