A weblog about theatrical drapery and stage curtains for Production Managers, Set Designers, Custom Drapery Resellers, and local/school/church Productions
Back in September, I posted on Dell Computer’s “Take Your Own Path” campaign, which featured inspiring entrepreneurs from small and medium sized businesses around the world, including our own Megan Duckett.
Well, recently we came upon a photostream from the campaign press conference in New York City, and I thought I’d pass it on. Here’s a preview of one of the photos in the photostream (Megan is on the far right):
Want to see more? Go to the flickr photostream, or check out Dell’s “Take Your Own Path” webpage. The entrepreneur stories are really inspiring!
Recently, our sister company, Rent What? Inc. provided some beautiful soft goods for the UK tour of Irish rock band The Cranberries, and after seeing some photos of the set, I just had to post on it.
Through a combination of swags, legs, and borders from their Silver Satin series, complemented by a series of gorgeous Starlight drapes (similar to the “twinkle” drape featured in my earlier post), Rent What? captured just what the client was looking for in their European tour. A photo taken at the Barcelona show in March is even featured on the Wikipedia entry for the band!
I know that there are other companies that rent stage curtains, and perhaps I am biased, but I am so impressed with the way that Rent What? has thought “outside the box” in designing a rental inventory that includes such beautiful, unique, and highly customizable drapery.
I was thinking today about the notion of job titles. Account Manager, Purchasing Agent, Human Resources…how well do these titles really reflect what we do on a daily basis? In today’s fast-moving business world, it seems that, for the majority of us working in small business, our titles don’t really reflect all the roles that we fill.
Take Sew What? as an example.
Silvia Soler’s “official” title is Human Resources / Sales Support. But the roles she fills include: party planner, safety coordinator, receptionist, banking coordinator, conflict resolution specialist, trainer, inquiry coordinator, fabric sample coordinator, customer service representative, and so much more.
Our Account Managers/Sales Representatives (Shane, Gwen, and Violet) sell our products, but they also function (in varying degrees) as project managers, advisors, designers, graphic artists, freight quote specialist, and, again, much more.
Tammy’s title is Bookkeeper, but she is really accounts receivable bookkeeper, accounts payable bookkeeper, payroll specialist, credit manager, collections agent, backup receptionist…
Carley is our Purchasing Agent, but she could also hold the titles of dispatcher, researcher, supervisor, inventory coordinator, job material specialist, and so on.
Michelle is the Director of Operations, but she is also production scheduler, mediator, trainer, supervisor, translator…
Megan is the President of Sew What?, but she also wears many hats, including account manager, designer, marketing specialist, website developer , stategic planner – the list goes on and on.
Adam is the CFO, but he is also functions as COO, technical draftsman, graphic artist, printing specialist, IT specialist…
And myself? Well, my title is General Manager, but to me that just means that, like everyone else here at Sew What?, my role is to do whatever it takes to support our customers, the staff here at Sew What?, and the company itself. That might mean answering an incoming call, helping to track down a missing shipment, figuring out why our computer system suddenly went down, processing a flame certificate for a customer, researching a new product, completing our quarterly sales tax report, requesting insurance certificates, meeting with consultants, preparing a performance review, signing checks, or writing a post for this blog.
Occasionally, people ask me why no title is listed on our business cards. The reason is that, though we all have titles that give a general idea of our function within the company, the reality is that these titles do not truly reflect the scope of what each of us does here. Regardless of title, each of us here at Sew What? does whatever needs to be done to satisfy our customer, produce a high quality product, support our co-workers, and continue to improve the company as a whole.
In a large company, maybe you can get away with each person doing one thing, and one thing only. The Purchasing Agent purchases, the Account Manager sells, the Receptionist answers the phones and the A/R person sends out invoices. But in a small business like Sew What? that just doesn’t make sense – so why should we limit ourselves based on a title?
