A weblog about theatrical drapery and stage curtains for Production Managers, Set Designers, Custom Drapery Resellers, and local/school/church Productions
A few years ago, when my stepson was in high school, his favorite band was Green Day. I hate to admit it, but I really didn’t know much about Green Day at the time – I listen primarily to “classic rock” of the 70s and 80s (think Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who, Queen, Led Zeppelin, etc.). Recently, though, I have gotten into Green Day (I’ll tell you more about why later), and so I thought I’d feature them in today’s “Rockin’ Clients” post.
Green Day (originally called “Sweet Children”) began as part of the punk scene in Berkeley in the late 1980s by Billie Jo Armstrong (lead vocals and guitar) and Mike Dirnt (bass and backing vocals). Through the first few years of the band, the two were joined by John Kiffmeyer (also known as Al Sobrante) on drums and Sean Hughes on bass, but by late 1990, both Hughes and Kiffmeyer had left the band. Armstrong and Dirnt were joined by Tre Cool on drums, a lineup that has continued to the present day.
The band released two albums on indie labels in the late 80s and early 90s, 39/Smooth and Kerplunk. The underground success of Kerplunk, though modest compared to the major albums at the time, was significant enough to catch the attention of Reprise Records (a division of Warner Bros Records), and the band signed with Reprise, who released the band’s third album, Dookie, in early 1994, which went on to become a commercial and critical success, earning the Grammy© award for Best Alternative Album.
Since then, Green Day has released five more albums, including the punk rock opera American Idiot. Their most successful album to date, American Idiot debuted in 2004 at number one on the Billboard charts, and won a variety of awards. A live album CD / DVD, Awesome as F**K, will be released in March 2011.
Last July, while on a short business trip to New York City (my first time there), I had very limited time to sightsee, but the one thing I wanted to do was take in a Broadway show. Since it was short notice (the afternoon of my only free night), I asked the concierge for recommendations. I didn’t want to see a long running “family” show like Phantom of the Opera – I wanted something edgier, more Rock ‘n’ Roll, something more Sew What? The concierge suggested American Idiot, based on the Green Day album. I wasn’t familiar with either the album or the show, but thought it sounded intriguing.
I was lucky enough to walk down to the St. James Theatre just an hour before that night’s show and secure terrific seats (Balcony front row center). I was blown away by the show and the music (though prior to then the only song I really knew by Green Day was Boulevard of Broken Dreams (coincidentally from the same album and used in the musical). Since then, I have become a huge Green Day fan – I bought both the original album and the show soundtrack, and I am going to start delving more deeply into their catalog. I am also hoping that the musical goes on tour – I’d love to take my husband to see it (he is now a fan as well).
Now that I have become a huge Green Day fan, it makes it even more exciting to realize that here at Sew What? we have made numerous scenic backdrops and kabukis for Green Day, including both digitally printed backdrops and painted backdrops, throughout 2009 and 2010. I even remember seeing that iconic American Idiot image (the fist with the heart / grenade) on a digital backdrop hanging in our shop.
I thought it might be a great idea to re-introduce our rental drapery collections as they have evolved since we first opened our doors at Rent What? just 2 short years ago. It is so exciting to see each of our series come to life in pictures – and to share some stories about each profile. Of course all our drapes are quality creations by none other than our very favorite seamstresses at Sew What? Inc. – quality, design, durability – we have all the bases covered.
- IFR 8oz Supervel, White
- IFR Voile, White
- IFR Glossy Satin, Ivory
- IFR Glossy Satin, Champagne
- FR Domino / Ivory-Gold
A La Carte Elements:
Select the perfect pieces to compliment your stage and satisfy your budget.
Why we love it:
Lights beautifully with a soft yet reflective finish. This pastel lineup is far from pasty.
A bevy of beautiful brides have enjoyed our Ivory “Au Naturale”. Sheryl Crowe rocked out and lit it up with color.
Most Compatible With:
Set the scene with this series, then pull focus with elements from our Seasonal Accessory Collection.
As the best man toasted the bride and groom, guests toasted the beautiful room – a la Ivory Satin.
