(Although I will note that Karl and those sconces with the wires fed through copper piping were legitimately brilliant and fabulous and I still remember and am hoping to use the idea some day.)
So you get the impression that every cool idea that creates an attractive result and isn't too difficult or expensive is already widely known. That's probably true here. But after trying this myself, I think it's pretty darn brilliant, and I haven't seen it anywhere, so I'm sharing. Ta-da!
The idea started as I would browse those reused-exotic-textile pillows that cost an absolute fortune - like this one, from One King's Lane:
It's $159 ("Estimated Market Value" is $399. I'm not making that up. I mean, I'm pretty sure somebody is, but it isn't me). And Pottery Barn sells these patchwork kilim floor pillows for - you know what, don't even ask:
I think they're just lovely, but at that price, totally out of the question.* But it occurred to me that exotic fabric is actually commonly available - in pashmina form. And thus a plan was born!
To do this, you will need:
- 1 pashmina in the print of your choice, at least 6 feet long
- 2 18" x 18" pillow inserts (preferably feather)
- 2 zippers, 16" - 18" long (optional, but highly recommended)
- pins, needles, and thread
- sewing machine (again, optional but highly recommended)
As I mentioned previously, I picked out a pashmina from A.C. Moore's extensive selection - it was just $5:
I note that pashmina fabric can be flimsy. If this pillow is going to get real use, pick a piece in which the woven threads don't catch your fingernail if you run it down the fabric.
For the reasons discussed by the Nester, you should always go with feather pillow inserts. My preference is to get them by buying throw pillows second-hand (only if the covers have zippers) and cleaning them. That's $2-3 per pillow. C&B also has inserts for $12, and Ikea has 16 x 24s for just $7 (a pashmina would cover two in that size easily).
I had one of these from C&B that I had picked up at a thrift store:
I really liked the fabric (real silk!), but mine was getting threadbare. So I mercilessly
My fabric is pink and orange on the "right" side - what will be the outside - and green and blue on the "wrong" side, or inside:
First you have to make sure that your fabric is long enough - it should be just over four times the width of the pillow:
(You could use the old pillow case to measure your fabric, but I just eyeballed it using the pillow itself. If the case is a little tight, the pillow will just be fluffier.) If it checks out, then cut it in half as shown above.
Next, you'll want to zigzag-stitch (or stretch stitch) the raw edge you just cut - right away, before it starts to fray:
(If you don't have a sewing machine, you'll need to roll and stitch each raw edge instead of zig-zagging.) Obviously, do this for each cut piece.
Next, you sew together the edges I have helpfully marked with blue dashes (no idea why these pictures came out so tiny - sorry). Do this WRONG SIDES OUT (see how the pink side of my fabric is shown on the inside below?). And unless you have magic fingers, I suggest you pin the edges together first.
Again, obviously, do this with each piece. Next, pop the pillow on there and figure out where to cut the width:
These measurements are obviously rough; I just left a smidge for a seam allowance. (I sewed my seams with only about 1/4" allowance [the distance between the seam and the edge of the fabric] because my pashmina was barely long enough. If you like to be very precise, you could carefully measure a 1/2" seam allowance. If you really want to.)
Next, you need to zigzag stitch that raw edge you just cut - the one indicated with blue dashes below. Since you want your zigzag stitches to go through BOTH layers of fabric at once, you should pin them together first so they line up perfectly. After that's done, sew a straight seam just inside of the zigzags (I did mine at about 1/4"):
Now, as anyone who has made pillow cases before knows, the last edge always has to be hand-sewn. (Unless you can fit your entire sewing machine inside the pillow case, and also get it out afterward.) I saved the hand-sewing for the zipper side, since I would probably screw up a machine-set zipper. In a moment of uncharacteristically good planning, I also saved this operation for the edges that were part of the pashmina's original finished edge - they don't need hemming. (If you prefer, you can just sew this side closed instead of adding a zipper. But then you'll never get the pillow out again, will you?)
So, first, take out the stitches that hold the zipper into your previous pillow. Next, stitch the zipper onto the inside of the open edges:
As far as I can tell, the best way to understand how to sew in a zipper (if you haven't before) is to carefully examine how the zipper was attached in the previous pillow-case, and copy that. The machine method is more complicated; the hand method is very simple: two long seams, then tack it down well at the ends. The halves of my zippers were about 1/2" wide, and I sewed in the center (1/4" from each edge). This gave the right clearance for the zipper to work smoothly. I also made sure that the zipper was exactly flush with the edge of the fabric, like so:
This made for an almost-invisible zipper when I was done:
I could have finished the ends of the zippers a bit better, I know. But I am very pleased with the results. PRETTY PILLOWS:
These pillows came out to $2.50 apiece, plus inserts I already had (that weren't getting much use) and of course some thread. I hope my explanation is clear enough that someone else can get some use out of this idea - for an outrageous savings off of some of the options out there!
And, I am sharing my little idea at Susan's Metamorphosis Monday.
* I note that there are things in the same general style for better prices. West Elm has this multi-sari version for $29, though I'm unsure about those fabric strips; World Market has a patchwork sari for $25; Pier 1 has something in patchwork for $40; and I just now ran across this, which is pretty amazing. In fact, that whole site seems pretty cool.