Did you happen to catch the Country Music Awards last night? If you didn’t, you missed a beautiful performance by Carrie Underwood (Entertainer of the Year).
I am proud to say that our sister company, Rent What? Inc., provided the beautiful White Voile swags and drapes (made by Sew What? Inc., naturally) that provided the gorgeous backdrop for Carrie’s performance. The combination of the soft floaty fabric and the terrific lighting techniques really sets the mood.
If you missed it (or just want to see it again), check out this video of Carrie singing “Temporary Home” at the 2010 CMA Awards.
A client sent us some gorgeous photos recently of a project we worked on last month for James Taylor’s 2010 “Troubadour Reunion” World Tour with Carole King, and I wanted to share them with you. Last month, we made a number of Texture Panels, utilizing Metal Mesh backed by Black 16oz Commando Cloth, to be attached to specialty frames.
Photo Courtesy Ralph Perkins / Bryan Leitch
We have made a number of different pieces from Metal Mesh in the past, and the way that it lights so beautifully makes it a favorite of mine, but the addition of the frames has allowed a really interesting and unique presentation.
Photo Courtesy Ralph Perkins / Bryan Leitch
I love the way the frames are used to add another layer of dimension to the set, and that the overhead pieces make the set more intimate and yet still dramatic and eye-catching. Just gorgeous!
Want to see more? Check out this video that includes some great close-up shots of the metal mesh pieces (not to mention James Taylor’s beautiful music!) at a show in Australia last week.
April was another busy month for hiring staff – just like last month, I have a long list of anniversaries, including a couple of people who are not far from celebrating ten years at Sew What?
Congratulations, everyone! We really appreciate your hard work and loyalty to Sew What?
Lola, Project Manager – 9 years
Alberto, Sewing Machine Operator – 8 years
Carley, Purchasing Agent – 2 years
Violet, Account Manager – 1 year
This afternoon, Shane Nelsen (Senior Sales and Creative Director) shared a photo with me of a project he worked on back in January. The photo was so great that I just had to share it.
Shane worked with Marisol Vasquez, Vice President of Groove Footwear / Vybe. Inc., to create a gorgeous romantic exhibit space to serve as a background for their beautiful shoes at the WSA (World Shoes + Accessories show). What do you think?
Photo Courtesy Groove Footwear / Vybe Inc.
How was this look achieved? The beautiful ornate furniture, display pieces, and accessories (provided by the client) that, along with the various drapery pieces made by Sew What?, combine to make the space stand out from the crowd. FR Velvet Drapes in Regal Purple, pleated onsite to approximately 100% fullness, line the back wall to anchor the space. The sides and ceiling of the space are kept more open and filmy through the use of sheer drapery panels in Fuchsia Voile.
And the crowning glory? The amazing digitally printed panel prominently displayed in the center of the back wall, flanked by the velvet drapes. I love the artwork Groove provided for the panel (which I believe is the same or similar to the wallpaper on their website) - it sets the perfect mood for the space.
Periodically, I have been posting on the mechanics of stage drapes – fullness, top finishes and, most recently, bottom finishes, where I promised to post on side finishes next.
Initially, one might wonder, “What is there to talk about in regards to side finishes? It’s just a hem, isn’t it?” Well, yes, in most cases, the side finish is a hem. But not always. And even when it is a hem, there are different styles and sizes of hems, depending on the drapery style, the fabric used, and how the drape will be used.
In some cases, the fabric itself has a clean edge (selvage). As a result, for some drapes utilizing those fabrics, no side hem at all is required. This is often the case for simple one-width drapery panels (such as Exhibit Booth drapes or special event drapes). Encore Velour is one fabric that, when sewn into single-width exhibit drapery, is generally made with a selvage side finish. Voile drapes are also made with a selvage side finish, especially when sewn as single-width panels for special event usage. However, selvage sides are virtually never used for traditional stage drapes and are rarely used for multi-width panels (i.e. drapes that are unioned together to create a drape that is wider than the width of the original fabric).
