Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Last week, Ryan and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. The traditional second anniversary gift is cotton, and I wanted to do something small and fun for him that fit with the cotton theme.

I recently came across this pin and instantly fell in love with the gorgeous canvas print of a hand lettered wedding invitation from the Hunted Interior. When I saw it I knew I wanted to re-purpose my own wedding invitation somehow on cotton as a gift for Ryan, and the idea evolved into these custom pillow covers using elements of our wedding invitation and a photo from our wedding day.

I designed my own wedding invitation back in 2011 for our Lake Tahoe wedding, and it was probably the hardest design project I've ever taken on. We had a full Catholic church ceremony and a reception outdoors in a park on the Lake's shore, so the invitation had to convey the traditional elegance of a religious ceremony and the rustic laid back feel of a party in the pines.

Here's what I came up with:

And another shot, just because I love this close up with our rings:

The rMh logo, which was blind embossed on the invitation and belly band, was used in a bright and playful orange color on all the other paper goods. It has come to be a sort of symbol for our little family and holds a lot of significance for us. When I was imagining what I wanted to have on my bed next to the invitation wording, I knew I wanted to add our logo to a pillow. Then, for balance, I decided to use a fun horizontal photo of us from our wedding day for the third pillow.

The first step in the process was finding the right size and shape pillow forms and fabric. I have used Avery tshirt transfer paper before and knew that it would work for this project (bonus, I even had some on hand), but I knew it would have limitations. The paper is 8.5x11 so I knew there would be at least one seam in the design if I wanted it to cover the entire pillow, and that with this particular paper a white fabric would be best.

I headed off to JoAnn in search of pillows that weren't much larger than 11" tall and came home with the following supplies:
• 2 Decorators Choice Quality Pillow Forms, 12x16" - $12.99 each
• 1 Decorators Choice Quality Pillow Forms, 16x16" square - $14.99
• 2.5 yards of white cotton denim fabric - $16 after 40% off coupon

I also happened to have on hand:
• Avery tshirt transfer paper (I used 6 sheets)
• White thread
• An ink jet printer (and computer with Adobe Illustrator), a sewing machine, scissors and pins

I knew that if I covered two entire 8.5x11 sheets of transfer paper with my designs they would just about work on the 12x16 pillows, so I went to work laying them out on the computer.

I am lucky to have the Adobe Creative Suite, so I laid out my design in Illustrator, but a similar thing could probably be done in MS Paint (or whatever desktop publishing program you are most familiar with). I set my canvas size at 11x17" Landscape and played around with my wedding invitation artwork until I had it just the way I wanted it. Then I went to Object > Transform > Reflect Vertical to flip it so I had a mirror image on my screen.

Then I ran the inkjet paper through the printer using the tile and borderless print setting so the image printed on two sheets and all the way to the very edge of the paper. Below is a shot of the print dialog box settings (if that helps anyone).

Once printed, my transfer sheets looked like this:

The next step was ironing the transfer sheets onto fabric. Not knowing just how big I would need to make the final size of the pillow, I gave myself plenty of extra around the edges and ironed one sheet, then the other, being careful to line things up neatly.

When ironing, the trick is to press firmly and move your iron slowly across the page for 90 seconds (which is longer than you think, believe me). Then wait for it to cool completely before removing the backing sheet. I folded the fabric beforehand to make sure the page was centered vertically and horizontally, but I think that was a mistake because it left a large crease down the center of the pillow (something I didn't do with the additional two pillows).

I knew there would be a little gap between the pages, so I just filled those areas in with a Sharpie.

* Note that after this first pillow, I set my print tile settings to have a 0.1" overlap, so there was no gap in the images. See the print dialog box above.

Once I had the transfer on the fabric, it was time to actually bite the bullet and sew my pillowcase. Let me just say loudly that I AM NOT a seamstress!

Growing up, my Mom had the sewing machine out all the time. She fabulously created all of our Halloween costumes, my First Communion dress and more and it was always such a treat to see her take fabric and a pattern and turn it into clothing. My sister got the sewing bug, and has taken her craftiness to the next level, creating the most incredible things over the years!

Personally, I have always approached my sewing machine with a mixture of curiosity and dread. I feel like I should be able to operate it, and sometimes try, but things have never really clicked for me. I think it might have something to do with the math involved, or the fact that as a beginner you have to follow someone else's direction when I've always more inclined to improvise, but it's never been my crafty tool of choice.

For this project I tried to put all that behind me.... then I ended up not finding a pattern I liked online, so I decided to wing it... and since I didn't really have a pattern my math was all wrong and I had to redo the seams a few times... so basically I fell in to all the traps that have always challenged me when sewing.

If I were to do it again I would like to say I would have followed a tutorial from the start; maybe this one, or this one, but who am I kidding, I've never been one to take direction well.

Just for kicks, here's how I did it:

Then I turned it inside out so the transfer was showing, stuffed the pillow form in, then sat back and admired my creation.

And followed it up with another one.

You can sort of see on both finished pillows where the seam is between the two pieces of transfer paper, and they are definitely not perfect, but all in all I am really happy with them.

The only thing I did differently with the rMh logo pillow was to cut out around the logo on the transfer paper because it wouldn't be filling the whole 16x16" pillow form before I ironed it on to the fabric. I also sewed it to different dimensions to fit the larger square pillow form (obviously).

And here they are on the bed in our master, waiting to surprise Ryan!

He said he loved them, but I think on the inside he was thinking that we need more throw pillows like a hole in the head. Personally I like the way the logo pillow plays off the other orange accents in the room, while the black and white images look striking against the gray pillow cases.

I have big plans for this room, but I'm taking things one step at a time around here, and the master is way down the list. For now this was a fun, quick update that I was able to accomplish in an afternoon, and that will remind us both of our wedding day when we enter the room (at least when the bed is actually made).


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