By Mary Boone
It used to be, if you could sew, you could save bundles by making your own clothes. Not so anymore. The cost of patterns, fabrics and notions has risen, and discount clothiers have opened in every city in North America. Unless you’re creating a custom suit or gown, sewing your own clothes is rarely much of a bargain.
These days, sewing for the home is where the real savings are. Even beginners can create slipcovers, curtains, pillows and tablecloths and save 50 percent or more over the cost of similar ready-made decor items.
There’s a certain satisfaction that goes along with finding a fabric to customize your own pillows. Plus, you get to skip the sky-high prices of store-bought products.
Case in point: Dwell Studios’ “Osa Mustard Pillow” is a graphic 20-by-20-inch design with down insert; it costs $110. Using a similar insert and less than a yard of home decor fabric, you could make your own for $12 to $20.
Like the look of the Pottery Barn’s $69 “Hand-Knit Cable Pillow Cover”? Use one of your old sweaters (or visit a used clothing store if you can’t bear the thought of giving up your own knits) to create a similar pillow for a fraction of the cost.
Making a pillow requires minimal sewing skills. Simply measure your pillow insert. Cut two panels from your fabric the size of your insert (whether square or oblong) and allow for an extra inch of material all around. Turn the material inside out and stitch it together with a sewing machine on three and a half sides. Reach inside and turn the pillow case right side out. Put the pillow form inside the case and hand stitch the remaining opening closed.
Making your own curtain panels is as easy as sewing four straight lines; making lined curtains is just one step up from unlined. Depending upon your skill level, you may want to stick with plain panels that hang from clip-on curtain rings. If you’re a more advanced sewer, you might add tabs, a rod pocket or even pleats.
Sewing your own curtains allows you to create the exact type of window covering you want – the length you want, the fabric you want, the fullness you want it.
Measuring is often the trickiest part of making curtains. Be sure to have accurate window measurements – width and height – when you head into the fabric store. Also know where your curtain rod will be located. Will it be several inches above the window or attached to the window trim? Do you want the curtains to reach just to the bottom of the window or all the way to the floor?
If your window is a standard size, you may be able to buy ready-made panels for less than what you can make them. If, however, your window is an odd size or shape, custom curtains may run two to three times what it will cost you to make them yourself.
Again, basic sewing skills are all that’s required to create your own tablecloth. Select a washable fabric – prints are great because they tend to hide stains, and polyester/cotton blends often don’t require ironing.
Make your tablecloth at least a foot wider and longer than the table, to allow for an overhang of at least 6 inches on all sides. For wider tables, you’ll need to seam two equal widths of material together to the required width; again, that’s as simple as sewing a straight line.
Store-bought tablecloths often aren’t expensive, but you’ll find by sewing your own, you can create coverings to suite any party or color theme you might imagine.
Of course, time is a major investment in any sewing project, and sewing for the home is no different. Be realistic. Do you have the time to sew eight lined curtain panels? If you quit halfway through the project and still end up buying ready-made curtains, you will have saved nothing.