#PennyAcrossThePond: Custom Workroom Conference 2017 – Nashville, Tennessee & North Carolina

#PennyAcrossThePondMay was an exciting month for Martin and I as we headed across the pond to join our wonderful drapery friends in America for a two week whirlwind trip across Nashville, Tennessee and North Carolina. It was a jam-packed fortnight full of teaching, learning, sharing and exploring…teaching at and attending the Custom Workroom Conference 2017 in Nashville, a little escape away with friends to a rented house in Tennessee followed by some time with our dear friends Susan and Rodger at their home in Tryon, North Carolina.

I wanted to document our trip in as much detail as possible so I took plenty of photos and I’m so excited to share them with you: make yourself a cup of tea, grab a couple of biscuits and let me walk you through our amazing trip…

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Ready to rumble!

As you can see from the above picture we didn’t travel light for this holiday – unfortunately this was due to a huge shipping error which meant all of the samples we’d made for the conference were delayed in transit, and wouldn’t make it in time for the conference. We had to re-make as many as we possibly could in the week leading up to our departure, and pay extra to take them with us – what a stressful start to our break! It was sad to have put in so much hard work, only to have to re-do it, but at least we got some notice and were still able to take some examples of our fantastic work along to the conference.

NASHVILLE (Music City)

We arrived in “Music City” Nashville after a 23 hour journey, including a short stop at Charlotte Airport. We were very luckily upgraded to the Presidential Suite in our hotel upon arrival – which we were very thankful of, especially after such a long journey.

It was both mine & Martin’s first time in Nashville and we were determined to soak in as much of it as possible during the short amount of free time we had before the Custom Workroom Conference began.

What a wonderfully exciting place we found Nashville to be! Full to the brim with bars, music venues, and cowboy boots! Yee-ha!

We arrived in Nashville to their annual marathon, which meant the streets were even busier and more bustling that usual – we had a good walk round exploring as much as we could before taking the Open Top Bus Tour of the city. We were amazed by the stunning architecture, especially the AT&T “Batman” building, which was my absolute favourite – it truly looks like something out of Gotham City!

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AT&T Building/’Batman’ Building

We got to see the breathtaking Parthenon which is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, this building now functions as an Art Museum/Gallery.

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Parthenon, Nashville

And I even found a ZOLTAR machine – does anyone remember the 1988 Tom Hanks film BIG? Then you’ll know why I squealed with excitement when I saw it!

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ZOLTAR – Did I make a wish?

I especially loved seeing the hundreds and hundreds of cowboy boots in their amazing array of designs and colours – I was so tempted to buy a pair, if only they wouldn’t take up so much room in my luggage – I’m bringing an empty case next time for sure!

Cowboy Boot Heaven!!

Cowboy Boot Heaven!

It was a shame we didn’t have more time to soak in the atmosphere in Nashville, but the time we did spend there was fabulous and we definitely crammed in as much as we possibly could.

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Nashville ‘Music City’



Before the official Custom Workroom Conference began I attended a special one day course called Profit Building Workshop II ran by Jeanelle Dech from The Workroom Channel and Michelle Williams from Scarlet Thread Consulting. I have attended a course lead by Michelle before, back in February 2012 which was called ‘Pricing Without Emotion’ and it truly changed my business mindset forever, I am so very thankful that I attended that course when I did, it really was game changing stuff…

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Jeanelle and Michelle facilitating their amazing workshop at CWC17

So, as you can imagine I was eager to attend this new workshop by Jeanelle and Michelle. As expected, I was not disappointed and the course covered everything from how to maximise your profit, recognise bottlenecks in your business, why you should outsource to lighten the load, to this brilliant ‘Focus Funnel’ analogy for prioritising your to-do list.


The Focus Funnel from Procrastinate on Purpose

We learnt that by using the ‘Focus Funnel’ you can multiply the time you have by giving yourself the emotional permission to spend time on things today that create more time tomorrow.

Each of the five choices in the Focus Funnel represents a different strategy for multiplying time. You take each task on your to-do list and pass it through the funnel until you reach a final resolution for that task:

Firstly, you ask can I eliminate this? In other words is this task even worth doing?

Secondly, you ask can I automate this? Because you know that anything you can create a process for today will save you time tomorrow.

Next, you ask can I delegate this? Because if I invest time today into training someone else how to do the task then moving forward they will be able to complete it, instead of me.

If you cannot eliminate, automate or delegate, then at that point the task drops out the bottom of the funnel and you know that it is a task that must be completed by you. At that point, there is only one remaining question…

Should I do this task now or can it wait until later?

If it must be done now, then that is concentrate which is the corresponding permission to protect. It represents the typical strategies you hear about time management theory such as maintaining focus and eliminating distractions.

However, if the task can wait until later then that is where we are challenging you not to eliminate, automate, or delegate, but to procrastinate on purpose. You don’t procrastinate on it forever but you pop that activity back to the top of the Focus Funnel.

