My #1 Tip for Budget-Friendly Home Decor
Months ago, I shared my #1 trick for keeping our home organized (you can find out what it is here!). I LOVED compiling that post, and you all loved it too. I’m back today to share another one of my tried-and-true home strategies; and this time, I’m sharing my not-so-secret way to save tons of money on home decor while still getting the exact, unique and custom look you want for you home. Are you ready for it? Here it is!
Learn to Sew
Seriously. I tell friends this over and over and over again. If you want to be able to quickly and easily make things for your home, buy a basic machine and learn to sew. I’m not suggesting that you need to be a master quilter, make homemade clothes for all your kids, or even make your own drapes. But owning and knowing how to operate a sewing machine will open up a whole world of creative possibilities for your home! Many people ask me how I’m able to get such unique looks in our homes and change out the decor so quickly and easily…and honestly, the answer is because I can make things myself. Instead of relying on pillows, curtains, bedspreads, and more available on store shelves, I can find just the right fabric (at just the right prices) and make them myself for a fraction of the cost. Yes, making items yourself does require a bit more time and effort, but once you get the hang of sewing, I promise you will be amazed at how quickly projects come together.
I’m not the world’s best or most experienced sewer. In fact, I’m far from it. I’m self-taught, I hate following patterns, and I almost ALWAYS make things up as I go along (you can read more about my sewing story here). But I do know how to thread and use my machine, I can sew straight (and curved!) lines, I understand the basic principles of how items are put together, and have even mastered a few useful things like installing zippers and adding welting/pipping. There’s a ton I don’t know (but I am constantly learning and figuring things out, thank goodness for You Tube and blogs!), but I still never hesitate to sew my own home decor items when I can. While I could show you a ton of different sewing projects and inspirations, today I want to make the case for sewing by showing you a bunch of easy and wonderful things you can easily make for your home! Let’s get to it.
Pillows are some of the easiest and most gratifying projects you can make for your home. Not only do they require very little fabric, but they can be made in a variety of ways and in endless shapes and sizes so you can truly find just the right look for your home. If you come across fabric you love, making pillow covers is the easiest way to bring it into your space!
Our new bedroom features all handmade pillow covers! Quilted shams made from an old bedspread, blue shams out of inexpensive home decor fabric, throws made from an end-of-bolt scrap of high-end designer fabric, and a lumbar pillow made from polka dots repurposed from this space. All told, these 7 pillow covers cost me about $30, maybe even less?!
I LOVE mixing and matching store-bought items with found fabrics to create a completely unique display on beds. From pillow shams, to throw pillows, to pillowcases, all can be made from simple cotton fabric in an array of colors and patterns!
You don’t need to make every pillow on your couch. Combine store-bought pillows with DIY pillows in your favorite fabric finds for a truly high-low look!
Don’t box yourself into just couch and floor pillows! Floor cushions and poufs for adults and kids alike are fun, easy to sew and make for extra comfy seating for your next game or movie night!
Honestly, making my own curtains is one of my favorite ways to save money AND get unique and custom looks for my home. I already made the case for curtains here, but today I want to re-affirm that 1) they make SUCH a difference in finishing a space, and 2) they are NOT that hard to make. If you can measure, sew straight lines, and iron, you CAN make your own curtains (I use THIS tutorial). To keep your custom curtains affordable, it is best to look for fabric $10/yard or less. Most long curtains require about 3 yards of fabric, which translates to $30 (or less) for each panel. Not too bad when when they end up the exact size, color, pattern and design you want!
I’m going up in complexity a bit, but even this next section of projects is completely do-able for the novice sewer. As most of you long-time readers know, I like to change up our existing furniture on a pretty regular basis, especially when we move into a new home. One of the biggest ways I update our “soft” furniture is to add custom-made slipcovers. Slipcovers are a perfect solution for families with kids (hello, washing machine!) or for people like myself who crave fresh looks but don’t want to replace the furniture. I have slipcovered our basic parsons-style chairs in our last few homes. Once I figured out the initial pattern, these came together so quickly and were about $8 each!
This slipcover for our ottoman (sewn from an IKEA curtain) was the perfect solution to keeping this white furniture piece nice and bright! It may look tricky, but it’s really four corner seams and a single hem around the bottom!
Custom cushion covers are also a great way to tailor things for your home. For this antique bench picked up an an auction, no store-bought cushion would fit just right. With some foam and coordinating fabrics, I was able to sew together a cushion that matched the shape and color of the bench just right!
If you’re working on a room makeover, specifically a bedroom, living room, or nursery, and can’t find the one element to bring the whole room’s color palette together, a quilt just might do the trick! Since you can make quilts in any shapes, sizes, patterns and colors you wish, they can be the perfect way to unify (or inspire) the entire room’s decor. Don’t be intimated by quilts! If you can measure, cut and sew a straight line, you can handle these!
Sewing projects don’t always have to involve lots of fabric and lots of time. You can make small projects that can keep your home (or your life!) a little more tidy and organized. I LOVE sewing up storage solutions for our toys and other small household items. Not only do I get to play with my fun fabrics, but I can be certain they will fit just what I need them to since I make them custom to our needs!
Last but not least, don’t feel like you have to frequent the fabric store and make all your projects from scratch out of carefully selected fabrics. One of the best things about being able to sew is to customize and tailor off-the-shelf items to fit your home perfectly! From hemming your own curtains and adding zippers for easier pillow insert swapping, to adding decorative details or embellishing items with holiday fabric, if you can sew, you can make anything into a one-of-a-kind item!
Admittedly, I am always a bit surprised when I meet people who don’t know how to sew. It’s certainly nothing against all the non-sewers out there…I think because I grew up with a Mom who was always at her sewing machine, and it’s something almost every other woman in my family does (or at least knows how to do!), I assumed people grew up learning to sew. If you’re not a sewer, but love home decor and love to change it out for the seasons or your personality, this is my ‘atta girl’ (or guy!) speech to tell you to go learn to sew. Ask a family member, take a class, watch You Tube videos…these days, the opportunities for learning really are endless. In fact, I just found out that two local stores offer sewing and quilting lessons, so I am going to take the opportunity of living so close to improve my skills and learn a few things I’ve been struggling with (I’m looking at you serger).
And for all my newbies out there, the Internet is such a great resource and there are so many sites that can help you every step of the way. These are the sites I visit when I need to learn or re-learn how to do something specific:
Sewing useful and beautiful items from raw fabric is one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever learned to do. Just putting this post together has given me the hankering to start a new project and get back to my machine! And wouldn’t you know it – tomorrow is National Sewing Machine Day (look at me, being all timely with my post!), so it’s a perfect day dive in, wouldn’t you say?! I wonder what I should work on next…probably that quilt I still haven’t finished!
After a mini Spring break, I’m back and chatting over #onTHIHMblog what I’ve been up to and what’s coming up! Link in profile! #refreshed #feelinggood #goodstuffcoming
A photo posted by The Homes I Have Made (@thehomesihavemade) on
I’d love to know…do you sew? Have you ever wanted to sew? What are you favorite things to sew? What skills do you need to improve?
I hope you all had a fantastic Labor Day weekend. Ours’ was filled with lots of good times with visiting family, and I think we were all left way too exhausted to take on the short week. Things might be a bit bumpy around here this week as I play some serious catch up, but I do hope you all had a wonderful end to your summer and are ready to find or hit your September/Fall/New School Year groove! Hope to see you back here Friday!