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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

DIY Shirt Pillow

Another amazing year is coming to a close.  Another great Christmas spent with family has come and gone so quickly.  I am so grateful for all of the time I get to spend with my family at the holidays.  Luckily, our family all has holiday parties on separate weekends, so we are able to spend a lot of time with everyone.  It makes for a long holiday season, which I don't mind, and makes for a lot of travel, but it is completely worth it.  It is also a great time to "unplug" and unwind a bit.  I try not to work as much (sorry for those emails that haven't been answered), try to blog less, and try to stay away from social media a little more to relax the mind!


Between all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the list of gifts to buy, the things to do...we tend to just buy gifts for people without always thinking about it, just to check that off the list!  It doesn't have to be about the dollar amount of each gift or about how much money we spend on each person.  It's not about the materialistic things we give or get.  It should be about those special gifts with meaning and love behind it.

This year, I wanted to present a very special gift to my grandma, who lost her loving husband, my grandpa last year.  He was truly an amazing, talented man that will never be forgotten.  To keep a special little memory of him around the house, I decided to make a pillow out of some of his favorite shirts we all still remember him wearing.  We all know how obsessed I am with pillows, so I thought this would be the perfect gift to give.

This will also be my VERY FIRST pillow EVER that I have made.  After, owning a basic sewing machine for a few years now, I haven't put it to much use, to say the least.  I've been dreaming of making pillows, but have been so intimidated because I didn't know what I was doing.  I thought this would be the perfect project to conquer my "pillow making fears" and to finally just make something!! 

It ended up being REALLY easy to do.  After asking my Grandma to give me a few of my Grandpa's old shirts for a "special project" I didn't tell her about, I knew I HAD to get these pillows made or it would be a total let down for the both of us.  If you have ever made a pillow or sewn anything before, then you can do this.

 

These are the sizes I cut my fabric to.  I used another pillow cover I had as a guide to making this.  I decided to do an ENVELOPE ENCLOSURE on the back because it is really easy to make this way, I love that you can easily add or remove any pillow insert, and you can easily remove the insert if you need to wash the pillow cover.  So, this is why the back side of the fabric is wider and also why that piece gets cut in half -- to make the overlapping envelope closer.  Just like a pillow sham.


To start, I buttoned the shirt all the way up.  Ironed it really good.  Cut the shirt into two pieces -- front and back.  I just cut up the sides on the seams.  I cut around the arm holes to keep the sleeves in tact, just in case I wanted a complete sleeve for another future project.  (I will be keeping all of this scrap fabric for a "future" project!!)


My favorite image of me and my Grandpa, I was a baby, sitting close by for inspiration and motivation. 



I made two pillows at the same time, so I cut all of my pieces, from both shirts, at the very beginning.  Both of these shirts were striped, so it made it really, really easy to keep cuts straight and sewing lines straight!


The first thing I did was sew the front buttons down.  Just one quick, straight stitch from top to bottom, to ensure that button closure doesn't open.  You don't really want it to be functional anymore, it is just for looks.


I didn't take a lot of pictures of how I did the envelope closure.  But as you can imagine, the larger of the two fabrics get cut in half.  Each gets a nice seem made on one edge of the fabric, where the envelope closure will be.  Once that is done, those two pieces get pinned together with the front fabric pieces, front sides facing, and sewn together on all four edges.

One of the shirts had my Grandpa's name written by the top tag area.  Most likely from the hospital or nursing home.  So, I decided to preserve that and sew that on the back so that you can see the name of who's shirt it was.  I decided to put a white piece of fabric behind it to make it stand out more.





It took me a couple of days, working on the pillows a couple of hours here and there, to complete both pillows.  It took me longer than usual because 1. I didn't know what I was doing  2. I was totally clueless at first when my bobber ran out of thread  3. And then there was a major panic attack when my needle broke.  But after all of that, it was super easy, just a little time consuming.


I bought my 18"x18" pillow inserts from Hancock Fabrics.  I like the Feather-fil type best, over the polyfill because I feel like it fills the pillow better and gives it a puffier, natural feeling, versus a stiff interior.  You can do a really good "karate chop" on your pillows with the feather-fil as well!




I made two pillows -- one for my Grandma and one for our family White Elephant Gift Exchange we do between the whole family. Both pillows were a huge hit!  For the gif exchange, I added in a tobacco scented candle as part of the gift because my Grandpa always smoked his tobacco pipe and smelled of sweet tobacco.  It's amazing how you use all of your senses to remember your loved ones. 



Now, I know not everyone has a sewing machine sitting around waiting to be used, like me, but you can always have your local seamstress or upholsterer make things like this as well for you or for a gift.  Gift giving can become a monotonous thing that we just do each year instead of thinking about why we are buying these people gifts.  Maybe we can spend this upcoming year working on creating more handmade gifts for our loved ones. However, I also LOVE all of the gifts people BUY me as well!!   I can't say I didn't love the jewelry and clothes and new winter coat I received this year as well!!  Let's get real! ;)  Maybe it is just about the balance of both!

This gift literally came with blood, sweat, and tears!  But I am SO glad I could push through and get these made.  Now, I just need to make myself one!





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