Hello There, New Bird Pillow

IMG_5473We welcomed in the new year with a Calvin Klein bed set in deep purple (a radical change from our other-end-of-the-color-wheel butter yellow). I loved the new comforter and pillows, but felt a bit overwhelmed with all the purple. So I set out to find the perfect throw pillow to add the right pop.

I wanted to tie in the colors from the painting above our bed (a lovely pastel by Bob Richey), which narrowed down my choices quite a bit. After hitting every home store in SF, I had nothing to show for all my searching. Luckily the most fabulous fabric store imaginable is right in Union Square. Britex Fabrics has four floors of eye candy for the fabric enthusiast. I headed to the home decor section and soon became overwhelmed by all the choices. It’s hard to see what you’re seeing in there.

I had just about given up when I spotted this bird print draped on a display way up high. “Where do I find that?” I asked the sales clerk. She dug through bolts until she uncovered it. Half a yard later, I headed out the door and down the block to Crate & Barrel – my go-to spot for pillow inserts. They have a large selection of sizes (in both down and down alternative) for an excellent price. I got an 18 x 12, which seemed just about right for my new bird.

I chose the right bird for my pillow front

I chose the right bird for my pillow front

I have made many, many pillows (read my Make a Pillow Out of Scraps post) – yet this one presented a new challenge: I had to measure carefully to have the image centered just so on the pillow. I was terribly afraid of cutting pretty bird’s head off. Yet I wanted to keep his tail on there, too. What’s a girl to do?

I draped the fabric over the pillow insert many times, pinning the approximate place where the seam should be. I made my first cuts, but I was too cautious. Pillows should have a seam allowance of half an inch on each side. That was cutting it close to my feathered friend, but it had to be done (the pillow cover must fit snugly over the insert). In the end, I decided it was better to err on the side of the head than the tail. I left more head room and trimmed the bottom very close to the tail feathers.

Whip it good

Whip it good

I folded the fabric inside out, used the sewing machine for three sides and left room to stuff in the down insert. Then I sewed up the rest of the seam by hand (note: I used an invisible ladder stitch, but a simple whip stitch works as well; it’s very easy to learn how to do this by following one of the many tutorials online).

IMG_0914I’m so happy with how it turned out! It’s exactly what I had envisioned and it cost much less than a fancy store-bought pillow (total cost, including $9 insert: $36). Plus the whole project took a fraction of the time it took me to shop for pillows. The custom fabric is just perfect. Hello, beautiful bird!

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