Since posting the results of my first foray into pelmet-making last week, I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this.  I think too often we are paralyzed by decorating fear.  We wait to make changes to our homes, because we don’t want to invest a lot of time and money in a home we’re renting, or into one we’ll be selling in just a few years.  Here’s the thing, though: this is your home.  Wherever you live now is home; why wait for someday to make home feel special?  You can do little, inexpensive things that won’t upset your landlord or cost so much that you mind leaving it behind for the next owner, if they want it.

That pelmet is proof.  It took me half a day and about $24, with the cost spread over a couple of months.  (If I’d bought all the bits and pieces without coupons, it still would have come in around $40…tres inexpensive when you’re talking custom window treatments.)  We can take it with us when we move; it will fit over any double window and will look great in a kids’ room, craft room, game room, or guest room.

There are so many other things you can do with fabric to spruce up a room.  Recover a $2 garage sale chair.  (I’ll get to it one of these days.)  Make a throw pillow.  Use your hot glue gun and a few upholstery tacks to mistreat a window.  The trick, if you’re on a super-thrifty budget, is finding the fabric for the right price.

Before you start shopping, you need to prepare your mind; know what you’re looking for.  If you have a specific project in mind, know approximately how much fabric you’ll need.  Guesstimates are fine.  (Just add a 1/2 yard, in case you’re off!)  Have an idea what colors and patterns will work in the room.  Don’t get hung up on matching the fabric with other pieces in your room.  Coordinating ≠ matching.  You may be surprised at just how many different, unmatched, colors and textures will look good together.

For example, take Jenny’s daughters’ room, which I linked to in the pelmet post:

Photo: Little Green Notebook

This is a gorgeous room.  Look a little closer…at the throw pillow the doll is leaning against.  Would you have thought a brocade pillow in that yellowy-green shade would have “gone with” the busy, jewel-toned headboard and the turquoise nightstand?  Neither would I.  But it coordinates, and beautifully!  Think beyond what you “know” about colors.  Just like every piece of furniture or wood in a room does not need to be the same color (now there’s a myth I’m eager to stamp out!), every fabric doesn’t have to have the of same color scheme.

Okay, now that I’ve thrown you for a loop, it’s time to shop.  You could do what I did – fall in love with one fabric and keep checking on it until it goes on clearance.  However, I lucked out; you might be waiting years if you go with that plan…or miss out on it completely.  Instead, I suggest keeping your options open and shopping around.

Fabric and Upholstery Stores

Obvious answer!  Remnant bins at fabric and upholstery stores can be a goldmine.  You have to dig, but end-of-bolt savings can be the answer to that perfect, affordable bit of fabric you’re looking for.

Discount Stores

Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls…no, they don’t sell fabric, but they sell curtains, table cloths and shower curtains – cheap!  What are curtains, table cloths and shower curtains made of?

Fabric!  In the same vein, check out the clearance aisles at places like Target and Ikea.

Thrift Stores

Yep, you can find fabric and craft supplies at almost every thrift store.  Sometimes it will be actual cut fabric, straight off the bolt, and sometimes it will be in the form of curtains or sheets.  Again, this involves digging, but the deals are unbeatable.


There are several online fabric stores, and they all have clearance sections. is one I’ve heard good things about.  Craigslist and Freecycle are worth checking out, too.  I once got a huge bag of upholstery remnants on Freecycle.  I ended up re-Freecycling them to another member when I discovered that none of them were quite my style, but all I was out was the gas to go pick them up in the first place – a worthwhile gamble, I believe.

So what do you think?  Have I missed any great resources for inexpensive fabric?  Do you find yourself in the mood to spiff up a space you’ve been afraid to tackle?

(P.S. I’m linking up to DIY Day over at Kimba’s!)