For an easy DIY project, Jeannette Kendall used a scarf to dress… (photo by Sarah Pastrana )
Have you ever had a skirt, top or other fabulous garment that you just adored and for some reason (maybe it became shrunken or stained) you could no longer wear? Remember how hard it was to give away? Or perhaps you couldn’t bear to give it away and it just took up space in your closet. Before you consider casting off something special: Rethink, repurpose and refashion. I am not suggesting keeping every cast-off, but certainly there are special pieces that just say “you.” Imagine giving life to them in the form of home furnishings! What better way to add your personal style to an office, bedroom or living room?
Details that incorporate your personal style add instant comfort to any room. Using materials you have on hand (from your very own closet) will surely be gratifying. In bygone days, it was common to repurpose textiles: Think quilt. This homey bedcovering still is a cherished tradition but not to everyone’s taste or time budget.
The types of clothes that I consider keepers are ones that have great patterns that you truly love or clothes made from fabrics with beautiful textures. Pieces of clothing that are commonly pushed to the back of the closet are ones purchased on a vacation like an ethnic embroidered dress or exotic sarong. Other clothing items I hold onto are high-quality sweaters (if I love the color) and clothes that have a lot of yardage. I like using the fabric from skirts best since there are generally bigger blocks of fabric to work with.
Here are some ideas and tips to get you thinking outside the quilt (... er, box).
Patch Pillows. An existing throw pillow gets a second chance by simply cutting the fabric of a garment in the shape and measurement of the pillow (with a half-inch hem allowance). Depending on the level of skill, affix the “patch” to the front side of the pillow. Sewing the patch is optimal, but using a fusible tape works really well, too. Add trim if your style requires more zing.
Seat Covers. Unscrew the seat from a dining room chair, and stretch a new look right over the top. Approach this project with scissors and a staple gun. If you are covering a whole set of chairs, consider a different pattern for each cushion while coordinating the patterns. I recently spray-painted an old rattan back chair white and covered the seat with a bold polka-dot scarf that I never wore ... super-cute for my woman cave (home office).
Lamp Shades. A sassy lampshade can really brighten up a room and be a conversation piece. Smooth the fabric from a top or skirt around the shade. Cut the excess fabric and glue the edges to the lampshade. Add trim to suit the mood of the room (elegant, fun, mod) and glue over the raw edges of the fabric.
Coasters. Remember that cashmere sweater that was accidentally tossed in the laundry? After a considerable amount of grieving, you may have decided to store it until an appropriately sized toddler came along. Wait no more. The felted wool makes excellent coasters. Trace 3-inch circles on the sweater fabric and cut. Edge with a blanket stitch or simply cut with pinking shears for a decorative edge.
Accessorize. Colorful sashes or long scarves tied in a bow around a boring lampshade or chair back add interest and a punch of color. What about those 1995 mega-earrings? Use a pair of pliers to remove the post or clip. Hot-glue one or several to a picture frame for a fun embellished look. Retro or vintage hats or shoes can be shown off in shadow boxes and hung as original wall art.
Refashioning clothes is good for the environment and good for the soul, and all the while will add to the beauty and comfort of your home.
Jeannette Kendall is president of Success In Style, a nonprofit with locations in Ellicott City and North Laurel that provides free business attire to disadvantaged women and men seeking employment. firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-750-6475.