Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Rest of the Story

This is a follow-up to the story told in my Olympics-themed August blog post.  The message of that post was to offer silver and bronze options to your price sensitive customers rather than discounting the price of your gold medal option and cutting into your profit margin.  If you missed it or want to read it again, you can find it here.   This is the conclusion to the real life example discussed in August.

The designer, Bev Dyminski, scaled back on some aspects of the project in response to her customer's budget.  Bev stayed with her original concept of swags, jabots, and panels rather than eliminating elements of the window treatment design (GOLD option).  She switched from a lining/interlining combination to a napped sateen lining (SILVER option).  And she found a similar, but less expensive face fabric made of 100% poly (BRONZE option).

The finished project is shown below.  Now that's what I call a winning combination!  If you are looking for a workroom that can help you sweep the podium, contact me at

Click on the triangle to play the video for the conclusion.

Monday, November 5, 2012


The weather has changed and there is a definite nip in the air.  We are settling in for a long Rochester winter.  Don't let the cold get you down!  Offer your customers a scaldino to brighten up their bedrooms and warm their feet.    

What is a scaldino?  Scaldino (pronounced skawl dee' no) is an Italian word that means warmer for the hands, feet, or bed.   The original scaldino was a metal or ceramic pot that was filled with hot ash or coal, then slipped under the covers at night, providing warmth to bedrooms that were most often unheated.  
Today we know the scaldino as the mini comforter at the end of the bed that warms the feet and protects the spread from a suitcase or other object placed at the foot of the bed.  Adding a scaldino is an easy way to update a bedroom.  A neutral colored bedspread, coverlet or duvet gets a completely new look with a scaldino and matching pillows.  Scaldinos are less expensive than a folded comforter as they take less fabric and labor.  Change them with the seasons to freshen and spice up the look of the bedding.   

When it comes to design, scaldinos can be as simple or as ornate as you want.  Here is an example of a scaldino that matches the decorative pillow and corona panels.   

Janis Reed, Interior Design Source 

This scaldino is reversible and banded on all four sides. 

Elizabeth Butler, Elizabeth Butler Interiors 

Here is a scaldino that has ruched ends and bullion fringe. 

Anne Marie Weissend, Vitoch Interiors 

Is it just a throw blanket?  Perhaps....but doesn't it sound better by its Italian name?  If you are looking for a workroom that can help you transform your customers' bedroom, contact me at

Decorare felice! (happy decorating).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Optical Illusions

I remember seeing these optical illusions as a kid in Highlights magazine.  They are fun to look at and timeless.  My 6 year old niece tells me they are still in the magazine.  You might be wondering how this relates to window treatments.  I have found you have to be careful of optical illusions when you have a valance with a shaped hem and different size windows in the same room.
In the top example, the hem shape on the larger valance looks almost flat, even though it has the same long point and short point as the smaller valance.  You have to exaggerate the shape on the wider window to get it to look the same.  Because the valances are side by side on the same wall, I chose to make the short point shorter, rather than making the long point longer.

Let's look at another example from start to finish.  The work order included a sketch of the treatment style (shown left) along with the window dimensions and the valance short point and long point.  The actual window was wider than the diagram on the work order.  My first step was to draw the valance to scale (shown below left).  Just like the arched valance illustration, the hem shape looks flatter on a wider valance.  In this case, making the short point shorter made the valance look skimpy and out of scale.  The customer didn't want the long point longer because the valance would cover too much of the window.   

I experimented with making the shape narrower and repeating it to get the needed valance width.  Can you believe the long point and short point are the same on all three examples below?  I should submit this to Highlights!

After some changes to the design, this is the finished valance.  There's no illusion here -- just a lovely window treatment.

