In India the colourful glory of the sari, a traditional fashion for women, has been around since almost before time itself. Perhaps the ancient tradition — seeped in culture and rich in reflections of a faraway continent — inspires us to use this rich and vibrant material in our homes. One thing is for sure, this infinite spectrum of colours and fabrics are readily available to any shopper — seasoned designer or novice decorator alike.
Certainly the overwhelming vibrancy of colour is the first thing that strikes you when you enter a sari shop. The fabrics used for the projects here were all purchased at Sonu Saree Palace, on Gerrard Street East, in the heart of little India in Toronto. Like children in a candy store we sorted through tables and racks piled high in intricately patterned and widely differing materials of every colour combination under the sun.
Keep in mind that sari material can range from the purest, softest silk, to more affordable man-made materials like rayon, and just about everything in between. If you are planning on using sari fabric for home décor projects, it’s important that you take your ideas with you so the sales staff can help you choose the right sari for your individual need. With a little help, you’ll open up a world of sensational fabrics you can use in your own home to create a plethora of fabulous accessories, ranging from amazing artwork to beautiful bedspreads.
So jump on trend of India chic today and try out some of these simple, yet stunning, project ideas. You’ll soon find that your colourful creations are quite classic and actually much more than just another fleeting fad.
Hanging Wall Tapestry
Need to hide that unattractive heating vent, or simply want to add a touch of ethnic elegance to your favourite room? Create this simple hanging wall tapestry. Here’s how:
Sewing machine (can substitute with new sew product or fabric glue)
1. Decide on the size of the wall hanging you wish to make. 4 ft squared is ideal, and most saris are sold at a size that easily covers this.
2. Lightly press the sari so you are working with smooth, even pieces. NOTE: Be sure to use low heat and place a towel between the iron and the sari. The delicate fabric burns easily.
3. Cut two identical pieces out of the sari, two squares in this case, one for the front and one for the back. Sari fabric is very lightweight so doubling up the hanging gives it a more finished look and some extra weight.
4. Cut motifs from sari that can, in this case, be used as decorative edging. This particular sari was chosen for its tassels along the long-edges, to be used along the bottom of the wall hanging. Hint: Because of the delicate nature of the sari, most are silk, it may be better to use No Sew or glue to add decorative elements.
5. Sew three sides of the two squares together, leaving the top edge open for now.
6. The finished piece will hang from a curtain rod, mounted on the wall, so you need to create a series of tabs. To make tabs for the rod, cut eight identical strips from the sari fabric, again use any elements of design in the sari to decorate the tabs.
7. Fold strips in half and sew the edges together creating eight looping tabs. Press the tabs into place and pin evenly between the front and back pieces of the sari, along the top edge (which you have left unstitched).
8. Sew across the top of the sari, attaching the tabs to the hanging, and closing the top seam.
9. String tabs over decorative rod of your choice and mount.
You can make these beautiful cubes of colour, and add some spice to any wall in your home, in just a few easy steps.
1. Purchase wooden canvas frames (they are sold by the piece, which you easily put together like a puzzle to form the frame) from any art supply store. The inexpensive frame pieces are available in many different lengths, so that you can decide what size and shape to create. What would you like your fabulous wall art to be? A small square? Three squares, hung in a row? A large rectangle? The fun part is playing with the pieces to create the look you want.
2. Now that you know what you will be covering, you’ll need to find fabric. I love using raw silk, vintage/antique fabric, and saris, because of the brilliant colour and textures available. You may even want to use fabric that has family significance or special meaning (grandmother’s tea towels or needlework, material from prom dress, baby blankets), as it’s a great way to display things close to the heart. Note: Keep in mind that you’ll be wrapping the fabric onto the frame, so thicker fabric, and fabric with little-to-no stretch is best.
3. Put the frame(s) together. Lay the fabric onto the frame, and shift until you like what you see displayed on the frame surface.
4. Cut the fabric so that you have an excess of about three inches around the frame. Before cutting you can test by wrapping the edges of the frame, making sure to keep enough material to be stapled securely to the backside of the frame.
5. Lay the piece of fabric, backside facing up, onto a hard surface. Place the frame, backside facing up, on top of the fabric. Wrap one side of the frame, stapling along the backside edge. Repeat with the remaining three sides, making sure to pull the fabric with each new side, so it’s taut.
Sewing machine or No Sew adhesive tape
A thick towel
1. Measure the table you wish to make the runner for before you head out to the fabric store. You will need enough to let it hangover the sides of the table and weigh down the fabric – about 1/2 a metre on each side. If the trim is on one side of the fabric only, you may have to buy extra to make both sides of the table runner symmetrical. Since we fell in love with an entire sari shawl, we bought more than we needed, but we got twice the decorative border in this case, so it was worth a little extra.