The Doobie Brothers, despite a seemingly constant stream of revolving band members, has proven to be a band with staying power.
In 1970, drummer John Hartman met up with singer/songwriter/guitarist Tim Johnston in Northern California, and the two started the band that would soon become The Doobie Brothers. Joined by bassist Dave Shogren and guitarist Patrick Simmons, along with a variety of additional musicians (keyboard, horns, etc.), the group played various venues in Northern California throughout 1970 and 1971. Their first album, released in 1971, failed to chart, but they found breakthrough success in 1972 with their second album, Toulouse Street, which debuted the hits “Listen to the Music” and “Jesus is Just Alright.”
Shortly thereafter, Shogren left the band, replaced by Tiran Porter, and the rhythm section of the band became more distinct. This lead to a string of hits throughout the early to mid 1970s, including “Long Train Runnin’” and “China Grove.” The band, driven by the songwriting of Johnston and Simmons, became known for a unique sound that included elements of R & B, rock, country, and funk.
In 1976, health reasons forced Johnston to take a break from the band, and he was replaced by Michael McDonald (of Steely Dan). The songs contributed by McDonald lead to a softer, less hard rockin’ style, characterized by such hits as “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “What a Fool Believes.” Though the band continued to have changes in its member lineup throughout the late ’70s, The Doobie Brothers continued to enjoy success, including being awarded the Grammy© award for Record of the Year in 1979.
Despite success, band members found themselves at odds, and by 1981, no original members remained in The Doobie Brothers, and the band disbanded. McDonald pursued a solo career, while other band members, in various configurations, formed or joined other bands.
In 1987, the band reunited for what was to be a single concert benefiting veterans’ causes. The interest was so great that the concert became a 12-city tour. Though not all band members were available for this reunion, the reunion tour did include founding members Johnston and Simmons, along with 9 more former Doobie Brothers members. The reunion tour was successful enough to keep the band together, recording several albums and touring through today. Their most recent album, “World Gone Crazy,” was released in Fall 2010, and The Doobie Brothers will be touring in North America and Australia/New Zealand throughout the first half of 2011.
Sew What? has been honored to be chosen by The Doobie Brothers to provide tour soft goods, including digitally printed backdrops and other stage soft goods, for the last three years in a row!
Rent What? began as a simple request from clients of our custom sewing company, Sew What? Inc. They said they were looking for a drapery rental company offering the same kick-ass service they received from Sew What?. They wanted fair pricing without hidden repair charges and extra fees. They wanted high quality drapes delivered on time, as ordered. They also wanted to reach a real person they knew and trusted when calling for a quote. And they wanted their estimates promptly. Our clients are creative, talented and, of course, busy, with no extra time to spend hassling with their drape order.
At Rent What? our goal is to simplify the rental of soft goods. We understand that there are many elements that go into a successful production. We handle the drapes.
Our motto? Ultimate Rentals. Extreme Service.
Ultimate: adj: furthest or highest in degree or order; utmost or extreme
- Sewn of the finest inherently flame retardant or treated fabrics
- Expertly cleaned, inspected, and maintained
- Delivered in complimentary storage bags or hampers
- Flame certification sent with every drape
Extreme: adj: of the greatest possible degree or extent or intensity; far beyond a norm in quantity or amount
- Phones answered by a real live, coherent person
- Fast, accurate, upfront quotes
- Additional protection available to eliminate surprise repair fees and extra charges
- Complete, personal support of your project from initial request to load-out and beyond
I have posted in the past on the subject of fullness, but I realized this morning that I haven’t posted on a closely related subject – pleating styles.
Most people understand the concept of pleating (what American woman hasn’t had a pleated skirt at one time in her life?) – but I would guess that most don’t realize how many different styles of pleating there are for drapes. Today I thought I’d shed a little light on pleating options.
A box pleat is created by bringing the fabric together to form a loop on the face of the drape. This loop is then flattened against the face of the drape in equal parts to either side, making a “box” shape, and is then sewn into place. Depending on the amount of fullness desired, the size of the box pleat may range from about 3″ to 6″ or more in width. Box pleating is frequently used for heavier napped fabrics such as cotton and synthetic velour, though it can be used on nearly any type of drapery fabric, including sheers, satins, and other lightweight fabrics (as with the White Voile drapes that we made for Rod Stewart in 2008).
