There are many easy projects you can do yourself to decorate a dorm room or apartment on a tight budget. From creating your own throw blankets and pillows to creating pictures to hang on the wall, many things can be made cheaper than you can buy them in a store, and making them yourself ensures that your friends will not have the same things in their dorm room or apartment.
Fleece Throw Blanket
To buy a throw blanket in a store, you are looking at a minimum price tag of $15. To make one on your own, you will most likely spend between $6 and $10 (at a price of $3 or $5 per yard).
You will need lengths of two different colors or patterns of fleece fabric. The size of your fabric depends on how large you want your blanket, but generally two yards will make a blanket large enough for the average adult. Also, for a slightly lighter weight blanket, you can replace one piece of fleece with a piece of heavy cotton.
Select either a solid and a pattern or two solid colors that compliment each other. Lay the two pieces of fabric one on top of the other, the “wrong” sides facing each other (inward). Using a pair of sharp fabric scissors, begin by cutting a square out of each corner on both pieces of fabric. The squares should be the same size as you want your fringes, two or three inches is generally a good length.
Cut the fabric into fringes, two or three inches in length, all the way around all four sides of the fabric, making sure to keep both pieces together as you cut. Your fringes should be between one half and one inch and there should be an odd number of fringes per side.
Starting with the fringes at each corner (eight fringes total), loop the top fringe behind the bottom fringe and bring it back up through. Repeat these same steps to create a knot, making sure not to pull the knot so tight that it disfigures the blanket.
Once you have tied off each corner, repeat the knotting steps all the way around the blanket’s edges. You do not want to tie all of the fringes together, thus the reason for the odd number on each side. Only every other pair of fringes should be tied.
The average throw pillow in a store costs around $5, however they can cost upwards of $20, depending on the fabric they are made from and filled with. For relatively the same price as the cheaper pillow, you can make three. And if you used fabrics you already have lying around (tee-shirts that are no longer wearable work well) you have to pay only for the fill material. An average sized bag of polyester fiber fill only costs $2 or $3 and contains enough material for two or three pillows, depending on the size and how full you want them.
We’ll start with a plain pillow. One yard of fabric will make four pillows which are slightly under 1 foot square (remember the stitching will take a couple of inches off the end result). Cut the fabric into thirds and then cut each third into thirds. This should give you nine 1×1 foot squares. Save the last square for another project at another time. Place two squares of fabric together, “wrong” sides out. Sew the squares together leaving a section open for stuffing. Turn the pillow case right side out and stuff with the fiber fill until it takes on the shape and fullness you are looking for. Fold the edges inside the pillow so that they don’t fray and finish sewing it closed.
And don’t worry if you are not an expert seamstress (seamster). As long as you can thread a needle (or can find someone else who can thread it for you) and keep your stitches relatively straight and close together, your pillow will come out nicely in the end, as most of your stitches will be on the inside and invisible to the public eye anyway. The only stitches you have to worry about showing are the two or three inches of space you left until the end to stuff the pillow through.
There are a couple of ways to make a tee-shirt pillow. The first, and easiest, is to cut out the design that you want to save and find a pattern or solid fabric to match it. If you chose to go this route, follow the steps above once you get your squares.
Another way to make a tee-shirt pillow is to leave it as is and sew the openings closed. Turn the shirt inside out and sew closed the bottom, the neck hole, one sleeve and half of the other sleeve. Turn it back right side out, use the open sleeve to stuff the pillow through. Depending on where you chose to sew the sleeves shut (at the opening or at the shoulder, it is your choice), you may have to manipulate your fiber fill into the sleeves; keep this in mind when deciding where to place your stitches. Once you have filled the pillow to your desired fullness, just as with the plain pillow, sew closed the final opening and you have preserved your favorite tee-shirt, at least for a few more years.
Your average framed “print” at a hobby store can cost anywhere between $10 and $50, depending on the size and style of frame you select. To make your own, find pictures else where and buy frames to suit them. Many discount stores have a wide variety of decorative frames, most of them under $10.
Chances are, if you have a calendar, you bought it because you liked the pictures and wanted them hanging on your wall. The problem with the pictures on calendars is that you only get to look at them for thirty days, and then what? Throw away that $12 calendar? No way! Save some of your favorite months and frame them to hang on your wall for as long as you like.
If your calendar doesn’t contain pictures that you want to look at all the time, try a puzzle. Once your puzzle is completed, cover the front with a thin layer of clear glue. You can make a solution of two parts regular white school glue to one part water and use a large paint brush to coat the front of the puzzle. When the glue has dried completely (overnight is a good estimate) carefully turn the puzzle over and apply glue in the same way to the back side. If you want more stability, gluing a piece of poster board to the back will help to keep all of the pieces in place.
Because puzzles are thicker than photos, a regular picture frame isn’t going to hold the puzzle easily. Visit your local craft or hobby store and ask if they have frames made specifically for hanging puzzles and if not, ask them about frames designed for cardboard matting, as a piece of matt board will be relatively the same thickness as a puzzle.
With the right frame, just about any picture that you like will look good on your wall. Even advertisements out of your favorite magazine can be framed and hung on the wall to share with everyone. Basically any picture you like and want to hang on the wall can be framed.
These are only a few inexpensive ways to decorate your dorm room or apartment without breaking the bank, there are many others. Utilize these ideas and you will still have money for macaroni and cheese when you finish.