(Source: Procrastinate on Purpose)

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Jeanelle Dech & Michelle Williams – Profit Building Workshop II, CWC17

I also got to attend a session by the wonderful Deborah Cronin from Leatherwood Design Blog, who is an absolute master of Roman Shades/Blinds, her work is always inspiring, and as a fellow lover of pattern matching, Deborah was in good company!


Monday saw the official start of the Custom Workroom Conference and I was excited to kick off proceedings with my class Specialist Curtain Headings. I’m pleased to report that the session was full to bursting with attendees, who were all eager to develop their knowledge and skill in techniques such as relaxed hand-gathered headings, pencil pleats, using contrasts and more. It was fun to share my knowledge and I loved showing off some example pieces using samples that were made in the Denton Drapes workroom.

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My ‘Specialist Curtain Headings’ class at CWC17

On Monday I also attended a class by my wonderful friend Nancy Letts from Pinehouse Drapery called Chair Cushion Details. I also got a chance to see Deborah Cronin from Leatherwood Design Blog talk about Relaxed Roman Shades and Streamlining Top Treatments, and saw Donna Cash’s class called Double-Flange Pillow with Mitre and Zipper – you can find Donna at Designs by Donna.

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Nancy and I after her Chair Cushion Details class at CWC2017


On the Tuesday I attended the Vendor (Trade) Show where companies across America had stands selling their workroom-related products and demonstrating them throughout the day. I saw demos on the day from Elkie Horn on Relaxed Roman Shades and my lovely friend Susan Woodcock lead two demos, one on Roman Shades (blinds) and one on Light Blocking Techniques.


Demos – a – plenty at CWC17

I also enjoyed exploring vendor stands, especially Sam Sloan Machines – who sell incredible industrial sewing machines along with an array of machine feet/zipper feet and Wolff who supply an amazing variety of workroom scissors (pictured below).

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Enjoying the Vendor Show at CWC2017

It was a pleasure to catch up with the lovely Grant Trick from Design Industry who produces the most exquisite couture upholstery in Alabama. I especially love his Instagram profile @grant_trick, do make sure you give him a follow! He presented an excellent class on Upholstered Ottomans and Upholstery for the luxury market, the attention to detail in his work is really quite something.

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The wonderful Grant Trick and I catching up at CWC2017

Tuesday also saw my fabulous friend Susan Woodcock (HomeDecGal) give the incredible Keynote Speech along with Michelle Williams and Jeanelle Dech. Susan & her husband Rodger Walker are the brains and brawn behind Custom Workroom Conference and it was truly inspirational and very up-lifting to hear her passion for the industry during her Keynote presentation. You could tell that what Susan, Michelle and Jeanelle said in the keynote speech really resonated with the crowd. It felt so special to be in a room with a group of such like-minded, talented individuals who are all successful in their own right in the same industry.

The theme of the keynote speech was Core Values:

C – Competence

O – Opportunity

R – Relationships

E – Experience

The speech explored all sorts from confidence, competence, accountability and  understanding your value to the importance of being around positive people and learning to always accept compliments. I loved the part of the keynote speech that talked about growth and knowledge – about how vital it is to accept that you can’t know everything and instead you should embrace what it is you don’t know and find someone who can help you to learn/understand it. This really provided me with pause for thought, as I’m sure it did to everyone else in attendance.

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Michelle, Susan & Jeanelle – our keynote speakers.

I also took part in the Sew Much More Podcast along with Nancy Letts, which we recorded together on the Tuesday for the fabulous Ceil DeGuglielmo. Our podcast is #44 and we talk about the differences between a workroom business in the UK compared to the USA.

On Tuesday night Martin and I attended the CWC ‘Shindig’ which was so much fun – I think I spent the whole entire evening laughing! What a lovely way to socialise with fellow instructors and attendees: we truly let our hair down, that’s for sure! I even rode a bucking broncho – need I say more?

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Fun & games at the CWC ‘Shindig’


Wednesday was the closing day of the Custom Workroom Conference – and a busy one it was too! Firstly, I attended Nancy Baldwin-Letts’ class on Mastering Upholstered Cornice Construction. Nancy is always a fountain of knowledge when it comes to her trade, and shows a great passion and enthusiasm for all things interiors! Following on from Nancy’s class I presented my English Hand Sewn Curtains class to a packed room…it is always so wonderful to see a sea of eager and enthusiastic faces when you stand to present a class – it’s a nerve wracking thing, so lots of smiling faces helps no end.

Once again it has been an absolute pleasure to work as an instructor for CWC – each year I leave the conference feeling energised, proud of my industry and I never fail to come away having been inspired and having learnt a range of new skills. 

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Presenting my English Hand Sewn Curtains class at CWC2017

I also met up with Jane Crawford, who had come all the way from the UK as an attendee to CWC – now there’s a commitment to her industry if ever I’ve seen one! You can see Jane’s fabulous work on her Facebook page Jane Crawford Interiors.

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Myself and the lovely Jane Crawford, also from the UK.

