Replacing borders with no fullness?

WFair

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Houston, Texas, United States
It has come time to replace all our drapery (FINALLY!) and I am starting to put together specs for the project. While I have a variety of questions regarding weight, lining, etc my main question for this thread is about my borders/teasers/valance...whatever you choose to call the 8-ft tall x 50-ft wide strips of fabric that hang across the top of my stage to mask the lights/curtain tracks.

Traditionally everyone seems to (as far as I can tell) specify these with a fairly high "fullness"...meaning that a 50-ft wide curtain might actually contain 100-ft of fabric, sewn with pleats to provide even/consistent fullness. My question is WHY? Space above the stage is always at a premium...and all this added fullness pushes curtains closer to lights/tracks/flown scenery/etc. Also, wouldn't it look cleaner to have nice straight (pipe pocket) lines surrounding the stage rather than the wavy curtain? PLUS...I assume that even though I would have to get them lined probably (to prevent any light spilling through), it is probably still cheaper than all the extra fabric used in the fullness? So win + win + win...no?

So...I plan to keep my grand valence (the one out front) with fullness to match the grand drape...but I feel the pull to go flat on the others but "popular convention" is fighting me. Not seen it done much. There must be a reason? Let's hear your best arguments pro/con. Thanks!
 
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derekleffew

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Colin

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If you want them to stay out of the way visually and physically, then no fullness. If you want them to be a feature, then yes fullness. Fullness assures that light spilling from any angle may do what light does and reveal the form. Flat means spill from most angles will glance off or get buried in the nap, and when it doesn't then you at least don't have the eye-catching pattern of the pleats. I typically treat borders as a utility item and want them to disappear as much and as cheaply as possible. That's the other thing: flat sewn = less fabric = less money. Or yes, order flat with extra width to tie in 50% fullness when wanted. I just personally have never wanted, and folding the extra back at the pipe ends can become an obstruction to pipe end lighting depending on your spacing.

I wouldn't say fullness is a "popular convention". I've actually only seen it in the school spaces I've worked in where it got sold to them because they didn't have an opinion. Everywhere else I see a lot of flat sewn unless the goods are "made to be seen" in some classy joint with gilding and such.
 
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RonHebbard

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Waterdown, ON, CA
It has come time to replace all our drapery (FINALLY!) and I am starting to put together specs for the project. While I have a variety of questions regarding weight, lining, etc my main question for this thread is about my borders/teasers/valance...whatever you choose to call the 8-ft tall x 50-ft wide strips of fabric that hang across the top of my stage to mask the lights/curtain tracks.

Traditionally everyone seems to (as far as I can tell) specify these with a fairly high "fullness"...meaning that a 50-ft wide curtain might actually contain 100-ft of fabric, sewn with pleats to provide even/consistent fullness. My question is WHY? Space above the stage is always at a premium...and all this added fullness pushes curtains closer to lights/tracks/flown scenery/etc. Also, wouldn't it look cleaner to have nice straight (pipe pocket) lines surrounding the stage rather than the wavy curtain? PLUS...I assume that even though I would have to get them lined probably (to prevent any light spilling through), it is probably still cheaper than all the extra fabric used in the fullness? So win + win + win...no?

So...I plan to keep my grand valence (the one out front) with fullness to match the grand drape...but I feel the pull to go flat on the others but "popular convention" is fighting me. Not seen it done much. There must be a reason? Let's hear your best arguments pro/con. Thanks!
@WFair We've beat this to death at least once in the past year.

My (not so humble) quick recap:
Borders:
Vertical height, assuming counterbalanced system pipes; order somewhat taller than thought with future sets and sight lines in mind.
Horizontal width, order full extent of system pipes plus a few feet to turn back flat on the ends for the days when you need to add a few extra feet of pipe for that unforeseen, special, set that a designer / director can't possibly exist without.

Pipe pockets in bottom edges: Slit and reinforced on U/S side at centre to better facilitate insertion of 40 to 50' lineal feet of 1/2" Schedule 40 threaded iron pipe stored in 10' to 22' lengths, dependent upon what lengths are conveniently / affordably available and storable to you in your area.

Size pipe pockets to EASILY accommodate / insert 1/2" schedule 40 threaded pipes WITH their threaded couplings.

