Pillow Talk

Our living room has been highly neglected in the past few years.  It’s walls are pretty much bare with the exception of a cross and an off-center painting, the rugs I’ve had on the floor have always been too small for the space (until recently we walked on the one that I bought for Sebastian’s room…see pic below), the hand-me-down club chairs are a cranberry color that isn’t necessarily a bad color but just not what I’d like, the pillows are all mismatched…
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I thought we’d get everything in order back when we turned our thirfted coffee table into an ottoman but then other things got the priority and so the mismatched room has sat and sat.  We did move the furniture around some time ago though, separating the sectional to allow for a play area in the back corner of the room.  It’s not my favorite set-up since separating a sectional basically means you have two funky looking sofas but, it’s the most functional set-up right now while the kids are little. 
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All that is about to change though.  It really all started last year on Black Friday when I found an 8 x 10 rug at Old Time Pottery for $73 (on sale from $130 plus an extra 15% off).  Actually, I found three that day and brought each one home and Anthony and I settled on a colorful, pixelated one.  It wasn’t my favorite but, oh you should feel it!  It’s thee softest, cushiest, non-shag rug I’ve ever stepped foot on.  We don’t even need a rug pad to boost its comfort level, it’s that comfy.  But anyway, it really got the wheels turning on how I needed to decorate this room to incorporate the rug and I knew that that process would be a tough one.  The rug could easily look western-ish and that is the total opposite of what I want.  I want light, bright, and modern with a hint of eclectic and a dash of classic…okay, basically I’m just throwing out words to tell you I want anything but country and moody.  Our beige walls were the first to change a few weeks ago.  We painted them white (Delicate White by Olympic).  A Debbie Downer:  We purchased Olympic paint + primer to do the job as they had the color we liked the best but were sadly disappointed.  We ended up having to do two coats and didn’t have a drastic color change going on in the first place.  Boo.

The next update I made in the room was to the pillows.  I finally got around to whipping up some zippered pillow covers for the existing pillows and two more pillow forms I’ve had stored away for this room for months and months.  And, I love how they turned out! 
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I used a golden yellow geometric fabric (found on clearance at Hancock Fabrics for $10/yard), a pin-striped fabric from Old Time Pottery ($5.99/yard), and this colorful Neo Toile ($18.95 and my splurge).  I got two pillows out of a little over a yard so in total I spent about $40 to make seven covers ($47 including the zippers).  All of the fabrics are medium-weight home decor fabrics with the exception of the geometric.  It’s a light-weight and was a little tougher to sew with.  I was a little nervous about incorporating the colorful Neo Toile (even thought I absolutely love the fabric!) because I thought it might clash with the rug but I think that after all is said and done in here, it’ll blend right in.  It’s the craziest I’ll get though; everything else will be nice and mellow.  :)

So, the pillows.  I started by cutting out two squares of fabric for each pillow cover.  I did this by laying a paper template I made over the fabric, making sure it was straight.  Then I used a heavy vase of flowers as a weight, holding the fabric and template in place and together while I cut around the template.
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[Aren’t the flowers gorgeous?!  They were sent to me on my birthday last week from some sweet, sweet friends.]

Using a template helped me make sure all of my squares were the same exact size.
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Side note:  My pillows measure 20 x 20 inches so I made a 20 x 20 template using a bunch of piece of scrap computer paper that I taped together (I couldn’t find any other paper around this casa that was wide enough for me to use one sheet).  I’ve read that, for the best pillow cover fit, you should make your covers one inch smaller than your form so that’s exactly what I did.  After sewing using a half-inch seam allowance on each side, each of my covers ended up being 19 x 19 finished.

In the past I’ve made envelope-enclosure pillow covers, which are great but this time I went with zippered covers (my second try at them – here’s the first) because I love how you can use an entire piece of pattern fabric on the front and back without having to worry about the envelope disrupting the pattern flow on the back.  I used this tutorial from Design Sponge.  I followed her directions word-for-word except for the last part of installing the zipper.  When you’re almost to the end of sewing on the second side of the zipper, if you started from the bottom of the zipper, you won’t be able to sew right up and past the zipper pull.  It’ll be in the way and since you’ve already sewn the other side of the zipper, you’ll have no way to get to it to unzip it out of the way because of the basting (baste?) stitches.  So, what I did was, about an inch before I reached the pull, I secured my straight stitch by backstitching and then I cut the thread.  Next, I removed my pillow cover from the sewing machine and ripped out the basting stitches.  Once all the stitches were gone, I unzipped the zipper a little ways past where I stopped on the second side and sewed that last inch or so of the second side of the zipper on, backstitching at the beginning and end of that small area of stitches.  You can sorta see what I’m trying to explain and the area I had to ‘patch’ in this close-up:
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I don’t know a way around this but I know there must be one because I haven’t seen any store-bought pillow covers with the small patch I’ve had to insert.  If you know how to avoid it, please let me know!!

In the Design Sponge tutorial, she clips her corners once she finished (that makes your corners more pointed when your pillow cover is right-side-out) and calls it a day.  You can also finish hems by cutting them with a shearing scissors, which helps them to not fray.  I’ve sheared lots of finished hems with success but this time around, I thought I’d take things to the next level and get out my serger that’s been sitting alone in a closet for the past three years; me too intimated to take it out and try it.  But, thanks to the encouragement and help from one of my household sisters, Marina (seamstress EXTRAORDINAIRE…guys, she made her own wedding dress!), I now am a proud, not scared, owner of a serger!  I wish I had gotten it out long ago!

