The realities of first-time dorm living can come with challenging emotions. To make the transition easier, try a few home-sewn projects.
Distinctive memo board: Easy to assemble, this quick to make project only requires a stretched artist’s canvas, quilt batting, cotton fabric, staple gun, sturdy ribbon or twine, and flat or novelty buttons.
Begin by cutting batting and fabric four inches larger than the canvas. Lay fabric right-side down on a flat surface, add batting, and center the artist’s canvas face down. Firmly secure the batting and fabric to the canvas underside by evenly stapling both around the edges of the canvas. Ribbon is traditionally used next by stapling to the back of the canvas and winding around to the front and back again, cut and secure with a staple. Repeat this process until a uniform criss-cross diamond shape or squared pattern reveals. On the front on the canvas, place a button at each intersection and hand sew through the fabric, batting and canvas front to back a few times and knot thread on the back to secure. For a unique twist use twine instead of ribbon and randomly wind around to front of the canvas, stapling on the back to secure with each pass from back to front. Hand sew on novelty buttons at random intersections to the front of the memo board. The memo board is not only useful to add pictures and notes but adds a colorful interest when hung on the wall. Use removable general purpose picture hanging strips and hang over a desk or at the head of a bed.
Fabric chair back cover, open sides: No need to know in advance the chair back size!
Measure two pieces of fabric for finished size approximately 40 inches long by 15 inches wide. Add ½ inch all around for seam allowance. For side ties, use the same fabric and make four ties each 10 inches long or use coordinating ribbon ties. Place fabric, right sides together, include ties along each side seam, placing each six inches from the bottom edges. Stitch all around leaving an opening for turning right-sides out. Press, then hand or machine stitch opening closed. The finished fabric chair cover can easily fit over any chair back by tying the sides closed. Make more than one using seasonal prints or coordinate with the fabric memo board. Note: Smaller sizes can be made as dust covers to cover a separate computer monitor or size adjusted for a flat screen TV.
Basket liners: Add design to functional organization.
Turn basket over, lay a generous piece of fabric wrong-sides up over the basket completely covering the basket and with enough additional fabric to double back over the sides plus seam allowance, pin all four corners somewhat close to the basket. Hand or machine stitch the corners, trim off excess, hem all sides. Turn right sides out and place over the basket.
One piece pillow case cover or pillow sham:
For pillow cases, choose a colorful print calico fabric or tie dye some plain white or muslin fabric for a custom look; for shams home décor fabric gives a tailored look. Usually one yard of fabric is sufficient to make one cover. Measure a standard pillow length, multiply this dimension by two, and add amount for a generous hem allowance for the opening. Measure pillow width, add seam allowance. Using these two measurements, cut fabric. Hem both short ends. For a pillow, fold with right sides together, matching hemmed ends, stitch both long edges, turn and press. Embellish hem ends with lace or ribbon trim if desired. For shams, hem both ends but fold ends to the middle, right sides together, overlapping one slightly more than the other. Stitch long ends, turn, press. The cover will have an opening on the back to slip the pillow into.
Drawstring laundry bag:
Use sturdy linen-like fabric. Usually ½ yard of fabric is all that is needed. Cut a rectangle of fabric 20 inches by 40 inches. Fold in half length-wise right-sides together, then stitch each side in a ½ inch seam. To make the drawstring casing, press under opening ¼ inch, then fold and press again one inch or slightly more. Stitch pressed casing edges all around. Turn right-side out. To make a simple opening for drawstring, cut a one inch slit outside of only one fabric casing side, about midway from each stitched end. Whip stitch the slit opening edges forming a button-hole like opening. Thread sturdy grosgrain ribbon or nylon coated cord through the opening. Add a cord stop. Pull to gather closed.
First year college living away from home is filled with excitement, trepidation, meeting new people, and experiencing new ideas. Having a few colorful handmade fabric pieces can brighten and personalize an otherwise utilitarian dorm or campus apartment to add a sense of home to what may be that first away-from home, family, and friends experience.
Sew happy, sew inspired.