Floor Pillows: Using Thread to Make Patterns on Fabric

Well, it’s hot as Hades up here in Eastern Washington – around 106 degrees today – and I find my life is confined to the indoors in a way it rarely is even in the darkest part of our wet Oregon winters.  Once the heat dies down in the evening, Cameron and I have a new routine of a neighborhood stroll followed by a cold (usually adult) beverage in the backyard.  Prompted by the discovery of two large pillows at Goodwill for a couple dollars each, I decided to add some comfort to our evening repose.

Red House West - Lounge Pillows with Thread-Patterned Fabric_6

The pillows looked new and passed the sniff test (is there anything akin to the trepidation of the moment before you take a big inhale of a thrift store item?) so I brought them home, washed them in hot water, and hung them out to dry.  I have brought a small fabric stash up here with me, including remnants of black and natural-colored canvas from the diamond planter I shared last week, and the last of the cotton-linen left over from when I made my living room curtains.  It seemed a little plain though, so I decided to experiment with another item I already had on hand: thread.

Red House West - Lounge Pillows with Thread-Patterned Fabric_7

Red House West - Lounge Pillows with Thread-Patterned Fabric_8

I kept a neutral palette, because when we’re back home I envision these as floor pillows in my living room  and, though I haven’t shown you yet, my living room also houses an orange velvet couch and Beatrice – a six-foot tall vibrantly colored painting of a heavy-lidded and morose woman’s face next to a bird in a party hat.  Don’t worry, you’ll meet her soon.  Anyway, in deference to Beatrice and the orange couch (and in an effort to avoid full-on crazy), I have been opting for fairly subtle colors in the rest of the room – like the gray fabric on the bed chair.

Back to the task at hand.  I loaded my sewing machine up with thread and started stitching.  I tried a few different shapes, and settled on a couple to use for this project.

Red House West - Lounge Pillows with Thread-Patterned Fabric_4

I even made a video (well, Cameron did some sweet cinematography while I sewed).  I know this isn’t rocket science, but it does give a sense of how long each cross took.

This kind of easy, non-precise sewing is right up my alley.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but I am no type A personality.  More of a type C, or maybe even D.  Not that I don’t like things to be nice or done correctly, but I rarely strive for (or particularly appreciate) perfection.  Drawing these shapes with thread wasn’t at all complicated, but it did get a little tedious.  I just set my laptop – with a roller derby game that was streaming online – up behind the sewing machine and kept an eyeball on each.  A very pleasant way to pass a couple air-conditioned hours.

Sewing the now-patterned fabric into pillow covers was very easy; they are ‘envelope style,’ and I’ve used this great tutorial over on Little Green Notebook many times.  She recommends making the pillow covers a little smaller than the pillow itself – and for down pillows I agree – but for flat, non-malleable pillows like the ones I used here I prefer exact measurements so they don’t fold.

Sewing the cover - patterned fabric right-side up, with overlapping canvas pieces making the envelope in the back.

Sewing the cover – patterned fabric right-side up, with overlapping canvas pieces making the envelope in the back.

I’m really happy with how these turned out!  It was fun to come up with a new way to use materials I already had.  The only cost of this project was the pillow inserts from Goodwill, but even if I’d had to buy fabric and thread it still would have been a really inexpensive to do.

Gotta run - the ice in that Pimm's Cup isn't going to last long

Gotta run – the ice in that Pimm’s Cup isn’t going to last long

I’m already brainstorming other ways to use this technique – how about you?  Mera will be back on Wednesday with a post about her recent adventures – see you then!

2 responses on “Floor Pillows: Using Thread to Make Patterns on Fabric

  1. Carol Crump Bryner

    Your pillows make me think of the Japanese embroidery technique called “Sashiko.” My sister-in-law brought me a little knitting bag done with this stitching – light threads on grey or blue cloth – and I have always admired the technique. The way you did yours looks so fresh and clean, and perfect next to those very tempting looking drinks. I’ve never had a “Pimm’s Cup.” Are they yummy?

    1. k80bennett

      Sorry for the delayed response–I just returned from a road trip. Pimm’s Cups are delicious! I’m not a big fan of sweet cocktails, but these have cucumber, some gingerale and an herb-y flavor. Perfect for a hot summer night!

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