Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Weighting your curtains or how to fix your mistakes

You all know that old saying about measuring three times and cutting once? I do too. I just happen to forget it when I most need it.

You see, about a year ago, I decided to have the curtains for my tent display custom-made. So, I shopped around until I found the right place. Working with fabric, as I do, you might ask: why not just make them yourself? Several reasons:

1. The bigger shows require the use of flame-retardant materials. These are not that easily available, and there are just a handful of companies that distribute them. We are lucky to be living so close to New York, as these are used heavily in Broadway productions.

2. I didn't have a faintest idea how to make a show curtain. I was certain there were so many details that I would miss, that I'm better off paying someone to do it right. And I was right to do it. When I first opened the box and looked at the hems and grommets, I thought to myself - thank God.

So, when I picked the company, the fabric, the type of curtain, etc., they asked me for size. Without actually opening and measuring the height of my tent, I blurted out: 8 feet. Well, those of you that know tents, know they are not 8 feet. But, I read that somewhere on the package, and I thought I was right. Typical.

The curtains arrived just a few days before the first show. When I went to put them up I realized they were too long. This had bad and good things about it. Bad, they drag around and get dirty, and they look a little unkempt. Good, I could wrap them around weights, so that we don't fly away.

Finally, a few days ago, I broke down and decided to shorten them. I cut off the extra 2 feet, rolled them up and left them in the corner. Why? I realized that I needed to weight them down, unless I wanted to be blown to Kansas, and I had nothing to weight them down with. After a few days of agony, I called a friend who makes drapery for living. And she said ball chain.

Now, have you ever gone to Home Depot and asked one of the guys to help you find ball chain? Oh, get your mind out of the gutter, will you?! After going through hardware, then plumbing, then hardware again, I decided that ball chain is simply not going to do it, and that I needed something sturdier. So I opted for the good old double twist. It comes in several different sizes, and I picked the one that I thought would do the job the best.

First, I secured the chain to the bottom of the curtain using needle and quilting thread. That stuff is awesome. Really strong.

Then I simply hemmed the curtains, 4 inches, like the original was.

I used double-stitch, just in case. You really don't want your chains rattling all over the place when you are trying to set up or break down for the show.

The end result - fantastic! It drapes perfectly. And it's so much easier to fold. I wish I had the audacity to do it before. It would have saved me a lot of headaches and a few dry cleaning bills.

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