As a result, we picked out a handful of fall and autumn colors and agreed to reasonable shade and tone deviations thereof. We then scoured thrift stores for 100% cotton bed sheets in those colors, often relying on my mom’s steal-of-a-deal mojo to help us score on dirt-cheap, second-hand materials and supplies.
So, there we were, my mom and me setting up both sewing machines on her large dining table. She kindly provided a clean, clutter-free working space with little interruptions and her own experienced hands to help me get started on covering some of the thirty-something throw pillows that we’d gathered from generous Freecyclers.
Although we now each had our own sewing machine, I'd spent little time using my new toy since I got it (see our post in December). Years ago I followed my mom's lead and took a beginning sewing class at one of the local junior colleges. At the time, my biggest undertakings included a heart-shaped pillow with a buttoning pocket and a t-shirt that actually fit me. However, I had borrowed my mom’s sewing machine for the class and didn’t have much reason to get my own after the semester ended.
Luckily, a few of the lessons sunk in and it only took a few flips through the manual before I was ready to give my new machine a whirl. My first tests were in making fancy dust rags out of an old pair of soft PJs that I’d torn up. I played with the various straight and decorative stitches for a while before I got the itch to create something more substantial. With some scrap cloth and wrap-around measuring, I pieced together a passable button-closure pillow sham.
Five months later, my mom and I had splayed out our materials, which consisted of a small pile of square throw pillows; a flat, brown-and-white flowered bed sheet; eight large, goldenrod cloth napkins with matching lace trim; and a bag full of quilter’s batting that I’d picked up from a Freecycler nearly a year prior not the ideal batting for this type of project, but we made it work). We eased our way into this visually overwhelming project by starting with the napkins since we only had to top-stitch them right-sides out, leaving one side open so we could stuff them with batting before stitching them closed. Those went pretty quick.
Next, we moved onto the cover-less pillow interiors. To get the most out of our used bed sheets, we determined that it was best to have a pre-finished edge along the top and a fold at the bottom of each pillow. That meant strategically folding the bed sheet back onto itself. We took measurements of each pillow, adding one-inch to the right and left sides and one-and-a-half inches to the top. The extra half-inch would provide us a little extra fabric to work with when topstitching the top edge closed and having the pre-finished edge provided a great cover-up to the topstitching.
We ironed out the wrinkles in the fabric, cut it to size, turned it wrong side out, folded it up sot that he finished edges met and stitched a half-inch seam along the sides. After pressing those down and clipping the corners at a 45-degree angle, we would turn the cover right side out and press it again. Then, we’d insert the pillow through the opening and carefully pin the final edge, trying not to catch the pillow with the pins. Finally, we’d delicately topstitch the final edge with a half-inch seam, which mean squishing the pillow down and away from the needle as much as possible.
When finished, the lines were far from perfect, but that should be hardly noticeable to our lounging guests. I had held reservations about using the busy flower pattern, especially because of its large faded spots. Amazingly, they came out fantastic, with faded areas completely unnoticeable. In just a few hours, we had repurposed and renewed our materials to make eight fantastic fall pillows. Hazah! Check out the slideshow below for images from this project.