My favorite pillow so far: A Tutorial

My boys just left for football practice. That means I have a little over an hour to myself in a quiet house.

So…I made a little something!

Can you guess what it was?

A pillow, you say?

Why, you are right!

This is my favorite so far.

Even though I’ve made a lot of pillows, I’ve never made ones with trim. They just intimidated me because I thought I’d have to sew every gather by hand and an expert sewer I am not.

But a quick check at Hobby Lobby earlier in the week uncovered this:

Pre-made ruffled trim. For $1.99 per yard.

Suddenly, I wasn’t so intimidated anymore;)

Here is how I made it.

The easiest way to begin is to lay your fabric out on a flat surface with a pillow insert (available at any craft store) on top like so:

Make sure to leave about an inch all the way around for your seam allowance when you cut. Repeat this step so that you have two matching squares.

Next, lay the edge of your trim between the two right sides of the fabric and pin all the way around.

Then sew your edges together, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Be sure to leave an open space in the center of one of the edges (about a little larger than the width of your hand) so that you can stuff the pillow insert inside.

Once you are done sewing, turn the pillow inside out. It should look like this:

Well, looky who decided to stop by:

Mental note:  give the cat a name already!

Now cram gently stuff the pillow insert inside the case. Take a needle and thread and hand sew the opening closed. I used a lighter tan color to match the burlap, not the trim, in case you were wondering.

Here is what it should look like at this point:

I like it, but it needs a little somethin’. A quick trip to The Graphics Fairy yielded this lovely barn swallow image:

To save on ink, I enlarged the image on my computer screen, traced it with a dull pencil and then carefully cut it out:

I used a fabric marker to outline the image directly onto my pillow:

Almost done…

I grabbed two paint brushes from my sons’ art supplies and my leftover fabric paint from this project:

You’ll want to make sure your fabric paint says SOFT on it. Otherwise it’s kinda crunchy. Um, ask me how I know;)

Then just paint within the lines:

The label on the fabric paint said to let it dry for four hours before the first use. But since it’s well after 8 pm and the boys are fast asleep, I thought it was safe to put the pillow in my favorite chair:

I love how it turned out. It only cost me $4 worth of trim because I already had the burlap, fabric paint and brushes.

This was fun to do and I finished it off in one evening while the boys’ were at football practice.

Hmmm…maybe there is an upside to being a football widow after all!

I linked this up to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest and the Best DIY Project of September at Beneath My Heart.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Vintage Grain Sack Pillow

Remember this little guy I picked up at an antique flea mall?

I made him into a pillow and I’m. in. LOVE.

And here he is in his new home:

It was super easy to make. Just follow the simple instructions for making a basic knife-edge pillow here.

You don’t even need a sewing machine. Trust me on this. I’ve made PLENTY of pillows by hand. The instructions are the same; it just takes a bit longer to do by hand, but you’ll get the same result.

To give this pillow a bit more structure, I used a 16″ x 16″ pillow form (bought when half off at Jo-Ann’s) instead of the Poly-fil. Totally up to you.

Every time I curl up on that couch, I smile.

What makes you smile in your home?

I linked this up to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest and WhisperWood Cottage’s Authentic Styles Series featuring Miss Mustard Seed.

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Isn’t it cute?

I’ve been working on this pillow on and off for the last week or so. It’s one of those projects that is SUPER easy, but it does take a little bit of time. Hooray for TV commercials!

You can definitely make this one yourself. It’s one of those shabby chic kind of projects and it looks even better if it’s messy.

Gotta. love. that.

First, just make a simple, no-fuss pillow.  There are a lot of great tutorials on the internet. Here’s mine. (Just skip the stenciling part:)

Or, better yet, skip making the pillow and freshen up one you already have by adding the rosettes.

I used inexpensive unbleached cotton because I’m a neutral-loving girl, but this would be lovely in virtually any fabric.

Now you can start making the rosettes. This is the time-consuming part.  But, in my humble opinion, the end result is so worth it!

Follow this tutorial from super crafty Susie B. Harris. 

Two tips:

  • I followed her directions except I twisted my fabric as I rolled it. 
  • I kept the width of the fabric strips the same, but varied the length to make some rosettes smaller and some larger.

Once you have your rosettes made, start laying them out on the pillow. Feel free to keep moving them around until you get an arrangement you like.

You could sew them on, but I cheated and used hot glue. It’s much quicker and trust me, they are hard to pull off (I tried)!

Side note: this hot glue gun was like $2 ages ago. I buy a bag of 25 glue sticks at the dollar store – for one. dollar. people. Dollar Tree, oh how I love thee! (sigh)

And here is where the pillow lives – for now at least;)

I linked this up to The Lettered Cottage’s How-To Linky Party.

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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You Can Make It: The Burlap Pillow

I’ve shared my mild obsession before with decorative pillows here and here.

Why do I love them so? Pillows are a great way to refresh your rooms. They are also really easy to make. And they’re inexpensive.

Wait a minute…did I just admit to you that I am lazy AND cheap? Yikes!

