Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fabulous Feathers Pillow Pattern & Tutorial

I'm feeling pretty good about my long weekend b/c I managed to finish not only a small quilt top, but this felt-embellished feathers pillow as well. I haven't done a lot of hand stitching so I way underestimated the time it would take to make this, but I'm so happy with the end result. I've written up a little (okay a long) tutorial and also included a template for the feather shapes if you'd like to make one yourself. You can download the pdf here. This is definitely the kind of project to work on while watching your favorite tv show, just working your way along until it's done.

free pdf download here

Just a few notes before we get started...

* My finished pillow is 18" x 18", so all references to measurements and the feather template itself will be geared towards that size. But, it would be so easy to customize this... maybe you'd like to try bigger feathers or feathers of varying sizes, or maybe you'd prefer a wider border or no border at all, or maybe you'd rather make the whole thing out of felt, just have fun!

* If I was to make this pillow over again, I would've used the same color fabric for the back side as I used for the border on the front. I think it would look cleaner without those little slivers of white peeking around the border from the back where the pillow bunches in the corners.

Okay, that being said, here's the list of stuff you'll need (also listed in the pdf):
~ White Base Fabric: 17" x 17" 
~ Tan Fabric for Border: 2" x 17" (2),   2 pcs–2" x 19" (2)
~ Tan Fabric for Backer (Envelope Closure): 2 pcs–13" x 19" (2)
~ Various Colored Felt Pieces &/or Scraps (I used wool felt)
~ Embroidery Floss: Dark Gray, Medium Gray & Off-White (or White)
~ Sewing Thread
~ Needle
~ 18" x 18" Pillow Insert

If you want to make it with the same colors I did you can skip this paragraph. If you want to change things up a bit, there's a page in the downloadble pdf with a pillow diagram that you can print out and color in yourself to experiment with different color combos. Don't be afraid to mess up or experiment, now is the time to do so, I ended up sketching 4 variations before settling on this one. 

As for the feather shapes, they're all in the pdf, or just draw out your own feather(s) on graph paper, cut them out and use them as your template(s). Don't worry about cutting notches in the templates, just the basic outline shapes (mine look rather like missiles at this point, don't they?)

Once you've cut out all your paper templates, use them to cut out all your felt pieces, and then go back and cut out the notches in a random fashion. I think it looks nice that the feathers are all a little different.

Place all your feathers into position on the 17" x 17" white pillow top fabric to make sure everything lines up the way you want before pinning and sewing. The outside seam allowance is 1/2", so space your feathers 3/8" from the edge so they'll catch in the seam. You could probably get away with aligning them flush with the outside edge, but I thought it might make the seam bulky. Once you're happy, pin everything down.

Now find a nice spot to get comfy b/c you're going to be hand-stitching for awhile! Using 3 strands of embroidery floss for everything, I started with the dark gray and hand-stitched a straight line down both sides of the center vein for each feather set. Then I switched to off-white and stitched in the striping details, add as many or as few lines as you like.  Lastly, I used the medium gray to stitch the feather's "stem".

Here's what it looks like once all the feathers are stitched on. It looks a bit rumply and bumpy right now, but they'll disappear once the pillow fills it out a bit.

For the border, sew the two shorter strips along opposite sides, right sides together, using a 1/2" seam allowance.

Press your seams to the outside and sew the two longer strips on the other opposite sides. Once you press those seams to the outside, it should look like this:

At this point, I like to square everything up via a little trimming. 

I didn't take any photos of this next part (sorry), but it's pretty standard stuff so I should be able to explain it without pictures. For the envelope closure on the back, you'll be using the two 13" x 19" panels. On one of the long sides of each panel, simply turn the edge under (to the wrong side) 1/4" and press, then turn it under again about the same amount and press again. Pin, then sew as close to the inner folded edge as you're comfortable.

Place the pillow front face up as shown in the photo above, then place the two backer pieces face down and overlapping in the center as shown below. Sew all the way around, back stitching over the seams for added strength.

I like to trim my 1/2" seam allowance down to about 3/8", and clip my corners to reduce bulk.

Zig-zag stitch (or serge) over the edges to help prevent unraveling before you flip the pillow cover inside out. I'm so impatient I usually have to fight myself not to skip this step, but when I think about all the time I spent hand-stitching the front, it makes it a little easier. :)'s what your pillow cover will look like flat. Seeing this, I think it would make a neat wall hanging too. You might just want to make it completely out of felt to keep the wrinkles to a minimum.

