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
~ 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. :)
...here'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...