Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Morning at the Bulldog Ranch

Well, I finally re-set my password so that I could write on my blog. Why do I forget my passwords so easily? Am I getting old? How do you'all deal with the thorny issue of passwords?

Next, I have so many email accounts that I can't remember those either. I need a system to write them all down so that I can run through them every day......maybe I should put them on a post-a-note on my screen? First, I'll have to reorganize the other post-a-notes so there is room for a new one!

Ah, Sunday morning. This is the view out my window over my hemmer.

Life is Good!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


June 19 -- Beginning Somfy Class
10am-2pm, $25
Bonnie Hildebrandt, our Somfy tech, will teach this class. You will leave knowing how to put together a Somfy motor, attach it to either draperies or a roman shade, and how to sell it. I put together my first Somfy motor on a Roman Shade faster than a Rollease system!
You may order your Somfy motors through the Drapery Studio & we will attach them for you to your Roman Shades.

June 20 -- Perfect Panels
Cost: $95
Over the years I've seen drapery panels made many different ways, some more successful than others. You will see samples of these. Then you will learn how to table and complete 2 of the most commonly used methods. You will also learn different pleats, how to figure for pleats, linings & interlinings, and how to fold your completed panels.

June 25 -- Roman Shades
Cost: $95
Learn the Basics of Making Roman Shades! You will go home with a sample Roman Shade mounted on a board. You will discover how simple making a Roman Shade is, what sorts of linings are used, green aspects, how to sew on rings, weight bars, alternative headrail systems, how to attach valances, and reverse mounting techniques.

July 16 -- Tuffets & Ottomans
Cost: $95
You may either bring your own garage sale finds to work on or purchase a tuffet from me. We will tear down your tuffet and rebuild it to learn basic upholstery skills. Then you will make a slipcover pattern to change your new tuffet for special occasions.

Call Today! Class sizes are limited!

Monday, June 15, 2009

To Market or Not to Market, That Is the Question

Blind guys are trying to sell curtains. Carpet guys are trying to sell valances. Budget Blinds is selling carpeting, curtains & bedding. Has anyone noticed how many Hunter Douglas dealers there are?
So what do we do to stay in business? Or can we stay in business?
I found this article in the NewYorker that is interesting reading....

We are in a very interesting time. We as individual businesses can use many different media to get the word out about our businesses. There are also many different franchises out there that we can buy to become part of a larger whole that then buys advertising, ie Budget Blinds, Hunter Douglas, Decor and You, Decorating Den, Exciting Windows, etc.

The cost of some is in the $5,000 to purchase a franchise, but many are in the $50,000 category. Buying one of these franchises gets you deeper discounts from suppliers, avails you of larger marketing bucks than most of us want to spend (think about how many Budget Blind ads you see in magazines & TV & then think about the fact that they have a $50 million marketing budget.....) and think about the name recognition and branding that Budget Blinds has that we as little Curtain Ladies do not have.

OK - why can't we have this? I'm thinking we can! Maybe we don't have millions to spend, but at the Co-Op in Denver we have pooled our resources for a store front, marketing & promotion materials, Open Houses, deeper discounts.

Let's take this a step further! How about all of us attached to a website that we then market in national magazines? Base price to get in: the cost of a website then a quarterly marketing budget in some of the good magazines. I'm thinking this could be $1,000 as initial cost or less with national exposure! Why can't we do what Budget Blinds is doing without making a couple of guys rich on their franchisees' labor?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Joining Cord-On-Lip or Welt Cording

When joining manufactured welting or cord-on-lip, I have always left the ends loose & then tried to twist, contort, glue, tape, etc. the ends together. The other day I was making pillows & realized that if I SEWED the beginning end down in the position where I wanted it to end up after being joined, that I had less work! So to begin, simply rotate the cord-on-lip apart (you don't have to take the lip off) & sew across the strands that you want to keep.

Sew welt around your pillow until you get to the joining spot. With your fingers (again you don't need to take off the lip) just unroll the strands of the cord-on-lip.

After you have tested to see that the join is even, just sew over the strands in that perfect position.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Traveling South.....

to Atlanta on March 26 to teach. I'm starting to get excited. Will be staying at Janet Brown's house and speaking at the Designer's Workroom Council March meeting. We are starting the day with installation techniques for zippers. Then we will move on to looking in my sample bag that I show designers. Next we'll just talk business. Business is my favorite topic spiced up with liberal dashes of marketing and brazen selling ideas.

Come spend the day with your peers!

When: March 26
Cost: $70 which includes lunch
Contact: Donna McDuffee

Monday, February 16, 2009

Headrail Systems for Roman Shades

Am always on the trail of a better mouse-trap & a way to set our workroom apart from the average workroom. These headrails look like a Hunter Douglas blind headrail and look more "up scale" than a 1x2 covered in fabric.

The headrail system is extruded aluminum with a pulley system. The front of the system is Velcro ready so you can either use the drapery pleater tape that is woven with the loop in it or attach loop to the top of your shade. Developed in Germany so that your roman shades can be taken down to be laundered.

The cords come on cassettes which fit into the headrail instead of the outside mounting that you find with Rollease which can be adjusted by the homeowner. You just specify how long your roman shade is & the cassettes come pre-wound with the appropriate length.

The Drapery Studio has decided to distribute these headrails because we love them so much. If you would like a quote for your job, just give me a call.

Off to sew....

Friday, February 06, 2009


We are up & running!
I saw this location over 5 years ago & waited for it. It is across from the Denver Design Center, cati-corner to Ralph Lauren, across from Ann Sacks. We have off street parking in the front (Broadway is a major artery from downtown Denver), UPS parking in the alley, the Gates Rubber Company lofts 2 blocks away & in the heart of the antique district for Denver. And the real reason this was worth waiting for? Over 2000 designers pass our location WEEKLY! Several more than my basement workroom in Ft. Collins.....

