Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trapunto Cornice with Custom Applique + Slipcovers

As a change of pace from talking about sketching, painting, and travel, I thought I'd show you what I've been doing in the drapery studio lately. My most recent project gave me a chance to put my embellishment skills to the the test, and the result is nothing short of spectacular. Take a look...

Dupioni silk trapunto cornice with applique

The dining room of an historic home in Morgantown, West Virginia, was transformed with elegant new window treatments and slipcovers, all embellished with custom designed applique.

The floor length drapery panels of copper colored dupioni silk were lined and interlined, giving them a plush look and feel. (The interlining also adds to the insulating value of the draperies.)  Three-inch wide banding in a warm flax color highlights the leading edge of the draperies and is accented with double welt cord.

Lush and beautiful as the draperies may be, the upholstered cornice mounted above the draperies is the real show-stopper. Quilting, applique, double welt, and an intricate lower edge profile combine to elevate this window treatment to a work of art. 


I designed the applique to complement the shape of the cornice, using a variety of historical textile designs as my inspiration.

The silk applique was applied to the background using a fusible material which can be sewn through, allowing me to quilt extra detail lines in the floral motifs.

Applique and quilting detail

Behind the silk fabric is a layer of thick polyester quilt batting which is backed with cotton drapery lining. Machine quilting through all the layers is what gives this cornice its unusual texture and dimension.

Detail of applique and stippling

The meandering quilting used in the areas surrounding the applique is called stippling. It was done on my old reliable Bernina 1630 and is completely hand-guided. More than twenty hours and 1000 yards of thread went into the quilting of this cornice. Sometimes, after working on it into the evening, I felt like I was still stippling when I closed my eyes to sleep!

Stippling detail

It's all about the details when designing custom window treatments. In this project, rather than using a simple matching welt cord on the shaped lower edge, I added an extra line of piping to echo the color of the floral applique design. It's an understated detail that really gives a custom look.

Double welt

Even the top edge at the dust board is double-welted. The same detailing is repeated on the leading edge banding on the draperies.

Double welt at dustboard

In addition to a new window treatment, this dining room was updated in a couple of other ways. A set of antique chairs were dressed up with new skirted cushions, designed to complement the floral applique on the cornice.

Skirted arm chair slipcover with applique

Since the back of a dining room chair is what shows when it's pushed under the table, that's where I chose to feature an eye-catching applique. The design borrows a few of the simpler elements from the cornice applique - just a little something to add interest to the eight chairs surrounding the table.

Applique detail

A rust-colored linen blend was used for the body of the slipcover and flax-colored silk for the applique. A narrow satin stitch secures the edges of the silk, ensuring that the applique will stand up to dry cleaning. The stitching was all done on my Bernina 1630, guided by hand.

Dining room arm chair slipcovers are probably the most difficult and time-consuming items I make in my custom sewing business. Making the pattern is a tedious process. The cover must be shaped around all the legs without allowing the old upholstery to show, and the fit must be perfect. It takes time and patience, and a bit of trial and error, to achieve a fit that satisfies me, but it's so gratifying when it all comes together in the end.

Cutout for arm

To keep the slipcover cushion anchored in place, I attach loop Velcro to the slipcover itself, and staple hook Velcro to the underside of the chair frame where it's hidden from view. It allows for easy installation and removal, and everything stays where it's supposed to be.

Velcro attachment at chair back

The final touch in this revamped dining room was a simple table runner which I made to coordinate with the chair slipcovers.

Applique table runner

It features the same linen and silk fabrics and an applique design that's a variation of the one used on the slipcover skirt. The last step in this makeover will be to find a new tablecloth to complement the warm colors of the table runner.

Table runner applique

My client loves the new look of her dining room, especially the creative touches that make it truly unique.

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