Here’s a lovely little (6″ x 12″) valentine that you can make for yourself in a single afternoon…so easy and so much fun that you’ll probably want to make more than one. It’s a thoughtful gift for a family member or friend to mark a special occasion–a birthday, engagement, bridal shower, or anniversary–or even, depending upon your choice of fabric and embellishment, to use as a ringbearer’s pillow.
This is a great project for using those bits of “exotic” fabric and beautiful trims, beads, and buttons that are so tempting at the quilt and craft shops and shows, and so perplexing when we get them home! Best of all, you don’t need much of anything. A little extravagance goes a long way.
From background fabric, cut 1 piece, 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.
From complementary fabric, cut 2 side panels, 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.
From heart fabric, cut 4 hearts using the Boudoir Heart Pattern; if you plan to hand applique, add a scant 1/4″ when cutting the fabric hearts.
From backing fabric, cut 2 pieces, 6 1/2″ x 8″.
You’ll also need a 6″ x 12″ pillow form; embellishments, trims, and decorative threads as desired; and scraps of lightweight fusible web if you plan to fuse the hearts as I did. (Instructions appear later in the post if you prefer to make your own pillow form.)
1. Fold the background square in half horizontally and vertically; press lightly. Center one heart on each crease line, points to the center. Use your preferred method to applique the hearts to the background. I fused the hearts using lightweight fusible web, and finished the edges with a straight stitch and metallic thread. Easy, easy, easy!
2. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the appliqued square between the 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ side pieces; press toward the side pieces. This completes the basic pillow front.
3. Now comes the fun! Embellish the pillow front as desired. I stitched beads and silk leaves to the appliqued block, and garnished the center with a decorative button and my trusty glue gun. I also topstitched a jacquard ribbon over a lace-edged satin ribbon and added them to both sides of the appliqued square.
1. Turn under one 6 1/2″ edge of one backing piece 1/4″ to the wrong side; press. Fold over a second 1/4″; press and topstitch. Repeat with the other backing piece.
2. Layer the pillow front and the backing pieces, right sides together, aligning the raw edges; pin. (The hemmed edges of the pillow backing will overlap about 2″ – 3″.) With your machine set in the needle-down position, stitch 1/4″ from the raw edges all around the perimeter, pivoting at each corner. Clip the corners at an angle, taking care not to cut into the seam.
3. Turn the pillow cover right side out, making sure the corners are nice and crisp; press. (Another job for my 4-in-1 Essential Sewing Tool). Insert the pillow form, and you’re all set!
To Make a Pillow Form
Cut 2 pieces of muslin, 6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″. Place right sides together. Stitch around the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 6″ opening along the bottom edge. Clip the corners, turn right side out, and press. Stuff to desired firmness with your favorite filler, pin the opening, and slipstitch to close.
Here’s an up-close look at my second take on this versatile little pillow: same pattern and instructions, just different fabrics and embellishments, and a slightly different layout.
For this version, I folded the background block on the diagonal in both directions (rather than vertically and horizontally) to create guidelines for the alternate placement of the heart appliques, and I embellished the pillow with two layers of ribbon, oval pearl beads, and a narrow satin bow.
If you’re looking for a good book on basic pillow construction, as well as lots of ideas for simple-yet-stylish decorative pillows, I highly recommend Oh Sew Easy Pillows by the dynamic mother-daughter team, Jean and Valori Wells. This colorful, 64-page book includes 29 projects, or pillow “recipes.” I particularly love the chapter called “Decorative Details,” which features nicely illustrated, step-by-step instructions for flanged edges, ruffles, cording, piping, and more.
On the subject of books, congratulations to Evelyn O’Brien, winner of Gwen Marston’s book, 37 Sketches, from my January 27 post. Evelyn, if you’ll email us with your mailing address at email@example.com, we’ll have your autographed copy on its way from Gwen asap!
By the way, I was intrigued by the comment from Deborah, in which she noted that she has been making a series of little 3″ x 5″ collages per my May 6 (2011) post. Has anyone else out there been experimenting with this creativity exercise? If so, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear about and see what you are doing.