Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Pillow Tryptich

It's time once again for the holiday pillow tryptich.  As I'm still not a fan of the pillows that came with my couch, I used the same base pattern as our Halloween pillows to make shams that cover up the ugly things.  For design inspiration I spent entirely too much time on Pinterest pinning pillows I had no intention of making.  Therefore, with step one (pillow pattern) and step two (Pinterest procrastination) over, it's on to step three: crafting Christmas cutesiness.  I'll give basic instructions for the three pillows you see above; however, the trick to good holiday decorations is in enjoying them aesthetically and creatively.  Ex. If you hate hand sewing, skip the stockings and snowflakes, they'll drive you crazy.
Triangular Trees
  • 1/2 yd. winter white flannel
  • collection of green patterned scraps or fat quarters
  • brown fabric scraps
  • fabric pencil/pen (or regular washable, as it will be covered by trees)
  • pinking shears (optional)
The design of this pillow is entirely an exercise in trial and error.  I started cutting triangles out of my various greens, making sure not to cut two of the same size.  I used pinking shears for the trees to add visual interest and prevent extensive fraying.  I then laid them out on the cut pillow front in many different orientations and made adjustments by trimming some of the trees and playing with the layout.  Once I had the green triangles in an orientation I was pleased with, I cut the brown trunks to match the size and placement of each tree.  This process will be different for everyone depending on the size of your pillow and how many types of green fabric you want to include. 

After I had the pieces where I wanted them, I needed a way to ensure they'd return there during assembly.  Without a truly photographic memory, I did the next best thing, I took a picture!  I also carefully lifted the pieces, putting a small dot underneath each corner directly on the pillow front.  I used green dots for the trees and brown for the trunks to help make sense of it all.  I've enhanced the dots in the picture below to give some idea of the ridiculous connect-the-dots I had created by the time I finished.

The next trick was to figure out what order to use when sewing the pieces back down.  I started with the trunks, as all of them would eventually be partially covered by the tree tops.

Each piece was sewn down with a straight stitch, leaving a slight border around the edge.  I used this same technique for the trees as well.

I used the photo I had taken earlier to decide which trees needed to be sewn down first, second, third, etc.  A tip for this process, pay attention to where the trees overlap eachother and the trunks and try to hide your backstitching under another applique.  It won't work to hide all of them, but most can tuck underneath fabric somewhere.

When I finished the applique work, I constructed the pillow the same way I had the Batty and Silhouette Pillows from previous posts.  Then I slipped the cheerful sham over my ugly couch pillow and voila:

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

Stockings on the Line
  • 1/2 yd. Flannel
  • Yarn, Twine, Ribbon, String (whatever you use to string up decorative laundry)
  • 3 Socks, sized relative to the size of your pillow
  • 3 small clothespins
There aren't any true process shots of this project because the level of adorable is directly correlated to the availability of appropriate socks.  I've seen it done with baby socks for a smaller pillow, but with my couch pillow monstrosities I needed something more realistic.  Luckily I found Christmas socks in the dollar bin at Target that fit the bill.  I also happened to have miniature clothespins leftover from a craft show that were perfect for hanging miniature stockings.  So, the moral of the story is, this project can be done by anyone with a good shopping eye who knows their way around a needle and thread.

Step One:  Layout cute curly string pattern. 
Step Two:  Clip on adorable socks with tiny clothespins. 
Step Three:  Tack it all down.  Hooray!  Easiest design ever! 

Well, okay, it's not quite that simple.  You also need patience.  The most difficult part of the process is sewing down the string so that it's not blatantly obvious to the casual observer.  Here is a close up of how I used my stitches, and I certainly hope no holiday guests take this close a look in the future:

After the string was down, I tacked the top right corner, toe, and heel of each sock, just to make sure Cat would't try to run off with them later.  Then I laid all the pillow pieces together and sewed the sham in my soon to be patented (although I'm sure someone else has beat me to it) pillow style.  Final product:

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Let it Snow
  • 1/2 yd. blue flannel
  • 5 doilies of various sizes/styles
  • white and silver metallic acrylic paint
  • fabric medium
So, if your lack of patience didn't get the better of you while handstitching the clothesline on the previous pillow, you might be ready for this project.  I'll preface the instructions by saying that I'm not a quilter, I don't do embroidery, and I've always hated handstitching.  This pillow is finished in part because it was such an adorable idea I couldn't pass it up, and partially just to prove to myself that I could handle detail work.  If you're a seasoned hand-sewer, ignore all my whining and complaining.  I'm sure this will be quick work for you.

Like the previous pillows, I started by laying out where I wanted the doilies.  Once I started sewing them on, however, Cat got involved and they had magically moved everywhere except for where I had placed them.  Therefore, before starting a new doily, I laid them all out each time and picked where the new one would go.  Thinking back, I should have booby-trapped them with straight pins.

In my stitching, I worked to make sure the visible stitches were over thicker parts of the doily to hide them.  In the end, I'm pretty proud of my handiwork.  Even in the close up it's difficult to see how it's attached.

The "Let It Snow" in the layout photo above is actually a fabric covered wooden cutout I found in a dollar bin somewhere.  Normally I would have intricate information about how to use a die cutter or stencil to get the lettering clean, but this time I got lucky.  I grabbed the cutout, dipped the back of it into the paint/fabric medium mixture, and used it as a stamp.  Then I used paintbrushes to fill in the parts that weren't solid enough for my liking and cleaned up the smudged edges by covering them with "snow."

It's difficult to see in the pictures, but the paint actually has a bit of a metallic sheen the way snow glistens in the sun.  Although the need for the added "snow" was to cover up mistakes, it's secretly (or not so secretly, now) one of my favorite things about this project.

After heat-setting the paint job with an iron, I sewed the sham together and stuffed it with my third ugly pillow.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
If you've got a craft or fabric stash at home, these pillows would be a great way to make something festive with found supplies.  They are easily customizeable to your pillow sizes and material availability.  If you try out the designs or come up with something creatively festive, show it off below!  It's truly the crafter's time of year!

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