Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Make a Vintage Button Pillow Cover

I love to change up the look of my pillows in our family room.  I have several down-filled pillows and I swap out the covers on them on a regular basis. 
Today, I'm going to share with you a way to make an interesting and fun pillow cover.  

Do any of you have one of these at your home?  You, know....an older sewing basket that belonged to an aunt or maybe your mom or your grandmother?  
I remember spending the night at my great-aunt's house and often on these nights, I would get her sewing basket (the larger one) and begin my regular practice of poking through it.  My usual activity was to take buttons out of the bottom of the basket and sort them.  I never was allowed to just dump the contents out---there were always a few stray needles somewhere in that basket and my aunt was fearful that a needle would get left out on the bed and she would roll over on to it in the night (aunts are more relaxed than moms, but they do have their limits, too). 

So, I've had my aunt's sewing basket in my guest room for the last 14 years.  Occasionally,  I would open it and stir my fingers through its contents....and sometimes, I would find with a finger, that stray needle that my aunt always feared!

Many of the buttons in her basket were white or off-white.
SO, right before Christmas, I decided I was going to sew a snowflake pattern with the buttons onto a linen cover.  I had the project lined-up to start in January.  I got the perfect linen cover at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon.  It was easier and cheaper to buy one of their covers (in the drapery department) than to make it myself.
When it was time to design the snowflake, I decided I would be limiting the time that I could use the cover to just the winter months.  In Alabama, that can be a short time...or a long time.  You never can tell.  Anyway, I decided on a circle instead.

So here are the steps:
1.  Iron the cover on both sides.
2.  Draw your shape.  I tried the seamstress chalk, but it didn't show up well, so I used a pencil.  I'm not very fancy--I traced around the sewing basket lid to make my circle.
3.  I sorted through the buttons and pulled out the ones that I thought would be best for my project.  I hadn't sorted through those buttons in probably 45 years....but I still recognized many of my favorites among the collection.  It was like seeing old friends, again.
4.  I placed the buttons on a piece of craft paper that was almost the same color as the cover (a happy coincidence).  I had drawn a circle on the paper, too, so I would know about how much space I would need to allow between the buttons.
5.  I was content that I was going to have enough buttons to make a really pretty and meaningful pillow.
6.  I used a neutral-colored thread and began sewing the buttons on.  I decided to sew along the circle guidelines first and then fill in the circle.  Believe it or not, I got almost 2/3s of the buttons sewn on in just one night!
7.  At some point, I decided I would want to use some type of trim to outline the circle and hide any pencil marks that might be visible.
It was at this point that I decided to look back into the ever-present snarl that was always in the basket.  
Do you see what I saw?
YES! It was some tatting--the old-fashioned, hand-made lace.   
So, I carefully untangled the lace.  It was mostly just ensnared in thread that was easily cut away.  I held my breath and realized that I had two complete and perfect pieces of lace that were each over a yard long (I'm guessing that they might have been made for or used on pillow cases).  I ironed the lace and was delighted with my new treasure.  My Mom told me later that the tatting had been made by her grandmother!  
Final steps:
8.  Pin down your lace or trim.   I was thrilled that I didn't have to cut the beautiful lace--it was a great fit. 
9.  Lightly tack the lace to the pillow cover.

This last step is very important:
10.  DO NOT LET ANYONE USE THE NEW PILLOW!  Place it where you can see it and smile and remember the times you sorted buttons on the bed at your great-aunt's house. 

I hope you might make a pillow, too.  Maybe, you have some special buttons in a beautiful blue mason jar--waiting for you as it sits on a shelf or in a closet.  And of course, you don't even have to use old buttons!  You can make a beautiful pillow cover using new buttons, too. Just think of all the fun you can have using different colors and patterns.  Enjoy! 

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Jennifer said...

This is such a sweet project! I have a jar of my Grandmother's buttons and this would be a wonderful keepsake! Thank you for sharing!

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Your button pillow is gorgeous and even more special because of the precious memories. Thank you so much for sharing it at Vintage Inspiration Party.

Jillian's Bella Rosa Antiques said...

Oh my! I love yoour story about the button basket and making it into a pillow was genius ! Thanks so much for sharing it with Let's Talk Vintage !

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

Gorgeous pillow and I cannot believe you sewed all of those buttons on....I was considering doing a button pillow but using glue!....

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

This is stunning. I love the added lace. What a great pillow. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me.

Have a Daily said...

I love anything with buttons Marsha and your pillow is darling! Love the added trim too! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

Carolyn said...

Wow - I absolutely love your pillow. I made something similar once but on a much smaller scale. Beautiful!! I'd like to invite you to share your projects on The Inspiration Board at my blog homework. I've been hosting my party for over 4 years and it's going strong. I would love for you to add me to your link party list. http://www.carolynshomework.com/2015/05/the-inspiration-board-creative-party_26.html
carolyn : homework

Karen @ karensuponthehill said...

This is just beautiful! And what a lovely memory to have this sewing basket!
Thank you so much for sharing at Something to Talk About!