Susan Woodcock presented her closing speech to end this years fabulous conference, she spoke beautifully about her passion for the industry and why she works so hard to create  a conference for fellow workroom owners:

“In my moments of exhaustion it lifts me up, I am so proud to be part of your journey!” 

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Susan & Rodger were presented with a personalised ‘Thank You’ from all who attended CWC2017.


Following the close of the Custom Workroom Conference for another year, Martin and I headed out through the Smoky Mountains to a rented house called ‘Hilltop Haven’ in Tennessee with our dear friends Susan & Rodger (of CWC/HomeDecGal), Nancy & Rob (Pinehouse Drapery), Denise Hooper, Beth Fathbruckner (Crabtree Interiors) and Nicole Kemer (The Impeccable Nest). I call the girls my Drapery Ladies/Gals and it was amazing to relax and unwind with them after such a whirlwind few days at the conference. We drank, ate, chatted and played scrabble – and of course, talked all things draperies!

I couldn’t write about our trip without sharing the incredible interiors of the house we rented – I like to find design inspiration wherever I go, and this house was abundant with beautiful design elements – each room had a meticulously planned interior with themes running throughout the house. What a pleasure it was to relax in such an amazing home.

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I’m sure you’ll agree that the house was really something quite special – a ‘Hilltop Haven’ it really was – providing the perfect location for some much needed rest and recuperation. Plus some incredible views to boot.

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The view from the veranda of Hilltop Haven

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What a view!


Upon leaving Tennessee we headed 4 hours in the car to the next stop on our whistle-stop tour: Tryon in North Carolina. A few miles into the journey we found a signpost for Pinhook Rd and of course I had to stop and take a photo…it’s not every day you find a road name with such a industry specific name!

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Pinhook in Indiana – what a fabulous name!

Tryon is a wonderfully creative place full of artists of all kinds and a popular retirement destination too, and having spent lots of time there on this holiday I can totally understand why.

Home to our friends Susan and Rodger, we spent happy days with them exploring Tryon and all it has to offer. Heading to a wine and jazz festival, visiting its many cafes and shops which are full to bursting with interesting antiques and ceramics, we even visited a shop dedicated totally to olive oil and balsamic vinegar!

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Gorgeous ceramics in Tryon

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Huge vats of olive oil and balsamic vinegar – we did lots of tasting and the variety was incredible!

I was thrilled to get a chance to visit the new premises for Susan & Roger’s latest endeavour Workroom Tech. Custom Workroom Technical Center or “Workroom Tech” will open this summer with weekly hands-on classes for window treatments and soft furnishings. Classes will be offered for all skill levels, whether you would like to learn to sew home decor and start a workroom business, or are an established professional seeking to hone your skills. The premises used to be a bar and in fact the original bar is going to be preserved and used as part of the interior of Workroom Tech! It was lovely to see the space, and I’m excited to return to see it up and running really soon.

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The original bar in Workroom Tech’s premises

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Susan and I visiting her latest project Workroom Tech

On the Sunday night Martin, Susan, Rodger and I headed to Saluda to watch the musician Jamie Laval (an amazing fiddler) perform – he’s no stranger to the UK either – I found out that he has performed at none other than the Edinburgh Festival!

Monday saw us visit the town of Landrum which was an enchanting place nestled against the backdrop of the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Landrum is famous for its Foothills Quilt Trail – where key buildings across the city proudly display a beautiful quilt block on the building exterior – we had lots of fun finding them as we explored the city…while some blocks are easy to spot, others are hiding on the back or sides of buildings. I also enjoyed having a rummage around Landrum’s quilt shop which is called Elaine’s Attic.

I loved that a sewing theme found its way into almost every part of our trip!

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Landrum’s Foothills Quilt Trail

Quilts were a running theme around Landrum, and I enjoyed gaining tons of inspiration for my future quilting makes.

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Fabulous quilting inspiration was to be found all over Landrum

For our lunch we headed back to Saluda to enjoy a true American Diner experience, eating at Ward’s Grill. It was like taking a step back in time – we felt transported back to the charm of the 1950’s and enjoyed a delicious lunch there, such fun!

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Thompson’s Store & Ward’s Grill – The oldest Grocery store in North Carolina

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Inside Ward’s Grill

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Loved the menu board in Ward’s Grill – so authentic

Saluda was a fascinating place to explore – with its intricate architecture (even the Police Station is beautiful) and Saluda Grade, which is a really steep disused railway line whose tracks still run through the town. We enjoyed a gentle climb up Pearson Falls after lunch, well, we needed to burn off some of that delicious diner food, didn’t we? The views were spectacular and it felt great to immerse ourselves in the great outdoors.

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Saluda Grade

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Saluda’s beautiful Police Station

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I just loved this tree we found at Pearson Falls – it reminded me of the smocking from some of our hand sewn curtains!

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The breathtaking Pearson Falls

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Incredible view of Pearson Falls

Something that made me chuckle as we explored Tryon was the Drive-Thru Bank, where you can access your banking via a drive-up hole in the wall. Depositing cheques and drawing out cash all from the comfort of your car! How long until we have this here in the UK?