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Just look at that things handiwork!
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[The threads are all different colors because I didn’t change them after the initial threading – using different colors helps the threading process since it’s a little complicated (but totally doable and the worst part!) and involves four different threads.]
Having kids means messes and, even though we don’t allow food in the living room, messes still somehow sneak in so it is so important to me that I’m able to wash our pillow covers.  Now I know that because all the hems are serged, I can wash these babies a hundred times and it’s unlikely that they’ll fray and fall apart.

Let’s talk edges.  Because I only bought enough fabric for what I needed, I didn’t have the option of matching sides (this is especially apparent with the Neo Toile) which is totally not necessary but on many high-end pillows, you’ll see exactly centered designs and matching fronts and backs. 

With the geometric fabric, I tried as best I could to line up the top seam so that it didn’t look too disconnected.  In lining up the top seam though, I had no choice on what would happen on the bottom, zippered end.  It’s a little funky but my concerns are elsewhere.
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With the Neo Toile, I had absolutely no say on where the seam would land and in the end, they don’t look half bad (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  ;) PicMonkey Collage3

With the pin-striped pillows, I just made sure the stripes lined up along the side seams and didn’t worry too much about the tops and bottoms.
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I’m sorry I couldn’t write up a whole tutorial from start to finish but I scrambled to make these pillows during a few nap times so I didn’t take the time to take detailed pictures.  I thought I’d make it up to you by finding a good video tutorial I could share with you because I think they’re the most helpful when it comes to sewing and so I found this one by Sewing In a Straight Line that seemed to be the most helpful although I couldn’t find a super-detailed one that I thought a beginner could watch and get it.  Guess I’ll have to work on making my own one of these days.  :)

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Next on the list, we have to deal with this issue that literally drives me crazy every time I prop up my footsies: IMG_5804
A pattern and color clash of interior designers’ nightmares that means we’ll be recovering the ottoman asap.  The rug looks a little darker in the above pic than in real life but even so, this is one relationship that’s not going to work.  I’m thinking a linen-esque gray or maybe a large-scale white and gray geometric (the rug has gray in it along with a gray edge-binding thread).  Originally I had my eyes set on this Portfolio fabric from OFS…
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…but I ordered some swatches of it in two colors and I’m now thinking the two small-scale patterns might be too much.  What do you think?  I’m open to any and all suggestions!

I’ll be working on the living room little by little, actually I’m going wall by wall, and so I’ll share as I go but I’m also going to be working on a few other things here and there so I can’t promise a speedy reveal but it will get done and I’m so excited to get it there!  We’ve got lots of frames to hang, wall shelves to build, and (shhh…I haven’t announced this plan to Anthony yet) a possible mantel rebuild.  All while keep ourselves and the three toddlers alive, hence the turtle’s pace.  :)

What are you working on these days?  One thing or a few?

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P.S.  Thank you for your sweet words and eagerness to hear the rest of our love story!  I’m so excited to type up more and to relive those moments via the blog! 

P.P.S.  It’s party time!  I’m linking these seven couch potatoes up with Ana’s Cabin Fever Creativity Link-Up!

13 comments

  1. I know this is supposed to be about pillows, but I just love that rug! I'm in the process of moving into our first house, and rugs are one of the most intimidating things. I can't BELIEVE how pricey they are! I need to start keeping an eye out for good deals!

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    1. Thanks Natalie! I agree with you! Rugs can be so (ridiculously) expensive! Do you have an Old Time Pottery near you? They have the best prices and tons to choose from! Good luck!

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    2. I've never heard of that, but I am definitely going to do a little googling to see!

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  2. I love the pillows! They look awesome together! Enjoy the serger - you'll never go back! :)

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  3. You are amazing and your pillows ar beautiful. Thank you for linking up!!

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  4. The pillows are fantastic! I've been looking at my sad couch pillows for months thinking that I should redo them but I can't seem to work myself up to it since they definitely need zippers and that seemed too hard. I didn't make the covers removable originally--pre-kids--which obviously was a mistake :)

    Maybe you've inspired me to get fabric shopping!

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    1. Oh you should definitely do it! The first zipper is the worst and by worst I mean definitely not as hard as you thought it would be and after that you'll be a pro and wonder why you never used them earlier! Good luck and have fun fabric shopping!

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  6. The pillows look fantastic and I do love your splurge fabric. As I mentioned before, I'm a sewing novice, but found this post which seems to be done a bit differently: http://mypoppet.com.au/2012/07/how-to-zippered-pillow-cover-the-easy-way.html . As for the fabric for the ottoman I do think the scale of those patterns are too close and would look too busy, sorry!

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    1. Thanks Lisa! Thank you also for the link! I'm going to check it out!

      And I think you're right about the ottoman fabric. As much as I wish they wouldn't be too crazy together, they will. Busy is a great word for it. :(

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  7. You are ridiculously talented. I don't understand half the words you used, but I almost fainted when I got to the picture of that multi-spooled sewing...computer thing. I'm in awe. Also, please come rescue me from the beige + espresso colored nightmare that is the entirety of our living spaces.

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  8. Love the updated look! Thanks for including us Sheena!

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A penny for your thoughts? Or how about you give your two cents? Whatever the change, I'd love to know what you think and I try my best to respond! If your name is linked to your email, I'll hit you up there. If not, check back! I'd love to see you again anyway! :)