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This looks like the closest thing to a sewing board out there, so it seems like the right forum for my question.

My workplace has a "talent" show (emphasis on the ""s) every year. Until now we have hosted it in a nearby auditorium which has always been a little big for our needs, but whatever. This year my department is in charge and we are implementing some cost saving measures which include building our own stage and making our own stage curtains. The bonus part of all this is that then it will all be reusable next year. We're building the stage in 4' by 4' sections. It will only be about 1 foot tall. I'm pretty sure we have that covered but if anyone wants to throw out suggestions I'll take them.

Now we need suggestions for what material to use for curtains. We want something solid (black), thick enough that it isn't see through (might be only covering for the dressing room area) but not too thick to sew with a normal sewing machine, and cheap! We're rigging this together with PVC piping so a completely professional look isn't important. We're only doing the backdrop curtain so we won't need to figure out how to open and close them or anything. We're thinking 20 feet wide by 7 feet tall. Fabric suggestions? Store or web site suggestions?

TIA,
Stephanie
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We're building the stage in 4' by 4' sections. It will only be about 1 foot tall. I'm pretty sure we have that covered but if anyone wants to throw out suggestions I'll take them.

I can't sew, but having belonged to a choral society that had to set up and take down risers and stages for concerts I'll throw in my two cents worth on this.

1) weight. Not everyone who sets up and dismantles is a strong person. Some are small and weak. Make sure that you aren't putting so much weight and size in each section that it will be difficult to maneuver. You will be amazed at who volunteers to help. As I pointed out after one concert, we had 1 tenor, 9 baritones, 6 altos and no sopranos.

2) storage space. I hope this is already considered, and perhaps you have a much nicer place of work than any of mine were, but I presume there is a place to put everything.

3) movement. If there is a tendency on the part of the stage sections to shift, you may have to come up with some sort of connecting system on the underside. I've seen two or three, and they aren't terribly difficult to devise. Just thought I'd mention it.

Sounds like you've put a lot of thought into this. Hope everything works well!

Nancy
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Now we need suggestions for what material to use for curtains. We want something solid (black), thick enough that it isn't see through (might be only covering for the dressing room area) but not too thick to sew with a normal sewing machine, and cheap!

I think real stage curtains are velvet. I don't know how cheap velvet is, but maybe you could find something similar, like velour (just make sure it's not stretchy!) Or maybe corduroy?

Ellen
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Thanks!

On the weight thing, we're doing it in small sections for just that reason. And putting in handles. And I work at an internet company so computers, technical stuff.... about 66% male. Not that all are particularly strong, but I know I'll be able to lift these so a bunch of other people will be too.

We have plenty of storage space here due to an extra building we have sitting around that we haven't used for anything other than storage and the occasional breast pumping mother since the dot com bust. Not that we aren't doing well. We're doing great! We just didn't grow as fast as we thought we would. Oh, and now no one wants to sub-let from us. There are a ton of empty commercial buildings sitting around in the Bay Area.

We're doing side connection things for the outside sections and hoping that the inside sections stay too. We're thinking of covering the whole deal with marley (Hey - does anyone know where to get that?) as well.

If the whole thing fails we'll put tape on the ground to set off a stage area and just perform on the normal ground. Nowhere near as fun, but oh well...
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Stephanie -

I don't know how much help I can offer, but I will try to give you a few suggestions. I do sew, but I've never done draperies, I do have some experiences and recommendations on fabrics and where to shop for them.

My suggestions for fabrics for the curtains would be something thick. I know it's not "traditional", but denim may be cheap and it's thick and it's not sheer enough to see through. You can usually find it in black as well. Other fabrics to try (they may be more expensive though) are corduroy, velvet and any other dark upholstery fabric. The home decorating (drapery & upholstery fabric can be pretty expensive, up to $30/yd at times). If you go with a lighter weight fabric, you could always try lining it with drapery lining to give it more weight and make it more “private” so it's not so sheer. All of these fabrics should be able to be sewn on a regular sewing machine. Another quick idea to cut down on the sewing it to use grommets (you can get a grommet maker at any craft store) and use grommets and wire to hang the curtains from it.

A few suggestions on where to purchase fabric:

I love to peruse the bargain tables at my local Joann stores. There is usually a great selection of the home decorating fabrics, but the remnants many not be big enough for your purposes. Also, keep your eyes out for a 50% off coupon, they have them in many of the Sunday coupon papers. If you're on their mailing list, they also send them out every week or so. The coupon is good on one cut of fabric or any 1 item in the store. Depending on your purchase, it could save you a good amount of $$.

If you live in a big city, check out any fabric warehouse districts. There are a few discount fabric shops I've heard about from sewers in Atlanta that offer great deals, but you have to shop around. Also try some of the home dec fabric stores ( I think Calico Corners is a chain store, not sure on their prices though)

A few websites that I've used to purchase fabric are:
www.fabric.com
www.trimfabric.com
www.fabricclub.com

I hope that helps you! Keep us posted on how it goes! If you have any questions feel free to ask some more!

desidou
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Greetings!
"what to use for curtains"
...hmmm a few suggestions:
Cheapest...plastic "tablecloth" material: comes in rolls, cut to length plus hem. Fold over hems, Glue, use, toss...repeat next year. Advantages - cheap, light,comes in many colors, easily fixed. Disadvantages - looks somewhat cheap, will need tacking down (more tubing along bottom?) for changing area.

Next cheapest: go to fabric and upholstery stores and pick up assorted remmants. Place randomly or in color groups...Actors can position themselves in their choice of background.
Adv - not too expensive, not too hard to sew if you avoid the really stiff stuff, usually blocks light.
Disadv - lots of running around to get enough, can look odd

Middling: Purchase an entire bolt of light or middle weight material (purchase one with some slubs/mistakes and it will be cheaper - then cut out the mistakes or loop the material over the rod to hide problems). Loop the material over the rod and it doesn't need to be too heavy to succeed in blocking the light.
Adv - really easy to make sure the top hem doesn't pull off under the weight of the fabric, and the continuity of fabric looks nicer.
Disadv - more expensive
Have fun!
Sandy
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We want something solid (black), thick enough that it isn't see through (might be only covering for the dressing room area) but not too thick to sew with a normal sewing machine, and cheap!

I sell fabric as a sideline. You were doing great until you got to the "cheap" part. How cheap do you mean? If you are talking $.50 a yard, you may have difficulty. If you are talking under $50.00 a yard, that's easy.

Desidou's suggestions are great. Black Denim would probably work fine, and wouldn't be terribly expensive (under $5.00 a yard here). Another would be black khaki material. Black velvet will run you about $10 - $15 a yard depending upon how nice you want it. All of these materials can be sewn on a regular machine.

The grommet suggestion is also a great idea (I'm sorry, I don't remember who had it). You can use those at the top and simply use hooks over the PVC piping to hold it up as you would a shower curtain.
I would suggest sewing the hemline as people will notice that part.
If you are able, get something you don't need to line as that will essentially double the cost of the fabric.

Check with a place that offers sewing classes and ask them if there is a wholesale fabric shop around. Your company should be able to use their tax ID to get in and that will help you out a lot.
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How ABOUT shower curtains? Solid, opaque, and can be about $5 each.
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Or, if you're looking for a couple of miles of cheap fabric, try
www.fabricclub.com

My SOL got bolts of tulle to prom up the school gym -- at 9 cents a yard.

They have nicer stuff, too.
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Or, if you're looking for a couple of miles of cheap fabric, try
www.fabricclub.com


You are just evil to post that link! Now I suddenly need new curtains -- for the whole house.

Uhura :o)
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