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Ordering Custom Window Treatments

You need to specify several things about your window treatments in your contract with the seamstress or workroom: finished width, finished length, return length (if applicable), rod-mounted or board-mounted, the specific type and size of drapery hardware you plan to use (if applicable), placement of any embellishments such as ruffles or trim, and the exact style of window treatment.

Most disputes over incorrect window treatment orders are the result of misunderstandings, not deliberate fraud or sloppiness on the part of the workroom or seamstress. Most of these disputes can be prevented before they happen if you plan ahead. There are many simple things you can do to eliminate confusion and potential mistakes on your order:

Many workrooms and seamstresses will have special forms for you to fill out with these details. If not, just write them down clearly on a sheet of paper. Always put the details of each window on a separate sheet of paper. This can prevent many mistakes and mix-ups.

Describe the fabric that will be used for the window treatment on your order form: "rose-colored chintz", "small gold paisley on a blue background", etc. This can help prevent mix-ups that can occur if your order becomes separated from your fabric.

Cut a small swatch of your fabric, about two inches square, and staple it to your order. Staple a small swatch of any trims, fringes, or accent fabrics to your order, too.

Enclose a photocopy or sketch of the treatment you wish to order. Most of you will be ordering window treatments from pictures in books and magazines, so this won't be difficult.

If you see an attractive window treatment in a model home, ask permission to take a snapshot. Most model home salespeople will allow this. Enclose a copy of the snapshot with your order.

Enclose a copy of your measurement chart for each window with your order. Remember that it is your responsibility to specify all necessary details to the seamstress or workroom. Leave nothing open to misunderstanding.

Take a few minutes to discuss your order with the seamstress or workroom. When you drop off your fabrics and paperwork, take about five minutes to read over your order with the seamstress or workroom manager to make sure that there are no misunderstandings or omissions.

Never pay in full in advance. A deposit equal to one-half of the labor charge is the most you should ever pay up front. Holding back one-half of the total labor price is customary in the trade, when a deposit is required at all, and it's your best insurance against getting stuck with an incorrectly made order.

You may or may not have to pay a deposit. Most home seamstresses don't ask for deposits. Some workrooms do. Read Chapter 18 for more details about deposits paid to local workrooms and craftspeople.

Take the standard delivery times into consideration. Most custom window treatment orders will take about three to four weeks to have delivered, a bit less in the summer and winter.

Around the end of September, many seamstresses and workrooms will start taking longer to complete orders because they are inundated with orders to be delivered before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some workrooms and seamstresses stop taking any new orders around the middle of November because they already have all of the work they can handle before Christmas. The waiting time is usually about the same from home seamstresses and workrooms.

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