Friday, December 2, 2011

Magnets,, sort of

Magnets, sort of....
I spoke at a Reskilling Workshop for  Shuswap in Transition recently, presenting information about insulated window coverings and I learned something new, Read on... As a reminder: an uncovered new window may have an R-value of about 3; whereas the wall will probably have an R-value of 20. Correctly constructed and hung window treatments can have an R-value of 16 or more. 
The effectiveness of insulating Roman blinds  is increased if they hang close to the window frame. Attaching them to the frame is best. I have seen mini-shutters on piano hinges clamp the blind to the frame. I have used magnetic strips stuck to the wall, with magnets sewn into the side of the blinds. And now there is magnetic primer!!  I’m not making this up. I bought some to test. The can says 2 or 3 layers, I used 6 before the 1/2-inch rare-earth magnets stuck, But stick they did. So, paint the window frame, or the wall, with the magnetic primer and cover it with latex paint. Sew magnets into the side edges of the blinds, or drape, and that’s that
Thanks to Laura at Shuswap in Transition for the heads up about this product. Check my website, newspaper columns archive,  for places to buy. 
Changing directions... I was in New Orleans the year before Katrina. As I walked along Bourbon street that first night, I was surprised to hear Rock, Blues, and  Heavy Metal  music at almost every club and bar. Where was the ‘real’ New Orleans music? Down the street a large crowd spilled over the sidewalk, the narrow ground-to-roof shutters thrown  open, the crowd 10 to 12 people deep, laughing, twirling and dancing to the Dixieland music exhaling from the shoulder-to-shoulder closet that was masquerading as a bar. I elbowed my way to  a peek through one shutter, the only band member I could see was a lil old lady, pink hair, just ripping up the keyboards. This was New Orleans, this was the real deal.  Last Thursday at the Art Gallery Jazz night, Sandy Cameron and his Dixieland All-Stars  brought Bourbon Street to Salmon Arm. They painted the picture and had the crowd clapping, tapping and laughing from the first note. It was a very special night; the music came from the stars and I was back in New Orleans, dancing on Bourbon Street,  for just awhile. 

Things That Should Not be Trendy.

Things That Should Not be Trendy.
The thing about trends is that they come and go. That is what makes them trends.  In the home decor world, trends are fine for pillows, cushions, area rugs, accent lamps and the odd bit of artwork but for major components in a home, watch out.  Here are a few things I believe should never be trendy. You will be stuck with them for a long time, and changing them will cost you a lot of money.
Leather sofa: No matter how much you love purple, it is, perhaps, not a good color for a leather sofa. These sofas can last a long time; if it is a quality sofa, you may have it for fifteen or more years. During that time it will dictate the color scheme of the room.  Unless you are absolutely positive you will never want to change that color scheme, stick to a neutral color. 
Drapes in the living room: These can be as pricey as a new sofa.  Same guidelines apply here. Unless you are sure you will want big grommets and striped fabric, for example, for a very long time, buy a classic drape made of exceptional fabric and dress it up with side panels of the striped fabric.
Back-splash: As much as you may love the apple-green glass accent tile of the back-splash, it will age and date your kitchen. We all loved the peach and blue of the early nineties; now it just looks old and tired, no matter what the condition.  Better to be neutral, and use the trendy colors as accents in the accessories or chair covers. Same applies in the bathroom. 
A friend asked me to help him and his wife pick a carpet color for their house; they wanted the same carpet throughout.  I declined -- I have a rule about working for friends-- but I wish I had made an exception on this one. They chose a bright emerald green plush carpet because she had seen it as a new ‘must have’ in an English decorating magazine.  Enough said. When they sold their house a few years later, they had to first replace the carpet.   A good berber with accent rugs would have made much more design, and fiscal, sense.
Remember the little black dress. You can totally change the look with accessories and it never goes out of style. 

Drywall picture hanger

This is what the drywall picture hangers look like. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Information Sites for Drapery Insulation

Design Sewlutions: R-Value and Drape Insulation  
The  Sensible House Project: Keeping Heat in (or out)
Interior Mall; Warming Up to Drapery Linings; Cheryl Strickland
University of Wisconsin Extension; Energy Conserving Window Treatments; James W. Buesing;
Smart Energy Living: Window Coverings

Thermal Insulated Curtains:A guide to energy efficient window coverings
D.O.E. Energy Savers: Window Draperies;

What kind of Curtains Keep Cold Air Out?

