Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Window Treatments

bedroom valance and panel

kitchen Roman shades

In an early blog post I mentioned that during LBW (Life Before Weaving) I worked for a custom drapery shop advising people about window treatments and helping them choose appropriate fabrics for their windows.

This was an amazing job for an unbeknownst (at the time) proto-weaver because I was surrounded every day with hundreds of fabric swatches and working with colour and design on a regular basis.

I learned a lot about how fabric functioned in terms of window coverings which really helped when I decided to turn my attention to making fabric myself instead of just selling someone else's designs. :)

It was my intention to weave the drape fabric for the living and dining room windows but I also knew how much fabric would be required (plenty of experience measuring yardage and crunching numbers) and how fine a thread I would need to use to keep the weight of the living room drapes down to a reasonable amount, so I started out by making window treatments for other rooms in the house.

In the end nearly all of the other windows in the house eventually wound up with handwoven fabrics at one time or another.

Right now the kitchen, guest room, master bedroom and the studio windows all have handwoven fabric window treatments.

These two were woven from 2/8 cotton. The Roman shade in the kitchen is double weave with 32 epi (16 per layer) and a very fine cotton slub for weft. I used one shuttle to make the weaving easier and to bind the two layers together at the selvedge. I had to weave the fabric exactly as wide as the shades needed to be and I succeeded pretty well. They could have been a smidge wider, but overall they are just about perfect. They were professionally sewn to make sure they were constructed properly.

The shades were woven in the mid 1980's and have been installed ever since. In the last few years I've noticed that they have developed more of a swag than they had originally but that's okay. I'm drooping a little more every year myself. :^)

The bedroom window got done shortly after the kitchen. I was diagnosed with multiple allergies in 1985 or so and one of the recommendations was to remove carpeting and drapes from the bedroom to reduce dust. Well, I didn't remove the carpet, but I did replace the curtains with a blind. I found that a very stark look and decided to weave a valance and panels to bracket the blind.

The valance was railroaded (the fabric was woven to width and turned sideways). The panels were woven on the same warp and gathered like the valance.

They are easy care - wash and wear, put them back onto the double casing rods - don't even require ironing. :D

The weave structure is a huck lace with counter-changed units for the valance and with stripes of plain weave and a huck unit for the panels. I repeated the white stripes in the warp in the weft to make a plaid for the valance but thought that would look too busy for the panels and I'm quite happy with the over all effect.

The 2/8 cotton has quite a lot of body (I used Canadian warp-twist yarn) so not necessarily the best choice for windows. It worked well in these two treatments as the Roman Shade can stand a little firmness and the valance and panels hold up well because the yarn holds its shape nicely.

For a window treatment for a larger window or one that needs more drape, or for pleated treatments, a much finer thread would be a better choice - e.g. 2/16 or 2/20 cotton.

Weave the fabric sturdy so that it will hold its shape. Nothing worse than drapes that continue to grow - and grow - and grow! Unless you want them drooping on the floor like a Greek goddess (which is also a window treatment in favour from time to time).

Currently re-reading Soul Music by Terry Pratchett (forgot I read it already but enjoying it all over again)


Sharon Schulze said...

I'm reading "Reaper Man" by Terry Pratchett. Is all of Pratchett's work that quirky? Just wondering... :-)

Laura said...

Yes - that quirky-ness is definitely an attraction for me. :)


Anonymous said...

Just felt the need to thank you for all that I have learned through your sharing. I wonder if you realize how your musings impart so many pearls of wisdom to weavers like myself. I have one of your CD's and our small guild has your "Magic" but your blog is also a gift to us.

Rhonda from Baddeck said...

I second what Margo said - I really enjoy when you write about what you've learned from your experience, and provide details about how you did it, or what you'd do differently. I have a romantic dream to weave all the fabrics for our retirement home (in Cape Breton), so I appreciate your views on what works and what doesn't. Thank you!

Nui said...

I gree comment#3