Sunday, February 6, 2011
Chic and Frugal Sewing
I have been sewing a long time, probably twenty-five to thirty years. In spite of that I am not very advanced. It’s because I’m relaxed and also possibly a little lazy. I like it that way.
I made more ambitious things when I was younger than I do now. As a teen watching movies like Pretty in Pink and Madonna’s one (with the lace singlet tops) I was inspired to make my own clothing and enjoyed wearing my creations out to the movies with friends. A few of us made our own clothing – we must have looked quite ‘creative’.
In my twenties I also made clothing but eventually drifted into dressing the home rather than dressing myself. The only problem with making your own clothing (when you’re as slow and exacting as I am) is that you can’t see what it looks like on. And if you don’t like it afterwards then tough luck.
My sister is the complete opposite, she started sewing when her youngest was born four years ago and is now such an accomplished seamstress she drafts her own patterns and sells online. I am happy to sit in the shade created by her capability and output and just continue on my own puttering way.
My chic and frugal sewing is what I use to make my house a home and create handmade memories along the way. I have recovered cushions, made simple patchwork cushion covers (like the ones above, and top), and even tried my hand at curtains. Curtains aren’t as easy as they look, even if they are all straight lines.
My recovered ironing board, above. Below, tablecloth made from a remnant of fabric, hemmed around the edges.
I made a duvet cover once from a sheet set I liked and (it was the nineties) it had ties all along the end. It already had ready-made pillowcases with it. It’s an easy way to get a duvet cover you like, although I would use buttons or domes rather than the ties these days. Imagine buying two sets of white sheets and using one of them to make a duvet cover. What a cloud-like sanctuary the bed would be then!
Every so often when I pass an upholstery or furniture store and notice piles of remnants and samples I take a look. I have found gorgeous, expensive English furnishing fabrics at a fraction of their original cost. These offcuts make great tablecloths, cushion covers, napkins (if thinner), placemats and pot-holders at a tiny price. They look very luxe (because they are) and make everything else around them look fancier.
Below, a table runner made from a piece of fine corduroy. I used the fringe-y selvedges to finish the pointed ends.
It’s funny how if you choose the offcuts that really appeal to you, no matter if you think they aren’t your colours or are too ‘out there’, they all blend together to make your taste. And they do all go together.
Sewing is such a great skill to have. A sewing machine is a fabulous addition to any home and they aren’t that expensive – you can buy them second-hand and have serviced (get a simple one that is mechanical rather than electronic – there’s less to go wrong). But even if you don’t have a sewing machine a basic sewing kit will help you sew on buttons, take up a hem and make minor adjustments to clothing.
Cushion covers below were made with the same $10 offcut I used for the ironing board cover.
Something like a t-shirt neckline you don’t like can be altered by hand-sewing a couple of inches of running stitch from the centre front down into the shirt. Pucker this up (or should I say gather) and you will have created a new look. I also did this with a singlet top where I felt the strap tops were too wide (it looked quite dowdy). I gathered along the shoulder seam on each side and it looked a lot prettier.
Recently a friend of my mother’s gave me two summer skirts. They were mid-calf length and a-line. I shortened them to just on the knee and now I have two new skirts. I have also finally discovered a skirt style that I like on me.
Do you make home items yourself, or reshape clothing you have bought or been given?