Standard Double-Turned Hem
The standard side hem for most custom stage curtains and backdrops is a 2-2. This means that 2″ of fabric is folded in on the side, and then another 2″ is folded over and then the hem is sewn. This creates a clean finished edge to the hem with no chance of fraying. In some cases, the hem may be slightly different, such as 3-3 or 1-1, but the standard is 2-2.
Another option for a side finish is a half-width turnback. This involves folding the side edge back 1″, folding it again so that approximately half the width of the fabric is used for the side hem, and then sewing the turnback in place. For example, if the fabric is 54″ wide, then 27″ of the fabric would be used for the side hem. This side finish is typically used for the onstage edge of bi-parting traveller curtains (where the curtains meet in the middle). If the onstage edge of the curtain should flip open slightly while the curtains are being opened or closed (thereby exposing the back of the curtain), the audience will see the “good” side of the fabric rather than the back of the fabric. This side finish is also more durable due to the double thickness of fabric - the center point where bi-parting curtains meet is often subjected to more wear and tear, especially if the curtain is a walk-along (hand-operated rather than rope operated).
Often a traveller curtain will have different side finishes on the two sides - the onstage edge will have a half-width turnback and the offstage edge will have a standard 2-2 hem. However, in some cases, a half-width edge is designated for both sides of bi-parting traveller curtains. The benefit to this option is that, if the onstage edges of the two traveller curtains becomes frayed, the curtains can be reversed – the stage right curtain becomes the stage left curtain, and vice versa. Suddenly, the frayed edges are on the offstage edges (and are therefore less noticeable), with the more pristine edges now on the onstage edges (more visible to the audience in the center of the stage).
Twelve Inch Turnback
A 12″ turnback serves the same purpose as the half-width turnback – but is sometimes selected due to budgetary concerns, as this option saves a little money as less fabric is needed (just about 1/4 of a width of fabric vs 1/2 a width).
A very small hem (usually 1/2″ – 1/2″) is generally used for very delicate fabrics, especially sheers, when it is important that the hem be clean and finished but not noticeable. This side finish is often used for special event drapery that may be seen close-up (as opposed to traditional stage drapery that is generally seen from a distance).
Marrowing is a technique in which the actual edge of the fabric is sewn to provide a finished edge and prevent fraying, without actually folding back the fabric. This finish is often used for table linens.
Last spring, I was lucky enough to see Celtic Woman live at the Orange County (Calif) Performing Arts Center, and it was really a lovely show. Well, Celtic Woman is back in the US with a new tour, “Songs from the Heart,” and Sew What? was proud to be asked by production manager Scotty Ross to provide custom stage curtains to the tour.
The focus was on an ethereal look that could be transformed through lighting. We started with the unique drum risers, which were comprised of three layers. The top layer was White Voile, digitally printed with the client’s artwork (modeled after the “Songs from the Heart ” album cover art). In the middle was White Iridescent Sheer, gathered at 200% fullness. The bottom layer was Black 16oz Commando Cloth to ensure that the drum riser behind was masked from view.
The same White Iridescent Sheer fabric was used for upstage sheers, complemented by a swagged border and midstage swagged legs in Silver Velvet, along with legs in a White-Silver Sparkle Velvet.
As I’ve mentioned before, silver or grey fabric (along with white fabric) is ideal for colored lighting. Check out how the drapery looked under a purple / blue lighting scheme:
And then how it looked under a red / gold lighting scheme:
It’s hard to believe that these are the same drapes – and that under natural light, they are actually white and silver!
I think the drapes turned out just gorgeous, and evoke just the right romantic, ethereal mood for the beautiful music of Celtic Woman. Want to see (and hear) more? Check out this video of the tour at Radio City Music Hall. And if you’ve never seen them live, try to get out to see them this spring – they really do put on a great show.