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Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Sewing Home Furnishings, Edited by Peg Couch

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Sometimes the best way to redecorate a room is to refresh it — change the curtains and some of the accessories. Whether a bedroom, living room, bathroom, or kitchen, any room can look dramatically different — better — with a few updates.

If you’ve shopped for curtains, you are struck by two things: 1) the price of good quality curtains; and 2) the limited selection. It’s so disheartening to have an idea of what you’d like to do, but be unable to find the right elements needed for the look you want to achieve. However, stroll into an upholstery fabrics shop, and be amazed. Bolt upon bolt of fabrics to suit every taste — solids, patterns, striking color combinations — with prices ranging from about $7 a yard into the hundreds of dollars per yard.

Most upholstery fabric shops also create custom curtains, upholstery, and accessories or can recommend people who do. But with very little effort, you can do the work yourself. Many home decorating projects require few sewing skills and produce rapid results. Throw pillows and café curtains nearly put themselves together, while more complicated items like slipcovers require more time and planning. The end result, though, is having exactly what you want, not settling for what everyone else has.

Illustrated Guide to Sewing Home Furnishings: Expert Techniques for Creating Custom Shades, Drapes, Slipcovers and More from Fox Chapel Publishing is a do-it-yourself guide for the inventive decorator who is willing to do a little work in order to make decorating dollars go further. Detailed illustrations guide the user through every step of projects that include curtains, bed spreads and skirts, pillows, and Roman shades.

There are also instructions for a variety of techniques used in custom decorating, and guides to fabrics, tools, and sewing supplies. Especially helpful are the “Checklist for Fiber Qualities” that lists fabrics, their suggested uses, advantages and disadvantages, and care, and “A Glossary of Fabric Usefulness” which explains what every type of fabric is and where to use it best. Beginners will be surprised at the variety of fabrics available to them.

Edited by Peg Couch (how perfect is that?), Illustrated Guide to Sewing Home Furnishings provides all the information needed to give a home a beautiful makeover or some much-needed tweaks. From project start to finish, every step is included and illustrated, while photos provide a look at the finished product. With its projects and instructions, nearly anyone can have custom-designed style without paying interior designer prices.

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