Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pretty Pillows with Vintage Linens

When we built our house, I had no idea that I would one day have a business requiring a large space for all my sewing equipment, including seven sewing machines and a 5' x 12' work table. I had planned to do my sewing in a little 10' x 12' room off the kitchen, and, for a year or so, that was perfectly adequate. I was  happy in that bright, cheery space, but I quickly outgrew it and decided to set up shop in our basement. My old sewing room is now my art studio and also functions as a guest room, with a white wrought iron daybed providing seating during the day and sleeping space at night.

For a couple of years now, I've had a line on my to-do list about making some pretty pillows for that daybed. Well, I finally got around to it this past spring, and I thought you might enjoy seeing what I came up with.

The shabby chic look has always appealed to me, with its soft, faded florals and worn, vintage look. It's so warm, homey, and comfortable looking - just the thing for a casual studio guest room. I found a quilt in Target's "Shabby Chic" line that I liked, then designed a grouping of pillows to coordinate with it, using vintage linens, cotton chenilles, floral fabrics, and a set of striped sheets.

The centerpiece of the bed is this pretty 20" x 26" pillow sham ...

I hand embroidered a rabbit and flowers in the center of an antique doily, then layered it with striped fabric (a sheet set from the "Shabby Chic" line) and quilt batting. Finally, the doily was machine-quilted onto the background fabric.

A shirred border of pink floral is set off by piping and surrounded by a pretty rose border. I had trouble finding fabric to coordinate with the bed quilt and ended up purchasing a pink and white floral shower curtain from Target that matched the quilt. The fabric was a little thin, so I interlined the pillow with white cotton flannel interlining.

Two of the pillows are made of white quilted fabric, which is actually a table runner I found at TJ Maxx. I planned the pillows to maximize the use of the long narrow piece of fabric. The flap of the envelope pillow is held down with covered buttons and finished off with a 1" ruffle.

The lumbar pillow has the quilted fabric on the front side and a wavy chenille on the back, with a cute little chenille ruffle.

This boxed pillow offers good back support for anyone sitting on the daybed, and I really like its tailored good looks.

Should I really be calling this "tailored" when it's edged in ruffles? :-)

The striped face fabric is interlined and accented with aqua sateen piping. The pillow is tufted with covered buttons on both sides. The boxing and ruffle are of white chenille.

I love this last pillow, with it's ball fringe and vintage embroidery. I just finished it yesterday, and I'm not sure if I'll use it here in my studio or in the attic guest room. It matches the wall paint color in both rooms.

The center section of the pillow features sewn tucks on either side of a row of mother-of-pearl buttons.

For the side sections, I used a set of white hand-embroidered antique pillowcases, top stitching close to the scalloped edge to anchor them to the aqua sateen background. Cotton pom-pom fringe adds a whimsical note to this otherwise elegant pillow. The reverse side is white ribbed cotton chenille.

Rounding out the sleeping corner of my studio, I have an antique tablecloth hanging on the wall, along with a Victorian baby dress.

I love vintage textiles for their level of detail and the beautiful dressmaking techniques that go into them.


The valance in my studio is made from an antique sheet.

The lovely cutwork that originally decorated the top edge of the sheet now graces my window. The pattern of the simple arched, gathered valance fits the curve of the embroidery perfectly.

This little end table, a flea market find, has a glass top with anaglypta wallpaper underneath, which I really like. I want to one day make a cute lampshade for this plain white lamp - hmmm, maybe using vintage linens and pom-pom fringe?

This vase was a birthday gift from my mom - isn't it cute? The roses from my garden look so pretty with the floral bedding.

On the windowsill, I have lined up seashells collected during our summer vacations at Oak Island, NC.

They remind me of the painting, "Her Room", by Andrew Wyeth, which I've always loved.

See the shells lined up on the left window sill?

I enjoyed fixing up this cozy corner of my studio - I like any excuse to make some fancy pillows! - and I hope my guests feel happy, peaceful, and welcome there.


  1. They are so beautiful, so are your roses !

  2. Leslie, I can't wait to see the beautiful pillows ( or whatever!) you will make from the vintage linens I gave you!!!

  3. I love all your detail. Made me feel cozy reading your words. You told where each piece of fabric came from except the last. The center piece. Did you make the layers with buttons or is it maybe up recycled?

    1. Are you referring to the pillow with the pom-pom fringe? The satin fabric in the center was from my stash, and the white embroidered pillow cases were a flea market find. I stitched the tucks and sewed the buttons on the satin.

  4. Love your room and the pillows made with vintage linens. I have a huge collection, and have been looking for inspiration to use them in various crafting/ sewing projects. I think I found the inspiration I've been searching for. Thank you. Your work is just lovely.

  5. I love your style and your skill and your material combinations! Very,very nice!

  6. I love your style, your skill, and your material combinations!


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