Are Lined Curtains the Same as Thermals:

Energy Efficiency of Insulated Curtains

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Toolbox for Christmas

A few weeks ago I was at my niece’s home, getting to know my new great-nephew. I offered to install the curtains in his room and asked for a screwdriver. I got the Leatherman. I got the job done --- yeah to Leatherman --- but later, when I asked my niece where her tool box was, she said she didn’t have one because everyone ‘borrowed’ her tools and didn’t return them. I knew then what she was getting for Christmas.  
So off I went to my favorite afternoon pass-time: wandering the isles of the big-box hardware store. I found a tool box from Stanley, no less, for $7.50 and started to fill it up.
Ladies: if you want a tool box for Christmas, leave this article lying around. Circle the title. 
Guys: If you want to be a hero, buy some lady in your life a tool box full of useful stuff and then leave it alone. 
What I put in Jet’s tool box:
A 25-foot tape measure that is easy to read and at least one inch wide.
A small level.
A short-handle full-size hammer. They are great, fit into the tool box and don’t weigh a ton.
A multi-head, long bit screwdriver. 
A small saw with a blade guard.
A fabric tool belt.
A package of dry-wall screws.
A package of assorted screws. This may be a bit mickey-mouse but these packages work well for someone who is just learning, or who only needs a few screws every once-in-awhile.
Pliers, needle-nosed pliers, linesman pliers, crescent wrench, side-cutter and scissors.
2-sided tape, masking tape, painters tape, packing tape, duct tape and scotch tape.
A pencil, pencil sharpener, push pins, a fine tipped Sharpie, a package of elastic bands.
A ruler.
A disappearing fabric marking pencil.  Great for marking walls; the marks are gone after a few hours. 
A package of the picture hanging hook things. Called a drywall hook. They really work and only make a tiny hole in the wall.
The only things missing are a 2-battery rechargeable drill and a stud finder. I think someone else can buy her that for Christmas. I had so much fun getting everything together and  I didn’t want to wait to hear her reaction, so I sent it to her today. I know no-one will dare touch this tool box. 


Imagine (now just bear with me for a moment) a man dressed in a smashing navy blue suit, crisp white shirt and a classic red tie. Perfect color usage proportions. The ensemble looks pleasing and balanced. Why? The 60-30-10 guideline. ( No rules, remember, we have “guidelines”). The main color in a color scheme should appear on 60 percent of the surfaces, the secondary color on 30 percent and the accent or metal color on the remaining 10 percent. 
This proportion works for clothing and equally as well when designing interiors.  
Most modern color schemes are two colors, maximum. So, the main color should appear on the walls, drapes, floor and major piece of furniture; on about 60 percent of the room surfaces. Variations on color is fine as long as the color stays true; for example: soft gray walls, wood flooring with a gray undertone, drapes that pick up the wall color and a charcoal leather sofa.  Shades (black added to the color) and tints (white added) are OK as long as you stay on the true color. Textures are good.
The coordinating color should appear on 30 percent of the surfaces - the accent upholstered pieces, the side chairs for example, and as an evident color in any prints or patterns. Think area rug. Once again, stay true to the color, no mixing blue-reds with orange-reds unless you really mean to. 
Use the remaining 10 percent for the metals or, if you are opting for a 3-color scheme, as the main color in the accessories such as cushions and lamps. 
There you go. It really is that simple.  But, please, please, please, remember that this is a guideline. If you want the room to be all purple, then you just do it and be happy in your space. Do not allow anyone else to tell you what is right and wrong in your cocoon. 
We had an absolute blast yesterday in the workroom. Five of us made dressforms - replicas of our own torsos for use in garment sewing and fitting. These are 3 of them. 
( Left - in progress.     Right - just after being removed.       They still have some work to be done on them.)

