Love to Sew? Considerations and Simple Projects

From on March 10, 2009 in General


I’m an expert seamstress. In the late 70s and all throughout the 80s, I designed both women’s apparel and fabric accessories for the home, professionally and for personal enjoyment. And yet I haven’t sewn much of anything in a couple of decades now. Why?

For starters, my career underwent a sea change and I shifted out of the fabric arts professions. But even though I kept a home sewing studio for years, my sewing activities have diminished to the point of being almost nonexistent. This is a reflection of a far more encompassing sea change in the sewn products industry, of which fabric accessories for the home are a part.

In the past few decades, the sewn products industry has changed dramatically. Between the incomparable manufacturing capabilities of countries like India, China, and many others outside the U.S. and the advances in sewing-related technologies, there is no longer a cost advantage to home sewing. In fact, it’s more expensive in many cases. With the availability of fabric accessories for the home as inexpensive and widespread as it is now, you can find an abundance of ready-made items at prices far lower than what it would cost you to buy comparable materials alone – without taking into account the skill and labor involved in the cutting and sewing. Not to mention the time.

Here are the most common fabric accessories for the home:

  • Window coverings (curtains, draperies, fabric shades)
  • Bedding (bedspreads, bed skirts, duvet covers, shams, pillows)
  • Decorative pillows and cushions
  • Quilts and throws
  • Tabletop accessories (tablecloths, napkins, placemats, table runners)

Macy’s, Linens n Things (undergoing a sea change of its own as I write), The Curtain Exchange – these home furnishings emporiums are great examples of product lines that look great, are well made, and cost less than it would to make them at home. I could do a quick analysis of estimated yardages, cost of fabric per yard, time involved in design and construction – but you get the point:

Home sewing is not about the money anymore. It’s about the joy of doing it.

This being the case, some really fun, easy projects that you can do at home without too much trouble are:

  • Adding tassels and fringes to ready-made items
  • Making quilt squares for pillows or wall décor
  • Embroidering or cross-stitching tablecloths and table runners

Ideas and materials and kits for projects like these – and many, many others – are available in retail stores like JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores, Calico Corners, and Walmart. You can also find some wonderful, local stores in your own area by checking your yellow pages under Fabrics – there are still some unique ones that offer a wide array of creativity-inspiring materials for lovers of sewing and needlecraft of all kinds.