I'm horrible at surprises. I can't contain myself so I usually like to give gifts the minute I buy or make them. I stink at Christmas when it comes to adults because I've given everything away way too early. So it's a small miracle that I was able to keep this pillow for my mom under wraps without giving away much more than I did by way of sneak peaks.
A while back I'd seen this beautiful embroidered handprint wallhanging on Plumpudding. I remember showing it to my mom when she visited and I believe she swooned, being the sentimental type she is. My mom is sentimental in a weird sort of way. She has a small jewelry box full of baby teeth from the sibs and I. Throughout our childhood she kept saying she wanted a bracelet made from our baby teeth except that we'd gone and mixed them all up. I don't know why she wanted them categorized but sis and I would giggle at the thought of our mom lookng like some sort of cannibal with a wristful of sharp little teeth. As if that weren't enough, when I *gasp* dared to throw out my oldest's umbilical stump out she dove for it and wondered why I wasn't keeping it for memories. No offense to those who keep them, I'm just not big into storing too many memories being the reformed packrat that I am. However, when she saw that I wasn't keeping it she promptly tucked it into her pocket and in a fit of grandmotherly duty decided to do the curating herself. More power to her. I know it kills her OCD twitchy side that I've not passed on the other two stumps.
So back to her swooning. Thanks to her reaction I mentally bookmarked the page and vowed to tweak it some way. I decided on a pillow and that's where I got stumped. See I'm kind of a newbie when it comes to this quilting thing and I've never really been very good at choosing and coordinating fabrics. Throwing me for another loop is that I had to make sure to not clash with my mom's peachy/mahogany wood, traditional living room that I had only seen in pictures. Oy. So I grilled some buddies of mine for approval on some of these orange and brown toned fabrics.
Once I'd settled on the fabrics I moved onto the embroidery. Yay, keeping three little hands still enough for me to trace. So. Not. Fun. The older two were a bit easier. The baby? Let's just say it's inspired by her hand. It took many tries to even get a shadow of her chubby little hand while keeping the other one from ripping the paper away. Once I'd traced their hands on paper I used the cutouts to trace onto the fabric. Then I settled in for some relaxing evening hand embroidery.
With the embroidery down I began to piece the log cabin portion of the pillow. I briefly considered doing a wonky log cabin but then I figured this being one of my first pillows, I'd like to eliminate all doubt that I went wonky by mistake and not on purpose. Straight it is.
See my pretty little seams? I love pressing them open. It speaks to my little OCD side. Plus it eliminates having to argue with myself about which side to press the seam allowance. Yes, there would be an argument over that. Yes I'm sane.
Finally sandwiched with batting and muslin, I basted the pillow top and quilted around the log cabin squares in concentric lines. Which would have been perfectly straight had I not started with a linen center square. How did I not remember from my last project that linen likes to shift so much? That first row of topstitching around the center square threw off every other row and my lines while semi-straight weren't falling correctly on the log cabin strips. I worried, but then a little google search showed me that it's quite common and apparently the charm of log cabin piecing. And if someone knows that's not the case, then la-la-la I'm not listening.
It didn't feel right to leave the center unquilted but I didn't want to go over the embroidery so I just did a little free motion quilting over the middle.
With the pillow front done I had to tackle, bum, bum, bum - the zipper. Thankfully Erin from House on Hill Road has a beautifully executed lapped zipper tutorial for pillows that was a dream to follow.
After putting in the zipper I sewed up the front and back, finished the inside seams with my serger and called it a day. Here's the front.
The back which I had to piece because I didn't have a large enough piece of the linen. I sewed the two pieces with the seam facing the outside of the pillow then appliqued this row of pieced scraps on top. No exposed seam on the inside and a little interest on the back. Perfect. Oh and there's that first zipper of mine. With one tiny little pucker that still bugs the snot out of me.
With the pillow form inside. My mother definitely loved it, says she has it already displayed and that she loves the cushy down like feel of the pillow form. Moms, gotta love their attention to detail.