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During this trip it was so lovely to get so much quality time with good friends; as much as the trip was largely about the conference and a chance for Martin and I to get away together, it was a pleasure to be able to have so many nice days out with wonderful friends too.

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Susan and I having a giggle together.

The last few days of our trip saw us make a workroom visit to Julia Tamer at her company called Golden Valley Slipcovers. Julia is an amazing upholsterer based in Hendersonville – it was a pleasure to see her workroom and some of the incredible projects she currently has on her work table. Julia’s husband had the most impressive original 1950’s bright blue Chevrolet truck parked outside, which we couldn’t help but admire…you just don’t see this sort of thing back in the UK!

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Original 1950’s Chevvy truck!

After our workroom visit we headed on to North Carolina Arboretum which houses a heady 65 acres of outstanding cultivated gardens including one of the finest, most unique bonsai collections in the United States – I was in heaven!

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North Carolina Arboretum

A personal highlight for me was the Viola quilt garden (pictured centre), which was really quite special – again with the theme of sewing and quilting but emulated using tiny violas. The gardens were also brimming with statues and art installations – some permanent, some temporary: there was even a bug hotel! I particularly enjoyed the giant sunflower – what a masterpiece…

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North Carolina Arboretum

The original garden designer and landscape artist at the Arboretum was Frederick Law Olmsted he designed these gardens in the late 1890’s – he also designed the uber-famous Central Park in New York and the gardens at Biltmore Estate, which we went on to visit later in our trip. There is a statue of him in the gardens of the Arboretum (pictured above).


The following day we had the pleasure of visiting the Biltmore Estate – a 250 roomed stately home originally built for George Washington Vanderbilt II from the prominent Vanderbilt Family.

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The impressive Biltmore House

Living in one or another of his family residences well into adulthood, George decided to construct his own country mansion and estate in 1888. For this purpose he acquired 130,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina, employing the architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a limestone house modeled on the Chateau de Blois among other chateaux of the Loire Valley. It is also rumoured that the pair visited Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, UK (not far from my home county) and drew much inspiration from the beautiful house for Biltmore. With up to five acres of floor space this is believed to be the largest domestic dwelling ever constructed in the United States.

The house is a staggering 175,000 square feet (four acres) with 33 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces and 43 bathrooms. Almost 10 million pounds of limestone were used to build it. The entire estate originally covered 125,000 acres (now it’s a modest 8,000 acres).

The house and grounds contains the most amazing gardens – including a rose garden that houses over 250 varieties, the French Broad river, deer park and forest. You can also explore Antler Hill Village and the winery. To top it off the whole estate has the most breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I particularly loved the amazing array of plants and flowers in The Orangery – what a sight it was.

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The Orangery at Biltmore

The highlight for me was getting to explore the opulent interiors of Biltmore House: from the Great Hall to Edith Vanderbilt’s circular bedroom; there is so much to see inside this impressive house.

Biltmore Interiors

Interiors at Biltmore

Everywhere you turn you see intricate Flemish Tapestries, wood panelled walls, stunning wall coverings, giant original fireplaces, antique furniture and a whole host of mind-blowing window dressings and soft furnishings – I wasn’t short for inspiration for my worktable back in Bedfordshire, that’s for sure.

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Endless soft furnishings inspiration at Biltmore Estate

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Curtains, four posters and day beds -a – plenty at Biltmore House

Alongside all the original features and charm of Biltmore House, there was also a display of costumes from the movies – having started my career in fashion I was particularly pleased to have timed our visit to Biltmore to coincide with this exhibition. Some of the hand sewn detailing on these costumes were out of this world…

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Costumes from the movies were on display at Biltmore House

Bilmore even boasts an original indoor swimming pool with underwater lighting (amazing for the time period) which was built in 1893/4. We were told that they used to have to empty and re fill the pool every few days, as back in those days chemicals such as chlorine were not yet used to treat the water. Unfortunately, the pool is no longer in use as it leaked into the basement, and could not be fixed. However, it is still an impressive feature of the house – the original tiling was still so pristine, what dedication and workmanship must have gone into building it.

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The original indoor swimming pool at Biltmore House

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Indoor swimming pool dating back to 1893/4

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Original tiling still in place – Swimming Pool Biltmore House

My favourite pictures of our time exploring Biltmore House are these of the spectacular staircase. As we stood on the stairs and looked up I imagined all the previous owners sweeping down the stairs in exquisite dresses – the sense of history I felt was quite overwhelming.

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What a staircase!

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Now that’s quite a chandelier!

We ended our tour of the Biltmore Estate with wine tasting at the winery within the grounds – it was a perfect way to end a perfect day. If you’re ever in North Carolina this is a day out not to be missed!

Wine Tasting at Biltmore

Martin, Susan, Rodger and I spent Thursday evening enjoying a giggle at a pub quiz (my first ever!) in an Irish Bar in Tryon. This holiday was incredibly diverse in its activities and culture, as you can tell.