We are a co-op! Currently there are 4 of us, one has dropped out to go to nursing school because her husband thinks nursing is worth more $ long term than draperies. Yes, all us baby boomers are getting older, but I prefer silk to bedpans myself.

Barb Bock - sewing all her life (& she's not telling how long that is, but over 50 years). She's been supporting herself as a Curtain Lady for over 10 years.
Liz Bock - Barb's daughter. Great designer! Learning to be a Curtain Lady
Bonnie McCartney - She has the best quilting machine I've ever seen. She is truly an artist. Then you should see her bedding!

We are also teaching classes. Chris Watt is coming on April 16 to teach Advanced Roman Shades & Motorization.

Classes planned:
Perfect Panels
4 Pillows in an Hour
Beginning Roman Shades

Well, it's time to be off to the Studio!


Smocking the top of a panel is really easy, whether you are using pencil pleat tape or simply using standard header tape.

I use pencil pleat tape when I only want 4" of smocking at the top of my panels. My preference is an Austrian tape I found years ago at a show:

This tape is "Velcro Ready" meaning that there is loop woven into the back of the tape so that you can simply attach your panel to hook that you have stapled to a board. After you have sewn the tape to the top of your panel, pull cords, even up the spacing & smock using buttons or beads.

If you need more than 4" of smocking at the top of your panel, remember proportions, proportions, proportions, you may either prepare the top of your panel as if you were going to stitch standard pleats with buckram or if your fabric is stiff enough, buckram isn't necessary.

This picture shows how I measure for spacing across the top: 3" at leading edge, then 1-1/2" in the little pencil pleat, then 1" spaces. But of course, I adjust this spacing for how heaving the fabric is, how long the drapery is (if the panel is 24' long & viewed only from the bottom, then I might put 3" in each pencil pleat & make the length of the pleats 12 to 18" deep (long). Test drive your proportions before making the actual panels.

These pencil pleats were stitched with black thread so that you could see them on the photo. Then smocked with black also. This would be great with beads or little buttons over the stitching.

This picture is taken on my table the way I work on it, opposite of how it hangs. The black really looks terrible.....but you get the idea.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

February Classes in Denver

February 12 -- Perfect Panels
11a-3p (Includes Lunch)
Cost: $95
Learn how to make Perfect Panels every time! We will start from the hems, learn different techniques for side hems, how to select the heading tape for the type of pleat, and how to space and stitch pleats. Bring your own fabric for samples.

February 20 -- Colorado Workroom Meeting
12-2p (Pot Luck Lunch)
Meeting and lunch from 12 to 1.
1pm -- Comparison of different headrail systems available for Roman Shades.

February 21 -- 4 Pillows in an Hour
11am-3pm (Lunch Included)
Cost: $95
The secret to making money with pillows is speed! I will teach the construction techniques I learned in the New York garment district which I have adapted to our industry. You will also learn 3 different ways to put zippers in fast.

February 27 -- Beginning Slipcovers
10am-4pm (Lunch Included)
Cost: $125
This is the method I use when going to a customer's home to pin & then sewing in the studio. You will learn cording short cuts, basic tools to take to your customer's home, how to put zippers through the skirt and other closures, and speed cushions.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Zipper through Slipcover Skirt

I'm reupping this post as I've promised someone to show her the pictures. It's really easy to put the zipper through the skirt of a slipcover!

1) Put the skirt on your slipcover. End the cording just short of the seam you want to put your zipper in. Then sew your welt cord down the seam with your cording foot. Cut the welt about 2" longer than the end of your skirt. Then open & trim out the welting.

2) Working from the right side of your slipcover, tuck the zipper under the cording & make sure you are not sewing on the teeth & that the zipper teeth are totally covered by the cording, top stitch in the ditch between the body of your slipcover & the cording. I use #3 zipper because it is easier to hide, more pliable, & as strong as the old nasty metal zipper that we used to use.

3) You will sew through the skirt & as you get to about 2" from the bottom of the skirt, you want to tuck the end of the cording back under the skirt plus fold the zipper back on itself about 3/8" (the length of the zipper pull tongue) because you want to stop the zipper just short of the bottom so that the tongue on the pull doesn't dangle below the skirt. Once you've sew to the bottom & reversed back a couple of times, go to the back of the skirt & tack the end of the cording & zipper again.

4) Now you are going to work on the other side. In my sample, the left side would be the arm section & now this side would be the back of your slipcover. The cording on the first section that we did would have been continuous across the top of the slipcover. This section is an additional piece of cording that will be tucked under the continuous cording at the top where they come together.

5) Fold the seam allowance under & stitch the other side of your zipper to this finished corded section. I normally start at the skirt section & sew up towards the top of the slipcover. As I get to the area where the 2 pieces of cording & the zipper meet, I cut the welting out of the casing so that it will fit smoothly under the other continuous welt that you have already completed. I then sew the cording & the back section of the slipcover across the zipper & under the section already completed. The working from the underneath, I sew over the end of the zipper & close up the hole where I'd tucked the zipper in.

6) After I get the top cleaned up, then I go back & sew from the skirt down & finish putting the zipper in. I usually tack across the zipper at the top & the stitching on both sections on the skirt just to make sure the slider doesn't come off the track.

No, this isn't the only way I put a zipper in a slipcover. I try to pick the installation technique to the fabric & the piece of furniture. And even though I'm the Zipper Lady, I try NOT to put zippers in slipcovers if possible.

Send me pictures of how you put zippers in slipcovers. I'll post them here.....

Happy Monday!