Fast Fabric Facelifts

Check out these ideas -- each using a yard of fabric or less -- and get started with your own decorating redos.

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Flowered Pillows

Flower pillow

Embellish a plain store-bought pillow with funky felt flowers. Cut simple five-petal flower shapes from felt in various colors, then layer several graduated sizes to make one flower. Using a needle and thread, stitch through the centers of the flowers to tack them together. After you have created about a dozen flowers (or more for a larger pillow), stitch them to the pillow surface, bunching them tightly together to create three-dimensional blooms.

Editor's Tip: Thick, stiff felt works best for blooms that won't wilt, but you can cut flowers from any fabric that doesn't fray, such as fleece.

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Chair Reupholstery

Recovering a chair cushion is much easier than you think. Watch and see how to revive old chairs with this simpe reupholstery technique.

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Fabric Art

Showcase a beautiful piece of fabric as art with this simple technique. Watch and learn how it's done.

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Wrapped Vases

Rag rug doily

Show off pretty fabric scraps by wrapping them around clear glass vases. Choose a vase with straight sides, and cut a rectangle of fabric to fit around it, leaving a 1/2-inch overlap. Secure one vertical edge of the fabric to the glass using double-stick tape, then wrap the fabric, and secure the overlapping edge using fabric glue.

Editor's Tip: Make more of a statement by clustering several vases together and tying them together with a long strip of fabric.

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Snazzy Shade

Fabric lampshade

Add a flourish to your room with a personalized light fixture. Purchase an inexpensive lampshade from a discount store. You can re-cover cone-shape shades, but the straight sides of a drum style make this an easy project. Measure the shade from top to bottom, and add two inches for the fabric to wrap over the edges of the shade. Measure the circumference of the shade and add a 1/2 inch for overlap. Cut a rectangle of fabric that matches these measurements. Spray the wrong side of the fabric rectangle with fabric adhesive, then lay the shade on its side, centered in the rectangle, and wrap the fabric around the shade. Smooth the fabric with your fingers. Wrap fabric under the bottom edge and press into place. For the top edge, cut slits to accommodate the support wires before pressing into place.

Editor's Tip: To re-cover a lampshade that is a cone shape, look for patterns from online lamp supply stores.

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Warm Quilt

Upcycled quilt

Before you toss that snagged sweater or dog-chewed throw blanket, upcycle parts into a brilliant new quilt. To prepare the wool textiles, wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat, which will shrink and tighten the fibers. Even basic sewers can achieve this graphic, modern look by simply cutting basic shapes, such as rectangles, that are all the same size. Stitching the pieces together by hand contributes to the rustic appeal. Use a sturdy thread, such as embroidery floss, and large needles to make the task easier. Finally, leave the edges unfinished, or wrap them with a band of washed cotton fabric and stitch in place.

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Doily Dishes

Doily bowls

Put a bold new spin on crochet doilies, which are common estate sale items and often passed down from Grandma. Using fabric dye, stain the doilies vivid hues, such as these brights; let dry. Turn over a bowl or cup, cover it with plastic wrap, and drape a doily on top. Brush on two coats of liquid fabric stiffener, letting the first coat dry completely. Finish the catchalls by brushing them with clear shellac.

Editor's Tip: You can purchase fabric-stiffening liquid at crafts and hobby stores, or you can make a solution of equal parts white glue and water.

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Personal Notes

DIY stationery

Design your own stationery using lace and doilies as inspiration. Look for vintage handiwork at thrift stores and estate sales. Small crocheted coasters can decorate paper cards; dye one black for a graphic look, and use quick-drying crafts glue to adhere it to cardstock or a note card. You also can use the crochet and lace as stencils. Dip a stencil brush in acrylic paint and use a pouncing motion to apply it over the lace; remove the lace to leave the pattern behind. Use paper doilies from the wedding-supply aisle of the crafts store or lace-pattern decorative tape for other quick adornments.

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Gift Wraps

Scrappy gift wrap

Go beyond the expected paper wrappings for meaningful gifts. Use scraps leftover from projects, or peruse the fresh new offerings at the local crafts store. Lay the fabric wrong side up on a table. Place the gift box or item in the center. Wrap as you would with paper, tucking the corners in and drawing up the opposite sides to tie.

Editor's Tip: If the fabric won't lie neatly, affix glue dots to the corners of the gift box to hold fabric in place.

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Patchwork Headboard

Fabric patchwork headboard

Use scraps of coordinating fabrics to create a modern patchwork-effect headboard. To make the headboard, cut 8-inch squares from stiff florist's foam and 1/4-inch plywood. Cut 8-inch squares from quilt batting and place over foam squares. Glue all layers with Styroglue. Cut fabric into squares large enough to wrap the foam squares with at least a 1/2 -inch overlap on the back. Staple fabric to the back with a staple gun. Cut a piece of 1/4-inch plywood a few inches wider than your mattress on both sides. Line up the squares facedown in your desired pattern and attach them to each other with heavy-duty tape. Top them with the plywood, and drill wood screws at 8-inch intervals to secure all the layers. Attach ring hooks to the back of the plywood to hang the headboard on the wall.

