College living is an extreme in decorating challenges: limited space, limited funds, and limited time. In my years of undergraduate life, I tried wall tapestries, fabric flowers, ceramic tchotchkes, vintage hat mannequins, tie dye, crocheted afghans, mason jars, and more collaging than I care to remember. In an effort to compensate for the cheap generic furniture and beer-stained carpet, I saturated my dorm rooms with a technicolor blur of clutter.
I wish I had found Theresa Gonzalez and Nicole Smith’s book, Dorm Decor, back when I was still enrolled, because I was in desperate need of some creative focus. This week’s How-Tuesday project is for all of those crafty co-eds settling into their drafty, fluorescent-lit dorm rooms. There is hope! This Felt Rug requires no sewing skills and seems like the perfect project for orientation bonding.
Excited to move into your new room? It could be so many things: A cozy nest. Party central! Cinderblock city. (OK, sorry, dorm living isn’t always that dire.) No matter how you imagine your room, the point is, it’s yours! How you decorate it and make it your perfect place for the next nine months is entirely up to you.
We like to think of a small, undecorated space as an opportunity to get creative and dream up ways to make it better. We’ve learned from studying interior design and working at craft and fashion magazines that going from blank box to comfy nest can happen quickly — and on a budget — when you want it to.
Photo of authors Theresa Gonzalez and Nicole Smith by Evan Sklar.
In the end, it’s all about putting your own personal style on your surroundings. Think about it: Why would you buy run-of-the-mill linens from the same place you buy your soap and tampons?! It can be much more satisfying to sew something, custom-made, that no one else will have. Create (and think!) for yourself with projects that say free-thinker, not following-the-pack. Gather the girls (and crafty boys, we know you’re out there) and take a creative leap — this is your chance to stand out from the cookie-cutter crowd. And come May, when it’s time to pack up your things, you can take these tricks with you to next year’s sanctuary.
Cut-It-Out Felt Rug
Non-fraying felt makes this project a cinch, and the zebra motif will have your hallmates demanding where you found it. It’s so simple you can adjust the technique to make a rug in just about any size or style, including a welcome mat (or good-bye mat behind the door).
Zebra rug template (download here)
2 yards (72″ wide) gray felt
2 yards (72″ wide) orange felt
4 yards (72″ wide) cream felt
6′ x 2′ piece of 2″ grid pattern paper
Carbon paper and tracing wheel
Make the pattern.
1. Using the zebra rug template (download here), draw the zebra rug pattern onto the 2″ grid pattern paper. Draw a 2″ border around the edges and cut out the template around the outer edges.
Cut out the pieces.
2. Fold the gray felt in half lengthwise and lay it on the floor. Lay the template on the felt with the template’s straight edge even with the fold in the fabric. Following the instructions on the carbon paper, trace the design onto the felt with the tracing wheel.
3. Remove the template and carbon paper. Pin the layers of felt together and cut out the design.
4. Repeat for the orange felt.
Assemble the rug.
5. Lay the cream felt out flat on the floor. Unfold the gray felt piece and lay it flat on top of the cream felt. Pin in place.
6. Cut the cream layer to the same size as the outer edge of the gray felt. Glue the layers together with fabric glue and let the glue dry.
7. Place the rug over the cream felt again and cut out another layer. Glue the layers together with fabric glue and let dry.
8. Flip the rug over and place the orange piece in place, matching the raw edges. Pin the layers in place and glue them together.
Looking for more crafty ways to transform your dorm room? Chronicle Books is offering a special discount to Etsy readers! Just use the code “ETSY” at checkout on their site, and you save 20% off the price as well as free shipping.