DIY Window Insulation

I had to turn on the heat in my house last week. Here we go again. So, broken record me, it’s time to talk winter and the effect the weather has on  the heating bill. Did you know that between 10 and 30 percent of your heating bill is going out your windows? Would you like to reduce that amount by at least 50 percent without replacing the windows?  Here’s how to DIY your way to a warmer house without custom made anything.
Understand, first of all, that the key is layering. Just as layering clothing is the key when going outside in winter, layering the window coverings  is what needs to happen to keep the winter cold from meeting the warm of the room. The best insulating drape has at least three layers: the face fabric, a flannel interlining and a blackout back lining.  Create the same effect with two curtain rods, each carrying one or more curtains. If you have blinds on the windows, layer in front of them for the  same effect.
First step: Attach blackout lining panels to the back of existing drapes.  If your drapes hang on drapery pins you are in luck, most pre-made panels have loops at the top that slip over the pins. You need to purchase enough panels to equal the flat width of the window only plus a bit for ease.  If your drapes do not have drapery pins, use small  safety pins to attach to the back of the drape.  
Second step: Install a small profile curtain rod just under and slightly behind the existing one. On this rod install some semi-sheer drapes. Choose a neutral color so they blend into the wall and shop at the local fabric store, or online for super deals on panels. Choose panels that have pinch pleats and hang on the rod by pins. Overlap each edge by a few inches. 
Third step: Install an insulating layer behind the sheers. Purchase  super-wide cotton quilt batting the same width as the window, turn the top edge over and, again, use a safety pin to attach them to the drapery pins of the sheers. If  you are a bit handy, put button holes equidistant across the top, or put in small grommets. 

When spring happens, remove the insulating and blackout layers and replace them in the fall when the weather changes again. I know the safety pin thing may bother some, but it works, is inexpensive and no-one but you will know they are there.

Rules and Guidelines

Just after the long weekend, a friend said she had quit wearing white for the year because the fashion rule is no white after Labour day.  When we were talking I was wearing my summer uniform: white capris and a white sleeveless blouse. Ten days later I was on the beach; in my mind, summer was not over.  Guidelines are not rules. Here are some  home decor “rules” that are silly and should be ignored, and some guidelines that you can use insead. 
Rule: End tables must match.   
Guideline: Match the era or style of end tables;  match the visual weight and mood; or match the tables, the choice is yours. 
Rule: Wall, door and window trim must be white or natural.
Guideline: If the trim is a focal point of the room, and you want to draw attention to it, paint it a color that contrasts with the walls and floors. If you want it to blend into the wall or floor, paint it a similar color.
Rule: Windows must be covered, or at least have a valance.
Guideline: Decide what you need and proceed from there.  Just because you have a window does not mean you have to cover it. If you install a valance just for the sake of putting something over the window, it will probably look like you put something up just for the sake of putting something up.
Rule: All wood in a room must match. 
Guideline:  Try to limit the different woods to 3, and use wood no more than 5 times in one room. If the table and floor are the same wood, both loose some definition; varying the woods creates interest.
And the grand-daddy of all:
Rule: Wood must never be painted.
Guideline: Do what you want to do but remember that unless the wood is of exceptional quality, is unusual, or very old, paint may be more interesting and more suited to your lifestyle and decor than natural colored wood. Take a moment and think back to the oak-in-every-corner era of the early ’90’s. Enough, already. 
Now for the silly rule of the week award, thanks to MJ at Shuswap Pie Company:
I overheard her explaining to staff which bakery items are HST-able and which are not. The rules say that a cinnamon roll without icing is not taxable. With icing it IS taxable. Yeesh.

Catch up

The column on bamboo generated a bit of buzz. I have been asked several times for a source for the socks and except for the lady at the Caravan Farm Theatre Sunday Market, I couldn’t find any local store selling 100 percent bamboo socks. I’m trying to track down the number for the lady from the markets but here  are a few Internet shops I found.  I e-mailed the Ontario source for more information, as their website seems to be a bit flaky, but haven’t heard back from them yet. If anyone finds a supplier, please let me know. (Florida) (San Franscisco) (Ontario)
I will be doing a dress form workshop in my workroom on Saturday October 15. Participants will make an exact replica of their own torso and get the plans for a stand for ‘her’. This is an excellent tool for any dressmaker.  If you have ever sewn with a customized dress form, you know how easy it is to make good- fitting garments for yourself. I have one shoulder quite a bit higher than the other and making a suit jacket without a form is just asking for trouble. How do I know?? Guess...  It takes about 3 hours to complete a form and there will be no charge for the workshop itself, just for the supplies. Call me 250-833-1120.
Here is an interesting update on the on-going shade cord issues in the U.S. At a recent meeting of the U.S. Window Coverings Manufacturers and the Consumer Advocacy 
Group tasked with finalizing the manufacturing standards for shaded window coverings, talks broke down with the Advocacy group leaving the meeting, citing the Manufacturers for ‘not listening’.  I imagine they also had a problem with the fact that those who will be manufacturing the products are writing the new rules. (Rather like the coyote designing the hen-house security system).  Statistically, one child a month dies in the U.S. from strangulation on shade cords; it would be nice to get the regulations finalized. I know it’s the U.S. but the word we get from the Canadian government is that we will be adopting the U.S. regulations, so I hope these groups smarten up and sort this out.  In the meantime, I continue to make Roman shades, following the interim regulations, with no exposed lift cords. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Travel Trailer

