Risking It: Upholstery Fabric Throw Blanket

by Diane Henkler on 03/23/2011

So Long, Winter?  The calendar says it’s Spring, but when I woke up this morning there was a layer of white stuff on the ground that wasn’t there yesterday.

I am trying to stay positive and I’m going chase the chill away by adding some Spring color to my family room by doing something a bit unconventional, but authentically in my own style –which brings me to how I even happened upon my own style – my own way of doing things – a few words – I took a risk.

After-How-to-make-a-blanket

A long time ago when I was first married and my hubby and I had our first home I dearly wanted to decorate it, but we had a very teeny tiny budget.  My younger, inexperienced self thought I had to go to Ethan Allen or JC Penney to decorate my home to have it look nice.  I also had those worries – Will it look good if I do this? Will it go out of style before I can even get it paid off?  or What if I hate it after I spend good money on it?  etc. etc.

That all changed for me when I decided to just do it my way.  I learned that when I wanted something bad enough –in this case a pretty home that I had to look past risks and find opportunity. My opportunity came when I threw the risks of picking and choosing conventional furnishings out the window and became resourceful – which I now know is one of my greatest strengths.

I started doing things my way – unconventionally – the way I learned in my profession of retail display.  I used a glue gun to make drapes out of sheets and coat hangers to make curtain rods to hang them.  This was way before HGTV came on the scene and a glue gun wasn’t a household staple. The way I was decorating my home caught on and I was doing it for my family, friends, and neighbors – unconventionally and everyone was so happy and wanted to know how to do it for themselves.

It was this unconventional way that I did things that landed me a DIY decorating book contract. I stood out from the crowd, I was doing something different – unconventional that worked and that people wanted – I was making a difference in people’s homes that had teeny tiny budgets like I did – and it all started when I took that first major leap and risked – doing it my way!

That leap and the belief that yes, I could make it happen set me on my course in life.  My home was like a lab – where I took risks – experimented!  It was a fun and exciting journey. I have a bigger budget today, but still rely on my resources and doing things my way – unconventionally – it has more meaning to do it this way than for me to buy something off the rack  – that to me is taking a risk – not authentic enough anymore for me.

So to chase the winter blues away I went to my favorite $1 a yard fabric place – JoMar and splurged! – I bought 3 yards of $6 upholstery fabric to make 2 bright and cheery throw blankets to replace my faux animal skin fur ones that I use in the winter.

Upholstery fabric is usually stiff and has strange backing  – not very soft either, but I always keep my eyes open and never dismiss any possibility – because that’s how I decorate my way.   Too many people don’t realize the wonderful resource JoMar can be if they just take a little time to walk up and down the aisles to find the treasures amoungst the older fabrics. If I was one of these people, I would never  have stumbled upon wonderful stuff like this upholstery fabric that was on the roll backwards and mixed in with the rows of dark brown fabrics. Stuff like this sells at Calico Corners for $36 or more a yard.

Green-Fabric-at-JoMar

It is very soft, has a classic pattern, is in a favorite color, and looks good on both sides – so no lining is necessary – one less step to having new “pops” of spring color in my family room all because I am not afraid to do it my way.   Call it El-cheap-O, resourceful, whatever – it is the way I do things and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.

It is how I am wired.

Risk = Opportunity = Reward


Supplies Needed:

Fabric
Thread
Scissors
Straight edge

1. Lay your fabric out – I always do this on my floor. I used my fur throw as a pattern. It measured 64” long  x  46”  wide.

How-to-use-uphostery-fabric

2.  Use a straight edge and scissors to cut to size.  I just cut length as the width of my fabric was perfect.

How-to-make-a-throw-blanket

3. To keep the corners from getting too thick when you sew a hem on each side, I first folded and pinned each corner down.

How-to-make-a-sofa-throw-1

4. Then turned over the raw edge on each side and sewed a hem.

How-to-make-a-blanket-throw

5.  Then I repeated the process  – by folding over the raw edged hem again to create a finished hem.

How-to-sew-the-corners-when

6. So I had finished edges and flat corners.

How-to-sew-corners-on-a-bla

All done and looking mighty spring-like on my chair.

After-How-to-make-a-blanket

Risk led me to a better way to authentically decorate for myself and others – a more creative way to do things – which is how I like to live.

