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Monday, January 20, 2014

Soutache Embellished Window Treatment Project

This is one of my all-time favorite projects and I hope you enjoy it too!  You will hear about this project, and be introduced to my new obsession...soutache embellishment!  As a bonus, I will share the soutache source I am using.  I love her company name as well as her soutache trim.

Here is the story...

In November, I received a phone call from a new potential client.  She was really hoping to have new window treatments installed before the end of the year and knew that might not be possible with the holiday project rush.  I told her that I had room on my project calendar for one more window treatment project..if we met and decided on everything quickly and if the fabrics and hardware were readily available.

We met a couple of days later and she graciously gave me the Grand Tour of her home, so that I could see her home's style, colors, and all of the recent home improvements that they had completed.  We then settled into her dining room and began looking at treatment styles for her dining room.  I will post about the dining room later; it was a beautiful and fun project also. You will have to wait to see that one!

Today's blog post is about her family room.  Existing wood blinds would remain for privacy and light blocking purposes, but we would replace her existing panels and valance with something more in keeping with the warm Tuscan colors and fabrics in the family room. 

As a window treatment designer and fabricator, there are always some treatment styles that I am excited for a client to select and that I look forward to fabricating.  This client selected designs with an eye for lyrical embellishments and accents, as well as beautiful fabrics and hardware.  I was getting goosebumps (and am getting them again right now as I write this!) when she made her selections.  I love that!  

Available at Amazon.com
She selected a great treatment design from Jackie Von Tobel's Design Directory of Window Treatments.  This book is a true treasure with hundreds of great ideas that appeal to clients and help spark creativity.  I was so excited when she chose her design, and even more excited when she selected her fabrics.

Here is the treatment that she selected, which I have imported using her actual window area measurements and fabrics and colors that she selected.

The draperies and swags would be made in a gorgeous iridescent silk paisley from Catania Silks. The fabric colors are warm: russet, gold and an olive green.  It is so pretty!  The banners would be in a solid gold silk, banded in solid olive green silk - perfect!  We would add a pretty multicolored tassel at the points of each banner.   Dark wood rods, brackets and finials would complete the look and coordinate well with the other wood furnishings in the room.

Luckily, all of the fabrics, trims and hardware were in stock and ready to ship!  That meant that the pressure to complete the project would be all on me...no material delays would compromise the desired installation date.

We still needed to determine what the banner embellishment would be. We considered embroidery or applique and wanted to make sure we did not repeat the design or embellishment method that we were going to use in the living room (Celtic banding and microcording).  I sent her several ideas of shapes to consider, and we agreed on a beautiful scrolling design, to be created using olive green soutache.  

Below is the design rendered on paper and taped to my office window, ready to trace onto the fabric.  The proportions were just perfect:  about 7 inches wide x 10 inches tall.  The scrollwork was similar enough to some fleur de lis motifs in the home, but no too repetitive.

Are you familiar with soutache?  It is a narrow braid, usually about 1/8" wide, that is used for embellishing garments, and, historically, military uniforms.  It is available in dozens of colors and is very flexible, which makes it curve beautifully in a variety of shapes and angles.

I bought my soutache from Amee Runs With Scissors at www.ameerunswithscissors.com. She sells the soutache by the yard, as well as sample kits of the colors that are available, as shown below.
Amee Runs With Scissors sample kit

I am becoming obsessed with soutache!  If you are on Pinterest, you will notice that there are tons of photos of jewelry made with soutache, which is the hottest thing right now.  But I will stick with using the soutache for window treatment and pillow embellishments!

Below is a photo of the silk pennant fabric, stabilized with an iron on stabilizer from Rowley Company, and with the pattern traced and soutache embellishment in progress.

I have found that the most precise way to attach the soutache is to use a fabric adhesive very minimally, as a basting method.  After tracing the design on the fabric, I put a small amount of fabric adhesive on a paper plate.  Using a straight pin, I dipped the tip of the pin into the adhesive, and then placed tiny dots of adhesive along the traced line.  

Below, you can see a line of adhesive dots, awaiting the application of the soutache.  The soutache is pinned carefully in place while working in small sections and allowed to dry.  

Now it is time to hand sew the soutache into place.  I am not fast at hand sewing, and soutache application is not a process to be rushed!  Each design took me about 3 hours from start to finish, for the design and application part only (not the stabilizing or sewing).

I think the time is well invested!  Here is a closeup of the completed design on the banded pennant.

Back to the project:  below is a photo of the project as it is being installed.  The outer two swags were mounted first, and then the brackets for the center raised swag and outer pennants are installed.  The stationary panels were attached and then the pennants, attached to the rods, are placed in the brackets.  

Are you ready?  Now?  Ready yet?

Here is the completed treatment!

A lot of planning went into this project.  The size and proportions of the banners and their banding, as well as the size of the underswags and smaller raised swag and their relation to each other were all considered.  Additionally, I did not want the soutache embellishment to overtake the treatment.  I think the size of the design works perfectly, allowing some open "relief" area around it and accenting the olive green banding. The swags cover the headrail on the existing blinds, and the solid fabrics complement the silk paisley fabric beautifully.

It was a fun project and the client was a delight to work with and she was thrilled with her completed project!  Thank you, Sherri, for the opportunity to work with you!  Next up, her dining room project featuring banding, microcording, Celtic applique, gorgeous silk taffeta (appropriately named Creme Fraiche) and a decorative rod with a center cartouche!  You will have to wait for the next post to hear all about that project :).

Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did!