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.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to clean your window coverings.

The first step is to look at your window coverings and decide if they actually need a total cleaning.  Fabric coverings and blinds are treated differently.  For blinds please please please DO NOT take them down and try to wash them  unless the care instructions  indicate it’s OK to do this.  Often the cords are cotton and will shrink; the adhesives may be water soluble; the metal components may rust. Clean your blinds  by dusting with a wool duster or  vacuuming  followed by a light wiping with a damp cloth only;  no cleaning solutions. This means no cloths or ‘wands’ with built in cleaners. If you have a real dirt problem you need to find an ultrasonic blind cleaner person to come and clean your blinds.- See the link below for help with this.
For your fabric window coverings; remember that most drapery fabric is not washable but for those that are removable and not pleated you can put them in the dryer with a damp towel and ‘fluff’ them a bit. Consider what you will do if you have to iron them after fluffing. If you have pleated drapes vacuum them; both on the face and lining side. Tie them back  with the pleats in place and  gently steam with a hand held steamer. Let them sit still  for a few days. Check the content of the fabric before you steam. Natural fibers may shrink, silk may water stain.  
If you really need to wash your washable coverings, do it gently and use an extra large washing machine less than half full.  Try to re-hang them when they are still a tiny bit damp and smooth out any wrinkles with your hands. 
Not to long ago I was called to rehang a living room swag that had been taken down for cleaning.  The homeowner didn’t understand that all the pins  were there for a reason - to hold the swags in place. (I hasten to add I did not construct this swag initially...) When it came back from the cleaners it was one long piece and it took two of us several hours to get it to a semblance of what it was previously. Sometimes window treatments are not meant to be taken down at all;  if in doubt call me.
Family Drycleaning and I work together to get your drapes and valances cleaned. Call me, 833-1120; I'll come and remove the drapes, get them cleaned and re-hang them for you.

If you have venetians or blinds that need cleaning, Shuswap Window Cleaning offers a mobile service. They do it all for you at your home, 833-2533.  I have not used this company- they are new to me. If you have used their services and would like to comment, please e-mail me at