March 13, 2014

Embroidered Pillows II

In January, I said you can expect me to make an infinity scarf for everyone's birthday present. But that wasn't the whole story. While I have given away many scarves, I have gifted far more pillows.

Pillows are just one of those things that I instantly consider as a birthday present option. I mean, who doesn't want another 14 x 14" square of fluff to clutter their living room sofa? Or bed? Or, more realistically, their dusty closet? 

So I've made a lot of pillows. I've knitted pillows. I once sewed a simple pillow and then wrote with Sharpie in slanted cursive writing "Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!!!" I've made pillow cases, and more recently I embroidered one. Fortunately, my mother, who has been the recipient of most of these embarrassing pillows, has accepted all of these "treasures" with a loving smile every time. (It helped that I was a cute elementary-schooler during the worst of it.) The pillows are all displayed in her bedroom. Whenever I go in there, it looks like an exhibit on "The Evolution of My Daughter's Pillow-Making Abilities Through the Years." Yippee.

That first embroidered pillow was so much fun that I wanted to do another one. The wildflower bouquet one took many hours, though, and the pillow part was just made to feature the embroidery. For my next project, I wanted to see what else I could do with pillow embroidery to make the entire pillow unique.

Embroidered Paintbrush Quilted Pillow, December 2013 - January 2014.
Fortunately enough, my super artsy friend Kowli's birthday was coming up, and sure enough, I had already given her a scarf in year's past, so that option wasn't available. Being the super original person I am, I took my other frequently-traveled road and made her a pillow (and a five-page card). 

Because she loves art and is a super talented artist, I embroidered a paintbrush. I also added a border of colorful solid and floral 2.5" quilt squares that matched the paintbrush color scheme. You may notice that the squares aren't perfectly configured. For one, it's artsy, and that's the point. Secondly, I can't do math to account for seam allowances. So there's that. 

I also can't do math to make my pillow fit over the 12" pillow form I bought even after double- and triple-checking, so I had to add a coral striping along the edges so the pillowcase would fit over the form. But that was a blessing disguised in frustration, because I think it looks better that way. :)



A close-up of the embroidery, which took about 3 hours. I used cross stitch, back stitch, satin stitch, and stem stitch.


My mom's birthday also happened recently. I happen to have already given her a hat, a scarf, a few lanyards, some coasters, needle points, and more than her fair share of pillows. So of course I had to give her just one more. 

When I'm searching for an embroidery design, I gaze through the machine-embroidery Redwork designs for sale until I find one that I like. Then I take a screen-shot of the pattern and print it. My family likes to tease my mother for her love of trees, and I really wanted to embroider a tree for her pillow, but I could not for life of me find a pattern of a tree that was not Christmas- or Hawaii-related. So I had to try something else.

When I was rummaging through the bird section on one of those embroidery sites, I noticed that some of the birds were sitting on tree branches. Perfect! I picked a pattern of a robin and went straight to work.

But then there was the problem of realistic coloration of a robin. When I learned that robins are mostly kind of boring-colored, I just gave up on trying to make it realistic and put in streaks of colored robin feathers. Because why not.

I made this pillow the day after I made the paintbrush one, so I learned my lesson and did my math, checked it four times, and as a result didn't severely mess up. But this time I intentionally added a second border piece because I liked the effect so much.

Embroidered Robin Pillow, January 2014.
A close-up of the embroidery, which took about 15 hours. I used back stitch, satin stitch, leaf stitch, chain stitch, and french knot.
Not-surprisingly, my mother received this gift pillow too with a loving smile, and put it right next to all the other pillows. Some things never change.

Stay tuned for next Thursday!

Happy Crafting,
--Elizabeth

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