Friday was our final full day in America, and so we decided to make full use of our time and headed over to the historic Grovewood Village in Asheville, NC. Home to Biltmore Industries, a unique Arts and Crafts enterprise founded in 1901 by Edith Vanderbilt (George’s wife).

Edith moved Biltmore Industries over to Grovewood Estate when it outgrew its home within the Biltmore estate. The company’s beginnings was in the craft of woodcarving and homespun textiles. Edith Vanderbilt has long been an admirer of the spinning and weaving traditions of Appalachian families, but she wanted to find a more efficient method of preparing and weaving wool. Also committed to producing a higher-grade cloth, she became determined to find softer wool to use in her textiles.

In order to study how the best wool cloth in the world was made, Edith sent two of her employees to Britain, where they studied Scottish techniques and bought back a loom from a mill in Killin, Scotland for their woodworkers to study and replicate.

In its heyday, Biltmore Industries had a total of 40 looms in steady operation, producing bolts of some of the highest quality homespun fabric in the country, worn by U.S. presidents, first ladies and many American icons.

The mill sadly stopped trading in 1981, and the building and contents were abandoned, leaving it still in its exact state from the final day of trading. We took the Homespun Museum guided history tour and it felt rather like walking around a ghost town – where all the people had disappeared!

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As someone who works daily with high quality fabrics, with a special love for wools, it was such a treat to see where the wool would have been processed, dyed, woven, pressed and finished.

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The incredible Homespun Museum

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Homespun Museum

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Huge pieces of machinery were used to process the wool ready for weaving.

Also at Grovewood Village is an incredible 500 bedroom hotel that sits next door to Biltmore Industries/Homespun museum.  We visited the main reception of the Omni Grove Hotel and it took my breath away! I’ve never seen such a huge fireplace in all my life, plus the views from the hotel’s terrace was unbelievable, even on a cloudy/overcast day.

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The Omni Grove Hotel, Asheville, NC

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View from the terrace at Omni Grove Hotel

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Fireplace at the Omni Grove Hotel

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The HUGE fireplace at the Omni Grove Hotel.

While visiting the Grovewood Estate we also enjoyed a tasty lunch at The Golden Fleece restaurant on site – it was only halfway through eating that Susan and I looked up and realised that the light fittings were made from large spools of thread…amazing!

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Light fitting at The Golden Fleece Restaurant, Asheville.

We spent our last evening enjoying a wonderful dinner with Susan and Rodger at the Stone Soup Market & Cafe back in Landrum, which was a really wonderful eatery serving fresh, local foods using artisan produce.

I even managed to fit in a little shopping at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store just before we flew home on Saturday. It wouldn’t be a #PennyAcrossThePond trip without a little shopping, after all…

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Shopping at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store

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Farewell America – we’ll be back soon!

What a whirlwind of a trip it was and what a pleasure to share it with so many wonderful friends and fellow curtain makers. I can’t believe it has been a month already since we arrived in Nashville – how time flies when you’re having fun!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures and that it provided some interesting reading (hopefully!) and some links to some brilliant curtain makers, upholsterers and fellow workroom owners, as well as some holiday inspiration if you’re ever planning on visiting these parts of the USA.

Until the next #PennyAcrossThePond adventure…




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How To Sew A Free Motion Embroidery Easter Cushion #DDCraft Tutorial

How To Make a 'Happy Easter' Cushion by Denton Drapes

You will need:

  • Main fabric for cushion front and back
  • Co-ordinating scrap fabrics for applique pieces
  • Bondaweb
  • Piping cord
  • Zipping
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine with drop feed dog function
  • Dark grey sewing thread
  • Paper scissors
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Feather cushion pad

Step 1
Cut two 50cms x 50cms squares in the main fabric for the cushion front and back.
Make a template in paper of the bunny shapes and lettering, arrange the templates to your desired placement and so they fit onto the cushion front. (Spot the deliberate mistake in the picture – please ensure you place your letters the right way round so that you can see the full effect of your design!)



Step 2
Iron Bondaweb to the wrong side of the fabric remnants.


Step 3
Pin the bunny to the right side of the chosen fabric and cut out.


Step 4
Do the same with the letter templates.


Step 5
Decide on the shape you would like the grass background to be. Press Bondaweb to the wrong side of the fabric remnant to be used and cut out the shape required.
Remove the backing paper from the Bondaweb, place wrong side down onto the cushion front and press.


Step 6
Drop the feed dogs on your domestic sewing machine and add the free motion embroidery foot (it is sometimes called a darning foot) reduce the stitch length to 0.
(Refer to your owners sewing machine manual for more advice on this).
We have used a dark grey sewing thread. It is a good idea to test your free motion stitching technique out on some scrap pieces before beginning stitching the cushion front. You can find lots of tutorials on You Tube on this technique (search: Free Motion Embroidery Tutorial).
Stitch around the edge of the fabric approximately 3 mm from the edge a couple of times. It does not have to be perfectly straight. The idea is to add an outline that adds definition. If your lines are wobbly this adds to the character!
It helps to think of it as drawing with the needle of the machine, like you would with a pen and paper.


