Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gift Projects #1

I'm always searching the internet for great homemade projects. Whether I know what I'm going to make or am looking for inspiration, I like to see what others have to offer. Because even when I know what I'm going to make, if someone else has made it before, I can learn from their adventures! It's fun and interesting and quite often surprising the variety of things you can find.

In some small way, this year I'm sharing my projects so perhaps someone else will find inspiration here.

My first entry is... drum roll please... Eye pillows.

I have a friend who leads guided relaxation sessions and asked me to make some eye pillows to use in her classes. I'd never heard of them before this. Well, one ten minute session with a pillow on my eyes and I was sold! They are fairly amazing. If you haven't tried one, do.

For my friend, who wanted to be able to wash between uses, I made pillows and covers from cotton. So each pillow cover can be removed and washed.

For my gifts, I used silk. Yes, can be pricey, but after weighing all the options I settled on silk. Why? The feel. This really was the deciding factor. Silk has a natural coolness to the touch. The fabric takes longer to warm from touching your skin, and if you pull it away it cools almost instantly. This coolness really aids in the relaxation properties of the pillow. For me, it made all the difference.

You can repurpose fabric for this. I used a dress and I washed the fabric! I know, this may sound shocking, but lots of silks can be washed and they come out of the washer in fine shape. Warning: Silk shrinks! And sometimes not in an even manner So don't wash a garment you plan to wear again unless the label recommends it. But for repurposing, I did and you might just want to wash it. Some silks lose their 'luster' in the wash. Does that make it ugly, not to me. It's up to you.

Also, not all silks are suitable for this project. Dupioni, shantung or other heavy weaves, not the best for this project. "China silk" is a great choice and one that many think of as silk, in terms of texture, vibrancy, drape. Luckily, lots of clothing is made out of this and it washes great.

Onto the making of the project... As you can see I embroidered words on the pillows, and the variegated thread and stitching design created this wonderful striped effect. If you don't have an embroidery machine, plain pillows are just as wonderful and are reversible, or you could hand embroider or add ribbon as an accent. The possibilities are endless, really.

I made a pattern by tracing around the sample from my friend (but there are patterns on the net). BTW~I used a clear plastic to create the pattern so I could be sure to align the lettering level with the top of the pillow pattern. Anyway, trace around the pattern, but don't cut on the line. Instead, cut out a rectangular shape leaving an inch or so around the line. It's easier to sew just inside the drawn line if the fabric is larger. Leave a small one inch opening. I always back stitch on either side of the opening to ensure the stitches don't come loose in the turning process. You want to leave as small an opening as possible because you will be hand sewing the opening closed and the filling does like to slip out.

Done sewing? Trim close to the line with pinking shears. Pinked edges are perfect for curves as they eliminate the need to snip the seam allowance. Fill the pillow with 3/4 cup of flax seeds and sew closed. Be sure to use small stitches to keep the flax seed in. I personally like flax seed the best. It has a faint earthy smell I find soothing and the weight of the seeds vs. the size is really good. Also, flax seeds are very smooth, they don't stick to the fabric or each other. If you use another type of filler, test the measurement before sewing closed.

Happy gifting!

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