Plan your drapery workroom
Your drapery success starts here! Once you have a suitable drapery workroom, you'll find it much easier to work on your projects. To get started you'll only need a few essentials.
Prepare your workroom space
Do you have a room you can use as a drapery workroom? Great! That's the best solution. You can set yourself up with the items you need, and arrange the room just how you want.
If not, is there part of a room you can use? This will need a bit more planning, and perhaps some diplomatic consultations with other family members.
Having a dedicated area means you won't have to put everything away in the evening when you finish. If you'll be making drapes for more than one window, having your own space will make your life a lot easier. But read the rest of this page, and you'll be able to judge what's best for you in your situation.
If you have a suitable wall, fix a curtain track as high up on it as you can. Finished drapes can then be hung out of the way. You can also check that the drop (length of drapes) is correct.
This is one of the essential items for your drapery workroom. First, you need a solid, robust table. Not one that moves or gives way when you lean on it. It doesn't matter if it's not the right size. Solidity is what's important. And don't use a valuable antique! An old table is best - you'll see why later.
Is it the right size? Ideally the width needs to be the width of the average material, which is about 4'6" (1.38m), but this isn't essential. The length should be as long as possible, or as long as the longest drapes you plan to make. Try to have it at least 6'0" (1.90m), and preferably 9'0" (nearly 3.0m).
It's not the end of the world if you can't manage this. When you need extra length, place another table (card table?) at one end to support the drapes.
Table not large enough?
Let's assume your table is solid, but too small. Get a sheet of plywood or MDF, say 0.5" (1.5cms) thick. These normally come in sheets of 8'0" by 4'0". Lay this on the table and secure it by screwing it to the table top. Now you have a good sized worktable.
You now need to make sure it's the right height. It's better to have the table comfortable to work at when you're standing. The normal height of a table is usually too low. If you need to, attach blocks under the legs to raise it. Use a stool or adjustable chair when you need to sit down when working.
Now for a professional work surface
But your table still isn't ideal. Fabrics will move around on it. If you want to iron some fabric you'll have to put some cloth on it. So here's what to do.
Cover a couple of bricks with interlining and fabric. Sew fabric handles on them. You can now use them to keep fabric secure on the table.
You'll find other uses for them, such as door stops, pin cushions, and securing headings when you make them by hand.
Get some carpet underfelt (the genuine felt, not the rubberized versions). If you can't find any, use a couple of layers of thick interlining. Cover the whole table top, and wrap the felt over the edges and secure it underneath the table by staples or adhesive.
Now get some fabric. Plain cloth (no pattern) is better, as you'll easily see pins and other items easily. Good quality cotton is fine, but a thicker weave would be better. You'll probably need to join one or more widths so the piece is large enough to cover the whole table.
Stretch the fabric over the table top, again wrapping it over the edges and secure it underneath the table. Now you have a professional work surface for your drapery workroom.
Why go to these lengths?
- You'll have a good surface to lay your (expensive?) fabrics on.
- You can iron your fabrics on it when they have creases which need removing.
- Pins can be stuck into it to hold fabrics in place.
- If you progress to making swags and more advances treatments, you can pin your shapes to the edges of your table.
- It's nicer to work on!
If you have space, fix some bars onto a wall. You can then lay cut pieces of fabric over them. Or make a raised support, about 6" wide by 4'6" long and about 5'0" high, with a curved top. Cover the top with interlining and fabric. You can then hang fabrics over it.
Make your own patterns? You bet! You're going to make first class drapes in your drapery workroom, so there's no cutting corners here - excuse the pun! We're not looking to use someone else's solutions. Your drapes will be tailor made for your windows.
Pattern paper and card. Unless you're only going to ever make one set of drapes, you'd be wise to get some pattern paper and pattern card. If you can't get any, use a heavy gauge clear polythene.
Swag patterns. For making swag patterns, find some old sheets, lining from old drapes or inexpensive lining.
Drapery chain weight. This can be used in the hems of drapes, and is also useful for getting the overall shapes of swags.
Time spent on sorting out your draprery workroom is time well spent. You'll find it much easier to work, and this will help you as you progress to making wonderful drapery!