Janis Reed, Interior Design Source 

I can't pull a rabbit out of a hat or make a coin appear behind your ear, but if you are looking for a workroom that can make your designs look their best, contact me at 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dressmaking + Engineering

This week I am teaching a class called "Dressmaking + Engineering = A Formula for Success" at a national conference with my friend and colleague Debbie Williamson.  Debbie will be covering dressmaking skills and I will be sharing several of my engineering techniques as they apply to the fabrication of window treatments.  One of the techniques I am covering is how to make a perfect circle valance.  Circle valances have fullness at the bottom while the top remains smooth with no gathers or pleats.  They are cut in the shape of a donut.
The key to a perfect circle valance is the right fullness.  I won't bore you with the details of pi, diameter, and circumference but like Goldilocks, you don't want too much or too little fullness.  A circle valance with too much fullness looks busy at the bottom and can obscure the motif of the fabric.  One with too little fullness looks just plain skimpy. 
Circle valances are a great option when a customer tells you they want a "simple valance".  It is the custom alternative to the rod pocket valance available at Country Curtains or Bed Bath and Beyond.  Another reason to consider a circle valance is when the fabric selection is heavy or upholstery weight.  Thick fabric does not shirr up well on a rod.  The white valance above was a perfect candidate for a circle valance because it is made of matelasse.   
There are three caveats when choosing fabric and trim for a circle valance.

1) Don't choose a motif that must be upright.  The motif will turn sideways and upside down as it moves across the treatment.  This is part of the charm of a circle valance.  Notice the dragonflies in the skirt of this slipcover made by Mary Ann Quinn of MAQ Designs.  They are flying every which way, just like real dragonflies!

2) Trims must be able to curve.  Even though the hem ends up looking straight, you must apply the trim to the circle shape.  This tape has a fringed edge on the top and the bottom which allowed me to ease the flat tape into the circle shape.

3) Use a contrast lining because the lining will show in the soft folds of the hem.  White cotton sateen was used here to blend with the white matelasse. 

Circle construction is not limited to valances.  Any time something is gathered or ruffled, the circle cut is an option.  You often see this technique used on the runway in flounced skirts, jackets with peplums, and ruffled collars.  Likewise in our world of home dec, dust ruffles, skirted drapery panels, and leading edge ruffle trim are all possible candidates for circle construction.   

Be it chairs or porridge or window treatments, if you want them just right, contact me at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gold - Silver - Bronze

Every two years, we gather around our TVs to watch athletes compete in the Olympics. I'm always awed by the dedication and effort it takes to be the best in the world. 

I know you are dedicated and work hard to give your customers the best, too.   Like an athlete, you prepare for the "race" by understanding your client's needs and budget.  What do you do when a customer loves your gold medal design but the price tag is too high?  Do you immediately lower your mark-up or reduce the number of design hours hoping the customer goes for the lower price? 

Rather than cutting your profit, consider offering a silver or bronze option.  Fabric and trim are often the first place to start.  Look for fabrics with a different fiber content.  Here are three similar looking fabrics with very different prices.   
Drapery hardware is also available in a wide range of price points.  I carry hardware lines that offer hand carved finials with custom finishes and lines that are very reasonable with limited finial and finish options.  Switching from a lining/interlining combination to a napped sateen lining is another way to go from gold to silver.  And of course scaling back the complexity of the design will reduce the labor cost.  Below is an example of gold, silver, and bronze designs.


Most athletes want to compete in the Olympics even if they don't win.  Likewise, it is better to offer your customer a silver or bronze option than to have them quit the team (and shop at JC Penney).  Sometimes after seeing all three options, the customer will choose the gold medal option at the gold medal price. 

If you offer your customer a gold medal design at a bronze medal price, you may make the sale but it will be at the expense of your own profit AND set a precedent for future projects.   Today's athletes are tweeting even before getting out of the pool.  You can be sure your customers are talking about you, too.  You don't want your customer (and all her friends) to expect the same discount on the next project.

If you're looking for a workroom that can help you with your gold, silver, and bronze designs, contact me at and let's stand on that podium together!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just Panels

More is better.  That idea is shared by many window treatment specialists.  More layers, more fullness, more embellishments.  Vignette displays at industry events and discussions in on-line forums often focus on the details, the extras, and the add-ons.  Some of the most popular classes at educational conferences cover how to include these in your designs.  I confess to attending and thoroughly enjoying Gillian Wendel's Inspired Drapery Headings class this year.  Here are some pictures from Gillian's class.  The extras in just these four examples include banding, buttons, tassels, Chinese knots, jewels, smocking, beading, scallops, and color blocking.  Whew!   

