How To Make Pillows Out Of Most Any Vintage And Recycled Fabric

I love pillows. Piled high on the bed, much to my husband’s dismay, overflowing from baskets, lined up on the couch, one in every chair and multiplying in my children’s bedrooms. They are my favorite craft to sell at craft shows and favorite gift for those I love. Are you thinking “boring”? Nope, not my pillows. I make pillows that have a story about them. They are made from a multitude of textiles that started out life as something else and many of them come from vintage fabrics.

Here is a list of some of the items I use and ideas that I do with them:

Old Vintage Aprons-The colors and the designs on these wonderful relics from the past make fun pillows. You could use the pillows anywhere, but what about arranging them on a kitchen bench or spare chair in the corner. For an added touch, include the pocket on the front. Sew the ties into the side seams and tie a bow in the front. Insert a favorite family recipe in the pocket for a little surprise.

Old Leather Coats-Don’t worry about the sewn seams on the coats, they will just add to your vintage story. Pillows made from leather coats will bring a country/western, cabin or masculine feel to a rooms decor. Bring out the charm in a little boys country/western themed room by forming your leather pillows into boot or star shapes. If sewing the leather by machine, be sure to use a heavy duty needle, especially intended for sewing leather. You can also cut slits around the edges and sew by hand using leather strips and tying the ends together where they meet. Embellish the pillows with conchos and more leather strips.

Recycled Needlework-I find most of the needlework canvas I use for pillows at auctions and yard sales. Many times I will find a framed canvas that has a less than desirable frame and has outlived its purpose in life. These are wonderful to use for pillows, so don’t act too giddy when you are in the process of purchasing. You don’t want the sellers price to go up. Use recycled fabric from curtains, bedspreads or other vintage finds to create borders around the needlework and the backing for the pillow. See the potential in canvas that has not been completed or needlework canvas that has a color printed design that has never been stitched. Since you aren’t going to use it for it’s original intention, there is no need to finish the stitched design or to stitch it at all.

Quilts and Chenille Bedspreads-Pillows made from quilts and chenille bedspreads have a great potential for shabby chic, country cottage, little girls rooms and nurseries. Before you gasp at the thought of cutting up a quilt, I only use quilts that are badly worn or damaged. The thickness of quilts make stuffing pillows simple. You don’t have to worry about uneven and bulky masses showing beneath the surface. Hearts, circles and square pillows look very nice. Cinch a strip of the quilt around the pillows middle for a little extra touch. If you have a collection of chenille bedspreads of different colors, consider making simple patch pillows. Cinch a wide satin ribbon around the pillow for yet another added touch.

Faux Fur Coats, Bridesmaids Dresses or Formals-Fur coats and formal dresses provide beautiful and luxurious pillows perfect for a teenage girl’s room. After sewing a seam using faux fur, run a comb along the seams right side, to pick out the fur that was caught in the seam. Satins, sequins and taffeta pillows, mingled with the fur pillows will give a teen’s bed the look of royalty. Who says bridesmaids dresses are only useful once? Just think, that awful lavender maternity tent you wore for your best friend’s wedding can provide an army of pillows.

Don’t overlook the potential of jeans, tablecloths, men’s suits, curtains, latch hook rugs and linen calendars. I don’t think you can ever have too many pillows, but I have been told you can. If that is true, you can still make pillowcases and slipcovers for your existing pillows. For me, that might fulfill my pillow fantasies.

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