Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finished: Silhouette Pillows for Valentine's Day

Remember how I mentioned the week of Valentine's Day that the bf and I were celebrating a bit late because of work? Remember how over the weekend I mentioned that I was still working on his gifts? I'm finally finished! I was afraid it was going to be a month late, but it was only a few weeks late.

Yes, you're seeing correctly. I made a grown man some pillows.

I knew I wanted to make him something, especially since I bought his Christmas gifts (and um, may have skipped his birthday), but I wasn't sure what to do. Last year I made him some terribly awesome paintings (here and here). To be fair (to me), it was the first painting/artistic thing I had done since middle school, which was about 15 years ago. I was generally proud, but I knew it could be better.

His reaction last year? "I love it because you made it." Not quite what I was going for, but I'll take it. I asked him recently and he said the paintings not only grew on him, but he actually loved them because they were reflections of our personality. (Awww!)

So as I was brainstorming for ideas, I saw this painted pillow idea from Cotton and Curls and I knew that was it. But I didn't want to have a bicycle because we're subway people. We're also vain so I knew I wanted to feature us. He's a cameraman in real life. I love dressing up all the time. He loves taking my picture. Perfect! 

As I was searching for silhouettes to use, I came across the vintage couple image having coffee and a smoke.  One of my favorites things to do is to sit over tea or coffee and chat so I wanted to include that one. I cut out the cigarette from the picture because I'm trying to instill good habits!

Okay. So while Cotton and Curls had a great tutorial, I took photos of my process because it's slightly different. Also, I want to add that I know it seems like it's a lot of work in theory, and while it is a lot of steps, this was pretty simple to create.

All right, so once you find the silhouettes you want to use, you need to print them. Because I didn't want to waste black ink, I converted them into a vector outline. I looked up how to do it on photoshop, and it seemed like there were a lot of steps involved. Since I'm not a photoshop expert (or even beginner), I went back to my tried and true Picasa and just clicked on "pencil sketch." Voila.

I made my pillows 15"x15" so I had 4 fabric squares of that size. I printed and cut out the vectors, then taped them to the fabric. In hindsight, I would center them a bit more because adding the stuffing obviously stretches them out, but place them however you like. Use a ruler to make sure everything's level.

And watch out for cats.

The couple vector had a lot more detail, as you can see from the original, on the above right side. I used small pieces of tape where I wanted detail, like in the chair, the legs, parts of the table. You'd think it would need to be perfect, but it's nowhere close.

After lining up and taping the vectors, I used sponge paintbrushes to transfer the black paint. I suppose fabric paint is best, but I used acrylic because it's all I had. According to the internet, acrylic is just as sturdy, but the dried result is just stiffer than fabric paint. Fine by me.

The aftermath.
And the result!

Then I went through my suitcase of fabric scraps and picked out colors and weights I liked. Some of the lighter fabrics weren't as good for this project because they were so flimsy. I loved the satin, sateen cotton, and the heavy lace the best. I cut out my shapes, arranged them appropriately, and pinned them into place.

Then I top stitched the hearts into place. I used the same blue thread, and I was afraid it was be a terrible contrast (but too lazy to change the thread and bobbin), but it actually turned out quite nice I think.

After top stitching, I took some yarn and a needle and I threaded the balloons. I tied knots behind each ballon and had the strings come through the girl's fingers.Instead of tying them at the end, I used fabric glue to secure them behind her hand and again where the strings are loose.

Then I just stitched up the pillow, leaving a small opening on the bottom for the stuffing. After stuffing, I topstitched the small opening shut.

As for the vintage couple, I decided putting hearts around them would be too much. I didn't want to leave it alone because while it was very classic and simple, it wasn't overtly Valentine's Day and it didn't match with the cheesiness of the other pillow.

I was thinking about putting an outline of a tree next to them because I'm obsessed with regular furniture and scenes taking place outside at the moment. But then I stumbled across a very beautiful photo of some hot air balloons that seemed so nostalgic and romantic. I just loved it and decided I would have hot air balloons.

The boyfriend was more than a little shocked that I gave him pillows for Valentine's Day, but he loved them. (Of course!) He was terribly confused until he saw the little cameraman and he exclaimed, "That's me! Oh, and that's you! This is great!" Ha, I actually thought he would like the couple better because it's simpler and less flashy, but remember how I mentioned we were both terribly vain? Turns out he likes the one where I'm hot and he's being a big shot the best. ;-)

Even Franklin approves!


  1. How cute! I love that you handmade a present for him. I think they're the best kind to give and receive. :) My Valentine's Day present was the etched beer steins that I had on my blog a while back. These are so much more fun to snuggle up with though!

  2. The one on the right is TO.DIE.FOR. Seriously. So cute--I love the little heart balloons! I wish I was your valentine so I could snatch these up :)

  3. He is very lucky! they came out great and your tape blocking technique is impressive.