Thursday, 14 February 2013

Hello! and Embroidered Pillows for Kids

Hi there, welcome to my blog! I enjoy following other people's blogs a lot - although honestly, I just discovered the whole blogging universe fairly recently. I know, welcome to the decade.

While I never thought of myself as very creative before, I found that all of these DIY ideas I came across especially have made me excited about trying new things. So, I thought why not try to post some of the things I have been making?  Maybe no one will read the blog, but I bet my mother will at least.

So, for my first post, I thought I would post one of the projects I am most proud of. Last year, I took a class at the fabulous Anna Templeton Centre here in Newfoundland (that's Canada in case someone international somehow stumbles across this in a freakish Google search gone awry), to learn to embroider.

Embroidered pillows by Cicely Ingleside Blog
The project I ended up with were these two pillows I made for my kids: my five year old boy and three year old girl.

How It Was Done

 I copied drawings onto a piece of fabric (unbleached cotton) by putting the drawing underneath and tracing with a "water erasable marker" available at any sewing or craft store. These are better than "fading" markers, which may disappear before you finish your project.

I used embroidery patterns I purchased on Etsy: the Little Red Riding Hood pattern is from A Little Sweetness, and the Entomology pattern is from The Floss Box. Of course, you can use any drawing you find anywhere, and scale it with a photocopier or computer program.

Then, the embroidery was done by putting the fabric into an embroidery hoop and embroidering.

I think the single most useful thing I learned in the class I took was that most of the embroidery thread you buy is composed of multiple (often 6) strands. And instead of using the thread as is, it is WAY WAY easier if you cut a piece about the length of your forearm, and then gently pull out one of the threads, separating it from the others. Take out two to three strands in this way, hold them together, and thread into your needle.  This 1) makes the strands less twisty and 2) gives you a thinner amount of thread to use which is WAY easier to pull through your fabric.

In terms of how many strands to use, test and see what you like the look of, and maybe use one strand in some places and three strands in other places. I typically use two strands together at a time.

When I was finished, I cut the embroidered fabric, and turned the sides under, then sewed it onto patterned fabric. I then sewed lace or ribbon around it, which is decorative and also covers the sewing marks. I chose this floral pattern and eyelet lace for my daughter's pillow, because I thought it was a bit retro and reminded me of my childhood (yes, in the '70s).

My son was really into bugs (and still is) and I loved doing this pillow too. After sewing on the embroidery to the pillow fabric, I cut another piece of patterned fabric, and used my rudimentary sewing skills to sew them together to make a pillow case and add a zipper. Those grade 7 Home Ec classes were useful after all!

I bought a pillow forms at a sewing store - they are also available at craft stores - but you can also use that big puffy polyfill stuff to fill a pillow if it is cheaper or if you don't want to have to measure your pillow to meet the size of the pillow form.

I bought a great book called "The Embroidery Stitch Bible" by Betty Barnden, which I found to be a great reference book, showing how to do many different types of embroidery stitches.

So that's my first post!  How did you like it, Mom?!


  1. I made pillows back in the late 80s/early nineties in a much more "hand-holding" fashion -- we bought fabric that could be embroidered (design already on it), and then cut the outline around it for a pillow. We sewed it together like an inside out bag, reversed it, and then used a simple outlining stitch for the embroidery to give it a bit of oomph. Not as nice as yours though, and only limited to designs already on fabric store materials.

    Hey, where's Liam's pillow? :)(


    (BTW, you may have to change your setup a bit for the layout page -- it wasn't obvious where to "comment"...I just clicked where it said "No comments yet", might be a better link though in the setup. Just a thought...And I'm now subscribed through Google Reader -- you write it, it'll pop up on my RSS Feeder! :)

  2. Great blog, Cicely! I always admire your creative projects and in so many different formats (that's not the right word- what am I trying to say?) too. Your kids (+ hubby + family) are all lucky that you make such nice things for them. Maybe I'll be inspired to start knitting again, after 4 years (!)


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