So there you have it, a rather long-winded, but hopefully follow-able tutorial on making a modern and sophisticated feather pillow. And because I always take a million photos of my finished projects to make sure I get at least one good one, I'll leave you with a few more...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

WIP - Mystery Motif Quilt

I love long weekends when we stay in town, I not only can get so much done, but I feel like I can organize and plan the rest of the week better. Don't get me wrong, I love vacationing too, and have a wonderful little cross country road trip to the east coast planned this summer, not to mention a bunch of beachy projects to prepare for it, but more about that later.

This post is for me to revel in the fact that I completed one of the four projects I started this weekend, and a rather time consuming one at that, and I still have two whole days left! I dropped it off at a local shop to have it quilted and will finish the binding by hand when I get it back. This will be my first time not doing the quilting myself on my own sewing machine. I'm quite excited to see one of my quilts that doesn't have a gazillion puckers... and I got to pick out a pretty, organic quilting pattern, no straight lines here.

The quilt top is something I came up with myself, and apparently the motif is not as obvious as I thought it was. Here's a hint, they're not arrows as a friend so helpfully suggested (you know who you are). Please  feel free to take a stab at guessing yourself, I'll be interested to see if I'm way off or not! I'll post the final quilt in a few weeks when I get it back and finish the binding.

Now, I'm off to do what any respectable Houstonian would do when it's stinkin' hot outside... go ice skating!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I've been in the mood to work on new stuff lately... so what did I do? I started four new projects, even though I should be finishing up a pretty big pile of WIPs. I'm pretty excited about them as they're all inter-related, and while I don't have any one of them quite ready to show yet, here are some hints...

Oh yeah, and did I mention I won 2nd Place in the "Handdrawn" Spoonflower contest? For a day that started out with being sick and ends with a trip to the dentist in a few hours, I'm actually feeling pretty good right now! Thanks to everyone who left such lovely comments and who voted for my design!!

The fine folks over at Spoonflower posted this photo of the actual printed fabric. You can order some for yourself or view as yardage on their website here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spoonflower Contest - Handdrawn

Yay! I managed to enter a design into one of Spoonflower's weekly fabric design contests, that makes two in as many months (which is pretty sad considering I used to enter almost every week). I'm still peeved I let last week's Retro kitchen theme slip by me, but I'm looking forward to seeing who won when they announce the top ten tomorrow.

Anyhow, here's my entry for this week's theme, Hand drawn, I named it ever-so-subtely "Big Blooms" and you can view it as yardage here. I really like this theme because I'm a big fan of illustrations that are done by hand, they have so much character. I also like when the theme is specific to a particular media (like pen and ink) or style (like hand drawn), because sometimes we're forced to stretch a bit and work outside our comfort zones, surprising ourselves with what we come up with.

Having said that, this week's theme was right up my alley, so I don't know how much stretching was actually involved. Not to mention that my design is a floral, so not the most innovative motif, though I tried to do it in a more modern way... did I mention how much I love drawing flowers? But, aside from my personal preferences, I had a practical reason too, I wanted to design something I could sew a summer  dress out of. I think this will print up nicely on the organic sateen.

"Big Blooms" original fabric design

Spoonflower voting starts tomorrow around noon, see you there!

(click here to go directly to the voting page.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

I know this is a wee bit early, but since I couldn't send real flowers this year,
I painted some...

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!

... and a big Happy Mother's Day to all of you other moms out there,
I hope your day is full of flowers, chocolate, and most importantly, family!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bella Butterfly Love

I thought I'd share some of the stuff you talented people have been making with my Bella Butterfly fabrics and can't tell you how happy it makes me to see them all together! It also has the motivational side effect of making me want to blow off all my responsibilities for the next 5 days and just sew like crazy, but that's probably not going to happen... probably.

Anyhow, I'd love to include any of your new projects (that goes for Backyard Baby, too)... so if you've got any photos or links, send 'em on over and I'll post them soon :)

Sweet Dress - BellaBowsBoutiq
Not only does she sew the sweetest things, her photos
are so completely charming

Two Layer Twirl Dress - PumpkinPantsShop

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