Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cluck, Cluck, Sew petal pillow

I have been MIA the last few days because my son broke my iron, which has severely cut down on the amount of sewing I can do.  It was a blessing in disguise, though, because when I bought the iron I didn't realize it was a cheap Chinese-made model (I guess I expected better from Home Depot), and it didn't even have an on-off switch.  I had to unplug it from the wall every time I wanted to turn it off, releasing a shower of sparks.  And every time I used it, the lights in the sewing room would flicker like crazy.  So I am probably much safer with my new Black&Decker iron.

As we head into autumn, I have a whole favorites bar filled with spring- and summer-inspired projects that I finally have time to get around to.  I realize they are off-season, but our weather is becoming quite dreary in the Pacific Northwest, and sunny days are going the way of the dodo and common sense.  So diving into these projects now helps me keep that cheery summer attitude going just a bit longer.

I have seen dozens of tutorials for pillows with some sort of big flower on them and have been tempted to make one, but never fully realized that dream.  I did a small mock version of one with a wool felt flower on some linen left over from a Renaissance Faire dress, and I loved it.  So when I saw this tutorial from Allison at Cluck, Cluck, Sew, it really piqued my interest.  Yes, I realize the original posting is five years old, but a pattern that works, works, and it might be time to revive it.  I mulled it over in my mind and hadn’t really committed to it until I walked past the Eco-fi felt bolts—on sale, of course—and saw my favorite non-color:  a dark grey.
This is the pillow that inspired me to do this project.  I love the cheery colors!  Photo by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew.  Used by permission.

My chosen fabric.
I had seen this cream and light grey flower fabric at the store before and I knew I wanted to use it for something, but it didn’t really fit any of the paper piecing patterns I have.  I decided it would make a great background fabric for my pillow.  You can see the grey stitching here; normally I would have used a cream, but I thought a nice contrast grey would be good, even though no one ever sees the back of a pillow.  But I know it's there.  I made the mistake of buying some really nice Sulky rayon thread, and I will never do that again.  For some reason, it just will not load properly on my bobbin.  It wasn't the bobbin winder, because I tested a cotton and a polyester thread on the same winder and they wound perfectly.  I am very happy with my choice of the dark grey felt for the flower, because I need a nice neutral that I can move from room to room when the redecorating bug hits.

Never go high-tech if you don't have to!
Sometimes the hardest part of completing projects like this is finding items that are the correct size to work as a circle template.  I had recently taken apart a broken gumball machine I bought for a dollar at a garage sale (I plan repurposing it soon as a conversation piece, so be sure to watch for a post on that), and it just so happened that one of the pieces was a 4-inch circle.  Close enough for this crafter!  My Mod Podge was a good stand-in for a 3-inch circle.  When I reached the center and needed a small circle to cover the middle of the flower, my sewing machine oil was nearby and just the right size.  I traced a dinner plate for my flower template on the front fabric.

This was about the point I started
questioning my commitment to this project.  :)
I was able to squeeze 24 small circles and 20 circles out of the quarter yard of felt I bought, but it wasn’t quite enough.  I had to head back to the store for another 1/8 of a yard to do the last couple of rows.  I needed more of my background fabric, too.  I don't know if the home décor fabric comes on wider bolts or if I just cut my pieces out in the wrong way, so the 19” of quilting cotton didn’t quite cut it.  I was about four inches too short.  If I had thought about how much I was going to need ahead of time, I would have known that, but I’m not really one for thinking ahead.  :)  But now I have some pretty scraps and I will have to figure out a use for them.

I started sewing on petals, and life was easy for the first few rows.  By the time I reached the center, where it got a bit thick, I was very thankful to be sewing on my great-grandmother's machine, a vintage Kenmore model 158.  The manual comes in a hideous stunning avocado green, as does the matching thread and bobbin holder.  To be honest, this is probably the best machine I will ever have.  It is a workhorse that can sew through 12 layers of thick fleece to make a rag quilt (a total mistake … I meant to buy flannel and got myself confused), is simple to use, and is cheap and easy to fix on my own.  Don’t be afraid to pick up one of these older machines for 10$ or 20$ at a garage sale as a backup; you can’t go wrong with them!

I will go into serious mourning if this thing ever kicks the bucket.

The closer I got to the center, the more I needed the pins.
The original tutorial did not call for pinning the petals.  In fact, from her photos, it appears Allison is one of those magical people who can make things line up exactly where she wants with the touch of a hand, regardless of the project type.  If I am sewing straight lines, I don't use pins.  On curves, however, I have to pin like crazy and still pray to the sewing gods that my final project will kind of sort of resemble what I was going for.

Better safe than sorry!
As a family, we are somewhat tough on fabric.  I am the master of using the slipstitch to fix ripped seams, but I would rather sew smart in the first place.  Knowing that the pillow cover will need to be removed and washed quite often, I made sure to really reinforce the seams in the back where the rectangular flaps meet the front fabric.  I went over those areas a few times with the thread.

I am really pleased with the final pillow.  The felt and the colors make it feel both homey and a little luxe at the same time.

I know I will be checking out more of Allison's pillow patterns and other fun sewing projects.  If you are more of the quilty type, she has some beautiful quilt tutorials available on her blog as well.  Please head over and check them out!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments and feedback! I will try to get back to you shortly.