My niece has a travel trailer that has fake wood wall-board, gold appliances and rust-colored flowered upholstery fabric. You know the one --- we have all seen it.  Unfortunately there is nothing wrong with the wall board, appliances or rust-colored flowers so there is no need to replace anything, but she really wanted to change things a  bit.  I took down the five little, teeny tiny valances that were of the  flowered upholstery fabric and replaced them with a linen/cotton blend fabric in a color that matched the dark of the wallboard.  The valances concealed the hardware of the roller shades so they weren’t only decorative. Just this one change made a huge difference and now the flowered upholstery doesn’t seem quite so much a problem as before. 
If you’ve read my column for awhile you know about contrast and the effect it has on the perceived size of a room. This is a perfect example of this - the trailer seemed larger and much ‘calmer’ with the new valances. The flowered ones caused the eye to jump from window to window taking in all the little strips of contrast fabric.  They contributed to the busy-ness of the room and little rooms can’t afford to be busy.  They were also crooked and uneven, adding to their lack of appeal. 
A young client and her husband bought their first travel-trailer and it needed new cushion covers. The old ones were shredded and disintegrating but the foam was OK. This trailer’s interior was brown and aqua and  Fabricland had the perfect outdoor fabric: an aqua background with a stylized brown flower. It is a retro print that fit the era of the trailer perfectly. Because it was a bit expensive, we used a plain brown fabric for the  piping and underside of the cushions and  I added some loft with a dacron wrap. I have a new way of hinging these cushions so they are reversible, doubling their life-span.  The client made new little curtains herself and the end result is cute as can be. (I’ve posted pictures on the Gallery., connect to the gallery). This wasn’t an inexpensive alteration but now the continuity makes the room look bigger; the cushion covers are removable for washing and the homeowners won’t have to replace  the covers for the remainder of the time they have the trailer. And they don’t have to replace the aqua colored stove and sink.  
This is the third anniversary of my column. Yeah for me!!  Thank you to all who read it and stop me to comment. I love hearing from you;  you continue to inspire me.

The Bulkhead and Odd-Angled Walls

Bulkhead and odd-angled walls
I went to a previous clients home the other day and I was stuck, again, by the architecture of the home and the wonderful colors.  The home has two predominant colors and there are a lot of angled walls. When we were planning the paint colors we had a dickens of a time deciding  what color to put where until we  hit on the plan of  “all horizontal and angled planes are this color; all vertical planes are the other color.”  Seeing the home again, after several years, I was struck by how clever we were.  Without this consistency, the home would have been a jumble; a disjointed  crayon-box of colors that would have detracted from the fantastic bones of the building. 
Then, just the other day, I was asked what color to paint the bulkhead: the same as the wall or the same as the ceiling. So I thought this would be a good topic for today’s dilemma.
If you are not careful, the bulkhead could take on the visual importance of a focal point. Do you remember the ceiling-height wallpaper borders of the early ’90’s? Everywhere we went, our eyes would dash up the wall to glaze over at the sunflowers, or ducks, or books, running around the room. If you don’t stand back, look at the bulkhead and think ahead a bit, you could end up with the same result.
If the bulkhead is more than 6 inches deep, and the wall is 8 feet tall or more, paint it the same color as the wall on which it resides, if less than 6 inches, paint it the same color as the ceiling.
If the wall is less than 8 feet high, painting the bulkhead the color of the ceiling may make the walls appear shorter; so paint any bulkhead on short walls the color of the wall. 
Paint the underside of the bulkhead the color of the ceiling. If you don’t believe me on this one, lay on the floor and look up. Horizontal plane equals ceiling. 
If you have a handy-man handy, you could consider the bulkhead on one wall as the start of a tray or coffered ceiling and  have the bulkhead replicated on the three remaining walls.  If you want to have fun, paint a sky mural on the ceiling, or apply some faux tin vinyl wallpaper.  If you do, just remember focal point.