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Sweet Seat

Fabric covered chair

Add style to a plain wooden chair with fabric. Remove the seat and back from the chair. Trace the seat on 1/2-inch foam, cut the foam, then attach it to the seat with spray adhesive. Cut fabric 3 inches wider than the seat perimeter. Wrap fabric over the seat, smoothing as you go and securing with heavy-duty carpet tape on the bottom. Trace the chair back on paper and add 1 inch all around. Using the pattern, cut two pieces of fabric. Lightly spray the front of the chair back with spray adhesive and press fabric onto the front, wrapping the allowance to the back. Fold under 1-inch allowance on the second piece of fabric, wrong sides together, and press. Use fusible webbing to adhere the fabric to the back of the chair, overlapping the wrapped allowance. Reattach the seat and back.

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Casual Cafe Curtains

Cafe curtains

Sew breezy curtain panels to accentuate your windows. Start with inexpensive café curtains from a discount store. Cut a second set of panels from coordinating fabric, adding 1 inch to the side measurement. Press all sides under 1/2 inch, then another inch, and sew hems. Lay the shorter panels over the longer set and clip together with rings to hang.

Editor's Tip: For a no-sew option, secure hems with fusible webbing and an iron.

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Curtain Call

Yellow console table with curtain

Add pretty curtains to a console table to hide storage. Make curtains by sewing a rod pocket, or use fusible webbing for a no-sew option. Embellish with a ribbon or a strip of coordinating scrap fabric along the bottom edge. Hang the curtains between the table legs using tension rods.

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Lamp Love

Green and white fabric covered lamp

Create a designer lamp in minutes with a splashy fabric. Cut fabric pieces 2 inches longer and 1 inch wider than the lamp base and lampshade. Iron a 1-inch hem on both long edges and one short edge of each piece. Lightly spray the lamp base and shade with spray adhesive and wrap fabric around each piece, smoothing as you wrap. If necessary, secure the hemmed edges with a thin bead of fabric glue.

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Flirty Pillows

Pink pillows

A yard of fabric is all it takes to make pillows as large as 30 X 30 inches. Cut a front and back piece of fabric to the desired pillow size, adding 1 inch to the length and width for the seam allowance. Place the fabric right sides together and pin, leaving an opening for stuffing or pillow form. Sew around the pinned fabric. Reach into the open seam and turn the fabric right side out: press. Insert stuffing or pillow. Hand-stitch opening closed.

DIY Tip: Create ruffles from ribbon by sewing two rows of basting stitches 1/4 inch apart down the center of the ribbon, leaving long trends. Pull the bottom threads to gather into ruffles.

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Custom Cabinet Panels

fabric storage

Reface a pair of doors while also hiding the cabinet's contents by lining the glass panels with patterned fabric. On the back of each door, stretch the fabric over the glass and use a staple gun to fasten the edges to the wooden frame. For a tidy appearance inside, conceal the staples with glued-down coordinating ribbon.

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Fabric-Filled Dining


Set a mood in your dining room by combining coordinating fabrics to make a powerful statement.

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Adorable Glass Charms


Use up even the tiniest bits and pieces of leftover or favorite fabrics with these wineglass charms. Cut small squares of selected areas of the fabric and insert each into a frame pendant. Earring-hoop wire threaded through the pendant loop makes it easy to attach the charm to a wineglass stem.

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Pattern-Filled Runner


Stitch up the perfect table runner -- custom-fit to your own table -- by making a fabric "sandwich" with a piece of same-size batting in between. With right sides out and the layers pinned together, sew straight quilting lines through all pieces along the length of the runner. Cover the raw edges with binding tape adhered with fusible web.

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Adorable Chair Cover

detail of chair cover

You don't need to slipcover an entire chair to give it a fresh new look. Make this chair-back cover with just two squares of fabric and use fusible web to adhere a fabric shape to one piece. Finish with coordinating binding tape adhered to the edges with fusible web.

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Pillow Covers


Give a standard pillow form a fresh look by sewing an easy slipcover. Allowing enough fabric for an overlap, sew two sides of the fabric together, folding under the raw edges at the overlap. Slip the cover over the pillow, then close the opening with three covered buttons fitted with coordinating fabric.

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Creative Nook

overall of desk

To jazz up an office pick large-scale patterns for big decorating impact.

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Display Board


Covered in retro-inspired fabric, a stretched artist's canvas becomes a practical memo board. A sheet-metal square added to one side makes a magnetic spot for hanging bits and pieces, and the vellum calendar will keep you on schedule.

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Custom Stationery


Abstract fabric cutouts dress up plain card stock to make custom all-occasion greeting cards that also look great framed. Gel pen outlines and a decorative scalloped edge finish off the cards.

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Make Decorative Balls


Group together fabric-covered balls to make a great filler for a bowl, a glass vase, or a basket. Cut fabric strips from coordinating fabrics and use glue to adhere the strips to plastic-foam balls. Select a variety of fabric patterns and use both small and large balls for extra interest.

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