Step 7
Remove the Bondaweb from the back of the first bunny. Position into place and press.


Step 8
Stitch around the edge of the first bunny twice.


Step 9
Remove the Bondaweb from the second bunny. Position into place and press down
Stitch around this bunny twice. Do not be too concerned about keeping the stitching lines straight and even. The more uneven the lines the better!


Step 10
Add a couple of white circles for the bunny rabbits’ tails and press down.


Step 11
Stitch around the edges. Add some texture with some zig zag stitches around the edges.


Step 12
With a pencil lightly draw in the bunnies’ whiskers.


Step 13
Sew along the pencil lines to give the impression of whiskers.


Step 14
Remove the Bondaweb from the backs of the letters and arrange until you are happy with their position. Be mindful that the letters are not too high or too low on the cushion front and that the words to do disappear over the curve once the feather pad has been inserted.


Step 15
Press all the letters down making sure that you do not move them when pressing.


Step 16
Machine around the edges of each letter twice.


Step 17
Add some flourishes as required. I found a fabric with some small flowers. I added some Bondaweb to the back of the fabric cut the flowers out and pressed them to the cushion front to add some pretty detailing.


Step 18
Add stems and leaves as required with the sewing machine.


Step 19
The cushion front is now complete!
Pipe around the edge of the finished front with a contrasting fabric. You can omit this step if you’d prefer a non-piped edge or are limited on time.


Step 20
Sew the front and back pieces together at the bottom edge 5cms in from each end and leave a gap in the middle. Insert the zip into the bottom edge of the cushion.


Step 21
Stitch the remaining three sides together. Trim the corners, turn the cushion right sides out.


Step 22
Insert a 50cms feather cushion pad and zip up. Your cushion is now complete!


Do let us know if you have a go at this tutorial – we love you see your sewing and crafts – be sure to tag us @dentondrapes and use the hashtag #DDCraft

Happy sewing lovely people and wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

Penny x

Happy Easter DD 2017

How To Spring Clean Your Curtains

How To Spring Clean Your Curtains-5

As the sun is finally streaming in through our windows, the trees are sprouting blossom and the evenings are lighter for longer, lots of us will be beginning the yearly process of Spring cleaning.

For me there’s nothing more cathartic than a good clean up, sort out and re-organisation of my home ready for the Spring and Summer months.

One part of Spring cleaning which is often overlooked however is curtains!

They’re open in the daytime, in the low light in the evening and closed at night, so we often don’t notice the state of our curtains, or when they might be in need of some TLC.

If you look closely – especially in the Spring sunlight, you’ll notice your curtains may be dusty and dirty – especially if you have pets at home. If this is the case, let me give you some advice for cleaning them safely, without damaging them or needing to pay a huge dry cleaning bill. 


Firstly, it is a good idea to vacuum your curtains once a month if possible. When vacuuming your curtains place a soft muslin cloth or pop sock over the end of the vacuum cleaner nozzle. Try to ensure you get into all the folds and pleats in the headings and remember to vacuum the back as well, especially if you have pets as they often brush against the backs of curtains when climbing across window sills. 

Give the curtains a good shake and then dress them back into their folds; this will prevent staining/marks, dust and pet hair build up, and will help to keep the fabric fresh and in good condition. 

At least once per year (Spring time is as good a time as any!) take the curtains down and brush them with a soft brush. You should then hang them outside for a few hours if possible. Some fresh air and a little sunshine will air out and breath new life into your window treatment. 

While the curtains are being aired, it’s a good time to give the track a thorough clean. Using a damp cloth clean the whole track, and then use a small spray of silicon to ensure your track will continue to run smoothly for another year. Metal curtain poles will just need a light dusting as most of them have a lacquered finish. Finally, wooden curtain poles can be cleaned with a little wooden spray polish and clean cloth. 

Now it is time to re-hang your curtains. Dress the curtains into their folds and leave drawn back for 24 hours if possible. This will ensure they settle back into their desired position. 

If you keep up monthly vacuuming followed by a yearly brush and airing, you should keep your curtains looking fabulous for many years. 


Here at Denton Drapes we do not recommend that you send your curtains to a dry cleaners. However, if you do decide to send them for a heavy-duty clean, there are some precautions you can take to protect your curtains. 

Professional ‘dry cleaning’ services actually immerse fabric into a drum of cleaning fluid, and so the process is rarely ‘dry’ –  any immersion into liquid like this can be problematic with fabrics and could change their appearance and/or dimensions.

With this in mind, it is recommended that you tack round the edges and hems of your interlined curtains before you send them to be cleaned. This will help to stop the interlining moving/shrinking out of the turnings. It may seem bothersome, but far less so than having to repair damage or replace whole window dressings! 

