wave tucks

wave tucks

Monday, October 21, 2013

Neighborhood Wine Walk Event - Fun for a Great Cause!

This weekend I hosted a tasting table at our annual neighborhood Wine Walk event.  It is a great event that raises money through ticket sales and sponsorships to fund the Constable Program in our neighborhood.

There are 13 table hosts, of which I was one.  Only 200 tickets are sold to the event, and it sells out very quickly each year.

Susan's Sources booklets

Some of the hosts have area businesses, such as contractors or restaurants, and others are neighbor groups or homeowners who want to participate and host.  It is a great way to market your business in a casual and fun setting.  I had prepared some little booklets called "Susan's Sources" which included info about my business, but also trusted and high quality vendors that do a lot of work in my area:  my favorite plumber, electrician, wallpaper person, painter, upholsterer, contractor and realtor.  The attendees loved being able to take these with them for future use.

A neighbor's home hosts the event each year and they have a stunningly beautiful backyard. Located on over an acre of land in central Houston, this home's backyard is lush and also features meandering flagstone pathways whereupon our host tables are located throughout the yard.  They have a gazebo, a magnificent koi pond with a walkable bridge across it, great plantings and also a covered patio area.

Attendees enter the back yard, are given a wine glass for tasting and a list of the table hosts, locations and wines to be sampled at each, and away they go!  You just follow the pathways and go from table to table to sample and snack.  It is so much fun and the weather was terrific this year.

Attendees selecting their wine charms and checking out the "Susan's Sources" booklets
Photo courtesy of and copyrighted by Marisa D. Hoffman

Each table host provides a case of wine and some snacks for the attendees.   A neighbor friend hooked me up with some great red wine from Uruguay.  Specifically, the wine I served was Pueblo del Sol 2010 Tannat from Uruguay.  The tannat grape originated in France, but was transported to Uruguay where it has been very successful and popular.  This bottle of wine retails for about $10...so it is a good bargain and was very popular with the attendees.  My friend served the Rose' wine and also the Tannat Reserve from the same winery and they were also huge hits with everyone (thanks, Tina!).

This was my second year to host a table and my table location was in a more central area of the event, which was really great.  I think we had more people visit our table this year and it was almost non-stop pouring and chatting with old friends and meeting new ones also.

Keith was attending the University of Houston football game, so my friend Shannon helped me serve for the event and we had fun catching up before and after the event.

I read up about the wine I was serving, and learned that meats and flavorful foods bring out the flavor of this wine.  I served Ina Garten's Chipotle-Rosemary roasted nuts in little glitter cardstock cones and they were a big hit!  We really had to ration them so that we had enough to last all afternoon!  Click here for the recipe:  nut recipe here

These would make a great holiday gift in small decorative bags!  Featuring cashews, almonds, pecans and walnuts, they are a little spicy and a little sweet.  Be prepared - it makes a lot of nuts!

I made a burlap tablecloth and had some glitter pumpkins for decoration also.  Last year I gave away wine charms and did the same this year...but this year's charms were of multiple themes. There were some funny Halloween ones and some vibrant bird and butterfly ones.  It was easy to find a ton of downloads to select from on Etsy. Just by typing in "download 1.5 Halloween" a lot of choices came up and it was fun to see what was available.

The charms were a huge hit!  The third type of charm that I made were for street names in my neighborhood.  I found some editable downloads on Etsy that allowed me to type in street names in the center of each charm.  It was a great conversation starter and they were all snapped up very quickly.  Here is a photo that the event photographer took of them.  She did a great job - thank you to Marisa Hoffman!

Street name wine charms - photo courtesy of and copyrighted by Marisa D. Hoffman


The cheese straws were popular too and very easy to make.  These were also from the Barefoot Contessa,
Ina Garten.

Featuring puff pastry, an egg wash that is sprinkled with parmesan, gruyere, pepper and thyme, this is a simple appetizer that can be served at room temperature.  I cut the straws into thirds and placed them in little tin buckets.

Click here for the cheese straw recipe.

All in all, it was a great event and so much fun to see new neighbors and hopefully to connect with some future SK Designs clients!

Hope you enjoyed the Wine Walk blog post as much I enjoyed hosting the event.

Hope to see you soon -


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Fabric Pattern Design Dilemma Story

I recently began to work with a new long distance client.  We connected after she had already selected and purchased her fabric, so I did not know what the fabric looked like when we chatted on the phone so that I could obtain her project measurements.

It seemed to be a standard project of two pair of drapery panels with a 130" length and rod face of about 80", which would require two widths of fabric for each panel.  I confirmed her required yardage and quoted her pricing and time frame and all was well.

After I received and reviewed the fabric, I knew that this project would require some special treatment in order to provide a well-planned and beautiful finished project.

