The Leading Edge Drapery offers sew many choices
Talent, passion, attention to the details and knowledge of the latest trends make Julie Wood’s draperies and other custom pieces stand out.
Fabrics and needlework are long-time passions for Julie Wood, owner of The Leading Edge Drapery in Derry. “I have been sewing since I was ten years old,” Wood says. “I was an only child, and every Saturday, I would go to the Girl’s Club. It was there I learned to sew and fell in love with fabrics.”
Julie Wood of The Leading Edge Drapery has been creating soft furnishings and window treatments for designers since 2006 in her Derry workroom.
“I enjoy working with designers, and fabricating fresh and unique products that will exceed both their and their clients’ expectations,” she says.
After a nine-year career as an arts educator, Wood decided to change paths and completed a certificate program in interior design from the New Hampshire Institute of Art. There, she realized her lifelong interest translated perfectly into a new career creating intricate, one-of-kind draperies and soft furnishings for interior designers throughout New England.
New Hampshire Home spoke with Wood to learn more about her business, the latest trends in soft furnishings and why custom window treatments are worth the investment.
New Hampshire Home (NHH): Your career as a window-treatment professional is the best of both worlds. You are able to fabricate beautiful decorative pieces by merging your love of sewing and fabrics with your interest in interior design.
Julie Wood (JW): Yes, it really is. I didn’t know if I was going to start a workroom and work with designers at the very beginning, but while I was at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, I narrowed my focus and began to delve into the world of creating a workroom and making products for interior designers. It was the right fit.
My business specializes in window treatments to the trade. I also offer and fabricate other custom products, such as valances, pillows, bedding, slipcovers, chair upholstery, headboards and more. You name it, and I will make it.
NHH: Working directly with designers must require a lot of creative teamwork. How would you describe your relationship with them?
Julie Wood fabricated this custom velvet pillow with striped fabric. Its bold pattern and color make a statement in a room designed by Meredith Bohn Interior Design in Hollis.
JW: It is a collaborative partnership. When a designer comes into my workroom, we closely look at his/her specifications to consider what is manageable and how we can actually create the best product.
I run the gamut between different designers. Some have precise specifications, and they just want me to tweak the design a bit and fabricate it. While others come with a swatch of fabric and say, “What can we do with this to make it stand out?”
I like someone who is open to suggestions, so we can get the final product—whatever it may be—to be absolutely stunning. I want my designers and their clients to know their investment paid off and they have a unique product no one else has.
NHH: How do you make your final product stand out?
JW: I incorporate techniques that designers and their clients wouldn’t find elsewhere. Details such as welting on the leading edge, hand-stitching for hemming and other little tweaks set my work apart from other workrooms or any ready-made piece for sale in a store.
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NHH: To know and offer an array of sewing techniques/designs must require a lot of learning. How do you keep up-to-date with the latest trends and methods?
JW: Because I come from the field of education, I go back to it a lot. The Boston Design Center offers designers seminars each month, and I like to attend anything and everything I can. I go to these seminars because this is where I get to see the upcoming trends in fabric and color, and where I learn new methods firsthand. Even though I might not use these trends all the time, I can always pull them out of my hat and create a sample for my designers.
My new passion is Canadian smocking. It’s a technique you don’t see every day.
NHH: In regard to the latest trends, what type of window treatments/soft furnishings will be popular this year?
JW: Pretty is coming back! People are moving away from stationary panels and plain drapery, and embracing pretty, layered and embellished fabrics and designs.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of bold patterns and colors: lots of Ikat and Southwestern patterning and heavily embellished fabrics. These fabrics and details make a statement. However, they’re not being incorporated in an overwhelming manner—just in bits and pieces so there is some patterning in the room.
Layers are back as well. In the past, many window-treatment designs consisted of just a panel or just a shade. But now we are beginning to combine the panel with the shade and top it with a valance. This layering effect gives the window some depth.
Julie Wood enjoys incorporating decorative and intricate details in her soft furnishings. For a room designed by Renee Rucci Design in Atkinson, Wood created a custom headboard with a folded fabric detail; bolsters with trim by Houlès Paris in origami-like pleating; and a center pillow with a tieback and trim by Houlès Paris in an original application.
NHH: With so many window-covering choices and trends, where does one begin?
JW: When designing a room, make this piece of décor a part of your initial design and incorporate it in your budget. Don’t leave the window coverings as a last-minute decision. What I see happen so often with homeowners is that they buy all the furniture for a room, and then they look up at their windows and see nothing there. When this oversight happens, a window treatment often becomes a piecemeal detail.
Window treatments can really make or break a room. I think they are worth the investment.
NHH: What makes them so valuable?
JW: Window treatments can add to the finished look of your room. Instead of just having fabric on the couch and pillows, window treatments can provide another avenue to add more fabric, a splash of color and or softness to the room that would not be there with just a window’s molding.
NHH: With that in mind, what materials and treatments should one invest in?
JW: Stick with classic elements that won’t date themselves.
NHH: And for someone working with a budget, what would you suggest as the most cost-friendly fabrics and fittings?
JW: This is a hard question to answer, because nowadays, you can get a certain type of fabric at many different price points; you can purchase linen for $20 or for $150. I suggest you determine what you love and then scope out the different prices.
Also, you can decorate with ready-made pieces. However, there aren’t always a vast selection of colors and patterns to choose from. So, take the time to look for the most appropriate pieces before you finalize all décor.
NHH: While researching and determining what options are best, what questions should homeowners or designers ask in regard to a window covering’s functionality and aesthetics?
JW: I work for wholesale clients now, but when I was in retail, the first question I would ask clients was, “Is this window treatment for privacy or is it something to add to the overall design of the room?” And my second question always was, “If you want a functional window treatment, are we looking at something that retains heat and keeps the cold out?”
After you answer those questions, you can discuss matters of aesthetics, such as, “Do you want the treatment to hang on a rod or a board?” and “Do you want this piece to be the room’s focal point or do you want it to blend into the room?”
There are so many options out there and ways to make a window treatment one-of-a-kind, so doing your research and knowing what you want make all the difference.
The 411 on Canadian smocking
Canadian smocking is a type of fabric manipulation that creates textured designs for cushions and other soft furnishings. The smocked pattern evokes the decorative and intricate shapes and folds of origami, and is the perfect detail for accent pillows.
Window-treatment professional Julie Wood explains its fabrication: “You take a piece of fabric, turn it to its backside and pencil a grid on it. Then you draw arrows and connect these arrows with stitches—this makes a pucker to the front of the fabric. When the fabric is gathered, you get different types of patterning, depending on how you connected those arrows and stitches.
“The finished product looks as if the fabric is almost interweaving itself, but there is only one piece of fabric, it is just tucked in different places,” Wood says. “It is a laborious process—I sometimes sit there for hours—but when it’s done, it’s beautiful.”