The Foyer

Foyer: An entrance Hall in a house or apartment. Pronounced “foy er”  or “foy yeah”. Either pronunciation is correct but the snoots in design school insisted on “ foy yeah”.   Whatever.  In everyday English, it’s also the “entry” or the “front porch”. Just depends on the house.  But whatever the pronunciation, it is still a room. 
I was asked what furniture should be purchased for an entry and  it occurred to me that most of us forget that the entry is a  separate room and requires the same  consideration as  any other room in the house. The decor of the entry will set the tone for the home and it is not, typically,  the room to throw caution to the wind and experiment with faux paint techniques.  Well, not for most of us, anyway. 
Start with a usage list. Write down the activities that happen in the entry and what furniture and lighting is required for each activity. This is key.
Draw a to-scale floor plan of the entry. Use graph paper and a 1 square to 6 inches scale. Mark the doors, the direction in which they open, radiators and windows. 
Print the  scale templates of furniture outlines from Simpler Pleasures  at  Cut out the ones you need - refer to your usage list and arrange these pieces on your floor-plan.  Adjust your furniture sizes as needed. 
A door needs 36 inches of swing space. Drawers need 24 inches to open. Chairs should have a minimum of 24 inches of clearance on the two sides and front. 
When you have the furniture in place, decide how to supply the necessary lighting --  table lamp or overhead pot lamp for the mail desk, for example--  and draw some circles on the floor-plan to indicate these light sources.  
Measure the area you will need covered by the rug. Make sure it is big enough to fit under furniture and not be a potential tripping hazard. 
Now, look at what you have. You can list, definitively, the  type and size of each piece of furniture you need, the type of lighting required and the size of the area rug you will need.  If you go shopping with a list this specific, and stick to it, you will save yourself an immense amount of time, frustration and, potentially, dollars. 
Happy shopping!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I Learned About Bamboo

What I learned about bamboo.
I have recently been writing some articles for an internet site that, on occasion, requires me to do research. The one on bamboo sheets was an eye-opener.  Here is some of what I learned:
Bamboo is a renewable resource; it can grow 4 or 5 feet per day. Bamboo has a natural antimicrobial quality; no pesticides are needed while it grows. This microbial quality carries over to bamboo fabric; studies performed by the China Industrial Testing Center (CTITC) and the Japan Textile Inspection Association (JTIA) have shown bamboo sheets will kill bacteria and destroy odors. Bamboo wicks moisture away from a perspiring body while retaining warming properties. The fibers produce a non-shrinking, non-pilling silky thread that can be woven into a 1000-thread count fabric.
Bamboo is used for garments as well: Fifty test subjects, all sufferers of athlete’s  foot, were given 100 percent bamboos socks to wear. ALL fifty subjects reported the disappearance of the burning and itching of athlete's foot within 1-2 days of wearing the socks. (Reference below).
After learning these things, I asked around. Two of my friends say that their favorite garments of all time are bamboo knits. They are warm, and cool, wash like a dream, don’t stain and wear forever. The sewer in the bunch said the knit bamboo was a charm to deal with.  The sheet connoisseur said the bamboo sheets beat the high quality cotton on all fronts. Not scientific research exactly, but it’s always good to hear what the common folk say.  So, then I went looking for the negatives about bamboo. I had to look awhile. This is all I could find:
The majority of the bamboo used in bed-sheet fabric production is grown in Southeast Asia. The transportation costs of sending the fibers to mills in other countries have negatively affected the price of the products. Because of the astounding advantages of bamboo, it has become a highly sought-after sheet fabric, which has also increased the price.
Interesting, no??
Source: Treehugger, A Discovery Company;“Bamboo Sheets Keep Germs Out of Bed”; Lloyd Alter; 2007

