Sunday, October 01, 2006

Creating Your Own Accent Pillows

Pillows, without them, a beautifully decorated room is not quite complete. Pillows are a great way to accent an existing color palette or to introduce new color tones to your design. They can be used to bring together tones and different textures that are spread throughout a room. They can be used to covert conflict into agreement. The solution to most decorating problems may be as simple as adding a few color-matched throw pillows. For a minor amount of time and money, throw pillows can lift the spirit of a drab decor and change the entire
atmosphere of a room. The selection and use of bright colors can give any room an immediate and a noticeable change and uplifting feel.

If you are not a stranger to a sewing machine and have basic sewing skills then making pillows should be a fun project.
You can make pillows in any size and shape desired. They can be made durable enough to withstand the definite abuse from children's pillow fights and every day wear and tear or design them from fabrics so fragile that they would be used for show only. Something so simple can offer so many decorating possibilities. They can be made plain or fancy, large or small, stuffed with fibers, foam, or feathers, in almost any fabric you desire. The potential is only limited to your imagination.

When making your pillows consider how they will be used, are they for display, or will they be getting a lot of wear and use on a daily basis. Pillows that will be used in a family area should be made of durable fabric but should also be comfortable and washable. Closures that are convenient for easy removal. And pillows with that special softness for those leisure naps. Trims such as lace and other high maintenance details should be used on pillows that are for show only. Other embellishments like tassels and braids may not be a good idea for the family room but elegantly at home in a formal living room or bed room.

Before starting a pillow project, consider the size of the piece of furniture the pillow is to be used on. Don't make a pillow that's so large that it overpowers the furniture piece, or so small it’s not noticeable on the furniture. Keep in mind the scale of the desired fabric. Small prints are suited for almost any shape or size pillow. Some large prints are not entirely adaptable. To avoid the chopped up look, save the large prints for the bigger pillows.

Deciding the size and shape of your pillows should be a simple process. But it can sometimes become a pain. Should you mix square, round, heart shaped and bolster pillows or just stick with one shape. To help you make your decision, fold some fabric pieces into variety of shapes and sizes. Or wrap a piece of fabric you are trying to decide on, around a pillow close to the size you are thinking of making. Arrange them on your sofa or bed; this should give you a visual idea of the effect you are looking for.

All pillows are one of two basic styles, knife-edge, or the box-edge. A knife edge pillow is constructed by sewing two panels of fabric together and then filling with stuffing. This pillow type is thicker in the center and flatter at the edges. Most throw pillows such as bed pillows and some cushions for occasional chairs are knife-edged pillows.

A box-edge pillow is constructed by covering a foam piece cut to desired size for the project. These can usually be found in small foam thickness in cushions for kitchen chairs, but most commonly used as sofa or chair cushions. Because the foam can be cut into almost any size and shape to conform to the angles and curves of the furniture.

Beautiful prints and different textured fabrics sometimes may be best left without embellishments. Simpler fabrics, how ever can serve as canvas for some unique decorative creations. Monograms, applique's, quilting, ribbon, trim collages, and fabric painting are just a few of the possibilities. Plain and elaborate fabrics may benefit from edge treatments, such as ruffles, fringe, piping, and tassels. These trims can embellish the fabric and emphasize the pillow shape.

Another decision needed when making pillows is what kind of filling to use. Goose down is the most expensive and luxurious substance ever used to stuff a pillow. Because of down being so expensive, feathers are sometimes mixed in or substituted for goose down. Feathers how ever are not as warm as down, but it's usually an issue of comfort, bigger feathers shift and the sharp shafts of the feathers can sometime poke threw the fabric. Another draw-back is that many people are allergic to feathers.

Fiber filling, consist of feathery polyester fibers, it is the best choice for home sewers. It is inexpensive and allergy-free, plus, comfortable and resilient.

Polyurethane foam is used in several different types of pillow forms, they are easy to launder and air-dry.

Foam blocks are uses most often for seat cushions. They are resilient, and comfortable to sit on and spring back to their original smooth appearance when not in use.

Foam chips can be stuffed into a pre sewn pillow cover. These forms are usually inexpensive. They have a great deal of bounce and resilient. This type of filling tends to appear lumpy, even when covered with heavy fabric. Sheets of foam, preshaped and sewn together have a more attractive appearance than foam chips.

To make a decorative cover for a pre sewn, knife-edge pillow form or to create your own pillow form, use percale, muslin, or other firmly woven cotton or cotton blends. Then stuff with the desired filling.

Cutting the cover: Cut two fabric shapes the same size, or the diameter of the pillow form, add an addition 1/2"(1.3cm) of material for seam allowance for the entire piece of fabric.

Assembling the pillow cover: Pin the front and back pieces of fabric right sides together and stitch 1/2" from the edge. Leave an opening large enough to insert the pillow form or fiberfill stuffing. Trim the corners or notch out the fullness around the curves. Turn the cover right sides out turn in the seams allowances along the opening, an iron can be used to press the seam allowance for a neater look. Insert the pillow form, or fiberfill, then slipstitch the opening closed. Other option for the closing the pillow opening
Are zippers, Velcro, or an envelope opening. The slipstitched closing is the simplest technique. But when the pillow needs cleaning you will have to take the pillow stuffing out or have the pillow dry cleaned, which can be a hassle every time you want to clean your pillows. All three are very easy maintenance.

If you will take the extra time to taper the corners on a square pillow or any pillow with square corners before sewing together you will do away with the dog-eared look.

Applique, quilting, machine embroidery and fabric painting are some of the many ways to embellish a pillow. These should be added on after cutting and before sewing the pillow casing together. Antique doilies, ribbons, handkerchiefs and laces,
Can be used to create beautiful appliques. Transforming these pillows into one of a kind heirlooms and works of art.

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