If I hadn’t taken that risk a long time ago, perhaps I would just have

“An apartment with deep pile carpets
And a couple of paintings from Sears
A big waterbed that we bought with the bread
That we saved for a couple of years.”

-Billy Joel

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Connie March 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

Very pretty! I have some fabric that I might need to try out. Thanks for taking the risk.

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2 Tasha March 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

I absolutely love this idea. Thank you for sharing it.

Tasha

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3 Marty@A Stroll thru Life March 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

Love that fabric. It is stunning and your colors are gorgeous. Perfect. Hugs, Marty

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4 Sherry March 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

Hi Diane,
This throw is just beautiful! Great color and design next to your beautiful roses. Definitely makes it feel like spring, even though we also have snow covering our roofs this morning!

Have a great day!
Sherry

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5 Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions March 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

It’s a beautiful fabric, Diane, and makes for a wonderful Spring throw! I know what you mean about pre-HGTV decorating. I recall things I made and did in my own newlywed and new mother homes that came about out of necessity and resourcefulness. Sometimes you gotta look passed the ugly to find the beautiful!

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6 Stephanie@cre8tive March 23, 2011 at 11:52 am

Oh my, that is gorgeous! I just love anything damask, and this one is so pretty. Looks like a designer throw from a showroom. Spring has sprung here in San Diego, beautiful day today. But we really don’t have a winter. I am with you with taking risks, unconventional way is the best way if you ask me. (that Billy Joel quote makes me miss my water bed from back in the day) Thanks for your sweet comment on my last post Diane, I really appreciate it.

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7 kristin March 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

I love your new throw, the color and the fabric is just beautiful!!!
Thanks for linking!
XO
Kristin

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8 Joy March 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Great pops of color. Thanks for such clear directions.
- Joy

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9 Ashlyn March 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I love green…especially chartreuse-y green!! The fabric is great and I love the throw!
xo
Ashlyn

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10 aninchofgray March 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I love this post. It is great to hear where risk taking (in a good way) has led! I love that green color. Just recovered my wicker couch w/ a similar color and it was about $50 for the fabric!

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11 Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads March 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Love your throw! Certainly makes me look at upholstery fabric in a different way!

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12 Nan March 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Oh Diane, LOVE it! You should frame that photo! I so want to lighten our living room (well, whole house!) and battling whether to get lighter colored sofas with 2 boys and a dog!
I feel very ‘done’ with brown. Do I risk going light and having supremely dirty sofas?? LOL Hmmm…risk?

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13 Ivy March 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm

You go girl!! I love your attitude!! A real pioneer woman if there ever was one. You’re my hero. If everybody in America would just adopt this attitude we would not be dependent on other countries for anything!!!

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14 lisa March 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

WOW, that really brightens up the room! Great idea!

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15 Kim March 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Diane, that fabric is beautiful. Hope you get spring weather there soon.

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16 Bettsi March 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I love the throw, but I especially love hearing your story! I’ve always had fun experimenting in my home too so your style, Diane, is right up my alley!

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17 Shelley Martin March 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm

BEA-U-TI-FUL!
Your post reminded me of a hunting show my husband likes to watch about this guy named Tred Barta. Tred has his own unconventional hunting style that has made him who he is today with his own show on the Versus channel. Tred’s mantra is “I do it MY way! The HARD way! The BARTA way!” Your my Tred Barta. :)

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18 Diana K March 24, 2011 at 6:11 am

Diane- What a gorgeous throw…beautiful piece of fabric! Says Spring to me!!! xxoo Diana

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19 cindy March 24, 2011 at 7:01 am

the fabric looks so very soft….it’s great to find those hidden gems every once in a while isn’t it?

it looks gorgeous on your sofa….

hugs, cindy

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20 Toni March 24, 2011 at 7:31 am

Diane-Love the touch of Spring….now if it would just stop snowing!!

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21 KSacavage March 24, 2011 at 7:56 am

Gorgeous throw! I am jealous that you can use that color in your home. I love it but it would not go anywhere in my decor. I guess I will just have to wear it instead! I think that I will go to my “stash” in the attic and see what I can find. As always, you inspire me.

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22 Shelia March 24, 2011 at 9:24 am

How wonderful your ‘doing it your way’ became a book! and that you were willing to share your talent with others. I love your throw you’ve made and the color and pattern is just precious!
be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

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23 Rene March 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Brilliant! I love it the touch of cheer it brings and always favor green.