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tables and Rugs

Tables and Rugs
I have been asked several times recently about rugs and tables -  both coffee and dining - and how the shapes should relate to each other. So, here is your lesson on rugs and tables. 
The Shape of the Space
The shape of the area rug should mimic the shape of the space it is to occupy. Measure the width and length of the area where the rug will lie. If the width and length are the same, the shape is a square; if two sides of the area are longer than the other two, the shape is a rectangle.
Square Space
In a square space, the area rug should be a square or circular shape. Square rugs suggest a casual decor. A square rug is often seen in modern decor such as in great rooms where the sofa arrangement surrounds an over-sized coffee table. Circular rugs suggest a more formal style and are often seen in traditional or classical rooms as deeply carved floral carpets with heavy edge fringe.
Rectangular Space
In a rectangular space, the area rug should be rectangular or oval. The design guideline suggests that rectangular shapes are more suited to a casual decor, but because most area rugs are designed and printed in this shape, the guideline is frequently bent or ignored. An oval rug suits a rectangular space and suggests a more formal or classic style, the exception being the classic braided oval rug, which is not a formal style.
Exposed Rug
When the chairs of a dining room table are out, they should remain on the rug. This is for both aesthetics and safety. For these reasons, if the shape of the table mimics the shape of the rug, function will not clash with the form and balance of the room.
Tables and Rugs Together
The shape of the table should mimic the shape of the rug. If the rug is rectangular, the table should be rectangular or oval. If the rug is square, the table should be square or round.
And on a very sad note, Gaye Delorme passed away on June 23 in Calgary. There is a B-flat stranded 14th out there somewhere taking him home.

The Patio Cushions Season

The Patio Cushions
Summer is almost here; well, that’s what I’ve been told, anyway. I’m not sure I really believe it, but if the number of patio cushions I have in my workroom is any indication, it’s just around the corner. 
We ask so much of the patio cushions. When being really truthful, most clients admit that they put the cushions out in the spring and leave them there until late fall. The cushions get rained on, the sun attacks the fabric, the dogs and cats sleep on them and the kids spill ice-cream on them. And we expect them to stay looking good for at least a few years.
Here is how to help make that happen: 
Use out door fabric. 
The better-quality outdoor fabrics are solution dyed, meaning the fiber is permeated with color, it won’t fade or dissipate. The lesser-quality fabrics have been treated with UV protectant to reduce damage from the sun. I did some cushions for a gal a few years ago, red and yellow outdoor fabric from Fabricland, and they are still bright, no fading at all. Mildew will grow on dirt, so keep the cushions clean and you won’t have a problem with mildew or mold. The fabric is washable, hang to dry only, please, and the higher-end fabrics, like Sunbrella, can be solution bleached (instructions available on the Sunbrella website) for really stubborn stains. Outdoor fabrics are water resistant but some water will soak through to the filler. 
Use outdoor foam.
We all know how well foam will soak up water, and keep it soaked up. This is not what we want in our cushions.  Outdoor foam looks more like very coarse quilt batting; water runs right through it. So, no mildew, no mold. It is more expensive than top-grade foam but it will last indefinitely.  Pre-cut cushions are available at Fabricland, their brand is Fiber Form-Ext; I’ve used it and it works very well. I have a new one called Dri-Fast in sheet sizes and can cut any size needed.
And a few other things.
Don’t use cotton filler for piping, it will shrink and disintegrate over time, I use a polyester filler that is soft like cotton but with none of the disadvantages. Use outdoor, marine, or polyester thread and use plastic zippers - no rust problems

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trims and Tassels

 Most of us love trims and tassels, but there seems to be reluctance in many people to take the plunge and add trim into your home. Don’t be afraid; the ‘risk’ is well worth it. I have never had a client ask me to take the trim off; I have often had clients ask me to add trim after the fact. Trims add definition to a project, enhance a color scheme, and help tie varying color schemes and elements in a room together. Take a moment this week and look at the magazines; trim is everywhere - not a lot, just a touch - less is more, remember. Inexpensive fabric can take on new, luxurious appeal with the addition of a trim or tassel.
Here are some suggestions of how to incorporate some trims into existing decor. 
*A simple contrast-colored cushion on a sofa becomes a lot more important with 4 little tassels added at the corners. 