2. Using a medium setting, preheat your iron. Lay the fabric on the ironing board and place a towel between the fabric and the iron to prevent any burning of the fabric. You may want to test an inconspicuous area beforehand. Iron the wrinkles and your cares away!
3. Decide how wide you would like the table runner to be. We folded the shawl width-wise in half and pinned the edges together about half an inch in, leaving room for the No Sew adhesive tape or stitches.
4. Cut off the excess length and trimmed off the excess border. Then iron back the ragged edge of the excess border to leave a clean edge. Pin the excess border to the untrimmed edge, leaving half an inch on either side of the border for No Sew adhesive or stitches.
5. Once all the borders and edges are pinned in place, lay the No Sew adhesive between the layers of fabric you’ll adhere together. Following the directions on the package, iron down the adhesive on a low setting, then remove the backing to expose more adhesive and press the fabric over the adhesive for a clean seamless edge. Repeat until all seams are solidly in place.
Note: For a more durable table runner, please stitch in place. No Sew is great in a pinch, like for a quick curry party theme. It is also great for holding fabric in place before you sew.
6. Now that your borders and seams are stitched or glued in place, take any extra border and repeat Step 4 to make the bottom edge of the border. You can choose a V shape, we chose to have the border go straight across.
7. Give the fabric one last press, making sure to go over all seamed or glued areas.
8. Place over fabulously coloured tablecloth, make a scrumptious curry and enjoy. For a real Indian-style treat, drape over your coffee table and place sari-covered pillows on the floor for cosy dining.
More Creative Ideas:
If you haven’t found something to make with your sari yet, never fear, here are seven more amazing ideas:
1. Pillow Cases: Nothing brightens up and transforms a room quicker and easier than new throw pillows. Perfect for couches, chairs, beds, even large ones for the floor – use sari material and re-cover any size you like. However, it’s important to note that even the most durable of sari fabrics, which you can buy heavily starched so it’s easier to manipulate, is on the delicate side. Stick to purely decorative pillows that won’t take a lot of heavy use. See our pillow cover project plan for easy directions.
2. Lampshades: Start with a taut, neutral coloured lampshade in the size and shape of your choice. Use a sheer, delicate sari material, preferably patterned, to create a filtered effect where the light will shine through just enough to highlight the delicate designs or golden details.
3. Journal Covers: A journal is such a private item it just makes sense to personalize your own. Use a heavy sari fabric, splurge on an expensive one if you can, you’ll be able to use one sari to cover your journals for years to come, creating an identifiable series of memories. Start with a journal that has a stiff cover. Cut your fabric so it fits over the entire book while it lies open (plus an inch around the edges so that you can fold over). Use a strong spray adhesive to attach your fabric to the outside of the book cover and smooth out evenly so there are no bumps or wrinkles. Be sure to secure snugly around the spine. Allow to dry and then fold left over material inside and secure with more spray adhesive.
4. Decorative Bedspread or Duvet Cover: You can use a full sari (make sure to get one with finished edging) to drape over your bed as a decorative cover. It’s an easy way to add a splash of colour to your room, and a wonderful way to freshen up your style for each season. Saris can also be used to create gorgeous duvet covers. Ask at the store for recommendation about what materials will work best. Obviously raw silks look and feel fabulous. Buy two saris of equal size and simple sew together (or have a tailor do it for you) leaving an opening at one end to insert your duvet. Buy two different colours, or one solid colour and one patterned in complimentary hues to create a double-sided duvet cover.
5. Curtains: Similar to the lampshade idea above, using sari material to create billowy sheer window coverings adds a touch of exotic elegance to a room, without being to overbearing or heavy. The light will filter through just enough to highlight details and designs. For an easy curtain creation, follow the directions for the Wall Tapestry (page 2); only make to fit your windows or glass doors.
6. Table Covers: End tables, sofa tables and coffee tables are often chosen specifically because they blend with a room’s décor, and serve a practical purpose while remaining inconspicuous. However, if you want to create a dramatic look in your living room use these stunning saris to cover accent-tables and make them pop out, rather than blend in. It is possible to find subtle, muted sari material if royal purple or hot pink is too intense for your tastes. Choose colours that compliment and draw out the other hues in your home. Remember, because this material tends to be on the delicate side, you may want use only on surfaces that don’t get a high level of use.
7. Exotic Accents: Perhaps the simplest way to use these sensational saris, other than wearing them of course, is to buy a bunch, fold them neatly and stack them one on top of another in an exposed shelf. The wonderful colours are sure to add style and sparkle to any room in your home. Besides, this way you’ll always have the saris on hand if you get the urge to make a more ambitious creation with them.
If you are in the Toronto area, visit Sonu Saree Palace at 1420 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, Ontario to find glorious saris like the ones we’ve used here.