September 10, 2008

Important Announcement
We've been having so much fun bringing you the newsletter for the past year. However, due to time commitments we are going to have to take a break from writing Bits and Pieces.  We hope you've enjoyed hearing from us and hopefully we'll be back soon.

Thank you for reading!
Chris and Sandy

Whether you have a drapery workroom or are a home sewer, you'be probably been curious about motorization.  It is the future and it is here.  I hope you'll enjoy a short overview of the process.  It's not as scary as you think!

One word for you.... motorization

Motorization, an introduction.
How many of you have a TV with a remote control? How many of you have an automatic Garage door opener? Today, I would like to introduce you to the hot item in Window coverings. 
Motorization. It is here and it fills a need in our lives as much as the TV remote and the garage door opener do. Let me explain how these gizmo's work. TV's receive their signal using Infra Red Beams. The TV will not 'see' the signal unless that beam of light can be seen by the 'eye'  Basically, this is a line of sight communication. We call that system IR. for Infra Red. 
Your garage door opener works by Radio Frequency.  The remote sends a signal that is received by the control box in the garage and tells the door to open or close. We call that system RF for Radio Frequency. 
These 2 communications systems operate the shades too. The IR infrared, must have an eye to see the signal. The RF Radio Frequency must have a receiver or 'ear' to hear the signal. Each system has a place in the window covering world.
Why would you want IR infrared communication rather than radio? Sometimes, there is interference with the outside world that makes the RF system ineffective.  The first situation I have heard was that the "L" train in Chicago kept triggering the open signal on one set of draperies and here in San Jose, the Navy planes were affecting the receiver on another system. When that happens, the IR, while more visible, is an alternative.
Now that we know how to communicate with the shades, we will explore the power that will fuel the motors. I would like to tell you about 2 options,  battery and household current.
The new Litheon batteries, Direct Current or DC, are superior to alkaline. They do need to be changed and there are weight restrictions. Depending on the amount of use and weight of the shade, the average life span for batteries is 1 ½ to 2 years for a light shade used daily. There are many opportunities to use battery powered shades to solve a decorating dilemma. The easiest application to understand is to use a battery operated shade behind a bathtub so you do not have to climb in and out of the tub to open and close the shade.
Alternating Current or AC, household power, such as an outlet, is a constant source of power. But, it needs to be located where the shade motor is - at the top of the window! Sometimes, a wire can be tacked to the edge of the window trim but then the plug will be unsightly.  The best case is to have an electrician install an outlet above the window. Of course, this is easiest and less expensive when there is no sheet rock but it can be done many times after a home is completed with a bit of sheet rock repair.
Household power  is preferred for a number of reasons. First, there will be no weight restrictions on the type of shade or the size of the shade. Second, in an awkward location, say at the top of a 2 story foyer, it is wonderful to not have to get the installer out to change the batteries every couple of years.
I have been talking about shades but you can motorize draperies as well.  It is easier because you can usually hide the motor and power supply behind the draperies.
I hope you have a better understanding of the motorization system that are available.  IR, RF, transmitters, receivers, AC, DC.  Even if you have no need for any of these amenities now, keep this in mind when you remodel so you can put power in when the electrician is already on site. I saw a cute saying on a pillow recently. "Yesterdays luxuries are today's necessities." Rarely do we get up and change the channel on the TV or get out of the car to open the garage door. Motorization is coming to the window.  The more you know, the easier it is to make the appropriate decision for your home or office.
The Pillow Lady, Chris Watt, is a professional fabricator of pillows and home decor items. In the San Francisco bay area since 1976, she fabricates luxurious window treatments and over 300 pillows a year.  She has produced a collection of videos to guide novices and professionals alike through construction of various projects with proven time saving techniques. 
Sandy Gardner is a professional Home Stager and Redesigner.  Her company is Commonwealth Staging LLC in northern Virginia and serves Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.  Her workroom background allows her to bring a touch of custom to home staging. Visit her at
We hope you will enjoy getting to know us more as we get to know you.
Chris and Sandy