Cross Dressing

Rose Brand theatrical fabrics adapted for interior design

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I’d be the first to admit that I’m a huge fan of ‘high-low’ interiors.  I’d also fess-up to being a bit cautious when it comes to lesser priced fabrics for interior design (mostly because cheap fabrics tend to look, for the lack of a better word, cheap.)  That’s why I’m a big fan of Rose Brand Fabrics.  They’re a theatrical fabric resource that has an amazing number of great textiles for times when stretching the budget doesn’t need to mean things end up looking shabby.

During my decade as a curtain workroom owner, I had the pleasure of working with Santo Laquasta, sewing curtains for several of his Opera and Broadway sets, as well as for several Woody Allen movies.  He is a genius (Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, Oscar Nominations), and a total joy to work with.  He introduced me to Mr. Allen on the set of ‘Bullets over Broadway‘ – a New York moment I’ll always remember.  He also introduced me to Rose Brand Fabrics.

I know, I know.  Some of you are by now poo-poo’ing the idea of using stage set fabrics for interior design. I did too.  Then one day, while trying to decorate my upstate New York cottage on a shoe-string budget, I remembered Rose Brand.  The picture above is of the living room.  The roman shade is made of moss-green burlap I purchased from them.  It was $13 a yard… so for $130 and a bit of sweat-equity, I got a great looking budget window treatment.  You say you’re not a fan of green?  It comes in 15 other colors.  Here’s an important tip: it comes FR (flame retardant) or NFR (non-flame retardant) so you can spec it for a contract space as well.

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Rose Brand has literally hundreds of fabrics in their collection, most of which serve a specific purpose in the theater – Opera scrim for example.  With that said, there are dozens of fabrics that have real cross-over possibilities.  Here are some of them, and my thoughts on how to use them.

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55″ Linen Gauze

100% linen gauze – comes in 17 colors, and is $20.22 per yard (unless you buy the 55 yard bolt at just over $16 per yard.)  I’ve made some really great looking unlined Ripplefold curtains using this cloth.   Maybe some double-faced roman shades using a contrasting color for lining?

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58″ Light Weight Linen

No one needs suggestions on how you might use a great looking linen, so I’ll refrain from insulting your creative intelligence.  The RB website says its available in 9 colors (although they only show 6 neutrals.)  At $17.05 for cut yardage, or $14.55 per yard for the 55 yard bolt, it’s a great choice for dressing an entire guest bedroom in style.

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47″ Shimmer Scrim

No, this is not for everyone, but for the right client in the right room, a little glamour is often the right idea.  This fabric comes in 6 colorways from black to white.  Very Hollywood.  You’ve got to purchase a 10 yard roll, but at $150, that’s $15 a yard.  Try to find a comparable fabric from Great Plains (as much as I love Holly Hunt) at that price.

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54″ ‘Textilene’

This fabric is made for the great outdoors.  It’s a patented PVC coated polyester mesh that’s as durable as it is mosquito proof.  It comes in 8 colors, and is just north of $11 per yard.   Because of the coating, it’s sturdy as well as slightly reflective… which would make it a great overlay for a pair of indoor taffeta curtains as well.

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58″ Blackout Satin

I imagine that for most of us the days of nasty white vinyl coated blackout lining are over.  There’s a great colored blackout lining from Creation Baumann that my friend Erik Bruce loves to work with, as well as Solar Satin’ from Fabricut but this fabric is the least expensive of the 3.  It comes in 8 colors and is $13.75 per yard.

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There was a time it was easy to shop Rose Brand Fabrics in NYC, but they’ve moved from their Chelsea Market office.  Don’t despair.  You can order a catalog easily, and they’ll happily send you swatches of anything you’re interested in.  I’ve got the color cards for every fabric in this post.

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http://www.rosebrand.com/

6 thoughts on “Cross Dressing”

  1. Wow! Great source, Carl. You New Yorkers have such access to the theater and fashion business. All of us out here in the hinterlands are jealous! Thanks for sharing one of your inside secrets. 🙂

    1. Carla, you’ve got the same access we in NYC have with this resource! They’re a great company, and you’ll be amazed by the fabrics.

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