Tag Archives: pillow

Plaid scarf pillow

Emily’s Chicago visit was months ago and I’m just now writing up our final project from that weekend.  We were super busy! In addition to my regular sofa pillows in shades of yellow, cream, and grey, I wanted to make some pillows that would work with our Christmas decor.  I searched local fabric stores for an awesome red plaid…and found nothing.  Very disappointing.  Then when I was shopping at H&M one day after work, I came across a fantastic, classic, very wide red scarf.  Perfect!

First step: confirm that the scarf is in fact cozy.  Emily performed the assessment.


After measuring the pillow we were covering, Emily trimmed the fringe off the scarf, and then cut the front panel.


Exposed brass zippers are having a moment in fashion, so we thought it would be fun to add one to the back of this pillow instead of using a pocket closure. (As with the monogram chevron pillow, I wanted this pillow cover to be removable and washable).  Emily cut two panels for the back side of the pillow.  My super helpful contribution was to pin the three pieces of fabric together!


Then, Emily did the real work.  So, I’ll let her tell you what she did.

I have never sewn a zipper into anything but I knew with a little thinking and maybe trial and error I would be able to figure it out. Now that the zipper is installed I would do it a little differently, but I will get to that in a bit.

The pillow had been all sewn together with an opening down the middle of one side for the zipper. When the fabric for the two back pieces was cut we added an additional ½ inch to the width so there was room to fold over the fabric and sew it to the zipper. The plan was to allow the zipper to show on the back of the pillow for added detail. I laid the zipper in the middle of the opening, with the fabric turned right side out, and made sure the fabric was laying nice and flat, this would help to make sure that I wasn’t pulling the fabric which would potentially make the pillow cover to small, or make it pucker. After this was nice and flat I took the fabric on the left side and folded it under to create a nice line, I then pinned this to the zipper in a few spots, making sure that the placement was fairly even down the zipper so the finished product looked nice.


After things were pinned where I wanted them I sewed the left side of the zipper to the fabric. This was nice and easy because the pillow was still open down the center.


Then as I began to repeat this same process on the right side of the zipper I realized I had made a mistake! Because I had sewn the rest of the pillow together there didn’t seem to be a way to sew the other side of the zipper to the fabric, I had left no opening in the pillow so any further stitching would end up sewing the back and the front of the pillow together…not the effect I was going for and to top it all off I had not brought a seam ripper with me so undoing a seam was going to be quite the process. As I sat and festered about this I realized that I could unzip the zipper! What a novel idea! Once I did that I continued with the same process as before of folding, pinning and sewing.

The zipper we chose was not the same length as the pillow so there were about 2 inches on the top and bottom of the zipper that still needed to be sewn together. I turned the pillow cover inside out and sewed a quick seam down to meet the zipper. Zipper installation complete!

Now for what I would do differently: I would install the zipper BEFORE sewing the rest of the pillow together. This would make the process a little easier.  -Emily

Here’s one last shot of my crafty sister Emily on my couch with all three pillows that she made for me! Thanks, Em.  -Eliina






Monogram chevron pillow

I’ve been pinning cute monogram pillows on Pinterest for months, and my pillow predicament inspired me to actually make one.

I loved the yellow and cream chevron material I used to recover my bar stools, and since I had some left over I thought it would look great covering a pillow on my couch.  Several of the DIY pillow projects I’d seen online used felt for the monogram, so I picked up a coordinating piece of felt.

Then, I invited Emily to town under the pretenses of a Young House Love book signing, and asked her to pack her sewing machine.  I do not know how to use a sewing machine, let alone own one. Fortunately my crafty family is usually willing to help me out.

Emily measured the size of the square pillow we were using as a base, and leaving an extra quarter edge around the edge for seams, cut out the front of the pillow.

Since this pillow would have an obvious front side with the monogram we decided to make the back a pocket.  It would be a little easier than sewing in a zipper, but would still be removable.  With my sixteen month old daughter around, spills are inevitable, and I prefer decor I can launder.  We wanted the pocket to be at least six inches deep, so Em took the measurement for the front of the pillow, divided it in two, and then added six inches.  She then hemmed the outer  edge of the pocket pieces.

Meanwhile I found a font I liked, and printed out a large letter P.  I then traced the letter onto my piece felt, and cut it out.  Emily pointed out that if I traced it backward, the ink from the pen would be on the back, and I wouldn’t have to worry about cutting off every pen stroke.  She’s a smart one, my sister.  Also, she didn’t gripe about the vastly unequal division of labor.