Top edges: Neatly hemmed and sewn flat with canvas / burlap reinforcement all across the U/S top edge.
Grommets installed every 4 to 6 inches.
Matte black grommets in preference to any glistening finishes.
A grommet on the MARKED centre line.
Centre line indelibly marked on the U/S side.
Ties provided.
Different color tie at centre.
Physically flat, matte black, cotton twill tape ties OR matte black round ties to your preference.
(Que endless debate between twill or round ties)
[Cue secondary debate over length of ties]
[[ Cue tertiary debates on any / ALL of the above]]
DON'T FORGET intrinsically fire retardant fabrics.
DON'T FORGET knap / nap up if utilizing velour fabrics.
DON'T FORGET to line if / as desired / required.

STAND BY CURMUDGEONS!
CURMUDGEONS GO!
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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MarshallPope

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In my opinion, the only reason to buy soft goods with fullness is if you have permanently hung midstage/upstage black travelers that are intended to act as legs when open. In that case, it just looks odd to have everything flat except for one or two sets of legs. In almost all other cases, I (and the vast majority of designers I've worked with) prefer flat.
 
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Footer

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I hate anything with fullness. Makes it look like a middle school auditorium. Buy borders flat with a pipe pocket 5' taller then you need. Buy legs with chain 10' longer then you need and tie them back. Only thing with fullness is the main rag.
 

Van

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Personally, I prefer Flat goods so I can tie in fullness if necessary. MOST of the schools we do have 50% fullness spec'd so that is definitely the majority of what we produce.
I'm my opinion Flats good have more flat surface and as a result tend to reflect more light. The, perceived, scalloped bottom of fullness helps the borders blend into each other and thus better disappear.
As far as lining goes, if it's a border for masking in front of an electric I would suggest lining. If it's just in front of utility battens then no lining is required. Honestly 95% of all the curtains we manufacture are unlined. Nap Up Nap Down is ALWAYS a huge question. Bill stated that he prefers Nap up for the added darkness. I prefer Nap down for the long-term 'health' of the curtain. They tend to not capture as much dirt when the nap is down. Also, they are easier to brush and get the nap to sit down properly when the nap is down, but again it's a personal preference and if you get 4 Theatrical consultants in a room and bring up the subject a Fistfight will soon break out...
:p

Bill probably has a Specification lying around he can post, if not I can dig one up from a job and post it here. they have all the standard language for Hems, Turn-backs, Jute, Grommetting, etc. etc.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Clayton NY 13624
And while we're covering just about all aspects, related to the flat vs fullness appearance issues, US vs. continental practice of legs us or ds of borders. US is predominantly legs us of borders. I do that when not dead hung and there is not enough height to do 30' tall legs and travelers. I typically end up with 45' or so to top trim and try for a 20' masking trim. With track it means legs and borders are 20'+/- a foot , so need borders to mask track and batten. When I have 70' high trim, I may hang 30' legs ds of borders

On dead hung, legs downstage of borders, continental practice. That vertical shadow of leg to border blends and disappears better than the horizontal shadow of border on legs.
 

David Ashton

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perth W Australia
Black masking should always be flat, it's object is to disappear, coloured curtains should have fullness, there object is decorative.Many curtain companies suggest black curtain fullness, it increases their profits considerably.
 
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Van

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...Many curtain companies suggest black curtain fullness, it increases their profits considerably.
Got news for ya Mate, it doesn't.
A flat curtain takes a 1/4 of the time to produce than a 50% full curtain. Labor, as always, is the most expensive line item on any job. Most flat curtains that are supplied are made 50% longer to accommodate tying in fullness so there is no cost savings on material.
 
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BillConnerFASTC

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Bill stated that he prefers Nap up for the added darkness. I prefer Nap down for the long-term 'health' of the curtain
It's a choice. Hold to pieces of black velour - one nap up and one nap down - in a spot light. Or grab a bottom of a leg and hold it up so nap is opposite - what I do when I show up for a check out and the curtains are sewn wrong - and let the owner decide. The nap down usually looks gray compared to the nap up looking black. More maintenance for sure. I know the university and professional theatres where I have worked thought it well worth it. Whether more than a select few high schools would appreciate it, I can't be sure.