If your curtains have pin hooks these should be removed prior to cleaning, however, if you have hand sewn hooks in your curtains,  which obviously cannot be removed, then you should fold down the heading and tack it securely with the hooks on the inside. If you have a tape heading, let out the cords, ensuring there is a firm knot at the end, so that they cannot disappear.

We recommend that you measure your curtains before you take them down and ensure that you write the measurements onto the order form at the cleaning specialists: this will ensure you can prove any shrinkage should the worst happen, and will mean the dry cleaner can check against your measurements. 

When you get the curtains back from the cleaners you should re-hang them, draw them closed and keep them closed for 12 hours with some ventilation, this should ensure all remaining solvent evaporates quickly.

Finally, draw them open and dress into folds, tie back with cord/plastic/tie backs and leave to set in folds. 


If a spillage or accident should happen (such as red wine) then it really is vital that you clean the stain immediately to prevent the stain spreading and/or setting. If the lining is not stained then you should undo the sides and pin them up out of the way while you deal with the body of the stain using your preferred stain removal technique. 


– Lipstick can often be removed with a baby wipe or make up remover pad.

– Small blood stains can be removed with saliva. Treat the stain as soon as possible by depositing a little saliva onto a clean cotton cloth and dap at the stain gently.

Good luck with your Spring cleaning and long may your beautiful handmade interlined curtains last!

Penny & The Denton Drapes Team

Denton Drapes Turns 20!


1997-2017 Twenty Years of Bespoke Luxury


Our special anniversary logo

A brief history…

On 17th January 1997 I gave up my career in the fashion industry with the idea of creating soft furnishings at home for people who wanted something better than what was available on the High Street.  I had no idea then, that twenty years down the line I’d have a thriving couture soft furnishings business with premises, many employees and celebrity customers!

Denton Drapes today is a million miles away from those early days when I worked in my tiny dining room with an 8′ by 4′ board atop a plastic patio table with bricks under the legs to make it higher!!

From there we moved to a bigger house which allowed Denton Drapes to expand a little: the spare room become the new DD HQ, but before long I had outgrown the space once again..!

By October 2006, Denton Drapes had grown bigger than I could have imagined and it was time to take the plunge and move into a rented commercial unit – Water Hall Farm.

In 2009 we found ourselves bursting at the seams once more, and so we snapped up the adjoining unit at Water Hall Farm so as to expand the business even further – and we’ve never looked back!

It is amazing to have seen my business grow so much over the past twenty years. I still absolutely adore my job and am more passionate about couture soft furnishings than ever before. I hope that passion is obvious in the quality of the work we produce here in the workroom.

Twenty amazing years. Wow.

As part of our celebrations we’ve been looking back on some of the things we’ve produced over the last twenty years – it’s funny reminiscing on how fashions have changed over that time period. We’ve put together a little video of some of our older projects, as well as a show reel of more recent work from the Denton Drapes workroom for you to enjoy.

We’re having a little birthday party today at DD HQ so keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels for live coverage, and a rather splendid birthday cake not to be missed!! We’ll be using the hashtag #DDTurns20 so give that a follow for all the updates.



Also, as a THANK YOU for all the support over the past 20 years we have launched a fabulous giveaway over on our Facebook page – so do pop over & enter – wishing you the best of luck…

Cheers everyone and thanks to each and every one of you for your continued business, support and encouragement. Let’s hope there are many more happy years of trading ahead.

Penny & The Denton Drapes Team

#DDCraft How To Sew a Union Jack Pin Cushion Tutorial

In aid of World Mental Health Day 2016 #WMHD16 I’m sharing a sewing tutorial which I hope will help inspire you to take up a creative hobby to help you relax, de-stress, and take your mind off any worries or issues you might be dealing with. I find #SewingForPleasure really improves my own mental health and I’ll wax lyrical to anyone who’ll listen to me when it comes to the benefits of this super hobby…



Dark blue cotton fabric

4mm red ribbon

13mm white ribbon

25mm white ribbon

13mm red/white check ribbon

Red fabric for piping

Micro piping cord

Stuffing (we used wadding)

Sewing machine and thread

Hand sewing thread and needles



Tape measure


Ribbon’s you’ll need to complete this project. 


Step 1


Cut two rectangles in the blue fabric 18cms x 15cms

Step 2


Cut two lengths of the 13mm white gross grain ribbon to 23cms long and pin to one of the blue rectangles diagonal corner to the opposite comer. Stitch the ribbon on with a pin stitch as close to the edge as possible. Do this on both edges of the ribbon. This rectangle will be the top piece of the pin cushion.

Step 3


Pin stitch the second piece of white 13mm ribbon in exactly the same way onto the opposite diagonal of the top of the pin cushion.

Step 4


Cut 2 x 25cms lengths of the 4mm red satin ribbon and position this ribbon towards the upper edge of the white ribbon already in place. Pin stitch in the centre of the 4mm red ribbon. The red satin ribbon will be approximately 3mm away from the top edge of the white ribbon.

