Monday, April 23, 2018

Tutorial: Window Shades, Tie-Back Draperies & Rods with brackets

Side One of dome - Long Drapes with Shade
I have done a couple of blogs on curtains.  I will give a reader’s digest version of the two window treatments I used in this project.  This project is a dome with a wall in the middle of the base.  Since I was doing an interior scene on both sides of the window, my window treatments had to coordinate – I didn’t want to see one room’s curtain from the other side of the window.  So I decided I had to put the shade on both sides.

Shaped Shade
Side 2 of Dome - Two layer Shade (no drapes)
This fabric covered shade (Side 2 of dome) is two layers - two pieces of index card, each covered with a different fabric.  I covered the striped one first, clipping the curves and folding the clipped tabs to the back (sorry, I didn't photograph that step).  I used Crafter’s Pick Ultimate Glue.

Then I cut a second index card about ¼ inch shorter.  I covered the shaped edge first (bottom edge).  Then I placed it on top of the striped one (already finished) and wrapped just the side tabs around to the back attaching both layers together.  This was glued into the window frame.

Back side - floral fabric wraps around striped fabric card
On Side 1 (long drapes side) I put a simpler version of the shade with only 1 layer of fabric.  Since both shades are the same size and shape, each one covers up the back side of the other.

Long Drapes
For the draperies, I started with a piece of fabric about 11 by 6 inches. 

I ironed a wide hem at the bottom (about 1-1/2 inches) and top hem of about ½ inch:
After folding hems (hems were not glued)

I used the largest Pretti-Pleater (one inch scale) to pleat the fabric.  You can see some fusible interfacing in the photo but I didn’t use it until after I pinned them.

  Next I sewed jump rings between each pleat.  You can see them in the next photo.  I think they were about ¼ inch (8mm) in diameter.
Pinning - pliers used to pull down for pinning

Next I pinned and steamed them to get the swag shape (like they were pulled back with tiebacks).   It’s best to pin with the curtains and rings already on the rod.  That way it will hang nicely just as you want it to on the wall.  I placed a bamboo skewer through the rings and held it with pins.  My pin board was a wax paper covered ceiling tile board with graph paper under the wax paper.

This next step is a little tricky.  In general, you want to keep the outer few pleats on each panel straight (pin them) and re-shape only the inside pleats (inside = center where they would draw open).  I usually use the thin bug pins (especially with fine, thin fabric) but this time I just used glass head sewing pins.  Bug pins make smaller holes but are harder to work with since they bend so easily.  Method for shaping the swag:
  • Starting with one of the panels (let’s say the left one as an example), pin the OUTER EDGE (Left edge) straight down from the ring to the bottom to secure it so the pleat will stay in place.  Be sure to put at least one pin right in the center, where the tieback will be.
  • Now put a pin into the INSIDE edge just BELOW where the tieback should go.  Sort of drag the pin and pull fabric up and to the LEFT, pinching the fabric together where the tieback will be.  Secure the pin into the board, pinching the pleats together tightly against the outside edge (center pin - bent one in photo).
  • Now try to arrange the pleats BELOW THE SWAG – use pins to sort of smash them together and pull each one straight down and pin so they look natural (tweezers or clean needle nose pliers help).
  • For the swag above the pinch point, just use a pin to move and arrange the pleats so they look nice.
  • Repeat above steps for the other panel.  When done, the bottom hems should gently angle up and to the center between the panels since the center was pulled up and is shorter than the outside.
Two hints to make these more scaled and realistic:
Hint #1 – Pinch them very tightly at the place where the swag is (middle).  Make it as small as possible there.
Hint #2 – don’t let the bottom sections fan out, try to keep each side of the panel parallel to each other.  Real drapes hang straight down from the gathered area. (though you can see in later photos mine did fan out a bit after a while because I hadn’t secured them yet).

After you steam them (yes, this is the second time now!) and let them dry, secure the pleats on the back either with lightweight white cardboard – cut to fit and glue to back, or iron on fusible interfacing.  I added tiebacks from velvet ribbon with silk roses glued on.  Even if this shows through to the other side of the window, the backing shouldn’t be too noticeable since it just looks like a white lining.

Drapery Hardware – rod, finials and brackets.

