Americans are showing renewed interest in sewing for the home, what with the advent of extra-wide fabrics in appealing prints and easy-to-follow instructions for more professional results.
The country look so popular today, for example, is well-suited to the home sewer. Country curtains, table covers and chair cushions are inherently easy to make, and suitable fabrics abound.Pattern companies are making the most of the do-it-yourself trend. A number have redesigned patterns for quick results, often including how to measure and coordinate projects.
It's hard to say who started the push - the public or the industry. But sewing for the home seems to be overtaking apparel as the reason for getting out the sewing machine, which the Singer Sewing Co. says is found in 70 percent of American homes.
There is no single statistic that shows sales growth, but fabric chains in the United States report sales increases of 10 to 20 percent in this area from 1989 to 1990, according to the Sewing Fashion Council in New York. Men are among the do-it-yourselfers, although women far outnumber them, the council says.
McCall's, which this spring introduced a craft and home decorating pattern book, says the category accounts for almost 35 percent of its market. Two of the top 10 sellers, about $8 apiece, "Home Dec in a Sec" patterns, according to Gail Hamilton, publisher of McCall's quarterly Patterns Magazine. The projects can be sewn in three hours or less, she says.
One top seller takes you step-by-step to jabots and swags. The pattern envelope tells how to create a variety of looks: trimmed or untrimmed, solids or prints, sheers or heavy textures, long or short, lined or unlined. The package also tells how to mount the completed window treatment and what type of hardware to buy.
"There used to be a time lag between the decorator looks shown in magazines and what you could buy in the fabric stores," Hamilton says. "That time lag has been virtually eliminated."
People are often drawn to home sewing by the money they can save.
"You can sew your own duvet covers, bed skirts, pillow shams, window valances and throw cushions for about a third of what they cost in premium linen stores," says Pamela Hastings, Singer's consumer education director.
Getting a custom look quickly and enjoying a sense of achievement also are important. As a result, home sewers are a demanding lot and are willing to try until they get it right.
"They want the finished product to look as if it might have been made professionally," says Meri Stevens, president of Waverly Fabrics.
The Butterick Pattern Co. recently introduced patterns developed by Waverly - a premier designer of decorator fabrics. They include window coverings, bed canopies, bath accessories, table skirts and throws for sofas, easy chairs and ottomans.
New products that make it easier to get professional results include extra-wide fabrics such as 90-inch widths offered by Springs Mills. Patterns using the fabrics are included in McCall's pattern books. The extra width means less seaming of cumbersome projects.
There are about 17 prints, mainly geometrics and florals, that retail for $9 to $10 a yard, says John McInerney, president of the retail fabrics division of Springs. Coordinating 45-inch fabrics sell for about $5 to $6 a yard.
Other sewing aids particularly useful include fusible cloth which can be used for making fabric window shades, iron-on smocking tape and a plastic track system that makes quick work of covering walls with fabric, Hastings says.
- MANY PEOPLE SHY AWAY from doing their own decorating, fearing they can never achieve professional-quality results. Help comes from The Sewing Fashion Council who has taken the guesswork out of decorating with "Home Styling," a new 220-page color brochure created for the do-it-yourselfer interior designer.
Written in easy to understand language, "Home Styling" highlights tips for working with color, fabric, patterns and trim along with a helpful guide for accurate measuring to insure the success of each decorating project.
You don't have to be an expert seamstress to sew for the home - anyone can do it. "Home Styling" will help you get started. To obtain a copy, send a check for $2 to:
c/o The Sewing Fashion Council
P.O. 431M, Madison Square Station,
New York City, NY 10010.