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Stretching to new heights

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Stretch fabrics are more popular than ever in the entertainment industry, thanks to the trend toward projecting light and images on three-dimensional forms. But there’s another reason they’re in demand, and it’s a purely practical one. Remember the wrinkle-resistant men’s slacks that used to be advertised in lifestyle magazines? They’re a good analogy for what’s going on right now in stage drapery.

Megan Duckett, president of Sew What? Inc. in Rancho Dominquez, Calif., says flame-retardant textiles that have some degree of stretch content are extremely popular in the touring and concert marketplace, because that stretch element allows the users to pull wrinkles out. The reason this is important has to do with the way stage sets are stored and transported.

“At the end of the show at 3:00 in the morning, they bundle all of their textiles into big baskets,” she explains. “They just throw them in there. They roll [the baskets] into the back of the truck and they drive three days to the next city. When they pull these draperies out at the next city, you can only imagine what a wrinkled-up mess they’re pulling out. It’s like pulling your cotton bedsheets out of the dryer.”

What the roadies do, she says, is attach chain weights to the bottom of the curtains, which helps the fabric to return to its original shape and texture. “The weight of the chain just causes the fabric to go ‘ahhh’ and relax, so those wrinkles come out,” she says.

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