Box pleating is the style most used in traditional stage drapery, and the preferred style of pleating here at Sew What? As a matter of fact, I would estimate that at least 95% of the pleated custom stage curtains that we make here are box pleated.
For knife pleating, single pleats are created by folding each pleat in a single direction across the face of the drape and then sewing into place. A drape with knife pleating typically has a greater number of more narrow pleats than that of a box-pleated drape of the same size and fullness. Knife pleating is typically used for lighter, more delicate fabrics and for drapes with at least 100% fullness. Knife-pleated drapes are typically seen used as drapery for special events.
While not technically a style of pleating, shirring is also used to create fullness in drapery, by gathering the fabric together to create gentle folds. Shirring may be done manually, by stitching two parallel lines of strong thread across the top of the drape and then pushing the fabric together across the thread to form the gathers. Another method is to sew shirring tape across the top of the flat drape and then pull the built-in strings to gather the drape. Shirring is most often used on very lightweight fabrics such as voiles for a looser, more subtle form of pleating.
For pinch pleats, a single pleat is created and then sectioned off make two or three more narrow pleats, and then sewn at the bottom of the header to keep the pleats together. Traditionally, drapery hooks are inserted in the box of each pleat in order to hang the drape from a traverse drapery rod, allowing the drape to be easily opened or closed through a cord operation. Today, however, there is also the option to utilize pinch-pleated drapes with clips and rings, for manual operation.
As pinch pleated drapery is almost exclusively used for formal residential drapery, this is a style of pleating that is practiced by manufacturers of residential drapery rather than by manufacturers of custom theatrical drapery such as Sew What?
This year, I am adding a new series to this blog, entitled “Rockin’ Clients.” In the nearly two years since we started the blog, I have included a number of posts highlighting the custom stage drapes, backdrops, and other soft goods that we have made for music tours. For this series, I am going to place the focus on the clients themselves, telling you a little bit about history of the artists and bands that we are so honored to work with. Today, I start with Coldplay.
Back in the late 1990s, while students at University College London, Chris Martin (lead vocals/primary songwriter) and Jonny Buckland (lead guitar) started an alternative rock band that within a year or two, with the addition of Guy Berryman on bass and Will Champion on drums, eventually became Coldplay. While the band’s first release was in 1998, with the EP “Safety,” the band’s widespread success really began in the UK in early 2000 with the release the single “Shiver,” featured on their first album, “Parachutes” (released in July 2000).
Success in the United States soon followed, with a North American club tour in early 2001, and “Parachutes” was named Best Alternative Music Album at the 2002 Grammy Awards. In the years since, the band has recorded 3 more albums, with a fifth scheduled for release this year. They have won over 40 awards in the UK, United States, and throughout the world, including 6 Brit awards and 7 Grammys.
Since the beginning, Coldplay has been known for contributing 10% of it’s profits to charity, a practice that continues today. Organizations supported by the band include Amnesty International and Oxfam.
Sew What? is proud to have provided a variety of custom stage curtains to Coldplay tours, including a Brail Curtain, a Scrim, and a variety of digitally printed pieces.
Back in June, I wrote a post about Sew What? and Rent What? working together to provide custom stage curtains to the Glee Touring Show.
Well, a few months later, we were approached by the folks at Glee again. But this time, they wanted us to provide custom theatrical drapery for the set of the television show. Very exciting! We work with music tours and traditional theatres regularly, but not much in the television and film industry. And Glee is the perfect television show to utilize our drapery, with its emphasis on music and performing.
If you watch the show, you may have noticed the Grand Drapes and Border, in gorgeous Brick 21oz Velour, in the episode entitled “Special Education,” which premiered in late November. And keep your eyes out in future episodes - we provided a variety of custom drapery pieces to the show, including masking drapes, legs and borders, scrims, and cycloramas.
If you missed the episode “Special Education,” or if you want to watch again to check out the drapery, Fox offers full episodes online on the Glee website.