Monday, March 10, 2014

Scenes From Sewing a Pillow...And How It Ties In To Dieting

With a title like that, you might think I'm reaching for something to blog about today...I mean, really Shelley?  What's next, how shoe shopping is like cooking?  But stay with me - as I went through this process, I began to equate it to how I started my diet.  You can read the correlations at the end of this post and see if you agree.

Prelude:  It all began when we redecorated our bedroom last year.  I went with a neutral palette for the paint and bedding (grays on the walls, off-white and grays for the bedding) but I brought in a turquoise chair for an accent color and envisioned some additional pops of color via throw pillows on the bed and chair.  Of course most of you know that we then had the unexpected event of having to redo our bathroom, so all of my attention was focused on that, and then I was kind of tired of thinking about that area for a while.  But I was reinvigorated when Jeff gave me a sewing machine at the end of the year.  I started looking at throw pillows on, where else, Pinterest, and found a few ideas that I thought I could copy.  But then, I froze.  I didn't quite know where to start - I mean, I knew I needed certain items like fabric and thread, but I wanted some guidance.  Luckily, my friend and quilter/sewer extraordinaire Debby was going to be visiting in February, so I put it off until then...I figured (and rightly so) that she'd like to help me out with sewing the pillow.

Scene 1:  Debby arrived and we went to the quilt store, where I'd planned on choosing my fabric.  Only problem...this store has over 5,000 bolts of fabric and while Debby was in quilter's heaven looking at everything, I was massively overwhelmed.  There were prints and solids and tonals and brights and muteds and I was stuck.  I had no idea what would go with what or where to start.  I fought a bit of panic (I'll never be able to do this!) before talking myself down from the edge  - I decided to pick just one fabric that appealed to me.  Once I had a more defined mission, that went fairly quick - I went back to a few that I liked and was able to choose one, which would be my main piece for the pillow.  It helped that Debby and the ladies in the quilt store were enthusiastic about my choice - nothing like getting some cheerleading right from the start.  I knew I wanted an accent color to go with it, and asked for help from Debby - she has a great ability to put colors together plus she thinks a bit outside the norm, which I like.  She got me started looking at some yellows and oranges and then wandered off.  I meandered around and found the lightly patterned orangish/yellow, and then she found some turquoise felt and said something about embellishments, which I didn't totally understand how that would work but trusted her enough to buy it. 

Scene 2:  Once we got our treasures home, we laid everything out and she put in an additional strip of turquoise blue fabric that she had purchased, and this is what we ended up working with:
The yellow thread on the end is some of Debby's beloved Perle cotton thread that she thought would work with the embellishment.  Would it surprise anyone to know that my secret plan was to have Debby handle everything to do with the embellishment?

Debby asked me what my design was for the pillow.  DESIGN???  I hadn't really though about that!  Somehow I could envision a finished pillow sitting on my bed (although I didn't have any clear idea of what it would look like), but I had no real idea how I was going to accomplish that, beyond sewing a few seams with my handy dandy sewing machine.  Suffice to say, she quickly sketched up a few ideas:
I picked one, and then came the math.  Good thing Debby was there to do that part because I didn't know where to start.  Once we measured everything several times, I cut the pieces and then got ready to sew them together.  But wait!  I had to make a bobbin and thread the machine.  There's always something you have to do before the fun begins, right?  Lucky for me, the instruction manual that came with the machine was really easy to understand and I got it done pretty quickly.  Then, I got to use my new sewing machine for the very first time...good blogger Debby grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures to commemorate the occasion:
Concentrate...CONCENTRATE...ok, pause for photo op.

And I did it!  After a lot of preparation and planning, I sewed my first two seams!  I was so proud of how this came out:
Paco was very happy for me, too.

Scene 3:  After that we took a break.  I was spent!  Actually, we had a trip to a yarn store planned, but discussed what to do for the felt embellishment while we were away.  We knew it would go on the orange fabric, but what should it look like?  Debby suggested circles, since that would mimic the main fabric.  That evolved into cutting triangles in the circles to further mimic the main fabric.  Then placement of said circles.  I went with "willy-nilly" - nothing formal, as this felt like a pretty playful pillow.  There was an ongoing conversation where I kept trying to get her to do the hard stuff for me, and she kept pushing it back onto me...the funniest was when she said I could use some of her beloved Perle cotton thread on the felt circles.  I said that it would look so nice if she could do the blanket stitch around them; somehow she managed to get me to painstakingly hand stitch around the three circles:
This took ALL of my concentration - it wasn't easy and I wasn't sure I wanted to invest the time into it knowing that it wouldn't be perfect, but in the end, I'm very glad I did this.

Scene 4:  I had to put the pillow on hold for a week while I was in North Carolina...you could call this a Pillow Plateau, because while I thought a lot about it, nothing happened to make any noticeable changes.

Scene 5:  Debby thought that each of those little triangles needed to be stitched down, just in case an errant dog toenail hooked one.  While I agreed, I could not fathom the thought of hand stitching around 21 triangles, and when I tried machine-stitching around one, I wasn't thrilled with how that looked.  I hemmed and hawed but after a few days I had to pick a direction because nothing was changing!  I finally decided to hand-stitch them; I figured with that, I could embrace the imperfect look that comes along with that method.  One evening of good TV (and no knitting) later I surprised myself by getting it done:
In progress - left is not stitched yet; middle and right are finished.

Scene 6:  I was ready to sew the back fabric onto the front and finally have a completed pillow.  I carefully ironed the back pieces into the folds that I would eventually sew, and then I pinned everything together, checked and rechecked to be sure I had all the pieces facing the right direction, and BOOM - I sewed a pillow!  But then...I turned it right side out, put my pillow form in it, and it was a little loose.  I thought about getting some batting to wrap around the pillow form to make it fill out more, but then I realized I could just sew a bigger seam on one side to make it fit the form better, and that's what I did.  Now, I know that real sewing people probably would have done something more official, but in the end, I got what I wanted, so I decided it really didn't matter how I got there, just that I did, in fact, get there.