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24 Gabriella {sensiblyluxe} March 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm

That fabric is beautiful, and I LOVE that you inserted some Billy Joel lyrics. “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” if I’m not mistaken!

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25 Diane March 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi Gabriella-
Yep – you are right. When I was writing the post the lyrics came into my mind as I was thinking if I didn’t take a leap of faith to do it my way – I would have ended up with ordinary stuff.

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26 Courtney March 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

Love the fabric, a great choice!

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27 Melissa Lewis - Midwest Magnolia March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am

Oh my gosh, I just found your blog and I’m so excited. I love this idea. There are so many decor fabrics that I love and would love to incorporate somewhere but don’t know how. This is a great way! Love it. Can’t wait to swim around your blog for a while now. Totally clicking on “subscribe.”

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28 Diane March 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Hi Melissa-

I am a fabric junkie, too. I love all the patterns and the colors and have a hard time saying no to all the yummy bolts at the fabric store. Thanks for subscribing.

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29 Jodie March 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I found a soul sister! I find so much satisfaction in making things myself and there are very few projects I won’t try. I started out as you did on a limited budget, it makes you look at the possibilities in things you might normally pass by. Now I just love the challenge of creating things myself. So glad I found your blog.
Jodie

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30 Diane March 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Hi Jodie-
I find it so much more enjoyable to be able to make the things I want, of course I buy things from time to time – but I have to really love them first. I find I enjoy my home and spaces more as they are a part of me – just not stuff filling up the room. Thanks for connecting with me.

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31 Karen W March 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm

Hi Diane – great post! Love that risk-taking attitude, sister!
p.s. one of my favorite old Billy Joel songs. gotta love Brenda and Eddy!

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32 tracie March 26, 2011 at 10:11 am

love the green!

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33 CAS March 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

I’m not sure I’ve ever found upholstery fabric that doesn’t have that funky backing, but I will be looking closer from now on. I love it!
CAS

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34 Kate @ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating March 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

I love this fabric! Great idea! Thanks for linking Flaunt it Friday!

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35 Denise March 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Gorgeous, but everything you do is gorgeous! Ivy left a great comment. As a country, we have lost our “resourcefulness”. Our great grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers used to sew, create and “make do” all the time. We have all fallen victim to Madison Avenue and the idea that the only way to get what we want or need is to buy from Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel something that somebody else has thought up and created. We have forgtten how fun it is to “do if yourself” and how awesome it is to have something that you have made yourself that nobody else has.

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36 Diane March 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hi Denise-

I agree with you a 100%. I like the creativity – the oneness that what you have is unique to you – mixed, matched, and made in a way that is individually pleasing. As a child I remember learning how to sew in Girl Scouts and being resourceful. It wasn’t about being frugal – it was about creativity, thinking out of the box. We made things out of all sorts of junk – free – like pantyhose and egg cartons. I loved it. I think in the 80′s things began to shift. Perhaps society will tire of it all and a shift will occur again. Maybe Madison Avenue will be no more. Our lives will be computer driven then -we will be doing everything with our phones or communicators like in StarTrek. We will be able to paint rooms, cook dinner, just like in the Jetson’s without even thinking. Jane doesn’t have to sew a hole on George’s shirt – she just presses a button and a computer does it for her :) Time marches on and I know even as it does that I will always enjoy doing it my way – a DIY’er forever.

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37 Brooke @ Inside-Out Design March 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

This is such a great idea!!! I have left over fabric from some pillows I made covers for…now I’m toying with the idea of making a throw with it! Yours is beautiful and so perfect for spring.

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38 martha March 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Such a beautiful idea, frugally conceived, creatively executed, and skillfully explained. Inspirational! Thank you.

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39 Bettsi April 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Diane, I must have been inspired by you and didn’t remember! I bought two beautiful yards of something similar to your fabric with the intention of turning it into a throw. Now that I see this post again, I realize where I got the idea! Lol, even the colors are similar! I am thinking about adding a fringe on all four sides, if I can find something affordable. Thanks again for all the terrific ideas!

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40 Diane April 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hi Bettsi-

I am happy to know that I inspired you. The throw would look great with some fringe or decorative trim. I have been known to buy inexpensive old linens at yard sales only for the trim. I have a great resource for very affordable trim here in the Phila area. I hope you can find some in your area.

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