Step 5


Turn the red ribbon at 90 degrees when you reach the centre and stitch in the same place on the downward white ribbon. Then stitch the 4mm red satin ribbon in the same way to the opposite side.

Step 6


Cut two pieces of the 25mm white gross grain ribbon 1 x 15cms and 1 x 23cms.

Stitch the 15cms piece vertically in the centre on top of the diagonal ribbons already in place.

Pin stitch on each edge.

Step 7


Stitch the 23cms piece horizontally in the centre on top of the diagonal ribbons already in place.

Pin stitch on each edge.

Step 8


Cut two pieces of the 13mm red and white check ribbon 1 x 15cms and 1 x 23cms.

Stitch the 15cms piece vertically in the centre of the 25mm white ribbon already in place. Pin stitch on each edge.

Step 9


Stitch the 23cms piece horizontally in the centre on top of the 25mm white ribbon already in place.

Pin stitch on each edge.

Step 10


Cut strips of the red cotton fabric on the bias and make up around 70cms of red piping using the micro piping. Stitch this on all four sides of the top piece of the pin cushion and overlap the edges to neaten.

Step 11


With right sides together sew the top and bottom of the pin cushion together leaving one edge open for stuffing.

Step 12


Trim across the corners and trim away any excess ribbon

Step 13


Turn right sides out making sure that at each corner the piping is pulled out fully.

Step 14


Stuff to the desired size we used wadding.

Step 15


Slip stitch the opening closed with a matching thread using a ladder stitch so the stitches disappear.

T’ah D’ah!!!


Your pin cushion is now finished!


Do let me know if you have a go at this fun tutorial – tag your pictures on social media using the hashtag #DDCraft and I’ll enjoy having a peek at your handmade pin cushions.




Why not ^^ Pin This ^^ for later


How to Sew a Brass Ring onto the Rod Pocket of a Roman Blind Using a Sewing Machine…

I posted some photos on my social media channels last week showing how at Denton Drapes we sew our brass rings on with a sewing machine to the rod pockets of our Roman blinds.

There was quite a bit of interest on the posts and so in response we filmed this short video showing excatly how we do it.
Here it is and I hope that some of you find it useful!

For those who would prefer written instructions – here they are too:

How to sew a brass ring onto the rod pocket of a Roman blind, using your sewing machine…

  1. Using a domestic machine (ours is a Memory Craft 3500 Janome) firstly you need to drop the feed dogs. Take away the extension table from the free arm, and find the feed dogs button (usually on the back of your machine) move the button from left to right to drop the feed dogs. Some machines don’t have this button and you’ll need to purchase a plate to cover the feed dogs manually instead.
  2. Put the extension table back onto the free arm.
  3. Set your machine to a zig-zag stitch (on our machine this is number 11). The needle should be to the left.
  4. Put the needle down into the work to the left, about 1/4 inch away from the fold, and then pop the ring in underneath the foot.
  5. Drop the presser foot.
  6. On our machine when we do a zigzag stitch it does 6 locking stitches at the start, so do your 6 locking stitches (there may be a button to press) and then start your zigzag stitches.
  7. When you’ve finished your zigzag stitches, ensure your needle is on the left hand side. Press your locking stitch button again to do 6 more locking stitches.
  8. Take the presser foot up, take the work out, cut the threads and then tie them off for extra strength and then trim off the excess thread.
Ian Mankin Ticking Stripe - Roman Blind, with brass rings sewn on using a machine.

Ian Mankin Ticking Stripe – Roman Blind, with brass rings sewn on using a machine.

Happy sewing lovely people!



#DDTeam – Meet Jo, our Office Administrator.

As promised, here is the next instalment of #DDTeam – our second staff member to take part is the lovely Jo Wardley our Office Administrator.

#DDTeam Jo-2

Jo joined the DD team in 2013 after working as a legal secretary.

After she left school Jo went to university in Bolton to study for a degree in Textile Technology.

Jo is married to Henry and they have two little girls. Before she got married she spent 13 months traveling and backpacking through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. She also worked for the BBC in Australia.

Jo makes sure that our office runs smoothly and efficiently. She deals with telephone calls and enquiries; from booking my appointments with clients to ordering fabrics for our trade customers. She also deals with pay roll, staff holidays, invoicing, packing and couriers, teas and coffees and general housekeeping, as well as organising our regular training events!

She liaises with customers that visit the showroom, helping them to choose fabrics if I am not available. She is brilliant at using her initiative for all the other 101 things that need to be done in our uber-busy curtain making business!

Jo Wardley

Here’s the lovely Jo working hard at her desk in the Denton Drapes office. 

Phew…I’m tired just thinking about everything Jo does for Denton Drapes.

We genuinely could not do without her.

In her spare time Jo dabbles with crafting and looking after her two young daughters.

Jo loves traveling, the seaside, walking, camping and the outdoor lifestyle, Pilates and interiors.

A little known fact about Jo is that at University and while she was traveling she used to collect beer mats from around the world.

She still has them stored in a box in her loft!

Bye for now,