Scene 7:  The after photos:
My pillow!
 Close up of the front
Close up of the back - I did an "envelope" closure.  Simple and easy.
I'd say that's a pop of color, all right!  I need to make a smaller pillow that goes with this one for the blue chair, and of course, make a couple more for the bed.

Epilogue:  I like the end result.  I know there are some minor flaws with my stitching (both hand and machine) but really, no one except for me is looking that hard at the pillow.  I'm motivated to make more now!

Prelude:  I wanted to lose weight but then I got busy with other things; I knew the basics of dieting but wanted some help in order to be successful; I sought out advice via friends, books and the internet.
 Scene 1: There are a gazillion options when it comes to choosing which diet plan to follow; don't let the vast amount overwhelm you to the point of not starting; having some friendly encouragement at the very beginning is incredibly helpful.
Scene 2:  Yeah, you really do need a plan.  How else are you going to know what and how much of it to eat?  Plus that whole preparation thing really pays off in helping you have a successful day with food.
Scene 3:  No one can do this for you - it's all up to you to make your diet work.
Scene 4:  Plateaus happen to just about everyone.  You WILL move past them, frustrating as they are while you're experiencing them.
Scene 5:  Seemingly difficult things aren't always as hard to do once you actually begin - be it cutting out a certain food item (like sugary sodas) or going for a walk...it's all doable.
Scene 6:  It doesn't really matter how you go about losing weight; it's that you do something.  There's no "diet police" who are going to report you if you managed to lose weight doing XYZ instead of ABC.
Scene 7:  Always take after photos...and enjoy the new you that YOU made happen! 
Epilogue:  Don't focus on the loose skin or other flaws; no one else is seeing them.  Keep up your motivation to maintain your weight loss.

34 comments:

  1. Your pillow is gorgeous! I love the bright colors and it looks great on your bed. It gives your room that pop of color. Love how you tied it into dieting. Can't wait to see your partner pillows! Reading your blog gets me in the mood to start sewing again. I use to make all my girls their Easter dresses. I sure miss that.

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    1. I can't wait to see the partner pillows, too, LOL!

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  2. I always love these posts where you compare, in this case, sewing to dieting. They are so true.

    I love your pillow, in fact I love it how I've followed you developing your skills on knitting and now sewing.

    I was confused, normally your post is up around noon and now it's just after 11 in the morning. Then I thought you set the clock for daylight savings this weekend. We still have to wait 3 more weeks for that.

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    1. I was just wondering yesterday if other countries do daylight savings time...now I know! :)

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    2. Yep we do, always last weekend of March and last weekend of October.

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  3. Love them. Esp the embellishments.

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    1. Thanks - those embellishments ended up being the star of the pillow, for sure. :)

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  4. LOVE THIS as well.
    and number four nails it all for me.
    I await your best seller for sewing peeps who wanna create and lost weight in the process.

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  5. I like your comparison very much. It is all so true. One thing I got out of it is how important planning is, which is something that has been key for me this time around. Love the pillow!

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    1. Somehow I was under the impression that being creative meant you didn't have to plan...quite the opposite, I discovered!

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  6. Great pillow. You absolutely have a knack for color, creating, and staying fit and healthy!

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  7. You are so crafty - and clever with your comparison!

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  8. I love your fabrics...so cheerful! I was so engrossed in the creation of your pillow that I forgot you were using it as a weight-loss analogy, but it was perfect. Several of your points speak directly to me. I guess it is the OCD in me that wants things to be just right, so things often don't get done because I am overwhelmed with choices and obsessing with which approach to take. Like you said, the "diet police" aren't going to judge me on how I get to the final destination. Thank you Shelley! I needed this.

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    1. You're welcome...now shoo those diet police away! ;)

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  9. Loved this! I had forgotten some of the process and it was so fun to review. Plus your analogy. Thanks for pointing out Scene 6. I sometimes get a little "stuck" on what the diet police might think of me.

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    1. It was so fun to have you along for the ride...heck, you were steering the car for quite a while! :)

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  10. What a great post Shelley - love the analogies!! The pillow looks wonderful! How knows, maybe some day you'll open an Etsy shop!

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    1. Haha, there's no way I'd part with any of my beauties! ;)

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  11. LOVE this!!! The pillow, and the message!!!!

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  12. Hey Shelley - I should have asked in my comment - just curious as to what kind of sewing machine you have. I want to get a fairly simple one that isn't too souped up (yes, cheap). Plus, I'm not techno-minded, so the big guns would just immobilize me. Thanks!

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    1. It's a Janome 2206 - I think it retails for $199 but we got it on sale for something like $119? Can't quite remember, but it was a good deal. I love the machine and I also really love and appreciate how easy the instruction book is to follow.

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  13. Great analogy! And real purty pictures too. I couldn't agree more (not that I know ANYTHING about sewing) but #6 especially rings true for healthy living!

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  14. Look at you sewing, Shelley!

    I think of that diet analogy every single time I start a home improvement project.

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    1. That analogy just applies so well to project, right?

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  15. Brilliant pillow. I love it.
    Debby sounds like a fab craft mentor!
    Well done, Shelley.
    Chrissy

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    1. Debby IS a fab craft mentor, indeed! :)

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  16. I love your pillow! great job! And the diet analogy is awesome :-)

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  17. I love that pillow, and the story. They're both so perfectly you.

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  18. I absolutely love that pillow!!! And great message!!!!

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