pillow set

pillow set

Saturday, July 31, 2010

How Things Started

The fabric in the photo below is from the late 1950s or very early 1960s...isn't it cute?  I love the little scissors, spools of thread and patches of fabric.  I wish I knew what colors were in it; this photo is black and white and I was too young to remember the fabric.


The photo below shows my twin sister and I wearing matching outfits made from the above fabric.  Isn't the fabric cute?  I think I was destined to love fabric and creating things from fabric...so be careful how you dress your children; you never know how the fabrics will influence them for the rest of their lives!

Can you guess which one is me?


Of course, clothing and fabric really don't define your destiny.  My twin sister can't sew a stitch and takes clothes to the cleaners to get a button sewn on, which I think is really funny.

In actuality, I learned to sew in Girl Scouts.  Mrs. Barbeau was a fellow Scout's mother and she was brave enough to host a number of my troop members for several classes in learning the basics of sewing.  I still remember the dress I made:  light blue floral with a gathered bodice and ties in the back.  I loved that dress!

The first window treatments I ever made were for my first home, which is just one block away from my current home.  I live in an older neighbhorhood that is seeing a lot of new construction, and my previous sweet little yellow home was recently sold to a developer and is in the process of demolition.  The owner let me come and say "goodbye" to my house last week; the kitchen valances I made in 1986 were still hanging over the kitchen sink!  That was both a little scary and also a little bittersweet.

As long as I can remember, I have loved fabrics and daydreaming about what could be created with it.  When I was in high school, local department stores J.C. Penney, Foley's and my favorite, the family owned Sakowitz stores, had fabric departments that I would roam around in for hours looking at patterns and fabrics.  Sakowitz went out of business a number of years ago and Foley's has been taken over by Macy's, and the fabric departments disappeared long before the stores closed or changed hands.

I took sewing classes at J.C. Penney's, too. I remember buying all of my class supplies there, and agonizing over which sewing kit to purchase.  I ended up choosing a light blue and white gingham kit that I still have somewhere.  For the first several years of my business, I sewed my client window treatments on my mom's Singer sewing machine that Dad had won in a sales contest when I was in high school.  I took that machine to college so that I could sew while I was away from home. 

My mom sewed when we were younger.  With five kids, it was practical to be able to make a few things.  She hated sewing!  We all knew that we should stay out of her way when she was trying to work on a sewing project.  As a matter of fact, here is part of a poem I wrote for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary several years ago:

"People often ask me if my mom taught me to sew...
After I stop laughing, I have to tell them "NO!"
For my mom, sewing was an earthly form of hell;
There'd be pattern pieces flying, and curse words I can't tell.
We'd close the door and hope that mom would get a grip,
But every seam she sewed was a seam she'd have to rip!
But if I think about it...Mom DID help me to sew:
She drove me to sewing class at J.C. Penney Co.!

, Of course, she really wasn't cursing while sewing, but it fit well into the poem so I had to include it for dramatic efffect - sorry Mom!



My mom's birthday was last week and she, my dad and I had lunch together this week to celebrate.  The photo above is my lovely, sweet, funny mother. 

Happy birthday, Mom, I love you and I'm glad you're my mom!!!

Both of my parents have been tremendously supportive of me, my business, and of course, my sewing. In a future post, I will write about and showcase some of the beautiful woodwork my dad has done for my office and for some of my projects. 

Thank you for walking down memory lane with me...

Susan


Friday, July 23, 2010

Bright, Beaded & Embroidered

This wonderful pre-teen girl's room is bright, fun and fresh, don't you think?  I love the bright combinations of hot pink and bright orange, accented with crisp whites and a mix of solid fabrics, patterned fabrics and custom embroidery, accented with beaded trim.

The custom padded and gathered headboard has a hot pink center panel with gathered orange fabric around the edges.  Two different colorways of the same fabric are used on the quilted-on-design bedspread, with the bright orange colorway taking center stage.  The wide expanse of windows on the side of the bed have existing shutters; pleated orange woven sheer panels hang underneath the valance with a shaped and corded hem.  A solid hot pink fabric overlay features a custom embroidered initial as an accent and contrast.


Across the room on the angled wall is a set of working French doors.  We added French-blackout lined working roman shades in a fun swirling fabric pattern, which are accented with beaded trim at the hem.  The same type of pleated orange woven sheers flank the doors.  Above is an operable door valance which allows the doors to be opened for access to the outdoors.  Again, the pink fabric overlay features embroidery as an accent.


It is difficult to see in the photo, but there is a single orange bead sewn to the lower swirl of the "J" embroidery on the overlay.  I love unexpected finishing touches on custom treatments.  The same swirled fabric from the roman shades is used as microcording on the overlay.

A coordinating orange cheetah pattern fabric covers the two large shams at the head of the bed.  These shams are accented with a gathered ruffle in the hot pink patterned fabric used on the bedspread.  An additional neckroll accent pillow showcases more embroidery, microcording, contrast fabrics and ribbon ties.

The stitching-on-design pattern is clearly shown in the photo below.

