Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Venetian Hotel

Out of the blue a few weeks ago I got a call from a lady up in LA who had been commissioned to make over a hundred banners for the Venetian Hotel on a very short deadline.
The job was to be worked on in a warehouse in LA and we had 2 days to make 148 banners.
These banners ranged from very small 6" wide x 30" long to massive ones that were 96" wide x 240" long.
Since I'm always interested in doing something out of the norm, I agreed to pack up my sewing machine and tools and head to LA.

I spent 2 long 14 hour days sewing away on these banners not knowing what the final project was even going to look like or what these banners would be used for.
But in the warehouse next door, these HUGE masquerade masks were being crafted by some VERY talented artists.  I was told that these banners were going to hang from these masks as part of the Venetian Hotels Summer Decor.

Well, it just so happen that the following week I had plans to take a small trip to Las Vegas and so I knew I would get the opportunity then to see my finished work displayed.
The Hotel was still in the process of hanging all these masks and banners, so not all of them were displayed, but here's pictures of the ones that were.

A few masks with banners were displayed indoors.

Some of the masks and banners were hung from the light posts out in front of the hotel.

The Big Bad Boy hangs right out in front of the hotel.
The crew was still working on putting up the lights and perfecting the over all look.

The crew attaching the lights.

It was a tiresome but fun job to work on!
So if you make it out to Vegas this summer, be sure to go by the Venetian Hotel and check out the these truly amazing works of art! 
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outdoor Drapery Panels

Outdoor drapery panels are becoming increasingly popular!  I think they bring a touch of the indoor whimsy to outdoor spaces.  They also have a few practical uses too.  They can lend a hand with the harsh sun and add a touch of privacy to outdoor seating areas.
Here's just a few images I found on the Internet.

Although in these images a cool summer breeze against the panels looks appealing, the wind can actually blow outdoor panels all over the place causing more havoc than whimsy.

I've been making outdoor panels for clients for years and here's a full tutorial on making outdoor panels with a bonus tip on how to keep them from blowing around when a cool summer breeze comes along.

I'm making 2 panels that will be 2 widths of fabric each.  You always want to make sure you have plenty of fullness when making outdoor panels.
My panels will finish at 94" long.

So lets figure our cuts.  94" plus 4" (double 2" bottom hem) plus 4" (double 2" top hem) plus 2" to straighten/table the fabric.  Now I'm only making my top hem/header 2" wide because I'm using fairly small grommets.  If you decide to use larger grommets than mine, adjust your top hem/header to be wider.  You want your grommets to be centered in the top hem.

Cutting- For 2 panels that will be 2 widths of fabric each I cut 4 @ 104" long.

Seam- I made my seams with my over lock/serger.  But you can make french seams if you don't have an over lock machine.  You just want to make sure your seams look nice on both sides of the panel.

Since I have a special tip for keeping these from blowing around, I construct them in a little different order than I usually do with drapery panels.  We will be doing our top hem aka header first.

Top Hem/Header- Press a double 2" top hem.  First press down 4", then straighten out and press the top edge to the 4" crease and press over.  Pin every 8-10 inches.  There is no need to stitch this top edge!  The grommets will hold the top hem in place.  Next we will do our side hems.

Side Hems-  Press over a double 1 1/2 " side hem on both sides of the panel.  Start by pressing up a 3" hem, then open out and press the side to the 3" crease mark.

Pin your side hems in place.  I pinned mine this way because I intended to sew them with my blind hemmer, but the fabric was not feeding through my blind hemmer correctly so I ended up top stitching my hems instead.  Stitch your side hems.

Now we need to "table" our panels and press up the bottom hem.  Tabling is when you measure and cut the excess fabric off that you added in your original measures.  I'm sure you're wondering why we add excess to begin with if we're just going to cut if off.  Well, Folding and pressing and stitching take up slightly more fabric than you would think.  Plus the seams gather up the fabric ever so slightly and can cause your panels to be sorter where the seams are. 

Tabling-  I have a large workroom table that I do mine on, but you can do yours on a hard floor or any other surface you can find that will work.  Anchor your top edge of your panels along a straight edge.  you can tape it to the straight edge of a floor tile.  Now measure down your finished length plus your bottom hem allowance.  Mine in this case is 98".  You can run a row of painters tape at your measured edge to help guide you where to cut. 

Cut the excess off.

Bottom hem-Now press up a double 2" hem using the same method as you did for the side and top hems.
Stitch the bottom hem.

I'm putting size #4 grommets in the top of my panels.  You can use whatever size you want.
There's a few things you need to know about grommets....You ALWAYS have to use an even number of grommets!!!  I usually set my grommets approx 6" apart.  That means center of the grommet to center of the next grommet.  But if you want your fabric to droop between the grommets then you might want to space them 10" apart.  The spacing isn't as important as the fact that you use an even number of grommets!
So first I decided how far in from the edge I wanted my first and last grommet.
I usually place my first grommet just after the side hem.  So mark your first and last grommet placement.  Now measure the distance between theses two grommets and divide by 6".   Whatever this number turns out to be, round it up or down to be an odd number.  Now take this odd number and divide it into the distance between your 2 side grommets....this will be your exact distance between each grommet (center to center)  This number may turn out to be anywhere from 5"- 6 1/2".  That's ok.  It's approx. 6" that we are shooting for.
After you have all your grommet placements marked, count again and make sure you have an even number of grommets.  I set grommets all the time and I have even screwed this up before, so now I always double check.
Here's the grommets I will be using.
There are 2 pieces to every grommet.  The one with the shank is the front of the grommet, and the one that is flat like a washer (although this one has teeth) is the back of the grommet.
I take the front grommet piece and center it along my header and trace the inside circle with a pencil.  This makes it easier for me to see exactly where I need to cut my holes for the grommets.
Being that I make these all the time in my business, I own a grommet setting machine.  Since you probably don't have a grommet setter, there are other grommet setting tools on the market.  When I first started my business, I just used the ones you hammer with a piece of scrap wood.  

