Yesterday, I was sitting at lunch with my mom, perusing the ridiculous influx of magazines that pour, unsolicited, into her mailbox this time of year. I came across a line of wool felt table settings that caught my eye in one of them – and I looked at the price tag and said the same thing I say every time I look at similar items: “You could make this a lot cheaper!”
The “Do It Yourself” mentality is nothing really new, but in the past decade, I think the drive to get creative and make things has gained greater impetus. For those on limited budgets, the urge to Do It Yourself may be initiated by the desire to have certain types of items found in the retail world that exceed the limits of the purse strings. For others, the DIY mentality is a way of life – a principled stand against some facet of manufacturing or commercial enterprises. For some, they do it themselves because they know they can do it better.
When the DIY urging inevitably overtakes me this time of year, I have to remind myself of a few things …. so I tell myself the following:
1. You can’t always DIY less expensively, but you can usually do it yourself better, simply because you can pay attention to quality of materials and workmanship that are often overlooked by commercial enterprises. So if you are going to put the time in to make it, then don’t do a rush job, don’t waste materials, use good materials, and make something that will last.
2. You can DSY (do something yourself) less expensively, if you pay close attention to your needs and your wants. If you don’t Neeeeed it, you don’t need it. So don’t make it. Make something else! If you must “create,” then create something you can afford to create. Re-use, dig into stash, etc. Forget the catalog …
3. When you set about to improve upon something you’ve seen or to imitate it, add your own twist – at least take the source of inspiration up another notch to make it more “your own.” If I’m going to imitate something and make it myself, I’d rather people not equate it automatically with something bought from a retailer.
Ok, all that being said… this DIY idea has GOT to be cheaper…. It’s a good source of inspiration that I think could be adapted a bit and even improved upon.
The catalog was Williams-Sonoma, and the items are a table runner, placemats, and a tree skirt made from a red felt blend (read that correctly: probably 20% wool, 80% acrylic … it was on sale at the local fabric shop off the bolt last week for $6.99 / yard) backed by white fabric. There’s a cut out design in the red felt so that the white shows through.
These cutwork felt items from Williams-Sonomoa are rather striking, I think. I’m not exactly sure I would decorate my Christmas table with felt, especially at $60 for the equivalent of less than a yard of fabric for the runner (you’d probably have to buy more than that, to get the length in one piece, if you wanted it in one piece – unless you’d settle for a 72-inch runner as opposed to a 90-inch).
Zooming in on the pieces, they’re just cut out … there’s no re-inforcement or anything on the cut edge. It’s a clean cut – felt is great for that. A little template, a craft knife or small sharp scissors (I prefer the latter when working with felt), and you’re all set.
There’s also a 56-inch circular tree skirt for $89. Let’s see… 72″ wide on that felt blend from the local fabric store… so, two yards to make a 56″ circle.
I suspect the white fabric is nothing too fancy-schmancy. Just cotton or a cotton-poly blend.
Anyway, this is, surprisingly, the only thing I’ve seen in any of the hyper-abundant, unsolicited magazines filling the mailbox lately that strikes me as something worth imitating. I’d probably change the cut-out pattern. And I probably wouldn’t make a table runner and placemats. But little Christmas stockings for the tree or for gift-giving? Little gift bags? Ornaments? Yep. But you do realize there’s something missing? Oooooh yes…. I’d definitely add some embellishment – just a touch of embroidery, in the right spots. It might take away from the clean-cut look. But, done right, it just might add the perfect touch.
So my mind is chewing on ideas for that. I may have already mentioned that this year is entirely a hand-made Christmas on my part, for three reasons: 1. I think it means more, though I may have a hard time convincing my younger nieces and nephews of that! 2. the budget; 3. I thought it would be, somehow, an interesting challenge for myself. Yes, well. I may regret #3 eventually!
My questions for you…. What are your thoughts on the DIY approach?
Do you consider yourself a Do-It-Yourselfer? (I know some very creative people who are not remotely DIYers!) Where do you take your Do It Yourself inspiration? Do you find it’s less expensive to DIY (not taking into account the time spent)? If you are a DIY-er, why do you Do It Yourself? Any thoughts?