At some point I acquired these two mismatched plaid pillows. I don’t remember anymore how they arrived or why. In my typical spirit of thrift, I have stored them and moved them and tried to figure out how to make them useful. I finally put them in the study on the salvaged couch that I hope to re-cover some day. The study is where all the mismatched items in my house tend to end up, and yet, in spite of its not being the nicest room in the house, my family spends a great deal of time in there. This inspired my recent endeavor to unify that room and make it nicer for those I love. Which brings me back to the pillows…
After puzzling over them for awhile, I decided that recovering them would be the kindest thing to do. Since there was already a rustic element coming to the fore in that room, with the predominate colors being blues and tans, I wondered if I could make use of more of our cast-off denim. In particular, I was wondering if I could make use of the waistbands from the old jeans. This part of the jeans generally takes a deal of wear and not containing a significant amount of fabric, is more difficult to reuse. I began by going through the stack of jeans in my recycle pile and spent several evenings removing the waistbands. I was surprised at how long some of these things had been around! There were a few pairs in the stack that were so pale blue that I knew they had to be left over from the eighties when bleached denim was all the rage!
After I had separated all the waistbands from the rest of the jeans and removed all the seams and belt loops (yes, I saved them! 🙂 ), I stretched the bands out on the floor and played with them a bit. On several of the waistbands, the backs (with the labels) looked much nicer than the front and the fading where the belt loops had been was not as obvious. It seemed a good idea to use the backs so I removed the labels and continued to arrange them on the floor. With ombré items being rather popular right now, I guess that was in the forefront of my thinking, and I began to line the bands up according to the darkness or lightness of their color. The effect was pleasing and would blend into the study (at least as well as anything else in there!) so I moved on to the process of sewing them all together into a solid piece.
Waistbands are made with a small portion of the fabric turned under on each side of the bottom edge so that the raw edges of the fabric are enclosed in the band. By extending this fabric on the side that would now be the back and sewing the top of the next waistband to it, I believed that I would be able to make a solid piece of fabric without having to back it in any way. This would mean that though the raw edge would still be on the inside of the pillow cover, it would now be exposed and have a tendency to unravel with use and washing. Eventually, this would form holes and the cover would fall apart. To lengthen the life of this project, I needed to finish off all the raw edges that would be on the backside of strips and be exposed. I did not have to finish off the raw edges on the front portion of each band because they would remain enclosed inside the band when I sewed the bands together. After I had the edges finished I began top-stitching the lower front edge on each band to its own back piece following the original stitching line -on all but the band that would be the bottom strip. That one I left till later for reasons that will be made clear. I used tan upholstery thread to do the top-stitching. The photo that shows the raw edge finished in a zigzag stitch also shows the top-stitching.
With all the raw edges finished off and the top-stitching completed along the bottom edge of each band, I could begin to attach the bands together by top-stitching the top edges of the bands to the extended piece of the band that should be next in the pattern. I did this on all the pieces until I reached the final strip in the row. I left the top edge on that strip unstitched. This would allow me to attach the back pieces of the case later without having to do an additional row of stitching. This photo shows the back of the work once all the bands had been sewn together. Please excuse the strange look of the stitching! I did not notice that my bobbin thread was acting up until about half-way through my project. 🙂
Now that I had a solid piece of fabric to work with, I measured my pillows and cut out the rectangular shapes that I needed to be the fronts of my new pillow cases leaving a small seam allowance on all sides. Because my pillows were small, I was able to get two of them from the fabric I had created. Then I had to make the back pieces for my cases. To keep the cost of the project down and still allow for the removal of the covers for washing, I wanted to sew them with a simple overlap in the center back of the case instead of using a zipper. I used the fabric from one of the pairs of jeans that I had removed the waistband from to cut the back sections from. It meant having to take the legs of the jeans (I used a pair that did not have holes in the sections I wanted to use!) and cutting what I needed from them. For each pillow case back I cut two pieces of fabric that were the same width as the front piece but an inch and a half longer than half the length measurement. After I finished off all the raw edges of these four new pieces of fabric, I was ready to attach them.
This is when I finally did the top-stitching on the bottom and top edges of my pillow case fronts. In this photo, you can see how I attached the back pieces and top-stitched at the same time. On the left side of the photo the top edge of the front has simply been pinned to the edge of the back piece with the fronts of both pieces facing up. This will still keep the edge of the back section on the inside of the finished case where it will not be seen. On the right side of the photo the back piece has been sandwiched between the two sections that form the bottom of the band. Once again, the fronts of both pieces are facing up! By top-stitching through all the pinned layers, I was able to avoid sewing extra seams to attach the back sections to the fronts.
At this point, the back sections were attached to the fronts along one edge on opposites sides of the front pieces. With the front sections of my cases facing up, I only had to fold the back sections over the fronts with an overlap in the center and the extra fabric on the back pieces folded back on themselves as demonstrated in the photo. Once I sewed these in place my pillow cases were completed! I just had to turn them right-side-out and insert my pillows.
These two photos show the finished pillows. I took one photo of them on the couch in the study, (the one I mentioned really wanting to recover! 🙂 ), but the natural light is not very strong in that room so I took one of the pillows outside to make the construction, top-stitching, and colors easier to see.
I am constantly surprised by the fact that it is possible to take something headed to the landfill, add it to some other materials -in this case, more things headed to the landfill- and create something with a totally new life and purpose! It is always a reminder to me of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When Christ became my Savior, He saved me from eternal destruction and gave me a new life and a new purpose in Him. If you would like more information about this new life and purpose, please see “New Life, New Purpose for People ” at the top of the page.