March 12, 2008

Hope this week finds you well and looking forward to spring. This week I'm off the the Custom Sewing Institute to teach the unusual roman shades class. Hope to see you there!

We've had many requests for more information on the system I use to hang and dispense linings. So I'm including the directions, photos, and plans. Enjoy!


P.S. Several of you have asked when the next video is coming out---Very Very Soon!

Beauty within the Beast


(Dispensing unit for bolts of fabric)

Once upon a time, not too long ago, every time I needed drapery lining, I took the risk of hurting my back. You see, the lining is shipped in 100 + yard bolts and can weigh 30 or more pounds but most of all, they are awkward. Out of fear, this is what I came up with to fit within my space. The title of this column, well, my system is not very attractive (Beast), but productivity is up and my back does not hurt (Beauty).

My main workspace is 16 feet long and has about 2 feet on each end for me to walk around. Putting anything permanently on the end of the table was, for me unacceptable. I walk around the entire table all the time. My solution was to go up and on to the wall with a permanent dispensing system. The basic configuration holds 2 bolts permanently. I add 1 or 2 more bolts as needed with straps.

My workroom has 8' ceilings and I am 5'4 so the top 2 feet of space was safe for my system. I decided against shelf brackets because if you stress a bracket, it can bend. I happened to have some 3/4" plywood that is hardwood left over from chair seat decks. Hardwood plywood is the type of material a cabinetmaker uses. It is super strong, small ply and very rigid. My 2 (two) pieces are 12 x 14. I measured the fattest bolt of lining and the diameter was 8" so I added an inch for insurance and planned the pole placement to be about 9" apart.


The top most pole goes in a triangle cut from the top 12" side of the plywood. A 2 x 2" triangle cut from the center works well. I used a circular saw for these cuts.

The second pole needs a tunnel so the pole does not need to be threaded into the plywood. On the 14" side, down 4" and ended 4" from the bottom of the plywood. (See Picture) I cut a tunnel 1 1/2" wide and ends 5" from the back of the plywood. It is important that the tunnels slope down and back so when you pull on the fabric, it stays in place. I used the circular saw for the straight cuts and a jig saw for the circle.


My first piece of plywood goes close to the wall however, the poles will would damage the wall so I took a scrap piece of masonite board and screwed it to the wall being sure to place it where the poles would rub the masonite.

Next, I wanted a spacer between the plywood and the side wall. My thinking on this was when I pull on the bolt it can bounce and if the only area for the pole to bounce is the 3/4" of plywood; it could bounce out and fall. My solution was to screw three small scraps of 1 x 2 to the side of the plywood next to the wall and give me some bounce room.

I installed the plywood 74" off the floor with 3" x 3" angle irons on the bottom and in the center of the plywood facing the center of the unit. Find studs or use appropriate fasteners. The second piece of plywood needs to be at least 65" from the first installed piece. Many tubes are 60" long. Install the second piece as the first, one angle iron below and one in the middle facing the center.


Cut 2 2 x 4's the exact distance between the 2 pieces of plywood. These will be covered so less than pretty is okay. Using long 4" screws or lag bolts find the studs and get at least 3 screws/bolts into each 2 x 4 and into the studs. I predrilled the holes. This is really important because the 2 x 4's are really holding all the weight and have to be strong.

The top 2 x 4 goes 2" from the top of the plywood, the bottom 2 x 4 goes 2" from the bottom of the plywood. Use 5.5" heavy-duty angle irons and attach one to each corner where the 2 x 4 meets the plywood. Use 1.5" screws into the 2 x 4's and 3/4" screws into the plywood.

Cut a piece of lining the length of the 2 x 4's + 4" and fold in half creasing along the long measurement. Use a tack strip and from the underside of the lower 2 x 4, tack the single layer of lining to the 2 x 4 as close to the wall as possible using the fold as a guide. Fold the extra 2" on each side in and bring both layers to the top of the top 2 x 4 therefore covering both pieces of lumber. Fold under any extra and staple on top where it will not been seen.


I use very inexpensive metal electrical conduit. 1" diameter and 8' long that can be cut to size easily with a hack saw. I covered all the ends with tape to protect me and my fabrics from any sharp ends. I kept the two poles that go into the plywood at 8' and use the extra length on the end to hold spools of welt cord.

To add another bolt of fabric, take a length of selvage that is strong or drapery cord, and knot into a 25" loop. Do not use a square knot, they tend to slip. Just an overhand knot works well. These loops hang from the bottom pole. When I need to add a bolt of fabric, I put the pole thru the loops. This pole has been cut to the width of the 2 x 4's so I do not bump the pole too often.

I use this system to cut both the lining and face fabric at the same time. The lining goes under the auxiliary pole and is loaded on the dispenser face up. The Face fabric is on the auxiliary loops face down. Cut away and you are ready to

View larger image

View larger image