Edited to add: My little tutorial was featured today (Thurs.) over at the Under the Sycamore blog- and I’m just a little excited. I mean, she’s the big leagues, and the inspiration for me going out on a limb and believing I could actually give homemade gifts in the first place. Thanks, Ashley!
Before I begin this DIY pillow post, I feel I owe each of you a monumental disclaimer. Here it is:
I. do. not. sew.
No, really. I have a sewing machine. Which has sat in our front closet buried under a cabinet full of Legos for the last, oh, 4 years? This is probably making my mom and sisters laugh right now, knowing that I am actually posting a tutorial that involves sewing. Without a machine, of course. I can make little fabric yoyos and cute little pins and headbands, but other than that, let’s just say that I’m in some fearsome company:
- My mom’s a seamstress. As in, she used to get paid to sew. And she knits.
- My oldest sister Melinda sews- adorable little clothes. See? And she knits.
- My older sister Katie paints. As in, beautiful landscapes. And she makes these delightful hand-felted flowers. And she knits.
- My younger sister Colleen creates beautiful tatted designs. Things similar to this. She scrapbooks. And she knits.
- My youngest sister Kara is another seamstress/decorator/doer-of-all-things-Martha. And she knits. (I almost got a beautiful cable throw from her at our Christmas Yankee Swap. Almost.)
- Oh, and my Dad’s a very talented potter.
I mean, no pressure, right?
(You may have it figured out by now, but, yes, I am a middle child. Surprised?)
I don’t sew (with a machine). Or knit. I have little to recommend me, I fear.
So, thank you for letting me get that off my mind.
Let’s begin now.
I saw these placemats at Anthropologie. Which is my favorite store. ‘Just letting you know in case I haven’t mentioned that before…
Problem is, I don’t use placemats. (I have enough laundry, thankyouverymuch.) Plus, they were $18. Each. No, thank you. So, I kept thinking about those placemats, and then I thought about a post I had read on a blog showing how to turn a placemat into a pillow. (The name of the blog escapes me… so if you know it, shoot me an email so that I can give credit. Note: a blog reader found it for me! Here’s where i saw it online: Elm Street) An $18 dollar placemat I cannot justify, but an $18 dollar Anthro pillow? Yes, please.
So I decided to make 2 pillows for our Ryan Family Yankee Swap. (A Yankee Swap which is so much fun, it deserves a post all its own. Don’t worry, Matt. I won’t.) I figured I’d make something that my sisters and I would like, just in case I brought it home at the end of the night. See, my sisters and I have similar tastes. Well, 2 or 3 of them do, anyway. (I bought 3 different designs, hoping I’d get around to finishing some for myself. Or someone else. Sometime.)
1. Pick a placemat you like. Target has some pretty ones that are wicked cheap- as in, less than $18.
I couldn’t resist all the spiffy little details:
2. Rip the seams with a cute little seam-ripper. Note: I ripped the top horizontal seam. Next time, I would do a side seam instead. Less ripping. Which means less sewing. Which, well, makes me happy.
(Excuse the orange paint on my hand. Another project. I’ll tell you about it sometime. When I find the courage.) Notice the stitching and interfacing? That’s why they are not cheap. Anthro makes a quality placemat, as I found when I tried to rip the double-hidden seam. (Is that a real sewing phrase? Double-hidden seam?) Note: I’m not really left-handed. Honestly, I’m so pathetically right-handed that I can’t press the shutter button on my camera with my left hand.
3. Sew on little details to embellish the pillows. Or don’t, if you want it plain. I added fabric yoyos that I had on hand for my Etsy shop, and sewed some beads on, too– but you could add random scraps of fabric, or make pretty flowers or fabric yoyos of your own.
-3a. Realize that you’ve never given anyone a homemade gift before. Try not to panic. (If it weren’t for reading this blog, I wouldn’t be in this situation… :))
Some ideas for embellishments here:
4. Grab some polyester fiberfill. (I got mine at Joann’s.)
5. Stuff the placemat pillow. Stuff some more. We don’t want any bunching here.
6. Pin the opened seam closed, making sure there are no ripples. This saves a lot of headaches. And carpal tunnel symptoms, too.
7. Sew the seam closed. With a back-stitch or maybe a whip-stitch. I did not take a photo of my seam. Because I don’t want to be laughed at.
8. Make sure the pillows match your living room. Just in case.
9. Clean up the royal mess you’ve made on the couch. (There is a couch under there.) And clean up the bedroom. (The light was better for photos in there…)
10. Make sure your scissors weren’t touched. See that little smiley face doodle and the stars on the handle? They look friendly, don’t they? They really are meant to be seriously menacing to my kids- as in, “Guys, these are my fabric scissors. They’re marked. They are not for paper. Don’t touch them. I mean it. They’re mine.”
11. Check on aforementioned (too quiet) kids. Huh. Still playing.
In that case, what else can I make? (Yup, another Under the Sycamore idea…)