Em centered the letter in the middle of the front panel, and sewed into place.

After that she pinned the three panels together, wrong side out, and sewed them together.  I may have fetched a Diet Coke.  The pillow fit inside perfectly.

The finish product looks great on my couch, especially next to the crocheted pillow cover Emily made for me.

Thanks, Em!


Crocheted Cover

I have been crocheting for about 12 years now and I feel I am fairly competent with my hooks. I can read patterns, make up my own patterns and usually figure out what stitches were used on a completed project that I am shown. When Eliina brought up the idea of making a pillow cover for her couch I figured it would be something I could handle. I needed some inspiration. I didn’t want to make something that was more my style that might not really jive with what she had in mind. She linked me to a few suggestions and I started looking for possible stitches to use.

A great source that I use for crocheting information is Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Happy Hooker. I have had this for a few years and it has greatly increased my repertoire of stitches. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn how to crochet and to those that already know how – it is a real wealth of information. But once I decided on the look I was going for I took to the internet to see what was out there. I found that to best achieve the look I was going for I would use alternating single and triple crochets.

I thought a neutral cream for the yarn so other pillows could be switched out during the year but this pillow could stay for some added texture. Eliina provided the pillow form, found for $5 on clearance!

I wasn’t sure exactly how many stitches I would need for this because I would be making up my own pattern as I went along. To keep with the chunky textured look from my example I decided to use a little larger hook, a J hook, this would not only make the bumps larger but it would also help the project work up a little quicker…BONUS!

I started off with chaining a length and laying it across the pillow to see if it was about wide enough. Then I started on the pattern, one row of alternating triple crochets and single crochets and then a row of all single crochets. That was it, the whole pattern consists of two alternating rows.

As I worked and thought I was close to the end I again layed the work across the pillow to see if I needed to continue. Based on the sample ideas I had I knew I was going to do a make a pocket cover so instead of making a front and a back I made one piece that would be sewn together. After achieving the length I needed I marked my stitches so I knew where the pillow would fold over the top and then continued on. Each flap needed to be over half of the length of the pillow to allow for overlap once the pocket was made and the buttons sew. Once I had the length I wanted for the top I detached my yarn and reattached on the bottom of the back and worked my way back up.

One possible hiccup in the project was making button holes. This was the first project I have done that needed them and I was a little unsure of the process. My handy Stitch ‘n Bitch book had a great tutorial on how to recreate horizontal button holes, which are easier, and after deciding where they should go I had the button holes made. Lining up the buttons on the bottom half was pretty simple as well and crochet can be quite forgiving so I knew if they were off by a smidge things would still work out fine!

Now I had the rectangle made and ready so I folded up the bottom half and used a slip stitch to connect the front and the back. After it was all stitched together I stuffed the pillow form into the cover. I will admit I was relieved to find that it fit nice and snug. Not using a pattern had me a bit worried I would end up with a cover that was either way to big or had to be stretched too much to fit. The final step was to stitch a single crochet all around the outside of the pillow just to finish everything off.

Pillow cover complete! I am really happy with how it turned out. Now maybe I should actually write up the pattern for future use!


Addendum from Eliina: The pillow looks great on my couch, and is helping me solve my pillow predicament.

Pillow Predicament

It took my now husband and I several weeks of looking for find a sectional that would fit into our typical long, narrow, Chicago condo.  We finally found the perfect sofa at Roy’s in Lincoln Park, an independent furniture store that had a large selection of furniture that wasn’t made for suburban McMansion living rooms.  (If you’re interested in checking them out, although Roy’s burned down this past May, they have a temporary showroom in Pilsen).  We brought our brown leather sectional home and over the past three years logged many hours of naps, movie marathons, and football games, not to mention all my nursing sessions with our daughter.

What I’ve never done is properly outfitted it with throw pillows.  I first had a little pair of blue pillows that coordinated with our old rug.  Those were replaced with a yellow and grey floral pair that work well with the yellow wall at the front of the room. Still, two little pillows floating on a decent sized sectional wasn’t doing it for me.  I’ve issued a challenge to myself to up our sofa’s comfort and style factors by adding some more pillows to the mix.  To make things more interesting, I’ve also decided that they needed to be handmade.

Here’s a photo of where we’re starting.

Let’s see where this challenge takes us!