Friday, 23 November 2012


Ever wondered why the colours you have chosen don't quite gel together in your interior decoration, the clothes you wear, your work space? Are you wanting to add another layer to your colours but don't know where to start? Do you use mood boards?

So many questions and many more, but the answers are all here, in a portable instant mood board.

You might find the swatchmatic android app, a very useful and easy tool to use. It is a camera that analyses the colours of objects and views it is pointed at, a gentle wobble will bring in a whole new range of colours. To save them, all you do is click the cross in the middle. These colours are translated by their relative ratios to each other and are placed on a cartoon robot so you can see them in combination. Each colour is also listed with its computer index number, and the shade name. These shade names are those of the paint company and are copyrighted.

What is really amazing is that it picks up colours hidden in shadows, and you can increase and decrease the size of the analysing window to influence a wider range of colours. The robot sampled here is my kitchen floor, which is mid brown wooden floor (with many shades of orange, gold and brown). By pointing the SwatchMatic to include some shadow, it has picked up on some lovely rich purples as well.

There are a selection of filters to use which bring even more combinations, including a white. This changes the colour selection to white tones. These filters can be used in combination as well, creating more options. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Beware the devil in factory made curtains

Recently I was asked to shorten some curtains for a client by 10 inches. A simple task for an experienced curtain maker. There were 8 curtains in total. I welcomed a simple uncomplicated job for a change. Hmmmm, while they remained in the bags, it remained a simple job. The devil was lurking in the bags.

The design of the curtain meant I had to tackle this from the hem end and its easy enough to set your retractable ruler to 12 inches so you can mark the required 10 inches. On well made curtains, this plan is easy to execute, measure, press, cut, press raw edge under, sew and repeat on the lining.

Unfortunately this foolproof plan wouldn't work with these curtains. A quick glance at the photos will show you why. All but one of the curtains had hems with a discrepancy of, in some cases 2 inches. 2 INCHES, I ask you, how could anyone think that this was acceptable? Either the people cutting and sewing them don't have time to care if they are straight or not, or the person dispatching just can't be bothered to check. I redo my hems if they are 0.5cm out. I don't think I am delivering what the client requested if they are more than 0.5cm out.

Now part of the problem is that the fabric is a synthetic, an extremely good synthetic which was soft and bouncy, mimickimg a soft loosely woven linen. Here lies the devil. We all know how easy it is to stretch a loosely woven fabric out of shape.

It is usual to use heavy weights, bricks are ideal (covered in wadding and fabric of course) on a cutting table or rolling machines at one end which can be locked when the desired length has been pulled. I doubt any of these methods were used to cut the fabric.

The only option to new straight hems would be to measure the desired length at several places accross the width, then join the dots with a set square. It must be assumed that the top edge is straight and square as this is where the the tape sits.  then we can begin the simple process of pressing, cutting, turning and sewing. This would mean doubling the workload an doubling the expense, so a quick phone call to the client established she didn't want the extra expense, I was just to do what I could by turning up the desired amount. So I hemmed as best I could, trying to allow for the 2inch discrepancy, but it remained uneven. I had to keep telling myself it was the customers choice to stop me redoing them.

Other photos show the discrepancy at the top, where the top edge is used as the straight edge, showing that the pattern does not match when the curtains are folded. The purple ones are only slightly out, but enough to merit being redone. The blue and brown ones are quite a bit out in the middle. When folded along the length, all the stripes should match up, if both top and bottom edges have been cut straight.

Curtains made to this appauling standard should not be allowed to be sold. They should be returned as soon as it is discovered. Seven badly made curtains out of eight cannot be put down to an error. Beware the devil lurking in curtains.