*Attach some tassel trim to the lower edge of a lampshade and add the coordinating flat trim to the top edge. 

* Sew some trim all around a square of fabulous fabric and use it as a center cloth on a large table or as an over-cloth on a small table. 

*Apply two or more rows of different trims to the piped edge of an ottoman.

*Apply tassel fringe to the lower edge of a valance and add some of the same trim to the pillow shams and bed-skirt. This one will take the bedroom from beautiful to outstanding - trust me.

If you can’t sew, or don’t want to, call me and I’ll do it for you. Ask me about the Fringe Adhesive Glue I have; it dries clear, stays bendable, and is specifically designed for gluing fringe and trim to fabric. It works very well. 
This week I received the new trim books I ordered when I was in Las Vegas. It’s just like Christmas for me, six different trims in 36 color combinations. The best part, though, is the price. They cost about half what comparable trims cost from other suppliers. What this means for you is we can put some great trims into your home without breaking the budget.

This is one of 3 books, 12 colors in each book ( there are 4 colors on the back folds of this book) and a closeup of one of the fringes and tassel trims. This is the tassle fringe I'm ordering, in ivory, for my living room valance. I can't wait, I've been looking for just the right trim for a year. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Green Home Tour

My ‘How to Make Your Drapes More Energy Efficient’  display and I were part of the  Green Home Tour on Saturday, May 14. I was at Jen Dyck and Steve Mennie’s home - the straw bale one.  We were the last on the list but we had the first people show up at 9:45 and they kept coming all day; well, except for the lunch hour when Jen and I had time to take a little stroll around the property. 
The weather cooperated; it was actually sunny for part of the day so everyone who came through seemed to be in good spirits, and  there were many positive comments about the tour.
I don’t know much about straw bale homes except that they are very energy efficient. I did a bit of research and the astounding thing I learned is that a built to code ‘stick’ home will have R-20 insulation. Straw bale is equal to R-50 or 60 and the energy saving to heat is about 75%.  I was looking at Google Images: 581,000 straw bale homes came up with a massive diversity of styles; some are whimsical, ‘hobbit’ stye; some look like a model home from Architectural Digest and everything in between.  Conrad Wilkins designed and built Steve and Jen’s house and it is of a style all its own.
I was really pleased with the response to my display; I had  samples of drapes with 4 different linings and the equivalent insulation  that the various combinations provide; from about R-3 for a good window with unlined drapes up to R-10 or more by combining insulation and linings and  with additional treatments -like Roman Blinds-  the R-value can shoot up to R-16 or more . The code for homes in this area is 6 inch studs with R-20 insulation. 
Removable blackout liners for your drapes will prevent heat from entering as well as leaving; so please remember this when the summer sun starts streaming in.
One other thing: the Sqwlax Pow Wow is held the third week in July.  I went to one night of dance competition there last year and it was a highlight of my summer. I won’t miss it this year; it’s a really great family outing and would be a wonderful event to take out-of-towners to.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Convention Center encompasses about 2 million square feet of exhibit space. LIke everything else in Vegas it’s larger than life. I was there last week to attend the International Window Coverings Expo. The  Kitchen and Bath Industry Show  was held there at the same time; I’ve never seen so many  stoves, sinks and bathtubs; every size, color, configuration- with, I’m sure, a ratio of 2 sales ‘reps’ per visitor. Overwhelming.
The International Window Coverings Expo is the big North American annual show  for my trade.  It was a blast. I met colleagues I’ve only spoken to on the internet; I connected with a mentor I’ve not seen in awhile; I bought a new module of software for my Interior Design program that will allow me to do some spectacular things for bedroom renderings for you.  The highlights for me were what I learned about innovations in the blind industry and  patterning techniques for very intricate window coverings. 
 I secured a new trim line that I will be able to offer at fantastic prices. See the side bar here for a picture of some of the trim. The price of this trim line is about half  of a comparable trim here.  As of May 6, the books are on their way. 
There were quite a few window covering manufacturers there, showing the latest and greatest in blinds and shades.  Roller shades were featured prominently, I think in part because they are not susceptible to the cord safety regulations. I met a member of the Window Covering Manufacturers  Association council - one of those responsible for writing the regulations concerning corded shades and he told me they are being considered by Canadian regulators for implementation here.  Soon.
Boring stuff, for sure, but the translation for you is that if you own a home that has venetian blinds,  accordion shades, roman blinds, roller shades on a continuous loop chain or drapery on a cord system you need to be aware that those products may be considered dangerous and require re-fitting.
The upside to all of this is that the innovators in my industry have been really busy developing new products that allow us to  continue to make window coverings yet be compliant.  Magnets, concealed tracks, wide lift bands, cord shrouds- truly unique systems and some of them are much better than the ‘old’ ways. If we hadn’t had this shakeup we might never have seen these products be developed. I have one new system in use in my workroom now, a second system will be soon - it was just announced at the show for the first time and they were overwhelmed with orders.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Favorite Books

