So, I have some pretty sweet furniture, at least in my living room. I’ve got this sexi velvet couch as well as this beautiful midcentury armchair (snagged from my friend and fellow blogger Lisa, after she herself snapped up the couch of her dreams). Oh, and that ace ottoman, which I got for a DOLLAR at the Goodwill Outlet. Score of the year right there!
I’m also, like, really really bad at decorating. Once I get shit on the walls, it’s over. I don’t really decorate for holidays, other than put up a Christmas tree, and I definitely don’t do decor crafts. Whyyy suck up that time when I could be making clothes, amirite?
I’m taking a step toward my inner Martha Stewart and making at least one craft for the three major upcoming holidays – starting with Halloween. Rather than decorate the front of my house (which would be too easy; we already have enough spiders that the whole front is covered in spider webs. I wish I was kidding about that. Hey, I guess we don’t have other bugs at least), I decided to give my sweet yellow chair an update with a fresh new throw pillow featuring a skull. This also meant I got to try out applique, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, like a decade. Ha!
Want to make your own – pillow or otherwise? Good, because I wrote a tutorial on that too. I’m on a roll, guys.
This is actually pretty simple, the only time-consuming part is the machine applique, which can easily be left off since the Heat’N’Bond is pretty permanent. All my supplies are from Jo-ann Fabric and Craft stores – quilting cotton (my only excuse ever to peruse those aisles. Ahh, the colors!), Heat’N’Bond, and a 14″ pillow form. Oh, and embellishments! Can’t forget those ;)
You will need to cut 3 pieces for the pillow – one for the front and two for the envelope back. For a 14″ square pillow, I cut the front at 15.5″ square and the two back pieces are 15.5″ x 12″ and 15.5″ 6.5″.
Start by drawing (or tracing, or photocopying, or whatever) the image that you want to applique on the pillow. Try to keep it simple, with the detail impact coming from the negative space, not a bunch of lines. Do you want to sew over a bunch of lines? Neither did I. Negative space!
I sketched out my skull’n’bonez based on a few images I saw on the internet, and then traced over it with a marker.
Cut out your design and admire. Doesn’t he look sassy!
Before you cut your appliques, you need to fuse the heat n bond to the back of the fabric (this makes it easier, and means less goo on your ironing board after the fact). Cut a piece big enough to catch all your pieces, and follow the directions on the package for best results – mine just had me iron it face-down for 10 seconds. Easy!
Trace your pattern on the fabric, cut, and peel off the paper layer. Arrange it on the pillow top as you like, and fuse it down. The Heat’N’Bond keeps everything from shifting, which means a much easier time appliquing. Of course, at this point, you could leave as-is and not bother with the stitching, but whyyy? It looks so good!
Ok, this is the fun part – applique! This is really a trial and error saga, depending on your machine, but here are a few tips:
- Test your applique stitch on a few scraps of fabric (use leftover fused pieces if you wanna be real fancy) to make sure that you like your stitch. For my machine, I used a narrow width zigzag with a slight adjustment to make it longer.
- This stuff is gonna goo up your needle. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. Make sure you remember to change it out after you are finished, otherwise you’ll end up forgetting and gooing up the next garment you sew. Not that that’s happened to me or anything…
- Try to keep the stitch within the edge of your applique pieces – it looks neater.
- For curves, just go slowly. For corners, stop the machine at the end of the line, put the needle down and pivot the fabric, and then continue stitching.
Before you get all flustered trying to get the ~perfect stitch, remember – this is a Halloween project! It’s supposed to be a little messed up ;)
From here, you can leave the applique as-is or add some more embellishment. I decided to add some sequins to my skull’s eyeballs and nose because SPARKLES. I used this Aleen’s glue pen to anchor everything down.
We are going to make an envelope back for our pillow now. Take your two back pieces and press them flat.
Turn under one long edge of each piece and hem.
(Ack! Sorry these photos are so blurry, hopefully you get the idea)
Take the smaller piece and lay it over the top of front piece, right sides together, matching up the edges and the corners.
Larger piece goes on the bottom half, again, right sides together with all sides matching.
Sew around all four edges…
Clip your corners…
Flip right side out and stuff your pillow inside.
Time for a sexy skull pillow photoshoot!
I know this is a ~craft~ project, but this method could also be used for clothing (like we could all applique CAT SWEATERS. Oh god, guys, let’s.). I was planning on making myself a matching skull sweatshirt so I could match my living room, but time slipped out of my fingers and well, maybe later. I say this pillow is for Halloween, but let’s be real – you’ll probably see it on the couch during Christmas, and beyond. Welcome to my life.