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Inside or out, fabrics have you covered

Susan Perry knew that hanging curtains on the deck of her Lockport home would make it more homey. But there was another reason she decided to add them.

“Because I sew, I love colors, patterns and textures. I have to have fabric around me,” said Perry, who chose a large floral-print outdoor fabric. The home-sewn curtains hang on clip rings from a rod attached to the pergola above the 10-by-16-foot deck.

In the summertime, it’s her favorite “room” at the home she shares with her husband and daughter. She said it took about 10 yards of 54-inch-wide fabric to make curtains for both ends of the furnished deck and estimated it cost about $210 for fabric and hardware.

Home fabrics are having a heyday, it seems. For starters, fabrics that can withstand the elements have people rethinking their outdoor spaces with curtains, table linens and other accessories that look as good as the ones found indoors. Tacky fabrics, these are not.

Secondly, inspiration is easily found in specialty publications, on television and on the Internet. Pinterest, for one – the online photo/idea-sharing pin board – “is so unbelievable for ideas,” said Michele Dzikoski, owner of Fabric Warehouse, 6599 S. Transit Road, Lockport.

Not that everyone has even the basic skills for sewing at home. Locally, fabric stores may offer services or be able to refer you to someone who can stitch up something for you. Word of mouth is another option.

Outdoor spaces also invite creative combinations of color. Leah Daniel, a retired teacher who works at Fabric Warehouse, chose a lime green and orange scheme for her patio and combined five different fabrics, using a solid lime green as the core fabric.

Outdoor curtains installed on rod pockets dress up what is essentially “a concrete slab with aluminum posts and awning,” Daniel said. Pillows are solid on one side, printed on the other and piped in a third fabric.

“When you look at somebody’s garden and you fall in love with it, it’s all kinds of colors. It’s not just one basic color,” said Daniel, whose patio pots and flowers also coordinate with the fabrics.

So why not do the same with your outdoor fabrics?

Taking fabric outdoors can go beyond curtains and cushions. Outdoor fabrics or even laminated cottons that are coated on one side can be stretched on wood frames or hung as banners on fences or exterior walls.

“It’s a nice way to spiff up a privacy fence or side of a garage where the hollyhocks aren’t high enough,” said Sandy Hertel, owner of Elmwood Village Fabrics, 543 Franklin St.

In addition, do-it-yourselfers can grab a staple gun and easily replace the nasty-looking vinyl seat covers of a dinette set with a new fabric suited for outdoors, she added.

Margaret Jendrejzak, in-home decorator at Calico, 5501 Main St., Williamsville, even once backed a wrought-iron garden gate with an outdoor fabric at a client’s home to block the view of trash cans. The fabric matched that of the patio curtains – a taupe outdoor Sunbrella fabric with chocolate-brown trim.

Indoors or out, Jendrejzak offered this tip: “Use a fun, patterned fabric on a smaller piece such as an ottoman or pull-up chair rather than a big piece such as a sofa.”

That way, you won’t tire of it as quickly and, if you do, it’s less expensive to recover a smaller piece.

Slipcovers also are a popular option, inside and out. Once used to protect upholstery during the sticky summer months, before the days of air-conditioning, people now choose them to simply change the look, Jendrejzak said.

And not just sofas. Headboards, duvet covers, ottomans, dining and side chairs, even dog beds can be slipcovered.

While some people, such as Susan Perry, have made their own slipcovers, they also can be professionally done. At Calico, a custom-fitted and tailored slipcover for a 24-by-36 ottoman begins at about $200, plus fabric.

“A slipcover is a nice way to extend the life of a piece,” Jendrejzak said.

Some other interesting ways people are using fabrics:

• Fabric wall hangings indoors as an alternative to framed artwork. Perry, a member of the Buffalo Chapter of the American Sewing Guild, crafted two quilted wall hangings for two large blank walls. One is a 52-by-48-inch landscape theme, the other a 55-by-72-inch design with seven different fabrics,

• Upholstered folding floor screens. Use one to block an unattractive view or to add color, pattern and texture to a space. Calico – formerly Calico Corners – has several on display at the store.

These screens also are well-suited for loft-dwellers who may not want traditional window treatments, Jendrejzak said. Screens can create privacy in the sleeping or dressing areas.

Another option for lofts: Flat fabric panels installed as room dividers, Jendrejzak said.

• Table runners, place mats and napkins. These can echo or complement the other fabrics in the room or outdoor area. Or introduce an entirely new theme. Perry, for instance, is currently sewing a table runner and place mats in a coffee-theme fabric.

Finally, get creative in finding new sources for fabrics. Daniel once found a fabulous footstool at a thrift store. When she couldn’t find the herringbone fabric she wanted, she bought a herringbone men’s suit jacket – also at a thrift store – and used the back of it to cover the stool, using a staple gun. “You can find some funky prints on old clothing,” she said. “I think I paid $5 for the stool and $2 or $3 for the jacket,” she said.

You can’t beat paying less than $10 for a custom little stool, she said.