pure + lovely’s simple spruce-ups in the suburbs :: a seamstress story

I’m kind of excited to announce our first “real” and “official” series here at Pure + Lovely!

(I totally put that stuff in quotes, because I’m not sure it has to be designated as official by anyone but yours truly, and you can take me with a big fat grain of salt…)

{But it’s going to be so much fun!}

I also put real in quotes. (As opposed to fake?) Because it’s at least weekly: a look at things I’ve learned, and DIY concepts you can apply, ideas to use, and things to try…to spruce up your home.

It begins today…and it ends…who knows when?

I’m kind of hoping we can all share some of the things we’ve used in our own homes, throughout this series…so feel free to leave me a link or contact me, re: anything you want to share, anything you think needs to be included…or ways you may have used the same concepts…I can’t wait!

SO, without further ado:

Simple Spruce Up 1: Learn How To Sew.

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Once upon a time, circa 2003, I was a mass produced kinda gal. I purchased my curtains at Target, and my pillows at Pier One. My furniture at Bombay and…the list of store chains that goes on and on… All of that is totally fine in moderation. Because that was just what ya did on my budget. But I was itching for something different…

The only problem is, I was never happy. With any of it. I got kind of tired of walking into my house, and someone saying, “oh yeah. I have those same curtains.” or “I have that pillow! How funny!” Don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing wrong with that at all. {I’m not a total snob.} There is no way you can have everything in your home completely different from anyone else. That’s crazy.

It just didn’t ever feel like ME, and alot of it was because I wasn’t thinking outside of the box.

It felt like I was designing my home around something everyone else would approve of. And to repeat myself for the fiftieth time: Who’s preconceived notions of a home was I following, anyway?

I wasn’t expressing myself through the simple things, and making an effort to make my home truly unique. Truly us. Discontentment is something I truly strive to avoid…but it was settling in to stay.

I knew there had to be other options. Enter my Mother In Law. (Nana). She is the bomb dot com forward slash awesomeness when it comes to making things. I soon found out we were expecting Aiden, {surprise!} and discovered the world of seamstress bliss. She agreed to make Aiden’s baby bedding, and I was in heaven. We ventured to fabric stores, and researched designs for his room. I found myself immersed in another dimension of design…and sometime after that, I decided it was time to learn how to sew on my own. And I think the rest is history.

I work with people a lot in their spaces with creating something they love through simple changes. Pure and Lovely design for all, and on a budget to boot. When I start out with them, one of my first questions is: Do you sew?

Why would I ask that? because I think it’s a huge advantage in the playing field of limited budgets and available options.

I know. I know. Let the arguments begin. I could list them and rebutt them all. I used to think only the fabulous secret society of martha stewart-esque esteemed housewives unanimous, actually sewed, and that I was incapable of ever achieving such “greatness.”  My main point being that if you care about designing a nicer home around your family…and you want to save some money…stop with all your preconceived notions of how impossible it is, toppled on a pile of a bazillion other reasons. And just tackle it. HEAD ON!

I taught myself. And if I can figure it out…anyone can. TRUST ME.

So if you don’t know how to sew…

start by purchasing a sewing machine.

You can go ahead and put away your preconceived arguments of sewing machines, and expenses galore. The average singer (nothing fancy! This is the model I own) totally goes for a mere 160 smacks. People drop MUCH more than that on the average window panel from Pottery Barn. With Fabric.com {paired with retailmenot.com!!!} as your new best friend, you are now an indestructable force of textile mania. The first pair of curtains you make, practically pay for the sewing machine in the money you save!

Now moving away from the numbers game, think about all the new possibilities that are opened up to you? With my new sewing machine, (I requested one year as a mother’s day gift) my mother in law and a few good trusty friends for advice and reference…I was well on my way to creating my own lovelies for our home.

And then I was scared. I stared at the sewing machine for weeks on end…promising to break it out, soon. Jamin made fun of me and offered to resale it on Ebay, as I hadn’t yet touched it, or made the time for such things. It just seemed so…overwhelming.

SO, I gussied up the nerve, and started out by asking a good friend to show me how to thread my machine. {shout out to Jamey for putting up with me on that one} If you can get past the threading…the rest is a plethora of possibilities.

mass produced bedding no longer looks quite so mass produced anymore, with your magical touch.

the possibilities from curtains, to pillows, and even magnet boards are suddenly available to you.

Get a bunch of scrap fabric from Hobby Lobby or some other fab store, and practice practice practice!

Browse etsy for ideas with pattern inspiration in fabric and design choices.

The basics of sewing is just a bunch of straight lines, joined together. With a little basic math for measurements, and some mad needle threading skills…and LOTS of patience…you can totally do it. You don’t need a pattern for some simple pillows or panels like these:

Start with a few simple pillows. and then move on to draperies. TRIPLE check your measurements, and get a GREAT pair of scissors to work with, as well. I have quite a few sob stories on the lost yardages from preoccupied minds and crazy child interference…but such is the life of a novice DIYer. And sometimes…happy accidents DO happen…


Soon, you find youself making toys for your children, matching outfits, bags and pillows.

I do realize that sewing isn’t for everyone. But I do find that it has oppened up a whole new world of rewarding possibilities for me. And I totally recommend it to anyone interested in sprucing up their home. I’m still at beginner level! If you have the money, then by all means, hire a seamstress. But I do challenge all of us to begin looking for answers other than the default go to of the typical retail store. I think this is one of many in the first steps to creating a truly unique home.

So, our first Simple Spruce-Up in the Suburbs session covers sewing. Not really an enlightening topic… But it’s definitely one to think about. And truly one of the first steps you can take to begin creating a more customized look for your homes.

Choosing fabrics, on the other hand…is a whole different topic! Stay tuned…since they can make or break the project…

{-leave a comment…here!-}

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