Saturday, August 30, 2014

Made It: Pillow Makeover

Hello! While perusing a local flea market earlier this summer, I came across a colorful vintage quilt patch. I was taken with it, in part because one of the fabrics used was identical to a piece of fabric I'd bought decades ago at another flea market. That was a sign to me that I should buy the quilt patch, so that I did. 

I asked the seller if she knew how old it was, and she guessed from either the 1960's or 1970's. That seemed like a reasonable estimate to me. I've seen a number of craft magazines from the 1970's that featured patchwork projects, perhaps due to the focus on US history during the Bicentennial.

I wasn't sure what to do with the patch at first when I returned home, but then spied this:

My late mother had made the pillow cover, a tapestry panel sewn onto burgundy corduroy. She gave this to me when we lived in Indiana. Not only did we have a more formal house there, but we also were located near a county known for its covered bridges. 

I have since changed states and decor. Our current house is simpler in style and I've gotten into the flea market look. So why not use the quilt patch I'd just bought to change the look of the pillow? It happened to be the perfect size for the makeover. 

My mom's pillow cover had been created envelope-style, which made it very easy to remove. I decided to make mine the same way, and used this tutorial for measuring instructions.

Although the sewing of the pillow cover was very easy, there were a few steps necessary before I could do that. First came the choosing of the fabric. I eventually settled on a piece of sturdy white cloth that had come from a thrift store. While ironing it smooth, I noticed that there was a barely-visible blue label printed on it. That likely meant one thing - that fabric had once been part of a flour sack. I've read stories in Reminisce magazine of women doing their best to bleach those printed labels out of flour sacks so that the sacks could then be used to sew undergarments. No idea how old my flour sack piece is, but I got a kick out of having this bit of history for my project. 

Next came the attaching of the quilt patch to the pillow front section; this was by far the most time-consuming part. After using Stitch Witchery to keep the patch in place, I added embellishments in the form of hand embroidery and a vintage button. 

The actual sewing of the pillow cover was a breeze, and then it was time to complete the makeover by stuffing the pillow into it.

Ta da! I think this turned out really well! The quilt patch pattern is called Dresden Plate. I used a blanket stitch all around the edge of the patch and added a line of chain stitching between each fabric section. (a single strand of red pearl cotton was used for both stitches). Since the patch is about 16"x16", the embroidery took awhile, but I rather enjoyed it. I don't use a lot of hand embroidery, but when I do I like the old-fashioned feel of that craft.

(By the way, that blue floral piece at the bottom right side of the patch is the duplicate of the fabric piece I'd purchased a long time ago.)

And should I tire of this pillow cover, or change houses/decorating style/colors again, I now know how easy and fun it is to make another one!

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