Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Decorator Pillows and Handmade Flowers

Last fall my husbands grandmother gave me a pile of decorator fabric remnants that someone had given her.  When trying to figure out what to do with them I thought maybe I could make some throw pillows or some purses.  I decided to go with the pillow idea.  Once I started looking around for pillow forms I was surprised to find out how very expensive they are.  I was planning to make six pillows on a budget of $10. I was reading some blogs looking for ideas of how to stuff my pillows without spending a fortune, and came across the idea of buying $3 pillows at Wal-mart (or wherever you go to buy junky stuff) and cutting them down to size.  I bought 4 pillows for a total of $12.  If your lucky to find them on sale you could probably get them for $2.50 each. 

First, I cut each $3 pillow right in half.

Then I zig-zagged the raw edges together.  I don't think anyone will ever see my sewing job, so I wasn't too persnickety about it being perfect.  I squared off the corners too, tucking them in and sewing them diagonally.

Then I took two pieces of my upholstery scraps and put them right sides together, leaving an opening to turn it right side out and insert the pillow.  I used as much of the fabric as I could (why not?).

Then I turned it right side out and pressed it flat.  I sewed two more seams- one around the very outside edge to make it lay flat and another about 1.5 or 2 inches in from the outside (leaving the center area big enough to fit the pillow), and of course leaving that opening to insert the pillow.  You don't want the center to be any bigger than the pillow as your finished pillow won't look stuffed enough. Rather, make it about an inch smaller than the pillow so it will be nice and firm in the end.  

Next I stuffed the pillow inside and sewed it shut along both seams.   I was not concerned about making the case removable for washing, as I had not made a huge investment in making them (surface clean only please!).  

Then I decided that the pillows needed a little something extra.  I've seen several things online about making organza flowers by cutting up pieces of organza fabric and melting the edges, and I've always wanted to try it.  Well, unfortunately to say I had no organza on hand and the closest fabric store is nearly 3 hours away, so I used what I did have on hand.  The same afore mentioned grandma has given me quite a few random fabric scraps (thank you grandma :)  and I had a few things to choose from.  Any thin material that melts will work- any synthetic material.  Cotton, linen, silk and wool WILL NOT work, they just burn and crumble.  If you are not sure whether a material is man made or natural, just take a match to it and see if it melts or crumbles (don't burn down the house or your fingers- I am sure you knew that part :) If it melts, it is a synthetic material, and if it crumbles it is a natural material.  

Anyways, I cut out several very unperfect flower shapes out of some thin shiny synthetic material. Some were bigger for the bottom of the flower and some a little smaller for the upper layers. You can make as little as 5 layers, but I recommend more like 9 layers for a fuller flower.  

Then I lit a tea candle and got to work. On the smaller pieces I used a tweezers to hold it close to the flame so I wouldn't burn myself.  I came to the conclusion that if I ever have to run through a burning house and I am wearing synthetics, I would rather get naked than risk getting fabric melted to my skin!  Anyways, don't let the freshly melted parts touch your fingers.  Hold the fabric close to the flame and let it slowly melt.  If you put it too far into the flame it will just catch on fire.  Melt it until there is a melted ridge along the edge and it starts to curl up, molding it into a flower type shape.  

Then I took all the layers and stacked them up, arranging them in a eye pleasing way.  Then with needle and thread I secured the layers together.  On the back side I really cinched the center in together to give the flower more of a cupped shape than just flat.  

I kept on working with the needle and thread until the flower was a nice shape and then sewed a button in the center.  I used some pretty buttons I had saved off of a dress I threw out.  You could sew on some beads instead if you wanted.   

I think they turned out pretty, don't you?

I hand sewed them onto the pillows and then they were done.  I kept one for myself and gave the rest away as gifts.  With not too much money, and a little bit of work on my part, I was able to make a few decent gifts that didn't blow our budget.  :)  If you were a recipient of one of these pillows, now you know how little money I spent on you :o - OH NO!  :D

While I was at it I decided to make some flowers for my hair.  I made one cream one and one brown one.  

I attached the flowers to a hair pin, using a small piece of felt for support.  

I made several little black poppies on small hair bands for some little girls I know, too.  


I probably wouldn't spend the money to go out and buy the fabric for these projects, but they were fun and economical since I had all the material already on hand.  

I still have a bag full of decorator fabric left- do you have any other good ideas I could try?  


  1. how about a bag/purse? I saw a pattern where you can make a purse out of an old sweater though i plan to use a different fabric.


    now I see that you already thought of purses...oh well :)

  2. Have you every tried making the rolled shabby chic style flowers? They are kind of fun for kids accessories and clothing embellishments.
    Have fun,

  3. Thanks for the idea, Steph, I may have to try the shabby rolled flowers sometime :)

  4. very creative & resourceful!!...mom