Wow, this post is long over-due. I was inspired by my friend Jessica, who yesterday posted about a Christmas pillow she made for her mom!
For Christmas 2011 I made my mom a hand-quilted gift. My local quilt shop was selling a pillow pattern they call “Texas Patch ‘Em”. Here’s a photo of their finished product:
Immediately I thought of my mom. She loves this great State of Texas. My quilt shop has so many great Texas-type fabrics – cowboy stuff, wildflowers, bandanas, etc. I sorted through the fat quarters and picked out a nice assortment for the pillow top.
I photo-copied the pattern before getting started. The more I stared at the enclosed shape of Texas, the more I realized that I wasn’t happy with it. Maybe it had smooth edges to make it easier to sew. Maybe it was just the artist’s interpretation. Whatever the reason, it just wouldn’t do for me. For those of you who aren’t so intimately familiar with the shape of Texas, he’s how it normally looks.
So I made some minor adjustments to the pattern. The pillow-top flew together.
I traced my pattern on a piece of Steam-A-Seam Lite, and pressed it onto the back of my pieced squares. After cutting on the lines, I pressed my Texas-shaped patchwork onto the background fabric. I played around with some scraps left from cutting. I wanted to see whether the edges would fray or peel up over time. I pressed these patch-work scraps onto some background scraps. Yep, it looks like they might fray a little. I tried another piece with some Fray Block. OK, it looked like I had the fraying under control, but it might peel up over time. Time to add some decorative stitching! I used more scraps to play with stitches: narrow blanket stitch, wide blanket stitch, stem stitch, overcast stitch (I kept wanting to call it simple continuous, which is the medical term for that pattern). I left the pieces out for a few days, and eventually decided on the overcast stitch in #8 pearl cotton.
This was the first time that I had pieced batting, because I didn’t have any pieces that were big enough without cutting into a new package, and I hated to cut into a big piece for a 16″x16″ square. I did some reading online, and boy are there a lot of different opinions on the “right” and “wrong” way to piece batting! In the end, I zig-zagged them together by machine, making sure the edges didn’t overlap, just butted against each other. When it’s inside the quilt sandwich, I can’t feel where the seams are!
All this was happening during my Radiology rotation. I was on Large Animal Radiology for the first week. LA rad is known to be quite slow. Most days we shot rads (x-rays) on one or two horses. So there was plenty of time to sit around and sew. I hand-quilted the pillow top in white #8 pearl cotton. I have to say that I love the look of the heavy thread, but I had a hard time working with it. I tried a larger needle to make a bigger hole to pull the thread through, so I would have less thread-drag. I tried a smaller needle, so I would have less needle drag. I tried with and without Thread Heaven. It still took a lot of effort! I probably should have contacted my friend Jessica, since she has numerous projects hand quilted with pearl cotton.
Did you know that if you get blood on a white sewing project, you can remove the stain by immediately treating with hydrogen peroxide then soaking it in Oxi-Clean when you get home? Yep, it works! I ended up hand washing the entire top with Oxi-Clean when I was done.
I used a colorful bluebonnet fabric for the back of the pillow (the bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas) with a simple flap closure.Pin much?
I made French seams on this pillow cover. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t unravel or fray if washed.
Next time I think I’ll make the seams on the outside. Afterwards, I realized that they would have made a nice accent. Oh well. I was much too lazy to pull out all the stitches.
I’m quite pleased with my finished product!
And my mom seems to like it too!