Supplies: bamboo grilling skewer (grocery store), decorative head pins for finials, tiny screw eyes, 1/16th inch thick scrapwood (I used two widths, one about ¼ inch wide and another a little smaller), blue painter's tape.

Tools: X-Acto knife or razor saw and miter box, sandpaper, pin vise and wire drill bit to match finial wire, stain or paint, glue (I used GS Hypo Cement), wire cutters, drill to match size of screw eye.

Here are the pieces in progress:
Finished rod and supplies; bottom: finger drill for screw eye hole
Rods are cut from bamboo skewers.  Sometimes you have to sand them a little because they have long splinters.  I cut them using my X-acto knife. (HINT: cut it at least ½ inch longer than you need to give yourself some room to fit into the brackets – you can trim off extra after it is painted).   I drilled a little hole in each end for the finial wire using a wire drill bit in a pin vise (tool for holding small drill bits while you drill).  It’s not as hard to drill into the cut end of the stick as you would think.
Finials – I used “fancy” head pins that you buy in the bead store.  They have a decorative end.  I just cut the pin down to about ¼ inch to fit in the drilled hole (wire cutters).  DON’T GLUE them into the rod until you are ready to hang as you will have to remove one of them to hang the drapes.

Blue Moon Head Pins:
Blue Moon Head Pins

Brackets – I layered two tiny (about ½ inch long) pieces of flat wood trim, or scrap wood about 1/16 inch thick.  I glued a smaller piece on top of a larger one.  I drilled a hole with a finger drill, #64 for the screw eye (or eye pin).  (Finger drills can be purchased from Micro-Mark but you can also use the pin vise).  I screwed in a very small screw eye to hold the rod. 

I painted the rod, finials and brackets and eye pin with a gold paint pen (Krylon) because I’m too lazy to clean out a brush.  But it’s convenient!

How to hang:  Dry fit rod and curtains and mark (blue tape works great) where the brackets will go.  Trim the rod shorter now if needed (you will also have to re-drill the hole).

Glue brackets on the wall and let dry.  Glue one of the finials in its hole, fit the rod through the bracket.  Then thread the rings on the rod.  Place rod through the other screw eye and glue the other finial on. 

See my other blogs on curtains, drapes or draperies (I used different keywords) if you need more detail.  I was a little brief in this post.  Now you have no excuse not to have curtains in every project!
 Here is a sneak preview of my next tutorial - coming soon:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tutorial - Hand Colored Rugs on Velvet

Some time ago I saw some lovely rugs from the 1980s on Ebay made by Ione Van Beckum and advertised as “hand painted”.  I was amazed at the detail – intricate designs in lovely colors.  I wondered how she did this with paint on velvet type cloth.  I looked up an article about her in Nutshell News (April 1981, p. 38 if you have it) and attempted to use her techniques to create my own rug.

One of Ione Van Beckum's rugs

Nutshell News article about Ione Van Beckum

I realize that I am no Ione Van Beckum!  Her colors are so subtle, her borders so perfectly even and her ovals perfectly shaped.  But I will share how I did my version  - the round scalloped one shown at the top of this blog (along with hints from the article).

1)    According to the article, she used cotton velvet or no-wale corduroy (I found off-white cotton velvet.)

2)    She backs it with “muslin sewn on with tiny little stitches” .
I didn’t back my velvet.  But I did use muslin (double layer) to make fringe (see further down). 
To get the scalloped shape I created a pattern using drawing tools in Microsoft Word (it was not easy).  I cut the rug out then sectioned it (using water erasable sewing marker) so the design could be spread out evenly.

3)    She paints the design using waterproof marking pens.
I looked for permanent markers and had a hard time finding delicate colors.  Office Depot sells fine point Sharpie pens in many colors.  But so many of those were bright and dark colors.
Finally I found some more delicate colors on Amazon by “Bic” brand.  I purchased a 36 count set called “Fashion Colors” in “Ultra Fine” tip size.  Though I can see where a wider tip would come in handy for shading in larger areas.  I didn’t buy any of the wider tip though.

I tested colors by marking each color on my fabric and writing the name of the color so I could remember which was which.  Sometimes the caps didn’t match the actual color when written on the velvet.
I also practiced making different designs and motifs:

4)    She draws the designs free-hand (how did she do that??)
I drew some by hand (scrolly border) but used some paper patterns to create sort of a “stencil” so I could make my repeat motifs the same size and shape.  You can see in the following photos.  I used light and dark tones for shading and adding details.  The photos show the colors of pens I used.

