It has been quite a long time since I’ve done any crafting, but, since I have quite a bit of free time during the summer and since there have been a couple weeks where it’s been so hot and humid I have had no desire to go outside, I decided it was time to finally make the throw pillows I’ve been wanting for my living room. (I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. The camera on my phone is not the greatest.)
I designed and crafted four different pillows. All of the fabrics, except the dark brown linen, were bought at Purl Soho thanks to a very generous gift certificate for my 40th birthday last year. Thanks, S.R.! I can’t remember where I bought the brown linen because it was so many years ago. It was some huge fabric warehouse in the Garment District. I bought a ton of yardage because I was planning on making a slip cover for my big living room chair, but I never ended up doing that. So I have been using the linen as muslin whenever it’s time for prototyping. I was doing just that while practicing my zipper techniques when I realized, Hey, this would actually contrast really nicely with the fabrics I bought specifically for the pillows! Hooray for serendipity!
This is the first pillow I designed. I bought this beautiful set of felt that had been pre-packaged at the store. It took me quite a while to figure out exactly the shape and size I wanted each of my rectangles, especially since I only had so much felt for each color. Once I worked all of that out on paper, I started cutting up the felt into the specific shapes and pinning them all together. I decided I wanted to stitch them together with a blanket stitch, which is pretty standard for piecing together felt. As I was practicing my blanket stitch by hand, I realized my fancy Janome DC2012 sewing machine actually has a blanket stitch setting. I decided to test it out and realized it was totally awesome! So I was able to quickly stitch all of the pieces together with my machine, which saved me days of work if I had done it all by hand (because I am very slow).
Once all of the felt rectangles had been stitched together, I sewed them onto a big square of the brown linen. Then I installed the zipper and stitched the front to another big square of brown linen, stuffed it with an 18×18 Mountain Mist Designer’s Choice pillow form, and — voila! — my first pillow was completed! (Note: The pillow forms I bought are great, but I did stuff them with some extra fiber fill because I personally like my pillows to be pretty firm.)
The felt one ended up being my favorite of the four pillows. I really love the color combinations and the overall design. It gives me pleasure every time I look at it.
I designed my next pillow with the goal of incorporating this very cool fox print I bought a few years ago when I was making my original Kindle cover. I thought I had used it all up until I realized several months ago that I actually had quite a bit left over. I decided I needed to use it for something that I would look at on a regular basis because I love the print so much.
When I was thinking about how to design my four different pillows, I did a little research online. I was inspired by this pillow from the Just Another Hang Up blog. I really liked the combination of patterns and colors as well as the asymmetry of the vertical stripes. I decided to steal the concept for my own square pillow design. Only one of my fabrics had a print, but the brown linen is such a different texture that it provides a similar quality of contrast that another print would.
This pillow was super easy to make. I simply measured out the dimensions of each fabric strip I wanted, cut them, and stitched them together for the front side. Then I chose the orange fabric, which is the smallest stripe on the front, to be the entire back of the pillow. The photo does not do justice to the beauty of this orange fabric. I love it so much that I wanted the entire back of the pillow to be that color. Then I sewed in the zipper, stitched the front and back together, and Pillow #2 was complete.
(Note: I used fusible interfacing for all of the fabrics except the felt and linen. The fabrics by themselves were a little too sheer and thin for my taste. They would work great on their own for a curtain or perhaps bed linens, but I wanted something a little sturdier for my pillows.)
I thought the felt patchwork pillow was going to be my most difficult one because it took so much time and planning. Then I got it in my head to do a pillow made out of concentric squares. Oy! This was the trickiest of all, and it didn’t quite reach perfection. From a distance, it looks totally cool, but I will not be encouraging guests to look at the details. I’m sure there are people out there who have sure-fire methods for lining everything up perfectly, but I can be stubborn when trying to figure something out for myself. Unfortunately, my stubbornness can result in less-than-perfect results.
The most noticeable imperfections were the center squares. I did come up with a solution, however, by purchasing two square buttons from M&J Trimming, covering them in the appropriate fabric, and sewing them smack dab in the center of the pillow. I think that actually turned out to be a nice touch, so I will tell everyone that was part of my original design (and only you, my loyal readers, will know the truth).
My final pillow is a checkerboard pattern with the honeydew fabric and the fox print. I wanted to get that fox print into another pillow, and, in my head, the checkerboard idea seemed like it would be so cool. However, I must admit this is my least favorite of the four pillows. It just looks a little too much like a middle school home ec project. No one would ever ask me where I bought this pillow because it is so obviously homemade. I keep trying to think of ways to spruce it up without starting from scratch, but I haven’t come up with anything brilliant yet.
I think part of the problem is the lack of any color pops. All of the other pillows have a nice combination of neutral and bright colors. My original plan was that the fox print would be the pop, but I don’t think it’s working. Ah, well. Live and learn!
Overall, it was a rewarding experience to create these four pillows from start to finish. It is so much fun scratching out some ideas on graph paper and then seeing them become a three-dimensional reality thanks to your own two hands and a sewing machine. I’m grateful to have the time in the summer to really get into some hardcore crafting, and I think this will keep me satisfied for a while!