This article was submitted by guest author Mary A. Plumlee; Founder & CEO of Workroom Association of America LLC, President of Southwest Publishing Group LLC, and Publisher of Window Coverings News Magazine.
Beautiful results happen when good design intersects with excellent execution. The nuts and bolts of how a design goes from the drawing board to the finished product on the window requires planning.
After 26 plus years in this business, in my experience, the number one mistake that designers make is underestimating the amount of fabric that is required for a finished product.
Quality fabrication requires enough fabric to accomplish the task. While the workroom may be able to work ‘magic’ by adding facings, fudging on hems, or other methods that are not necessarily how the product should be made, all of that adds up to more time on labor for lesser quality. Workrooms typically enjoy their craft, but not when they are forced to compromise standards due to fabric shortages. Some workrooms simply refuse those types of jobs.
Print fabrics often require much more fabric than expected due to repeats. How big the pattern is, and how it appears on the fabric affects yardages greatly. Often large sections of the fabric are cut off as waste due to pattern matching, however, not matching the pattern is unthinkable.
Another type of print that can affect yardages and fabrication is fabric that is ‘railroaded’. Railroaded fabric is often 118 inch wide fabric that is meant to run sideways along the window in a seamless run of fabric. A common mistaken assumption is that 118 inch fabric can be used running sideways to make a drapery longer than 118 inches. An understanding of railroaded fabric shows that longer drapery would require running the fabric up and down the window instead, which would, of course affect the pattern.
Another type of railroaded fabric is often upholstery grade fabric. The print runs from selvedge to selvedge instead of running up the bolt of fabric. Think about a sofa and how the fabric should run sideways along the length of the sofa to avoid seams. That is considered railroaded fabric. A common mistake is thinking that a railroaded fabric that is 54 inches wide can be used to make a window treatment that is much longer. While the railroaded fabric can be as wide as necessary as it comes off the roll, it is only 54 inches tall. Window Treatments can be made from this type of fabric; however it requires horizontal seaming, and special handling all of which requires more labor.
The best plan to avoid disappointment and losses due to not enough fabric is to confirm exact print repeats, pattern placement, width of fabric, and consult with your workroom about yardage requirements.