Although these drapery headings are truly special and would be a focal point in any design, I'd like to make the case for just panels.  Here is an example where the designer replaced ready made sheers with stationary pleated panels in a colorful and lively Duralee print.  The fabric is a linen/rayon blend and is lined with a napped sateen.  These panels are perfect in the family room of a young, active family.   

Craib Just Panels - before
Here is another example where the designer added Hunter Douglas Nantucket shades for privacy and light control.  She chose a 100% dupioni silk for the lined and interlined stationary panels.  I love the elegance of the tone on tone design scheme in this dining room. 

Here the designer chose a gorgeous, large scale Stroheim and Romann print.  The simplicity of the inverted pleat panels really allows the fabric to shine in this living room.     

Of course it's never wrong to add just a little something extra, like the leading edge trim on these Euro pleat panels.  These blue panels frame a stunning lake view from this sitting room. 


While I love embellishments as much as anyone, to paraphrase Joe Friday sometimes the best solution is to have "just the panels, ma'am".  If you are looking for a workroom that makes beautiful panels, elaborate valances, and anything in between, contact me at

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Have You Checked The Scale?

I try to step on the scale at least once a week just to keep an eye on my weight.  When working with designers on window treatments, I also keep an eye on the scale because even the best design using the most beautiful fabric can be ruined if the proportions are off.

I use Minutes Matter Studio software to make scale drawings.  The most common question I am asked is how many widths of material (WOM) are needed for stationary drapery panels?  The general rule is to make the panels look as if they are operable.  You don't want the panel to look like a piece of spaghetti hanging at the side of the window.  Nor do you want the panel stretched out almost flat so that it visually takes up more space.  These are my recommendations. 

Scale drawings also help with how long to make a valance and where to mount it on the wall.  To my eye, the last valance best fits this window and wall configuration. 
An innovative way to use scale drawings is to determine how to cut the fabric.  Here is an example where I showed what a shawl valance would look like with the fabric cut up the bolt and how it would look with the fabric railroaded -- the client chose railroaded. 

Bev Dyminski Interior Design

You know you've done it right when you compare your scale drawing to your finished product and it's hard to tell the difference!  If you want to make sure your proportions are right and have your client ask "Is it live or is it Memorex?, contact me at and we'll get on the scale together.  To see more before and after examples, check out my Scale Drawings webpage.
Scale Drawing

Janis Reed - Interior Design Source

Monday, June 4, 2012


Did you see the 2007 hit movie Transformers?  Me neither...I'm not really their target market.  But I am in the business of transforming and I know you are, too.  In the movie, cars and trucks transform into alien robots.  My transformation of fabric into beautiful window treatments might not have the flash and glitz of Hollywood but I did work a little magic on this valance transformation. 

The valance on the left was one of a pair of valances in a master bedroom, coordinating with the bedding.  When the bed and bedding were moved into the guest bedroom, the designer wanted the valances to move, too.  The fabric had to come off the board to re-size the existing valances because the new windows were narrower.  As I was looking at the cut shape of the existing valance on my worktable (shown below left), I came up with the idea of changing the hem shape to completely change the valance style (shown above and below right).  With new trim and a new shape, this valance has an updated, fresh look.

I'm sure all of your room transformations are as amazing as Optimus Prime's!  The next time you need window treatments to help in the transformation, contact me at

Friday, May 11, 2012


Have you ever had a dress where your necklace and earrings really made the outfit?  How about a suit where your cufflinks and tie completed the look?  Adding jewels to your window treatments can do the same thing.   
silver diamond in black setting 
I discovered Diamond Head upholstery tacks in March when I attended an educational event in Texas.  Diamond Head has completely reinvented the standard nailhead commonly used to embellish furniture.  Here is a close-up of their silver diamond in a black setting.  Their diamond elite collection includes white, black, silver, iridescent, and kaleidoscope diamonds. 

This ottoman (courtesy of Haute House) utilizes the white diamond in a silver setting.  Can you picture these jewels on a cornice or upholstered headboard?  How about down the leading edge of a drapery panel?