Setting Grommets-First you have to cut all the holes for the grommets, so I attached the cutting tool to my grommet machine.  Under the cutter goes a plastic cutting mat to help prevent dulling of the cutter.

Cut all the holes.

Once all my holes were cut, I switched the attachments from the cutter to the setter pieces.
The front grommet piece goes down on the setter, then I slip my fabric over the shank and place a back grommet piece on top with the gripper teeth down.

My machine takes a little muscle to set the grommets tight, so I usually have my teenage son do this part for me.  I love that he is at the age where I can use his muscle power!

Now here's the tip for keeping these panels from blowing around.......Chain.  Just plain old chain that you get at your hardware store.

Measure the finished width of your panel and have a piece of chain cut for each panel.  You want your chain to be approx. 2" shorter than the width of your panel.  If you are using a dark heavy fabric for your outdoor panels, than there is no need to cover the chain.  Simply feed it into your bottom hem and tack it at the side edges with a few hand stitches.
If you're using a white light weight fabric like I am, then you will need to make a casing tube for your chain so that it will not be seen through the sheer fabric.

I cut long lengths of white lining 2" wide.  I fold it in half the length of the tube and stitch forming a long tube. I turn it right side out. 

 Feed the chain into this long tube.

  Turn under the edge of one end of the tube and stitch it closed.  Your stitching doesn't have to be perfect, no one will ever see this part.  Now hand tack your chain to the tube a little ways back from the end of the tube.  An inch or so is good. 

Once you get all the chain fed into the tube, close off the other end of the tube the same way.  Make sure you also hand tack through the chain and tube to keep the chain from slipping around inside the tube.

Feed the tube/chain combo into your bottom hem of your panels.  Pull the end of the tube to the very edge of your panels side edges but not far enough where it hangs out the side hems.
Now top stitch across the sides of the bottom hem making sure to catch the tube ends at the same time.
No more outdoor panels flapping around on a windy day!
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fringed Bolster

A few weeks ago I shared a fabric that I scored at a thrift store.
It happened to be the color and style my good friend Donnella is doing her outdoor decor in.  After rifling through my stash of trims, here's what I created out of that fabric.
I just love the fringe on the ends of this bolster! 

Follow along as I show how I made this bolster.

The bolster fill I had was 15"x5"
So I cut my piece 16"x16 3/4"  The 16" is for the length of the pillow plus 1" for seam allowance.  The 16 3/4" is the diam. of my bolster x pi (5x3.14) plus 1" for seam allowance.
I also cut 2 circles 6" round.
Since I use zipper by the yard I also cut 2 zipper stops out of scraps.

Step 1-Serge along the edges where the zipper will go.  
Find the center bottoms of your circles and make a small clip mark.  Lay your fringe on the right side of your circle at the center bottom clip.  Stitch using 1/2" seam allowances.  There's really no need to clip into the fringe to make the curve of the circle.
When you meet up at the starting point, simply clip the stitching that binds the fringe together and butt the fringe edges up next to each other and finish stitching.
Once you've sewn the fringe to both circles, set them aside.

Step 2-Zipper.  I use zipper by the yard and I can't stress enough how much easier it is to work with than a store bought zipper.  If you haven't tried using zipper by the yard, I highly suggest you give it a try!

Fold under 1/2" on one edge of your zipper stop.  Place it on top of your zipper end and stitch close to the zipper teeth.
Now stitch on the other side of the zipper teeth.
With right sides together stitch the zipper edge of your main fabric piece to the long zipper edge.  Stitch close to the zipper teeth.
Pause 3-4 inches from the end with your needle down.  Fold under 1/2" of your remaining zipper stop and align it with the end of your pillow piece to establish where you need to cut your zipper by the yard off.
Place your zipper stop between the main pillow piece and your zipper end.
And finish stitching.
It should look like this.
Push the fabric over the zipper teeth to form a fold.  Stitch on the opposite side of the zipper using your zipper foot as a guide to keep your stitches straight.
Attach your zipper slide at this point.

Step 3- Lay the non zipper edge face down on your circle.  Match up the center of the zipper with the clip in the bottom of your circle.  Start stitching an inch or so from the clip mark.  Cut into the seam allowance as necessary to accommodate the curve of the circle.  Stitch all the way around the circle stopping an inch or so from the starting point.
At this point you can see if your main pillow piece is cut the exact right size or not.  Sometimes they need to have a little trimmed off this edge and sometimes you just need to make a smaller seam allowance.

Stitch the remaining zipper fabric edge to the other side of the zipper, stitching close to the zipper teeth.
Now you can finish stitching the circle.
Repeat this step on the other end with the circle, making sure you align the center of your zipper with the center bottom clip mark.
Open up the zipper and turn right side out.
Stuff with your pillow fill. Pin It
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