(Moonstone Yellow used for scrolly design)

The plan was to create two different designs, each on half of the rug.  One was more of a border and the other had a couple of different scroll French style motifs.  This was kind of a practice rug.  But I ended up using it in a dome project where half the rug was in one room and the other half in the other room (you’ll see in later photos).

5)    She applies the colors in tiny dots to assure even shading.  You can see this in the photo of Ione’s rug but I didn’t do this.  I didn’t really fill in any background.

6)    To fringe a rug, she pulls threads from both the velvet and muslin, carefully brushing out the pile.
I made my fringe by folding over a length of muslin and fraying the raw edges (two thicknesses).  I then cut the fringe straight and glued it around the scallops of my rug. I covered the edge with unraveled bunka (below).

7)    She then ages the rug with a pale beige marking pen. (I didn’t age my rug)
In the photos below you can see my finished rug.  Much simpler than Ione’s but she probably took more time than I did.  This is a simple technique if you can use some stencils or patterns and have the pens in colors you need.

Here is a better view of the side with the scrolly motifs:

Here are some more photos of other rugs by Ione.  She is a very talented lady.  The oval one is from my own collection.

 Next blog - maybe a slipper chair??

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Tutorial - Dome Project - Carved Shelf Niche

This is a project hosted by SAM – Society of American Miniaturists (  I have been a member for 20-something years (on and off).  I have blogged about other projects.  We get together for an annual themed birthday which is celebrated by a day-long workshop (free to members who pay $25 yearly membership!!).  It is always an awesome day.

The project made last February 2017 was called “A Dome of My Own”.  It was created by some of our SAM members in the San Antonio, Texas area.  Everyone received cut out wall and round base to fit inside an 8 x 12 glass dome (like you find at Hobby Lobby).  Members had to purchase their own domes but the workshop included the walls, floor, window, and optional window box and awning (in case your wall separated an indoor and outdoor space).  I should mention also we received lots of wonderful tote bag favors!

I wanted my dome to have both sides be interior spaces– don’t ask me why I would have a window between two interior rooms – that’s just how I want it!

Since there was very little space on each side for any furnishings I thought I would “expand” one side of the wall by cutting into the ½ inch foam core wall to make little inset shelf units.  Here is a tutorial on how I did it.

  1. After wallpapering both sides and cutting out my window, I decided on how big to make the shelf units and marked them on the wallpaper.  Start with a new blade in your X-Acto knife.  I marked my X-Acto knife with blue tape to mark the depth of the cut – so I didn’t go all the way through to the other side of the wall.  Believe it or not this worked well (I was careful).  I never did cut through.
  2. Push the knife into the foam core just to the tape and slowly trace around the area to cut out being very careful at the corners not to over-cut.
  3. Peel off the outer ‘card stock’ layer.
  4. With the X-acto knife, section off the large area with horizontal cuts.  I made about 5 or 6 sections.  Again, make sure you don’t go all the way through.
  5. Take something blunt (like a flat head screwdriver) and dig it into the slice made by the X-acto and slowly wiggle it to loosen a chunk of the foam.  Carefully pry it out trying to peel it from the bottom layer of card stock (which is the opposite wall so try not to make nicks or dents). It will look very messy at first.  Worry about that later.
  6. When most of the foam is removed you can clean it up with your blunt tool, scraping the bottom GENTLY to remove the stray chunks.  This will be covered later with another layer of index card (back of the shelf) and wood strips (shelf edges).
  7. What it looks like when all cleaned out.
  8. Here is what the opposite side looks like – no knife marks!
  9. Here is the final product.  I covered the backs of the niche with a painted piece of card stock (index card will work).  The inside edges of the box were lined with painted ½ inch wide strips of 1/16th inch thick strip wood (Hobby Lobby or hobby stores).  For the bottom shelf I made a shaped piece from 3/32 or 1/16th thick bass wood (can’t remember which) to extend beyond the wall a little so it could hold a larger doll.  The other shelves were made from scraps of thin acetate (to look like glass shelves).  I had some left over from a door or window project.  Sometimes I have used a thin clear plastic used to cover posters (again, Hobby Lobby) in the framing department.

Hope to be posting more of this project in the coming weeks!