A different kind of jewel is one that is made through the manipulation of fabric.  Check out this close-up of smocking.  I planned the smocking so that it worked with the stripe of the fabric.smocking close-up

Here is a picture of the entire valance.  The smocking is the crown jewel of this window treatment, don't you agree? 
smocked valance
(Bev Dyminski Interior Design)

If you are intrigued by these two examples and would like to learn more, I am giving a seminar with my colleague, Roxanne Ross, on May 22nd at 10am.  It is a CQRID approved program worth .1 CEU.  We will be covering hard jewels like grommets, nailheads, and resin ornaments along with soft jewels like bias banding, smocking, and bound buttonholes.  Design issues and business issues like material costs, labor costs, and sourcing will be discussed.  Dozens of hand samples will be passed around so you can touch and feel the products and see the many design possibilities.  This seminar will provide you with an arsenal of embellishment ideas for any window treatment in your future.  Here are the details:

Adding Jewels to your Window Treatments
May 22, 10 am - 11:30 am 
Sponsored by the Upstate NY chapter of AIDP
Free to AIDP members and $10 for non-members    
Seminar location at ArtWalk Tile, 28 Atlantic Avenue, Rochester NY  14607.

Who doesn't love a princess and her jewels?  If you want to learn more about window treatments fit for a palace, don't miss "Adding Jewels to Your Window Treatments".  I'd love to see you on May 22nd and share some embellishment ideas.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Too Many Curves?

It's been unusually warm this month.  The flowers and trees are already blooming with signs of Spring.  I've even been digging in the back of my closet to find capris and shorts.  This always gets me worrying about those extra Winter pounds and unwanted curves.  We usually think of those extra curves as a bad thing but with window treatments, curves can add interest and movement to a traditional style.  In this example, a curved shape was added to the top of mirror image Moreland valances by constructing an arched frame out of plywood and wiggle board.  The windows themselves are standard rectangles.  The arched shape of the design repeats the shape of the arched transom over the fireplace.

Here the curved shape projects INTO the room instead of above the window.  This is accomplished by using a curved mount board instead of dimensional lumber.  The first picture shows both a traditional mount board and the curved mount board.  The second picture shows the box pleat valance with contrast inserts as it floats around the curved mount board.  It really adds pizzazz to this powder room.


The curves don't have to be arches.  In this example traditional swags and jabots are taken up a notch when they are mounted on a pagoda shaped frame.

Curves are not limited to valances and top treatments.  Consider using curved hardware to make a beautiful eyebrow arch the focal point.  This Amore drapery hardware utilizes "sticky rings" that can be placed anywhere along the curved rod and will not move or slide down.  This innovation works for drapery panels on half circles and trapezoid shaped windows, too.  Another great use of sticky rings is to hold the leading edge of a tied-back panel in place to prevent the panel from sliding back.

If you want to add curves to your window treatment designs à la Kim Kardashian, contact me at and I'm sure we can engineer a shapely solution!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Breaking the Rules

When first starting out in the drapery biz, I purchased Kitty Stein's Workroom Specifications.  It is a 50 plus page book of standards covering everything from hem sizes to recommended fullness to board allowances.  It is an excellent resource and I still use it today. 

I start each project by unrolling the fabric and looking at the pattern and weave.  My number one priority is to showcase the customer's fabric to its best.  Here is a lovely Thibaut print that is to be made into a tailored valance with an arched hem shape and corner pleats..   
It has a large pattern repeat with the main motif running side by side up the bolt. If the window treatment design has fullness from gathers, pleats, or shirring tape, the mix of colors in the print is highlighted and pattern placement is secondary.  But with a flat valance, the specific motif that is displayed matters a lot.

Kitty's standards tell me to plan my cuts so I can hide the seam in a design element such as behind a horn or inside an inverted pleat.  If seams are required, I should use a full width of material in the center of the treatment with seams on each side.  For this project, the motif that best fit the valance shape and size was NOT the center motif so I broke the rules...

I chose to center the largest motif and have only one seam on the left side of the front of the valance.  Can you find the seam?

Webster's dictionary defines standards as "a required or agreed level of quality".  I follow the standards to produce high quality window treatments.  After all, the customer is entrusting me with fabric they have fallen in love with.  When I break the rules, it is because (as Flip Wilson might say) "the fabric made me do it!"

Contact me at  I'd love to channel Geraldine on your next project....