Saturday, April 25, 2009

This is the latest article in the Design Dilemmas series. I have added comments not published in the newspaper and have highlighted them in gold.

Here comes the Sun.

Great having the sun back.  Personally I love the heat but if you don’t and the sun is heating up your rooms, here are some reasonably priced things you can do to help control the temperature. 

 In my opinion the best thing you can do is have solar film applied to the windows. It is applied to the outside of the window and can reduce the UV  rays ( ie heat) by as much as 80%. The UV rays are also what damage your floor and bleach out your sofa fabric. This film, if professionally installed, is one of the best heat beaters I’ve ever seen - that still allows you to see out the window. In Salmon Arm Trademark Glass is the dealer I am most familiar with. Several of my clients have had the film installed and all have been just thrilled with the results.  

You can install black-out roller blinds, Roman blinds,  venetians or cellular shades. These work very well, just remember that there will be up to  one third of an inch gap on each side of the blind to allow for hardware. On a window 60 x 40  this gap would be equivalent to a hole about 5 inches square. If you add a good deep valance and side panels, all blackout lined, you will get  good heat protection but this solution  does not allow you to see out. On the gallery I have posted a before and after sequence of a blackout roller blind with a lot of  light seepage around the edges and the result with a blackout lined valance and side panels.  

Shade cloth is available now that will block about 75% of the UV rays and allows great view out, very little view in on a sunny day. This product is sewable and quite inexpensive,  perfect for patio or balcony curtains.  I have this fabric coming, should be here within a few weeks. I will sell it as a finished drape or blind  or as yardage so call me for more information. 250-833-1120.

You can have black out liners made for your existing drapery. There is a new blackout lining on the market that is quite drapeable, much nicer in feel that the older, stiff  blackout lining. These liners can be made totally detachable for cleaning and can be made to attach to almost any drapery treatment.  Totally opaque but fantastic heat protection, both keeping heat out in summer and in in the winter. On the gallery I have a before and after with dimout lining. The sun reflection on the floor is quite visible and the heat control these drapes provide was immediately noticeable.

I have seen fabric disintegrate after being exposed to the sun in just 1 season. I have seen hardwood floors bleached after a short time, and sofa fabric completely ruined by the sun. All these can be avoided it you put the right coverage on your window to start with.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fabric Differences

 Which Fabric Should I Use?

I don’t mind a client bringing their own fabric to have me construct drapes or cushions or whatevers.  BUT often I am asked to use fabric that is not the correct quality or type suitable to the design. So,, for all you gals who want to find your own fabric, you should be aware of a few differences between fabric types. Each category has a specific purpose and while we can sometimes use one type of fabric for another, most often these fabrics do not cross the lines very easily. So, when you are out looking for fabric start in the correct department.  Just as you would not expect an inexpensive, indoor paint to look good and last as an outdoor paint, do not expect a fabric not intended for drapery to look as good as most drapery fabric. These are some of the main differences, by no means all the differences:

Quilting Fabric: usually 100% cotton, usually 45” wide. Usually fairly tight weave. 

These fabrics are very thin compared to most drapery fabric and therefore, in order to use them as drapery, they require special linings. The cost of the fabric itself can be quite expensive and because it is so narrow, more is needed for drapery and coupled with the interlining the cost can quickly approach that of a substantial drapery fabric. And it can shrink so pre-washing is a must if you want to wash the finished product.  Imagine ironing 15 meters of cotton.  

Upholstery Fabric: The easiest distinction here is that the design on upholstery fabrics runs across the bolt, from one edge as the top,  to the other as the bottom.  (Think ‘bouquets of flowers side by side  across the back of a sofa’). This is called railroaded.   Upholstery fabric often has a backing, it often feels slightly ‘sticky’ to  the touch and is usually  heavier than drapery fabric.  It doesn’t drape well and  is not usually  washable  and sometimes is  not dry-cleanable either. 

Drapery Fabric: The design runs up the bolt.  ( Think  ‘bouquets of flowers running up a very tall drape’) The fabric is usually 54 inches wide and it can be as light as a sheer (see-through) to  as  heavy as a  velvet.  Most drapery fabric is dry-cleanable, some is washable and a lot  of it has cotton or linen as part of the content. Depending on the weight it can sometimes be used for light upholstery, slipcovers and bedding.  

Fashion Fabrics: Almost everything else. Really. There are so many fibers and combinations it would be impossible to list them all . Some fashion fabrics, like fine wool blends, work well in the drapery world, and denim and canvas are great for slipcovers, but these are 100% natural fiber fabrics.  Some silks, velvets and corduroy’s  are great for cushions and things but they are not meant to take the abuse upholstery fabric will and usually have a much shorter life span. If the fabric has a viscose or rayon content it may stretch or sag. If it is a stretch fabric it is probably unsuitable for most home decor applications.

Now, having said all that, a decorator I knew used screen door mesh to construct drapes for a hair salon. I have used $6.00 per meter silk from a Sari shop for drapes.  I have used black denim for slipcovers that was initially intended for chefs jackets.   And I made a Grade 12’s grad ‘skirt’ out of 10 meters of embroidered drapery sheer.  Once again, if in doubt, please ask. I take phone calls and I’ll even go shopping with you.