First of all, the fabric is white, with a chocolate brown graphic design.  It is a lovely pattern in a very current design that looks great.

However, since the white fabric had a dark colored design, the standard double turned hem (fabric folded in on itself twice) would allow the dark pattern to shown through the face fabric, providing an unsightly shadow and coloration.

The colorway selected

A larger view of the pattern
in a different colorway
Below you can how the bleedthrough would have looked using standard hemming methods. The pattern shadows show through to the right and left of the words "Pattern Bleedthrough". Unsightly!

To prevent this from occurring, I sewed a 5" band of white lining to the bottom of the drapery fabric.  Therefore, the face fabric was turned up once, with the lining folded inside of that, instead of the face fabric showing through.  This prevented any pattern bleedthrough, and allowed the white fabric background to remain true and clear without shadowing.  From the back of the drapery panel, the hem looks exactly as it would with the traditional method.

Lining piece pinned in place

Lining is sewn and pressed at the seam line before folding again
The white lining is folded inside
Voila! A clean hem without shadowing
The second consideration was determining pleat sizes and placement.  With a strong, graphic pattern design such as this, it is important to carefully plan the placement of the pleats, so that the center of each pleat showcases the same fabric pattern.  This allows for a continuous flow of the design, allowing the eye to gracefully move across the draperies without disruption.  If the pattern had not been considered, the pattern would have ebbed and flowed and jumped across the panel in a fractured manner.

A photo of what this fabric pattern looks like when not pleated considering the design
I seamed the two fabric widths together and began to consider the pleat sizes and placement.  After marking the positions for the overlap, pleats and spaces using traditional planning methods, I realized that the fabric pattern actually fell in such a way that the pleats would be perfectly placed on the same pattern for each pleat - great!  However, the seam between the two panels would be smack dab in the center of a pleat, which is an industry no-no.  You never want to have the seam at the forefront of a pleat because it is to obtrusive and visible.

The only way to avoid the seam-in-the-middle-of-the-pleat fiasco would be to move the pleats and spaces over 3 inches.  However, this would mean that the side hem (industry standard is 1.5" double folded) would not show the fabric pattern, but instead would show the fabric company markings and words.  Not good!

Shown: the registration markings that would have shown - not good!
 The solution was to cut 6" from the return side of the outer panel and sew 3" of it (the fabric pattern minus the selvedge) to the leading edge.  There would be a seam on the folded edge of the panel, but the pattern would be matched and no extraneous fabric company printing (such as "UP", "Kravet Fabrics" or registration marks would be seen.  Success!

The side hem after seaming the 3" fabric piece to the leading edge, ready to blind hem into place

I then made a mini sample of the drapery panel for my client that showcased two different pleat choices.  The left three pleats are Euro pleats and the right three pleats are two-finger butterfly pleats.  Both pleat styles are placed on the same pattern repeat.  The only difference is the pleat heading.  My client selected the butterfly pleat and we were ready to pleat and ship!

Below is the sample which showcases how the pattern falls on each pleat.  The symmetry looks great!

The photo below shows one of the completed panels fan-folded and ready to ship.  I love the finished product and the extra planning and consideration was well worth it.

I love the symmetry and pattern placement!
I look forward to shipping these panels out to their new home and also to seeing a photo of the completed and installed project!

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Need an Auction Event donation? SK Designs loves to help!

School will be starting up soon (not soon enough for parents and probably too soon from the kids' perspectives!

Once the school semester has started and school events and activities have started, parents are often asked to request item donations for school and church auctions and fundraisers.

Please keep SK Designs in mind - we will be happy to donate an SK Designs gift certificate or item to your event.  You will look good for securing a donation, and we love to reach new potential client audiences!

We will gladly provide a small attention-getting display for the auction, as well as the auction item or gift certificate that we provide.

Here is an example of our display for a recent school auction:

The Tootsie Pop topiary tree was covered with caramel flavored Tootsie Pops and root beer flavored mini Tootsie Rolls.  We used those flavors because they coordinated with our SK Designs colors of teal and chocolate.

The display was fun and the kids really liked it.  Our message was "Make Your Windows Pop!" with new custom window treatments using an SK Designs gift certificate.

Here is an adorable footstool available for an upcoming donation:

I think the lime green dotted fabric is so cute with the hot pink cording and multi-colored tassel trim.

Let us know if you would like a donation for your upcoming event - we will be happy to help!


Updated Pillow Post

Well, once again, time has slipped by me - how does that happen!?

My previous post showed you the custom ribbon trim I was making for some client pillows.  I wanted to give you an update on that project.

The client was very happy....and so is her adorable Papillon, cute little Elmer!

