Even in the early years of my career, when information was not so accessible, I had heard of a clamping system for tabling draperies. Over the years, I had seen photographs of such a system and had collected literature, but had never heard how to use it. I also had invested in an upright tabler making a horizontal system unnecessaryóor so I thought.
SAMPLING VERSUS USING
Once again, I had a great opportunity land in my lap. Draw-Matic offered to let me try its Size-O-Matic (photograph 1). When I first received it, I did a simple trial run. My thoughts were that itís less expensive by far than upright and slant tablers, but not as ergonomically gentle on oneís back. Even though the clamps held the fabric, I still had to bend over the table to use it. Having a bad back, an upright tabler made more sense for me. (P-D Products offers its Sizemaster that does the same thing, but I havenít seen it up close.)
If you read my recent article on linings, you know that I made many pinch pleat samples using different linings and multi layers of linings for a seminar last spring (see D&WC, September 2004, page 51). Since the samples were only 36 inches long by one width, I decided to use the
Size-O-Matic for real-time experience. Wow! Was I impressed!
As I was using the interlinings, I realized that my upright tabler
would not have worked with my preferred fabrication technique for
interlining, which is putting the hems in first. With my upright
tabler, I always put the headings in first for lined and unlined
panels. However, I know that many, perhaps most, learned to fabricate
with the hems in first always.
When using a clamping bar, put the hems in all layers first including finishing off the bottom of the interlining. Align the clamping bar to the finished length on the table and secure with its handle. Then lay the bottom of the face fabric hem against the lip of the bar. The wrong side of the fabric is up. With the Size-O-Matic, you can put one clamp down at a time. After clamping the hem, straighten the fabric to lay flat and square on the table.
By unclamping and reclamping one at a time, add as many layers of interlining as you need, making them about 1 1/2 inches or more shorter than the face hem. Then, lay the lining, right side up, on top of the stack and eyeball its hem one inch from the bottom of the face hem. The clamp sits out far enough to be able to catch all the hems.
Notice in photograph 2, that the lining is 1 1/2 inches back from the face fabric edge. The lining either can be positioned here if it is not as wide as the face fabric (extreme case three inches back), or it can come all the way to the edge. In this case, it was good to explain the system so you could see all the layers.
In this same photo, notice that there is a metal table edge with measurements on it. Iím not sure who manufactured my table edge, but Draw-Matic and others have this available. It is essential to have this metal edge to clamp the bar to. You need one on both sides of the table (right and left) and they must be perfectly square with each other and numerically aligned.
If you are a one-person workroom, you must also have a table grid aligned with the table edge tape to make it easier to line up the clamping bar without running back and forth around the table. At the minimum, have lines every one inch across the table even if you donít have them down the table.
ADD THE BUCKRAM
Because all the hems are secure, you now can finish the heading. I prefer to use buckram that has an edge of self-adhesive tape because it will stay in place. There are several techniques to apply buckram, i.e. the amount of fabric needed to cover the buckram.
I tried different methods. My preference is to have the interlinings come to the finished top with the face fabric and lining having four inches to cover the buckram. In this process, I discovered a new use for the Draw-Matic Sizing Guide. This tool is intended to be used as a track to run your scissors in to cut fabric, and I do recommend it for that if you are still using scissors to cut fabric instead of an electric rotary cutter.
My new use is to align the Sizing Guide edge on the finished length of the panel, and then apply the buckram along that edge (see photograph 3). The lining is folded down out of the way. The Sizing Guide clamps to the table so it doesnít move and also helps to hold the fabric in place. You can see that I have a table weight holding the buckram on both sides and the paper has been pulled off part of the buckram.
Four inches of face fabric is under that buckram. After the buckram is adhered, I fold it down over the face fabric so the four inches of face fabric is up. Then I pull the lining up and tuck the top of the lining under making it about an eighth- or a quarter-inch shy of the top edge of the panel. I then staple or pin it to the buckram. You can barely see this in photograph 4.
With the clamping bar holding the bottom of the panel and a table weight holding the top of the panel, turn a double 1 1/2-inch side hem. Clamp over the hem at the bottoms and use a table
weight at the top. Pin or staple the side hems in place (see photograph 4).
Your panel is all ready for side hems and pleats. By flipping one handle of the clamping bar, all the clamps will release at the same time. You are ready to sew.
Do you realize how much you can do on the table without moving the fabric? Depending upon how you calculate and mark your pleats, you possibly can do that while the panel is still in place on the table too. Minimizing how much you have to move your fabric around has many pluses: fewer wrinkles, less bodily stress and more speed.
POINTS TO PONDER
I had an easy time of it because I only had one width of fabric and it was short. Think about the challenges of multiple widths and how you would handle those.
If you are working alone, you will have to run around the table to align the Size-O-Matic accurately. A table grid would minimize this.
Consider if putting the heading in first would be beneficial to you.
Plan out where 0 inches will start on your table. Think this through. Plan that finishing off the unclamped end will be done at the end of the table and not in the middle of the table. I found that I preferred to have the 0 inch mark start at eight inches in from the end of the table. That meant I didnít have to add my heading allowance to the finished length in order to have room to work with the buckram. The less math you have to do lessens the chance of error.
Also, consider what allowances you need for all the heading styles you do, e.g. rod pockets. You need room to work at the end of your table.
Can this tool be used in any way with other treatments that you do? Valances? Shades? Bedspreads?
Investing in efficient equipment always pays for itself. A clamping bar can be a valuable asset to your business and comparatively speaking, it is inexpensive. There is much more costly equipment out there that can accomplish the same or similar results as this tool, but itís likely far more efficient in most cases.
Many times equipment will dictate whether you put the bottom hem or heading in first. If you are doing a lot of interlining, look at other equipment with that in mind. Which is better for you? Thatís your decision alone. Now, do your homework!
Kitty Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 26-year veteran of the drapery workroom industry. Having owned drapery workrooms as one person and as a company of nine, she is now president of Workroom Concepts a consulting firm offering educational resources to the industry on its Web site (www.workroom concepts.com). Her experience in both the retail and wholesale window covering arenas has contributed to her success as a business consultant. A professional speaker and writer, she has authored several industry products including Order in the Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications and Price Your Work with Confidence, available through D&WC.