Updated: Feb 27
For this episode of the podcast Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock asked members of the Workroom and Accountability Mentoring Group for their questions about sewing custom drapes. There were so many great questions!
You can listen to the podcast here: Episode 39 Drapery Q & A
Question: I find it's easy to determine the cut length of fabric but I struggle and second-guess myself on the cut width(s) of fabric when there is more then one width of fabric per panel needed.
To determine the number of cuts or widths of fabric needed, you must know the rod width, the fabric width and the fullness.
For a typical pleated drapery, you will multiply the rod width by 2.5 times fullness.
What can be confusing is that you will figure this out as if it’s one big drapery panel and then divide it by two for a pair.
For example: If the rod width is 100 inches and you multiply by 2.5 time fullness = 250 divided by the fabric width (54 inches) = 4.6 and you round up to 5 cuts or widths of fabric.
For a one-way draw, like on a sliding door, you will sew all 5 cuts of fabric together. The window will have one large drapery panel 5 widths wide and pleated to fit the rod.
For a split draw or two way draw (a pair) you will divide the number of cuts by 2. For this example of 5 cuts, that will give you 2.5 cuts on each side. The window will have two panels, made of 2.5 widths each and pleated to fit the left, and right sides of the rod.
The half widths will be placed at the outside of each panel so that whole widths meet in the middle.
Learn more about figuring yardage and sewing draperies in Susan's book Singer(R) Sewing Custom Curtains, Shades and Top Treatments.
Question: How is the best way to template when a window is a bay window or a bowed window. The corners and how you figure how to get the board or the hardware to meet perfectly as well as the window treatment.
When measuring a bay or bow window, you will need to make a cardboard template onsite. This is time consuming but worth it. When you return to the workroom, make a larger paper pattern while it’s still fresh in your mind.
You might need to send a template to the hardware company. If you do that, be sure you keep a duplicate for yourself. In some cases, you may need to dry fit the boards or hardware before the installation, so adjustments can be made before the draperies are installed.
There are a many types of swivel brackets, and jointed pole rods to make angles easier. Review hardware catalogs to become familiar with all the options. The photo below is an adjustable insert for Aria hardware from Rowley Company.
Question: How do you find a good installer?
Begin with a Google search for window treatment installers, or curtain and blind installation. Check with other workrooms in your area. They may install work from other workrooms, or they may have an installer recommendation. You can also put requests on local neighborhood marketing groups where you may get a referral from someone who had window treatments installed (and it’s good advertisement for you, too).
It’s always good to network with others through BNI or Chamber of Commerce. This will give you a network of businesses and you want to especially connect with like-minded businesses that provide products and services for interiors like carpet, lighting, wallpaper, cabinetry and etc.
Check the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) website for workrooms, designers and installers in your area. www.wcaa.org
Question: Are there any special sewing machine feet needed for sewing draperies?
You will most often use the standard two-toe presser foot but there are times when specialty feet can be helpful.
A compensating foot can be used when pattern matching fabric if you use the method where the selvage is folded back and you stitch on the edge of the fold.
You may need to use a Teflon foot for some fabrics like velvet.
Cording feet will be needed if you add welt cord or decorative cording to the leading edges
Question: What are Ripplefold draperies?
Ripplefold draperies are made with a snap tape sewn at the top edge of a drapery panel that is then snapped into carriers on a special rod where the carriers are connected by cords. The drapery has a serpentine shape hanging under the rod.
You can learn more about fabricating Ripplefold draperies on Episode 36 of 30 Minutes with Workroom Tech with Ann Johnson. Click here: Episode 36 Question: What would you different with velvet, silk, and true linen?
Velvet – be careful to keep the nap in the same direction and do not press with an iron on the front. You may need to use a Teflon foot, or change the feed dogs on the machine. You may need to use adhesive tapes in some areas where you can’t press and sew.
Silk - You want to be careful about steaming – you can steam silk but you don’t want to have any water spots. You may need to hand sew side hems. Interlining helps to make silk look more luxurious.
Linen - can shrink or grow, depending on the environment. Educate the client about the challenges of getting a perfect length and the inherent wrinkles.
See Episode 31: Working with Challenging Fabrics for more information. Click here: Episode 31
Question: When to do a top down fabrication method and why?
Whether you fabricate draperies top down, or bottom up is personal preference – how you learned! It also depends on your set up and workroom experience.
If you are using fusible buckram, top down fabrication can be easier to press the buckram into the heading.
Question: How long do you typically hang your drapes before delivery?
Ceil and Susan both shared that they never hang draperies before delivery because they don't have the room. If you have room to do this, it's a great idea but not every workroom is able to hang and dress draperies before delivery. Question: What are your favorite drapery making tools?
The workroom basics: worktable, iron, scissors, tape measure and industrial sewing machine. Other tools that can make drapery making more efficient are the Draw-Matic clamping device, inspection machines (or a jig set up on your worktable for rolling out and inspecting fabrics) and blind hemmer, pleater and tacking industrial machines.
This episode of the podcast didn't address all the questions asked by the WAM group. If you have any drapery questions, let us know. We will address additional questions in a future podcast.