When the homeowners cannot find Elmer, they now know to look under the pillows for him.  He loves his new hiding spot!

Elmer is not only adorable, he is very well behaved and gentle and does not mess with the ribbon trim - good doggie, Elmer!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's on the Table Today?

Generally, when someone asks "what's on the table?", they are asking about dinner.  But for a workroom owner like me, that question means "what kind of project am I working on today?".

Today's project is for a long term client & friend whose pillows needed a little facelift.  The colors and fabric work great in her family room, but the trim around the pillow edges needed to be replaced, and the pillow fillers will be replaced with plump, cushy fillers as well.

The photo at left shows the pillows along with the satin and sheer ribbons that I will be using to make custom trim.  The ribbons will be sewn together so that they will be very strong and will not shred or split apart.  I have shown a burgundy and gold ribbon, along with gold and cream sheer ribbons.  We will be adding a green ribbon as well, to tie in the leaf pattern and color on the pillow fabric.
 The photo at right shows a sample of the looped ribbons sewn together (without the green ribbon so far), that I made as a sample for my client's approval.

This is an example of truly custom work - ribbon trim made especially to match a client's fabrics for a just-the-right-touch finish.

I think it will be fun and fresh and will look great in the room, don't you?

Hope to see you soon -

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mary McDonald at the Houston Decorative Center

I went to the Houston Decorative Center (HDC) yesterday to pull some fabric samples for a client who is updating her childrens' playroom to become more of a "teen room".  Luckily for me, I discovered the night before that HDC was hosting their Spring Market 2013 yesterday also.  It was lucky that I found that out ahead of time because 1) the parking situation was going to be challenging and 2) I might be able to see a bit of the presentations.

I arrived at the Dec Center at 9 a.m., well before the scheduled presentations which began at 10:30.  I was able to score a great parking spot and head into the showrooms to start selecting fabric for my client.  I walked into the Schumacher showroom, and there was lovely Mary McDonald, sitting two feet away from me and happily signing copies of her new book.  She was also going to showcasing her new fabric and trim lines there later in the day.

Mary McDonald is one of the featured designers on the hit Bravo TV show "Million Dollar Decorators".  She is very funny and irreverent and has great style and design ideas.  My husband and I watch the show and she is our favorite designer and personality on the show.

Here are some of Mary's new fabrics and trims created for Schumacher (photos courtesy of Schumacher fabrics).  Aren't they gorgeous?  I love the specialty details and fresh colors.

All of Mary's fabrics can be seen at www.fschumacher.com.  They are all wonderful!

I had planned to quickly visit several showrooms for my client and make my getaway before the crowds began arriving.  However, when I walked out of the Kravet showroom and saw all of the chairs set up in the open lobby area for the panel presentation scheduled for 10:30, I decided to snag a chair and stay for a bit.

There were about 125 chairs set up, which filled up quickly.  The event site staff brought out about another 30-40 chairs for the additional attendees streaming in to participate.

The topic was "Building Your Brand" and was a panel discussion by Bill Stubbs (AD 100 interior designer, author and host of the TV show Moment of Luxury), Mary McDonald, Charles Pavarini III (Founder and President of Charles Pavarini Design Associates) and John Robshaw (product designer and author of John Robshaw Prints).

It was a great discussion with industry leaders.  Mary is funny and outgoing and willing to share stories of her experiences.   The audience was laughing many times at her comments and enjoyed her input along with the other panel members.

I was glad that I stayed to watch the discussion!

Later in the afternoon I met with my client and we narrowed down two groupings of potential fabrics for her project room.  Her project will consist of valances, window seat cushions and pillows, along with some new shutters. 

One fabric grouping is brighter and livelier, but the other group has some interesting textures and patterns as well.  Which do you prefer?

Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lifted Swags & Decorative Molding

I recently installed some lovely lifted (raised) swags and drapery panels for a new client in my area who had been referred to me via Facebook.

This client lives in an older neighborhood next to mine (mine is older also) and both areas are seeing a ton of new construction homes.  She is in a new construction home and was interested in a window treatment for her dining room window.  She had recently bought some fabric at the closing of one of Houston's home decorative fabric stores.  She had plenty of yardage of a green & gold damask print fabric, so we were not limited in window treatment design choices.

She selected a pair of lifted swags that would each start lower on the outer edges, and rise up in the center on a decorative wood rod with finials.  A pair of stationary drapery panels would be mounted underneath the swags and would frame the window.

This client has beautiful wood moldings throughout the home, including above and around the dining room window.  I took careful and extensive measurements so that we could obtain as much "lift" in the center area as possible, while staying within the molding width areas on the outer edges.

You can see from the photos above and below that there are multiple levels of trim, both width-wise and depth-wise.

