Monday, February 14, 2011

How to make a hugging pillow

This Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fun to use up some of my softest felted sweaters on a pair of hugging pillows.

It would have taken maybe 4 hours tops including photography time if I hadn't gotten distracted by a pair of cats, but more on that later.

In addition to thread and a sewing machine you will need:

A set of nesting mixing bowls you are comfortable running a rotary cutter around
A rotary cutting mat and cutters
Castoff cloth dinner napkins a little larger than the largest bowl, or other lining fabric
Soft felted wool sweaters, enough to provide at least four circles cut around the largest bowl
Yarn for blanket stitching the pillow covers over the pillow

First up, use the biggest bowl to cut out circles for the front and back of your stuffed pillow, plus the front and back of your pillow cover.  I found it easiest to cut up the sides of the sweaters so I'd get the flattest possible  fabric.  If you're layering a smaller circle over one or both of the covers, cut that with the next-smallest bowl.

(I did that because the super soft sweater I wanted to use for Side B features a delicate eyelet lace pattern not entirely lost in the felting.  Bit of a visual waste of the stripey underlayer but it wasn't really soft enough for a pillow on its own, and it does provide a lot of extra squish factor.  I put the wrong side up for nicely blurred stripes, a different sort of soft.)

Then cut out any embellishments, like a heart or a pocket.

You have to be opportunistic with felted wool sweaters. When I bought this orangey red cap-sleeved mock turtleneck sweater I couldn't figure out why anybody would design such a thing in superhot alpaca, but when I noticed how nicely the cap sleeves would work for pockets on my pillows, I gave that designer mental thanks and snipped them right off.

Doesn't it all look pretty when you stack it up?

This is where the cats come in.  While I pressed everything and stitched the embellishments down (layer by layer so as not to accidentally stitch your pocket down in the middle without thinking, as has happened to me but not, thankfully, this time) I plotted what I could possibly make to tuck into the pockets.  A small stuffed animal made sense, and what can I say? I like cats.  Probably should have gone for a long skinny shape to fit into the pocket better, but hey.

Yes, I embroidered the face with the sewing machine.  With regular stitch and backstitch, because it's a 1940s Singer without a single bell or whistle.

They are too big to fit into the pockets.  If you make a hugging pillow, you can learn from my mistake.

Back to the pillows. Stitch around most of the circle about as far in as you expect to do your blanket stitching later, leaving a gap big enough to push through stuffing,

 Then turn inside out, press if compulsive, and stuff:

 After that, it's all over but the blanket stitching.  I ended up using leftover sock yarn with a gradual colour change (Noro Silk Garden, if you're a knitter) to get a good match for the stripes on the pocket side.  And I stitched a little more than half of the circle before tucking in the pillow, to make it easier to get the sides to line up well.

I think all I need to make these a perfect gift is chocolate and a good book, don't you?

Hope your Valentine's Day has hugs in it!


Beve said...

If your giving this as a gift, why not put a Chocolate Heart or "Kisses" (candy) in the pocket.

Mary Keenan said...

That's a great idea - or a secret message, or a coupon!