If I could, I’d be a book hoarder. Fiction, non fiction - doesn’t matter, I love books and if I had a large house with a large library it would be full. I’d love to have one of those library ladders that run on a track all around the room...  Dream on...
I do have a lot of books in my workroom though. When I started in the sewing business I bought a lot of books, took a lot of courses and some of those early  books have become reference guides for me.They are my standbys that I still refer to when my brain gets overloaded or when I’m looking for a bit of inspiration.  
I thought I’d share this list of books with you. Any of these books would be a good addition to a home sewers library. 
The Singer Triad: ‘Singer Sewing For the Home’, ‘Singer Sewing Projects for the Home’ and Singer ‘More Sewing for the Home’.  These three books were originally published in the 80’s and 90’s  and have been updated several times since but the basic information they contain is timeless. I have the first editions of them, all bent and tattered, and I still refer to them for things  I don’t do often like how to make a double flanged pillow or  how to join twist cord . Best instructions I’ve ever seen for making a chair slipcover pattern too.
‘Window Treatments’ by Karla J Nielson.  This is the technical book. It’s a big heavy textbook and can be really dry reading but everyone I know in the business has this book.
‘The Complete Curtain Making Course’ by Caroline Wrey. An all around good how to book.
‘The Encyclopedia of Window Fashions’ by Charles T Randall. Before the internet, this was the reference we all used as the go-to book for ideas.  I still take it on house calls 
I recently bought a re-print of a book from the late 1800’s; all about old world drapery  making and patterning. Fascinating stuff but almost incomprehensible. Next week I’ll be in Las Vegas for the annual International Window Coverings Expo. I’ll be attending a workshop featuring this old book; the facilitator promises to de-mystify it for us. I’m sure I’ll have something to say about the show in my next column.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Summer Sun

I actually felt heat from the sun the other day. Summer is coming. Those of you who have gardens must be getting excited.  In a short while the front yards will take bloom; the veggies will show their potential - and the sun will be streaming in the windows; heating up the house; bleaching the floors and the fabric on the windows will be slowly disintegrating. 
But, you say, I have blinds on the windows; or the windows face north; or the fabric is off to the side. Sorry; but the sun, direct or otherwise, will do damage.  I made some piping from a clients pale blue cotton fabric; left it on a roll under a north facing window in my workroom for 1 day. The next day the sun had bleached the top layer to yellow. 
I have seen cotton drapes fall apart after 1 year of sun exposure; silk and linen will discolor in a matter of months. Once again -  direct or indirect; doesn’t matter; the sun will affect fabric, leather and hardwood.  
What can you do?  You can replace your existing windows with top of the line new ones. You can add blackout liners to your existing drapes. You can buy new blackout blinds.  All good options but the blinds or drapes must be closed in order to be effective and new windows may not be in the budget this year.  Or you can have a solar film applied to your windows;  solar film will block up to 98% of damaging UV rays; as much as 82% of solar heat and can reduce your cooling costs by 30%. Best of all it's not expensive.  
A client had new window treatments done for her south facing living room.  She took my advice (bless her) and had the film applied. When I called a few weeks later to see how everything was, she told me that for the first time in 8 years in the house she was able to sit in her living room and admire her front garden. The heat had always been too much - and she no longer had to worry about the sun bleaching her sofa or floor.
The local supplier of Solar Tech Films: Jonas Nohr 259-540-8468. Check the website

On the left- it is 102 outside the film, inside 65. 
Piping Sunbleach. One day. No direct sun.