We decided to mount the board in the 1" open space just above the lower lip, and it fit perfectly.  This allowed us a bit of extra height for the center of the lifted swags.

The client was unsure of whether or not she wanted to use the tassel trim on the bottom hem of the swags.  She has wonderful artwork and beautiful dining room furniture and she was a bit concerned that the tassels would be too much decoration for the room.  So I sent her a photo of one swag during fabrication, showing the swag both with and without trim.  She elected to use the trim, which I think was a perfect complement to the style, room and fabric.

The homeowner located the decorative hardware on her own, following the specifications of rod diameter (2") and finial size that I had provided.  She is from Louisiana and really wanted to find some fleur de lis shaped finials, and she was successful!

The photo below shows the board mounted swags installed.  We had not yet installed the finials or the drapery panels.  The careful measurements and planning allowed the rod to be showcased on the 4" flat section of the crown molding.

Below you can see the finished treatment with the great decorative finials and the drapery panels installed.  The panels break on the floor about 1", which provides a pretty look without providing children or pets a place to play.

The swags and panels are both blackout lined to prevent light bleed-through.  The allows the fabric colors and pattern to always be "true" so that incoming light does not distort the pattern or cause the fabric to look "true" on the wall areas and washed out on the window glass area.  The fabric and treatment will look great both during the day and at night.

My client was very pleased with the completed project and has already posted her happiness on Facebook!

Hope you enjoyed this project -


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shabby Chic Bedroom

I have been working with a delightful client in my neighborhood and we delivered the final items for her colorful shabby chic bedroom this week.

She has wonderful collections of vintage embroidery and other items throughout her home and it is a wonderful place!  For years I have admired the outside of her home with the picket fence and stone walkway, wonderful shutters and paint colors...so I was very excited when she called me and gave me her address.  I knew immediately which home was hers and I was looking forward to seeing the inside of her home, which did not disappoint!

She had a great bed that she wanted a new matelasse duvet for, as well as a gathered silk dust ruffle and matching king shams, along with a large striped bolster and a scaldino for the foot of the bed.

She provided her own fabrics and I went to work fabricating everything.

The below photo shows the bedding.  I love the scaldino at the foot of the bed with the textured raspberry center fabric.  The side sections are vintage barkcloth.  I added a pleated raspberry ruffle on the ends.

Don't you love the vintage sign above the bed?  And if you look carefully, you will see the cute green interior shutters on the windows, featuring a crescent moon accent.

The neckroll is 40" long - whew!  We used her wide awning striped fabric in green and cream and added a bias flat welt on the ends.

You can't really see the plaid shams at the back of the bed, but they match the dust ruffle fabric.

When I delivered the bedding, she asked if I could slipcover a rocker.  I do offer slipcover services, but generally only for "hard" chairs such as dining room or kitchen or vanity chairs. However, this client was great to work with and I loved the fabrics we were mixing and I knew it would look great in the room.  We used the remaining vintage barkcloth from pinch pleated draperies, which were carefully taken apart and used to their maximum advantage so that we could match patterns on the scaldino and also the slipcover.

It is a fully upholstered chair that rocks gently.  The chair was already slipcovered, so I used the original slipcover for a pattern and made a few modifications.  The upholstery underneath was in perfect shape, so that was not an issue.

We added a small pleated ruffle around the front side of the seat back as well as around the entire bottom hem.  The slipcover is attached to the front arms and the entire underside of the chair with Velcro.

You can see that the seat top (and bottom) matches the seat back pattern repeat, and I railroaded (turned sideways) the leaf pattern on the boxing area of the seat.

Below shows most of the room, showcasing the bed and rocker.

All projects are good projects!  But this was a cheerful, inviting room with great personality. My client also shared with me that her mother rocker her (my client) in the chair when she was a baby, and now she rocks her grandchildren in the same chair...continuing the family bond of love!  That story was bittersweet, since my client's mother passed away just a few weeks ago.  But her rocking chair legacy lives on in the room and with the grandchildren who are rocked in the same chair.  So sweet!

Hope to see you soon!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Fabrics Arriving Soon!

There are many things about Spring to look forward too - cool, crisp weather (well, in Houston, maybe not so cool or crisp!), daffodils and other spring flowers, trees beginning to bud and flower...and, for drapery designers and fabricators like myself:  NEW SPRING FABRIC BOOKS! (Yes, I did mean to yell that out!).

It is exciting to see what the new styles, colorways and patterns will be for this Spring.

Just today, I received an email with these photos of coming-soon fabrics from one of my fabric vendors.  Aren't they fresh and bright and fun?

Outdoor fabrics in bright colorways

Are you ready to freshen and brighten your home's window treatments or bedding?  Give me a call and I can show you the latest and greatest new fabric selections!

Hope to see you soon!