An antique carved wooden chair is used in the room at the student desk.  In order to maintain the integrity of the current upholstery which was in good shape, but coordinate the chair with the new room's furnishings, a custom chair skirt and seat back cover was made.  The back cover was made to highlight the carving and shape at the top of the chair, so the shaping accentuates the lines of the carving.  Contrast microcording and ties marry all of the fabrics together.  The front of the chair slipcover uses the bright pink floral colorway, while the back shows off the bright orange patterned fabric.  The orange cheetah fabric is used for the ties and microcording.  A flirty hot pink gathered skirt contrasts with the orange seat fabric, for a fun combination.

This lampshade had been in use in another room of the house, but was the perfect size for the student desk in the room. 
I removed the bead trim, eyelash fringe, edge banding and zebra fabric.  Since the hot pink trim worked well with the new room colors, I wanted to reuse it in the new lampshade.  The lining of the shade was also in good shape, so I left that in place.

Continuing the use of mixed patterns in the room, I covered half of the lampshade in the bright pink floral and half in the orange floral.  I had exactly the right amount of orange bead trim left on hand from the roman shade hems, so I applied that to the lampshade hem, and the added the pink bead trim on top of that for a double layer of dangling beads. 


I purchased some orange woven ribbon and made small casual loops across the top of the beaded trim banding and added a tiny pink ribbon across the center of the loops.
At the top of the shade, I reused the pink bead trim and covered the top of the ribbon with an orange ribbon sash accented with a braid of the tiny pink ribbon across the center.  Again, the top of the shade features casual ribbon loops for the finishing touch.

Don't you wish you had had such a fun, creative and inspiring room when you were a girl?  I love this room and hope you do too!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bridal magazine inspirations - Buckles & Brooches

I love searching bridal magazines for embellishment ideas. My file of "inspiration" decorations and details has been waiting for the chance to come to life.


This fall I will be presenting some seminars to Boston and Chicago trade groups and wanted to make some new treatment samples for them. I searched my idea file for treatments to create for the October and November seminars. My goal was to present three different looks using one drapery panel, in order to showcase how decorative accents can transform the formality and look of a panel.


After purchasing some gorgeous gunmetal grey silk taffeta and some decorative accessories, I went to work.

Below is a photo of an inverted pleated panel which is lined and interlined and has hand-sewn side and bottom hems. Iridescent taffeta can be left with "pulls" when hemmed using a blindhemmer, so I went to work using lighter-than-air Gutermann hemshire thread.



Contrasting the gunmetal grey is a black grosgrain ribbon applied horizontally along the inverted pleat heading. A tailored bow and ribbon trails down the leading edge of the panel for interest and adding an accent color to the panel.


The photo below shows an inspirational bridesmaid's dress. I liked the rhinestone buckle accent and considered ways to incorporate it into my silk panel.



There is a wonderful fabric store in Houston - High Fashion Fabrics - with four floors of glorious fabrics, trims, and home furnishings. Across the street is their original store which is filled with apparel fabrics, ribbons, buttons, rhinestones, bridal fabrics and much more. The black, silver and rhinestone buckle was purchased there. I nipped off the buckle piece so it would not interfere with the sash I was using.



A matching silk taffeta sash weaves through the buckle, with the buckle being placed between the first two inverted pleats on the leading edge. I love the little bit of sparkle and the contrasting silver finish and black enamel.


One of my long-time favorite-potential-idea-for-a-panel pictures is this bridal gown, shown below. Isn't the sash and brooch gorgeous? The smooth texture of the fabric juxtaposed with the sparkling heaviness of the brooch is very appealing. Do you love it as much as I do?
The tailored sash hanging vertically was interesting also.


Of course, drapery panels do not have waists, and the folds and pleats can be dressed wider or less wide. I made the sash with a bit of extra fullness for a softer, more rounded heading.

What do you think?


The photo below shows a close up of the brooch. It pins on and has a small dangling rhinestone which hangs at an angle, providing more interest.



Isn't it interesting how a sash and some decorative accents can change the look of an already lovely panel? Which one is your favorite?

I hope you enjoyed my three-looks-for-one-panel blog. I have more new samples to make for the seminars, so more will be posted as they are finished!

Friday, July 9, 2010


This sweet slipcover is one of my favorite projects ever!
An antique child's rocker was slipcovered in layers of gathered tulle to add fullness to the skirt, topped with pink fabric with a embroidered sheer accented with small clusters of pink flowers and green leaves.
The back of the chair has a lovely arched shape which is showcased nicely with the slipcover. The back features a placket with tiny fabric loops through which a double faced pink satin ribbon is laced, ballerina style.
The heavy ribbon drapes nicely at the top and the "waist" of the slipcover features a gathered pink band accented with pink silk flowers and leaves.
So sweet!

Getting Started!

Welcome to the brand new SK Designs blog!

I have enjoyed so many of my colleagues' blogs lately, and decided that it was time I created one of my own.


This has been a very creative year, with some interesting and challenging client projects, as well as some educational travels to trade conferences and speaking for a number of trade groups in Atlanta, Indianapolis and Raleigh, North Carolina. In the fall I will be presenting two seminars each in Chicago and Boston and am looking forward to showcasing some new window treatment designs in my Trunk Shows. I have dozens of treatments already in my Trunk Show kit, but I have 10 more on standby just waiting to be fabricated and shown for inspiration. I will show them here as well, and hope you enjoy them when they are posted.


I am looking forward to sharing some window treatment designs, creations, ideas, completed projects and more in the days and months to come.