Back to the pillow. My most recent creation was made using things I already had on hand. Total cost: $0. Gotta love that.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 yard of fabric of your choice, depending on how big you want your pillow to be
  • fabric paint, tape and stencil (optional)
  • scissors
  • matching thread
  • sewing machine or needle
  • polyfil, available for $3 at Walmart or a pillow insert


Step 1 – Decide how big you want your pillow. If you are using a pillow insert, measure and cut your fabric at least a half inch wider on all sides for the seam allowance. Pillow inserts typically come in 14″, 16″ or 18″ square as well as other sizes and shapes.

Since I didn’t have an extra insert, I cut out two 15″ squares. If you aren’t going to paint a design on your pillow, skip to step 3.

Step 2 – Paint a design (optional)

I wanted to make a pillow that looked like it was made from an old grainsack, so I chose burlap and a damask patterned wall stencil I had leftover from when I stenciled an entire wall – floor to ceiling. (Just thinking back at all that work makes me cringe, however, I loved the result).

Tape your stencil in place where you want it. I centered mine. With a steady hand, fill in your design with fabric paint. The stencil I chose had two parts, so I had to wait until the paint on the first part was completely dry and then repeat the process with the second step.

Read the instructions on the fabric paint. Mine said to let it dry for four hours.

Note:  the fabric paint I used dried a little too crunchy for my tastes. When I do this again, I will use a black fabric marker instead. Ahh, trial and error, folks.

Edited to add: If you want a softer texture on your stenciled pillow, Tulip brand also makes a fabric paint appropriately called, “Soft”. I used that in a later project and liked the texture and the look much, much better.

After you’ve painted and let it dry, it should look like this:

Step 3 – Place fabric together with the right sides facing each other.

Step 4 – Sew the two pieces together on all three sides and about half way through the fourth side (leaving room to add the stuffing or your insert).

Note:  you’ll want to be sure that the opening is at the bottom of your pillow so take a look at it first before you start stitching.

Make sure to backstitch the first few stitches at the start and at the end so it’s nice and sturdy.

You do not need a sewing machine for this part, but it will take you a bit longer if you are sewing by hand. Never fear. I hand sewed many a pillow before I bought my machine and they still hold up well – even with two kids and a husband.

Step 5 – Trim 

This next part is completely optional, but I do it anyway because I think it makes the seams lay better on the finished product.

Trim away the excess fabric on all sides.

Then snip the corners, taking care not to cut your stitches.

Note to self: I could use a manicure.

Step 6 – Turn inside out

After you’ve cut away all the excess fabric, turn the pillow inside out. You can use a pencil or the wooden tool that came in your stuffing bag to make sure you push out the corners.

It should look something like this:

Step 7 – Stuff away

Pull out a small handful of stuffing from your bag. Pull it apart a little bit to stretch it. Then begin to stuff your pillow, starting in one corner. Continue to stuff until it’s as full as you want.

I like this stuff (get it…”stuff”) because it is easy to use, available at my local Walmart and it’s only about $3 a bag.

Step 8 – Sew the opening closed

Using a blanket stitch, sew up the hole with your needle and thread. Be sure that your knot goes on the inside of the pillow as it makes it look more finished. Speaking from experience. Ahem.

Step 7 – Once you are done, step back and admire your work. Cuddle up with your new creation and enjoy the satisfaction of making something with your own hands.

I linked this up to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest.

Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Four Easy Ways to Embellish a Pillow

Ah, pillows. One of my favorite subjects. I really don’t consider myself a “crafty” person, however, I do like to make decorative throw pillows.

Before I had a sewing machine, I used to stitch them by hand. That was easy enough, though it took about 45 minutes to make one. Now that I have my handy dandy inexpensive beginner sewing machine, I can make a pillow in less than 15 minutes.

Pillows are really easy to make, especially for a someone who can only sew in a straight line – but hey, with every mistake I make, I learn something and that’s what really matters.

Pillows are also inexpensive. Because they are an accessory, you can switch them out quickly if you want to try a different look in your room. That’s great for those who like to experiment with different looks until it just feels right.

Here are a few ideas:

Add a Felt Flower

All I did was free hand draw a flower shape onto brown felt and cut it out. Then I did the same thing again so I’d have two matching pieces. Place the flowers where you want them on a pillow you already own, arranging them so that you can see all the petals. To finish it off and make it a little more special, I sewed on a button from my stash in the center of the flower.

Here’s what it looks like up close:

Make rosettes

This looks hard, but it’s actually very easy to make. For each rosette, all you do is take a long strip of fabric (mine was about 18 inches long and about 1 1/2-2 inches wide), twist it and glue it with hot glue as you roll it into a circle. The messier they are, the better they look. What’s not to love about that?!

Draw a stencil

For this one, I found a clip art bird image that I liked and printed it onto plain copy paper. Then I cut it out and traced it onto a pillow I made out of super inexpensive burlap and colored the bird image in with brown and black fabric markers. It still needed a little something, so I sewed on a button from my stash and voila!

And the easiest way of all to embellish a pillow…

Add a pin

This was one of the first pillows I made with my sewing machine. I loved the subtle patten on the fabric, but felt it was a bit too plain.

I was trying to think of something SUPER quick and easy I could do to dress this pillow up a bit. Then I remembered a white flower pin I bought at Target a few years ago that I love, but never wear. All I did was pin it to the of the pillow. Now I’m in love. And it only took two seconds to do.

How could you dress up a pillow using what you already have?

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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