I’m not afraid to admit that me and sewing machines are not exactly BFFs…in fact, we kind of hate each other. And so through the years, I’ve had to get creative when the “custom pillow” mood strikes.
Haven’t you ever just been sitting around, eating your cronuts for breakfast and then BAM! You think to yourself, “If I don’t get some custom pillows all up in here, it’s going to be a p-r-o-b-l-e-m.” Just me?
After getting these bad boys made many, many times now, I’ve picked up a thing or two. Here’s all the inside scoop you’ll need:
1. Size does matter (and so does shape)
In my early custom pillow days, I was unsure what sizes I wanted or what sizes really made the most sense. But I had a couple of throw pillows on my couches that I hated and wanted to replace, so I simply replicated the size–easy peasy.
TIP: If you don’t have any pillows to replicate and want to just wing it, I would suggest going to a store like Home Goods with a measuring tape, and see if anything there tickles your fancy (if so, measure it up and write down the dimensions, and try not to buy a multi-colored, rope dyed ram’s head for no reason whatsoever).
2. Now you need some fabric
There are about a billion amazing sites online to get gorgeous, reasonably priced fabric (buenos dias, spoonflower.com), but I like to go out and get my fabric my own damn self. You can always hit up a general crafts store like Michaels, or Joann’s, but I prefer to go to a real deal, mom and pop, fabric store. I think this a great option because you can see and feel and the fabric in person, and also talk to someone directly regarding how much yardage you’ll need (I’m very bad at math, so I need help with this stuff). Also think about whether or not your fabric is machine washable (and if you care?).
TIP: I have a dog, so I’m always thinking about anything nice I have getting ruined. When I’m particularly excited about a custom pillow I’m getting made, I’ll sometimes buy enough fabric for two pillows! One pillow to keep on the couch that can get all slobbery, and one pillow to keep in the closet that I can bring out when guests come over and I want to pretend that my place is actually clean.
3. Get stuffed
Ok, I’m going to give it you straight: pillow inserts are not cheap. In fact, you could easily spend more on your pillow insert than you did on your fabric…especially if you’re a down pillow insert girl like me. But, believe it or not, even the poly/foam inserts are pretty expensive too. Unfortunately, there is no getting around this–in order for a pillow to be a pillow you need that soft, fluffy, insert-y piece to make it happen. Here are a few options for making this less painless: buy extra inserts any time you come across a sale; scour ebay and etsy to see if there are any good deals there; or just suck it up and buy the nicer insert. We all accept that cereal is strangely and ridiculously expensive, so why not pillow inserts?
TIP: Awhile back, I read this fantastic post from Vintage Revivals (Confessions of a Pillow Addict: My Secrets to the World’s Cheapest Pillow Inserts), and she shares a really great tip on how to score some super cheap down inserts on the regular.
4. Get sewing
At this point you realize: “If I’m not sewing this thing, then who is??” As a newbie throw pillow dabbler, I’d highly recommend that you track down the dry cleaner in your area with the best tailor and head on over there. How can you be sure they’re good? Yelp it up! Sort the reviews by “latest” and read all about what people are saying. You can also find seamstresses by asking for recommendations at fabric stores, but I find that this tends to be a more expensive option. Bring in your fabric and your insert, let them know if you’d like any extra options (zippers, etc) and they’ll give you a price right away. A few days later, voila! You’ll have some kickass custom pillows!
TIP: Keep in mind that any extras will…uhm…cost a lot extra. There are so many little add-ons that you get on your pillows, and all of them look snazzy, but they cost extra bank. Zippers, hidden zippers, piping, tassel trim, etc. So for your first go at this, I would suggest you keep things as simple as possible and move on to the double reverse, inside out, pom pom trim on your next go around.
Once you have your new collection of custom pillows, here are all the tips you’ll need on how to mix your patterns!