Last month I introduced the concept that all soft window treatments start from just five basic styles and explained the first style called flat (see D&WC, January 2007, page 42). Each style has a set of fabrication guidelines and fullness allowances that will work for all treatment types such as a valance, cornice, shade or drapery panel. By following the guidelines for each style, professional results can be achieved.
When a workroom is given a photo or sketch and asked to make that treatment, breaking it down into the basic style or styles can help make the pattern-making process easier and more successful. Life would be wonderful for a workroom if every magazine photo had ready-to-purchase patterns, but very seldom does that happen. By having a better understanding of the five basic styles, a design can be created by mixing and matching different pattern pieces to achieve the final look.
For a quick review, please see the five basic window treatment styles sketched on the right.
Relaxed style treatments have a slight fullness to them and usually are hung from tabs, ties, rings or grommets, which make the treatment appear to fall forward. Thicker fabrics require more fullness while lighter fabrics or sheers require less. This is one style that is best to test before deciding on the proper fullness.
The best way to test the fullness is to find a fabric that resembles the same weight as the finished treatment. If you use a heavy lining, that weight may also need to be considered.
Determine how far apart you will be spacing your tabs, ties, rings or grommets. Pin one end of the fabric off the side of your worktable and place a second pin at the distance you determined the spacing or hanging point to be. Now start adding fullness from the fabric between these pins until you are comfortable with the look. Place a mark on the fabric at the pin points.
Remove the fabric from the table and measure the distance between the marks. Take this measurement and divide it by the space measurement of the hanging points. This will give you the amount of fullness necessary to calculate the yardage.
Be sure to allow additional fabric allowance for returns and side hems if necessary. Functional drapery panels also will need fabric allowances for leading edge overlaps.
Gathered treatments usually have 2.5 to 3 times fullness. They are generally the most forgiving style when using fabrics that have flaws because they can be hidden in the fullness of the fabric. Treatments can be gathered by adding a rod pocket, using shirring tape or stapling in fullness on a mounting board.
To test the amount of fullness necessary to duplicate the fullness in a photo or sketch, keep large scraps of leftover fabrics in different weights on hand in the workroom. Using a fabric weight similar to the treatment being made, stitch a rod pocket in the fabric and gather onto a rod.
Gather a 12-inch section on the rod until the fullness appears like the treatment you will be reproducing. Mark the fabric at the beginning and end of the 12-inch section. Remove the fabric from the rod, stretch out the fabric and measure. Divide this measurement by 12 to get the fullness needed to calculate the yardage.
Returns and side hems also will need to be calculated in the final yardage total.
Pleated treatments have two distinctive looks. One is a flat pleat known as box or kick pleat and the other is a dimensional pleat like a pinch or goblet pleat. They are each calculated by determining the amount of fullness needed for each pleat plus adding the flat space size. Most pleated treatments will be between 2.5 to 3 times full.
Seams should always be hidden in pleated treatments. The most ideal place to put a seam on a pleated drapery panel would be right beside the pleat. If it needs to be moved, it should move slightly into the space section and not the pleat section. Seams placed in pleats on drapery panels have a tendency to make the fabric pucker forward. The space is usually more hidden than the rest of the treatment and can be disguised behind the fullness of the pleat.
Seams on the box or kick pleat should be hidden close to the inside fold of the pleat or, if you are cutting the fabric apart, hidden in the seam between the face section and the pleat section.
A great trick when trying to center multiple motifs on a box-pleated treatment is to cut them into sections, like pillow squares only cut to the proper width and length. Then cut the fabric needed for the pleat section and sew everything back together. You can press the seam allowance right on the edge between the face fabric and the pleat fabric. Now all the motifs can be mixed or matched perfectly and the pleats have the same amount of fabric in each one. As stated above, returns and side hems will need to be calculated in the final yardage total.
Traditional swag treatments are usually created from a trapezoid shaped pattern. A standard size swag requires approximately 1.5 to 2 yards each. Swags that are described as Kingstons or Empires use a modified version of a trapezoid. When workrooms come to the Custom Home Furnishings Academy we tell them that the best pattern investments to start with are the ones in this category. This style seems to be the most difficult to reproduce from scratch for a new workroom.
Swags usually are cut on the bias. This helps the folds look smoother and fuller. Bias means that the pattern piece is laid out in a diagonal direction on the fabric unlike most other pattern pieces that lay on the straight of grain of the fabric.
When laying a pattern piece on the bias, the fabric pattern will appear to be on the diagonal. This means the customer needs to be informed that directional fabrics such as stripes cut on the bias will take on a different look than they may be expecting. The look resembles the direction of a man’s striped tie. It’s always best to make your recommendation to the customer, but ultimately it should be their decision because the treatment will be hanging in their home for many years.
Next month we will go in to the components and embellishments used to create endless variations.
Margie Nance owned and operated a wholesale drapery workroom for 10 years prior to purchasing The Custom Home Furnishings Academy from industry expert, Cheryl Strickland, in 2005. Now located in Charlotte, NC, CHF Academy pressents professional hands-on training, online training and has the largest resource for educational books and videos for the window covernings industry. Visit on the Web and join online forums at www.CHFschool.com; (800) 222-1415, (704) 333-4636.